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Impeach Bush

The Road to Coverup Is the Road to Ruin
AlterNet.org/US Senate
Sen. Robert Byrd
June 24, 2003

The following is the text of floor remarks made to the US Senate on June 24, 2003 by Sen. Robert Byrd.

Mr. President, last fall, the White House released a national security strategy that called for an end to the doctrines of deterrence and containment that have been a hallmark of American foreign policy for more than half a century.

This new national security strategy is based upon pre-emptive war against those who might threaten our security.

Such a strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily reliant upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we are going to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had better be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch pre-emptive wars against countries that do not pose a real threat against us. Or we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to our security, allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to stop a crisis before it escalates to war. In either case lives could be needlessly lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we can discern the imminent threats from the false alarms.

Ninety-six days ago [as of June 24], President Bush announced that he had initiated a war to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." The President told the world: "Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly – yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." [Address to the Nation, 3/19/03]

The President has since announced that major combat operations concluded on May 1. He said: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Since then, the United States has been recognized by the international community as the occupying power in Iraq. And yet, we have not found any evidence that would confirm the officially stated reason that our country was sent to war; namely, that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction constituted a grave threat to the United States.

We have heard a lot about revisionist history from the White House of late in answer to those who question whether there was a real threat from Iraq. But, it is the President who appears to me to be intent on revising history. There is an abundance of clear and unmistakable evidence that the Administration sought to portray Iraq as a direct and deadly threat to the American people. But there is a great difference between the hand-picked intelligence that was presented by the Administration to Congress and the American people when compared against what we have actually discovered in Iraq. This Congress and the people who sent us here are entitled to an explanation from the Administration.

On January 28, 2003, President Bush said in his State of the Union Address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." [State of the Union, 1/28/03, pg. 7] Yet, according to news reports, the CIA knew that this claim was false as early as March 2002. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency has since discredited this allegation.

On February 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the United Nations Security Council: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." [Remarks to UN Security Council, 2/5/03, pg. 12] The truth is, to date we have not found any of this material, nor those thousands of rockets loaded with chemical weapons.

On February 8, President Bush told the nation: "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, 2/8/03] Mr. President, we are all relieved that such weapons were not used, but it has not yet been explained why the Iraqi army did not use them. Did the Iraqi army flee their positions before chemical weapons could be used? If so, why were the weapons not left behind? Or is it that the army was never issued chemical weapons? We need answers.

On March 16, the Sunday before the war began, in an interview with Tim Russert, Vice President Cheney said that Iraqis want "to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that." He added, "...the vast majority of them would turn [Saddam Hussein] in in a minute if, in fact, they thought they could do so safely." [Meet the Press, 3/16/03, pg. 6] But in fact, Mr. President, today Iraqi cities remain in disorder, our troops are under attack, our occupation government lives and works in fortified compounds, and we are still trying to determine the fate of the ousted, murderous dictator.

On March 30, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during the height of the war, said of the search for weapons of mass destruction: "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat." [This Week, 3/30/03, pg. 8] But Baghdad fell to our troops on April 9, and Tikrit on April 14, and the intelligence Secretary Rumsfeld spoke about has not led us to any weapons of mass destruction.

Whether or not intelligence reports were bent, stretched, or massaged to make Iraq look like an imminent threat to the United States, it is clear that the Administration's rhetoric played upon the well-founded fear of the American public about future acts of terrorism. But, upon close examination, many of these statements have nothing to do with intelligence, because they are at root just sound bites based on conjecture. They are designed to prey on public fear.

The face of Osama bin Laden morphed into that of Saddam Hussein. President Bush carefully blurred these images in his State of the Union Address. Listen to this quote from his State of the Union Address: "Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans - this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." [State of the Union, 1/28/03, pg 7] Judging by this speech, not only is the President confusing al Qaeda and Iraq, but he also appears to give a vote of no-confidence to our homeland security efforts. Isn't the White House, the brains behind the Department of Homeland Security? Isn't the Administration supposed to be stopping those vials, canisters, and crates from entering our country, rather than trying to scare our fellow citizens half to death about them?

Not only did the Administration warn about more hijackers carrying deadly chemicals, the White House even went so far as to suggest that the time it would take for U.N. inspectors to find solid, 'smoking gun' evidence of Saddam's illegal weapons would put the U.S. at greater risk of a nuclear attack from Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice was quoted as saying on September 9, 2002, by the Los Angeles Times, "We don't want the 'smoking gun' to be a mushroom cloud." [Los Angeles Times, "Threat by Iraq Grows, U.S. Says," 9/9/02] Talk about hype! Mushroom clouds? Where is the evidence for this? There isn't any.

On September 26, 2002, just two weeks before Congress voted on a resolution to allow the President to invade Iraq, and six weeks before the mid-term elections, President Bush himself built the case that Iraq was plotting to attack the United States. After meeting with members of Congress on that date, the President said: "The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons.... The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year."

These are the President's words. He said that Saddam Hussein is "seeking a nuclear bomb." Have we found any evidence to date of this chilling allegation? No.

But, President Bush continued on that autumn day: "The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them. And when they have fully materialized it may be too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our allies. By then the Iraqi dictator would have the means to terrorize and dominate the region. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX - nerve gas - or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally." [Rose Garden Remarks, 9/26/02]

And yet, seven weeks after declaring victory in the war against Iraq, we have seen nary a shred of evidence to support his claims of grave dangers, chemical weapons, links to al Qaeda, or nuclear weapons.

Just days before a vote on a resolution that handed the President unprecedented war powers, President Bush stepped up the scare tactics. On October 7, just four days before the October 11 vote in the Senate on the war resolution, the President stated: "We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy – the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade." President Bush continued: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gasses.... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

President Bush also elaborated on claims of Iraq's nuclear program when he said: "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.... If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." [Cincinnati Museum Center, 10/7/02, pg. 3-4]

This is the kind of pumped up intelligence and outrageous rhetoric that were given to the American people to justify war with Iraq. This is the same kind of hyped evidence that was given to Congress to sway its vote for war on October 11, 2002.

We hear some voices say, but why should we care? After all, the United States won the war, didn't it? Saddam Hussein is no more; he is either dead or on the run. What does it matter if reality does not reveal the same grim picture that was so carefully painted before the war? So what if the menacing characterizations that conjured up visions of mushroom clouds and American cities threatened with deadly germs and chemicals were overdone? So what?

Mr. President, our sons and daughters who serve in uniform answered a call to duty. They were sent to the hot sands of the Middle East to fight in a war that has already cost the lives of 194 Americans, thousands of innocent civilians, and unknown numbers of Iraqi soldiers. Our troops are still at risk. Hardly a day goes by that there is not another attack on the troops who are trying to restore order to a country teetering on the brink of anarchy. When are they coming home?

The President told the American people that we were compelled to go to war to secure our country from a grave threat. Are we any safer today than we were on March 18, 2003? Our nation has been committed to rebuilding a country ravaged by war and tyranny, and the cost of that task is being paid in blood and treasure every day.

It is in the compelling national interest to examine what we were told about the threat from Iraq. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was faulty. It is in the compelling national interest to know if the intelligence was distorted.

Mr. President, Congress must face this issue squarely. Congress should begin immediately an investigation into the intelligence that was presented to the American people about the pre-war estimates of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the way in which that intelligence might have been misused. This is no time for a timid Congress. We have a responsibility to act in the national interest and protect the American people. We must get to the bottom of this matter.

Although some timorous steps have been taken in the past few days to begin a review of this intelligence – I must watch my terms carefully, for I may be tempted to use the words "investigation" or "inquiry" to describe this review, and those are terms which I am told are not supposed to be used – the proposed measures appear to fall short of what the situation requires. We are already shading our terms about how to describe the proposed review of intelligence: cherry-picking words to give the American people the impression that the government is fully in control of the situation, and that there is no reason to ask tough questions. This is the same problem that got us into this controversy about slanted intelligence reports. Word games. Lots and lots of word games.

Well, Mr. President, this is no game. For the first time in our history, the United States has gone to war because of intelligence reports claiming that a country posed a threat to our nation. Congress should not be content to use standard operating procedures to look into this extraordinary matter. We should accept no substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation by Congress into the issue of our pre-war intelligence on the threat from Iraq and its use.

The purpose of such an investigation is not to play pre-election year politics, nor is it to engage in what some might call "revisionist history." Rather it is to get at the truth. The longer questions are allowed to fester about what our intelligence knew about Iraq, and when they knew it, the greater the risk that the people – the American people whom we are elected to serve – will lose confidence in our government.

This looming crisis of trust is not limited to the public. Many of my colleagues were willing to trust the Administration and vote to authorize war against Iraq. Many members of this body trusted so much that they gave the President sweeping authority to commence war. As President Reagan famously said, "Trust, but verify." Despite my opposition, the Senate voted to blindly trust the President with unprecedented power to declare war. While the reconstruction continues, so do the questions, and it is time to verify.

I have served the people of West Virginia in Congress for half a century. I have witnessed deceit and scandal, cover up and aftermath. I have seen Presidents of both parties who once enjoyed great popularity among the people leave office in disgrace because they misled the American people. I say to this Administration: Do not circle the wagons. Do not discourage the seeking of truth in these matters.

Mr. President, the American people have questions that need to be answered about why we went to war with Iraq. To attempt to deny the relevance of these questions is to trivialize the people's trust.

The business of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but our government is open by design. We must be straight with the American people. Congress has the obligation to investigate the use of intelligence information by the Administration, in the open, so that the American people can see that those who exercise power, especially the awesome power of preemptive war, must be held accountable. We must not go down the road of cover-up. That is the road to ruin.

© 2003 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. Reproduction by Syndication Service only.

Commentary:
The only thing I'd change is it's time to get rid of the CIA and secret intelligence. The US government should be able to tell us what they tell the rest of the world. The warping of intelligence gave us the unneeded military spending during the Reagan years and now this war. It's far too easy for corrupt presidents to abuse this power.

Bush is a pathological liar. Those who continue to support him after re-reading his lies need to rethink their belief system.

As it stands now only select members of Congress can see raw intelligence. Others can be told their receiving sanitized intelligence but they have no idea what's being left out. How can the Congress authorize war when it's seeing only what the president wants them to see?


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Terrorism: US Courts Roll Over and Play Dead
By CURT ANDERSON
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 26, 2003; 1:38 AM

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has prevailed in every major legal battle decided so far in terrorism's legal war, turning aside repeated attempts to show that the Bush administration's policies are eroding civil liberties and constitutional rights.

Attorney General John Ashcroft cites at least 10 decisions he says validate the extraordinary steps his department has taken to prevent another attack like that on Sept. 11, 2001.

There have been setbacks at the district judge level, but so far all the cases that have made it through the first level of appeals have gone in favor of the government.

"I think if you look carefully there is a notable absence of successful challenges to the activities in court," Ashcroft said this week during an appearance in Nashville, Tenn. "That's because we're very careful to live within the Constitution and the statutory framework in protecting the rights of Americans."

Critics and some legal scholars say the U.S. government has a long history of overreaching in times of crisis. And those actions were also frequently backed by the courts.

President John Adams backed sedition laws in the 18th century that silenced some types of speech. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended a legal principle that allows a judge to determine whether there are grounds to keep a person in custody and, during World War II, the Supreme Court upheld the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans.

"There is always a certain amount of judicial sympathy with governmental crackdowns in the hysteria of the moment," said John Strait, law professor at Seattle University. "Almost always, they look like very bad decisions in retrospect."

The Justice Department's string of recent legal victories have kept secret the names of hundreds detained on immigration violations; frozen assets of charities suspected of funding terrorism; allowed the use of broad new surveillance powers granted under the USA Patriot Act; and barred attorneys from representing people detained as enemy combatants.

The ultimate jury could still be out. The Supreme Court has yet to accept any key terrorism case - it has refused to hear several - and there have been conflicting rulings at the district court level on similar issues. The government has lost a number of cases before district judges, only to win on appeal.

The government also is appealing decisions made by federal district judges that would allow one U.S. citizen being held as an enemy combatant - accused "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla - access to an attorney and permit accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to call as witnesses at trial al-Qaida operatives in U.S. custody.

"It is hard to read that as a ringing endorsement of government policy," said Steve Shapiro, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Justice Department officials say that history, civil liberties and the Constitution are all carefully considered before each decision is made.

They say the detention of 762 foreigners who were in this country illegally as part of the Sept. 11 investigation, for example, has been unfairly portrayed as a broad Arab or Muslim roundup. Officials say each person detained was specifically targeted as part of the probe into the U.S. movements and connections of the 19 hijackers, two-thirds of them in the New York and New Jersey area.

Any comparison to the Japanese-American internments, they say, is far off base.

"All of the actions we have taken have been mindful of the problems in the past," said Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock.

Critics also question prosecutors who rely on murky charges such as providing "material support" to terrorists because they cannot prove terrorism outright without enormous difficulty.

Moussaoui has tied the government up in knots with his push for al-Qaida witnesses - the government says allowing access would jeopardize national security - and may eventually wind up as an enemy combatant facing a military tribunal without rights to call witnesses or have an outside lawyer.

This week, President Bush designated Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a Qatari man living in Illinois, as an enemy combatant rather than pursue charges of lying to the FBI and credit card fraud.

Unlike six members of an alleged al-Qaida "sleeper cell" near Buffalo, N.Y., and a Columbus truck driver accused of plotting to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge, al-Marri refused to cooperate or plead guilty.

"Things have not been going the government's way," said al-Marri's attorney, Mark Berman. "He's the only one who's the subject of regular prosecution in the criminal justice system and then is plucked out of that system."

Justice Department officials say each case is decided on its own, depending on the strength of the criminal case, the willingness of defendants to cooperate and which status best provides intelligence needed to guard national security. Similar methods have been used in recent decades with great success to disrupt organized crime in the United States, Comstock said.

"They don't know who among their colleagues are working with us," she said. "This is a long-term strategy. We are always changing and adapting our legal tactics knowing that terrorists change and adapt theirs as well."

On the Net:

Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
The Courts continue to disregard every aspect of the Constitution and shield us from the blistering destruction of civil rights and abuse of power of the Bush Administration. History will damn every one of the Court's decisions.

Does the Court know or care how many of these suspects are being tortured, illegally held, or whose rights are violated by the US government? The Courts have ceased to be defenders of the Constitution. Instead they've become defenders of the Bush Regime.


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Big companies won't go out of business, They'll move
By H. JOSEF HEBERT
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 26, 2003; 2:09 AM

WASHINGTON - Caught between rising demand and falling supply, the country is facing a severe natural gas supply crunch that holds out the prospect of skyrocketing prices and winter shortages.

Consumers could be hit with higher electricity bills this summer and more costly heating bills when cold weather returns. Consumer products from food to automobiles may increase because of the higher energy prices.

Almost everyone agrees little can be done in the short term, except get people to use less gas and hope for favorable weather to deal with the worst shortages in 25 years.

But federal officials, industry executives and energy analysts were gathering at an all-day "natural gas summit" Thursday to try to map out a strategy to ease the problem. Much of the discussion was expected to focus on ways to get industrial users and electric utilities to switch to another fuel and how to foster conservation.

"Industry is already responding by increasing storage rates," said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who called the summit. But he said the amount of natural gas in storage remains unusually low and "a hot summer could increase demand and exacerbate the problem."

There is only so much that can be done, energy experts say.

"The quick fixes for domestic exploration aren't there," says Dennis Eklof of Global Insight, an energy consulting firm.

Wells in the Gulf of Mexico and across the Rocky Mountain West often are located in already overworked basins where production is declining.

"The sobering reality is that we're drilling a lot more wells today than we were five years ago, but production is still down. Producers are on a treadmill, running harder to stay in place," says Keith Rattie, chairman of Questar Corp., a Utah-based gas producer and distributor.

With declining production and unusually high demand last winter, gas storage levels fell this past spring to the lowest level they've been since the government began keeping track in 1976.

This week about 1,400 billion cubic feet of gas were in storage, 22 percent below the five-year average and less than half of the amount needed this fall to avoid problems approaching even a normal winter.

Meanwhile, demand for gas has been growing, largely because of the widespread use of the fuel for producing electricity. Nearly every power plant built in the past six years runs on natural gas.

The love of natural gas - and problems getting enough of it - did not develop by accident.

"We can't blame OPEC for our natural gas situation. We have to look at the long-term policies we put in place over the past decade or even longer," says William Whitsitt, a consultant for Burlington Resources, a leading independent Rocky Mountain gas producer.

Those policies promoted natural gas as the fuel of choice to run power plants, alternative fuel vehicles and, because gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal or oil, as a way to help address climate change.

But less attention has been paid to finding gas and producing it.

"It's a problem of our own creation," Rattie told a recent congressional hearing. While encouraging consumption, federal policies have impeded development of new supplies.

The industry has been using the recent run-up of gas prices and supply concerns to buttress their argument for opening more federal lands, especially in the Rocky Mountain area, to gas development and for easing federal permitting requirements.

With prices jumping to more than $6 per thousand cubic feet this spring, twice what it was a year ago and triple what it has been in recent years, producers already have been drilling more wells.

But those same high prices are taking a toll on gas users.

Farmers are paying $10 to $15 an acre more to plant crops since the cost of fertilizer tripled to $350 a ton this spring because of higher gas costs, Al Christopherson, a farmer from Pennock, Minn., recently told a congressional hearing.

In Colorado and Wyoming, where natural gas wells abound, sugar beet processors are facing problems as well because of the high cost of the fuel. One beet-processing plant near Greeley, Colo., that uses natural gas was closed because it was cheaper to ship beets to a coal-fired plant in Morgan, Colo.

In Texas, Dow Chemical decided to shift one of its plants to Germany, in part because it expects high U.S. natural gas prices to persist.

"Big companies won't go out of business," says Greg Lebedev, president of the American Chemistry Council. "They will move."

On the Net:

Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.doe.gov

American Gas Association: http://www.aga.org/

American Chemistry Council: http://www.americanchemistry.com

Natural Gas Supply Association: http://www.ngsa.org

© 2003 The Associated Press

I have a simple solution. Ban all SUV's. Why should I pay higher prices because gas guzzling SUV drivers have an inferiority complex? Ok, so natural gas isn't the same as the gas we use in cars, but hey the era of propaganda is upon us. Truth in our modern era has NO value, spin, lies and half-truths now have as much value as fact, truth, evidence and proof.

This article says the gas shortage will persist. If capitalism worked as it should, that is if Bush would stop rewarding companies for screwing us over, I'm guessing we'd have plenty of natural gas. Recall how Enron and other supporters of the Bush Regime forced prices up to create the illusion of a shortage in California and gave Bush and excuse to create a national energy policy? I won't put anything past these boys. But, they're playing with recession. Recessions in modern US history are almost always caused by very high fuel prices. Bush's silly war didn't help matters either.

Gas companies can't be trusted. They'll keep supply low so prices and profits soar. It's time to regulate energy companies and not have a national energy policy which would reward them for not having the capacity we need.


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Rules for Military Terror Trials Blasted
An Impeachable Offense
By MATT KELLEY
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 26, 2003; 3:15 AM

WASHINGTON - Restrictions on civilian defense lawyers for terrorism suspects facing military tribunals are discouraging lawyers from taking such cases, military law experts said.

Pentagon rules for the military tribunals say such civilian lawyers will not be paid by the government and must do their defense work from the tribunals' site. Officials at the Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are preparing courtroom facilities for possible use by such tribunals.

"It's difficult to get civilian attorneys willing to go to Guantanamo Bay and spend a month or longer to defend these people on your own dime," said Grant Lattin, a retired Marine Corps lawyer who has applied to be a civilian defense attorney for the tribunals.

Lattin was among several legal experts and human rights activists who held a news conference Wednesday to criticize the tribunal rules.

The critics said the guidelines for the military terrorism trials allow suspects and their civilian lawyers to be barred from some proceedings, restrict defense investigations and do not allow for review by independent courts.

The rules "are fundamentally contradictory to the American tradition of a fair trial," said Michael Noone, a professor at Catholic University's law school and a retired Air Force colonel.

Lattin and other experts said few lawyers wanted to be involved in the tribunal process. Former Marine Corps judge Gary Solis said he was at a Virginia Bar Association meeting last week where military lawyers discussed the tribunals.

"There was no interest in becoming a defense counsel and interest in keeping a distance from military commissions," said Solis, who teaches a course on the law of war at Georgetown University's law school.

President Bush has ordered the military to prepare for commissions to hold trials for terrorism suspects who are not U.S. citizens. No trials have been ordered yet, but candidates for the tribunals include some of the alleged al-Qaida leaders in U.S. custody and the 680 or so al-Qaida and Taliban suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Pentagon has named a chief prosecutor and a defense lawyer to oversee the appointment of military defense lawyers for suspects. Officials at Guantanamo Bay also have begun planning for possible construction of an execution chamber because the commissions may consider imposing the death penalty.

The Pentagon rules list 18 war crimes and eight other offenses, including terrorism and the deliberate killing of civilians, that could be handled by the military tribunals. 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.

"We have been very careful in this process to do everything to guarantee a fair trial," Army Col. Frederic Borch, the chief prosecutor for the tribunals, said during a May news conference.

But the critics say they are worried about several provisions in the Pentagon's guidelines:

-One rule requires defendants to prove they were justified in taking actions the government says are war crimes. Critics say that erodes the presumption of innocence that underlies American civilian and military trials.

-Decisions by the tribunals can be appealed only to a special panel of judges appointed by the Defense Department, and then directly to the president.

-Defendants and their civilian lawyers may be excluded from some proceedings where secret evidence is discussed.

On the Net:

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

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Can you imagine being a lawyer in a case in which you can't see the evidence against your client. What kind of scum would want to represent the US in such cases and legitimize this gross violation of the Constitution?


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GOP Forces Lobbyists to Hire Republicans
By Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 26, 2003; Page A01

Nearly a decade after Republicans launched a campaign to oust Democrats from top lobbying jobs in Washington, sometimes through intimidation and private threats, they are seizing a significant number of the most influential positions at trade associations and corporate government affairs offices -- and reaping big financial rewards.

Partly because of the "K Street Project" -- and partly because of GOP control of Congress and the presidency -- virtually every major company or trade association looking for new top-level representation is hiring or seeking to hire a prominent Republican politician or staffer, according to Republicans and Democrats tracking the situation.

This year, General Electric, Comcast, Citigroup and many other Fortune 500 companies have hired Bush administration officials and former GOP congressional advisers for top lobbying posts. A Republican National Committee official recently told a group of GOP lobbyists that 33 of 36 top-level Washington positions he is monitoring went to Republicans, according to someone who attended the meeting.

The trend could deeply influence Washington politics, policy and fundraising for years. Already in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans are tightening their grip on the largely unseen but vital world of big-time lobbying. Lobbyists for major trade groups not only represent clients' interests but also play key roles in political fundraising and often help shape legislation.

The K Street project -- named for the Washington corridor thick with lobbying firms -- also is planting a new crop of Republican lobbyists rich enough to give back to the party in the years ahead.

The list of prominent organizations with Republican representatives could soon grow. The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association is looking to replace its retiring president, Thomas Wheeler -- who has Democratic credentials -- with conservative Rep. Charles "Chip" W. Pickering (R-Miss.).

Pickering has the backing of a group of two dozen GOP lobbyists. He would earn about $750,000 a year if he takes the job, according to people familiar with the situation.

Hollywood's two premier trade associations -- the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America -- are strongly considering replacing their current leaders, who are liberals, with prominent Republicans.

Officials at the motion picture association have privately told Republicans they want a Republican to run the organization if President Jack Valenti, a former aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, steps down this year as expected.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.), considered by many as a leading candidate for the job, yesterday said he would seek reelection next fall. Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) was mentioned by several Republicans as a possible successor to Valenti, although he has denied he is interested in the job.

Former representative Susan Molinari (N.Y.) is among several Republicans up for the recording industry's CEO position, currently held by Democrat Hilary B. Rosen, according to several sources. Dreier was approached about the job but said he isn't interested.

This trend worries Democrats, who say it gives Republicans both an unfair legislative and fundraising advantage. Former representative Tony Coehlo (D-Calif.), who aggressively targeted business in Congress in the 1980s, said Republicans are "going too far" by pressuring companies to hire Republicans only and threatening retribution to those who disobey.

"They've put the fear of God in these businesses and few of them are able to withstand it," Coehlo said. Indeed, several top officials at trade associations and corporate offices said privately that Republicans have created a culture in Washington in which companies fear hiring Democrats for top jobs, even if they are the most qualified.

Republicans have done this with a few, well-publicized warnings to companies they felt were too cozy with Democrats. The most famous and ominous warning came in 1998 from then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). The two leaders held up a vote on intellectual property legislation in protest of the Electronics Industry Association's plan to hire a Democrat to run the group. The House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his tactics in the incident. It was a slap on the wrist by congressional ethics standards, and Republicans say that was a small price to pay for the fear it put in companies thinking about hiring a Democrat.

Late last year, Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) and his top aides pressured the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual fund companies, to push aside Julie Domenick as its top lobbyist. Oxley's staff suggested to industry officials that a congressional probe of the mutual fund industry might ease up if ICI complied.

ICI did not fire Domenick but recently announced that Daniel Crowley, a former top House aide, was hired to serve as chief government affairs officer, reporting to Domenick. Democrats are pushing the ethics committee to investigate the matter.

A few months before the Oxley incident, the Senate ethics committee warned that a separate GOP campaign to track the political affiliation and campaign contributions of lobbyists could violate Senate rules if Republicans used the information to deny access to Democrats. Once again, the message that the GOP is watching was heard loud and clear on K Street, several lobbyists said.

"I am hearing of a lot of pressure, and it's not subtle," said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who has told lobbyists to call him if they feel Republicans are coming down too hard on their organization. But Hoyer conceded it will be hard to thwart the K Street Project.

In most cases, the Republican campaign is much more subtle than the EIA or Oxley incidents suggest. Here's how it typically works, according to congressional insiders: Several GOP leaders, including Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.), monitor openings on K Street with officials of the RNC and GOP lobbyists.

When lobbyists meet every other week with Santorum, for instance, one item on the agenda is plum jobs opening up around town. They research what the company or trade association is looking for and how much the job pays, and discuss possible Republican candidates.

This part of the process often involves a phone call to Nels Olsen, of Korn/Ferry International, the world's largest executive search firm. Olsen handles most of the blue-chip lobbying job openings in town. It also involves lobbyists lobbying members of Congress and the administration to leave their public-sector jobs.

"A week hasn't gone by that I haven't talked to someone in the administration and Congress, telling them we want to put them on the list for a certain job," a prominent GOP lobbyist involved in the project said.

Once a candidate is picked for a job, Republicans sometimes get fellow GOP lawmakers or government officials to weigh in on behalf of the candidate. Typically, a GOP lobbyist is tapped to monitor each opening until it is filled. A RNC staffer keeps a running tally of which jobs go Republican, according to a GOP lobbyist involved in the effort.

While the K Street Project dates to 1995 and the speakership of Gingrich, it wasn't until President Bush won the White House and Republicans the House and Senate that companies started scrambling to hire prominent conservatives.

"We're making progress on K Street because the times they are a-changin,' " said Dan Cohen, a GOP lobbyist involved in the project. "When Newt called for a change on K Street, it was too soon -- the dynamics were not in place."

The trickle-down effect also benefits the GOP because Republicans tend to hire more Republicans for lower-paying positions, which often fetch at least $175,000 or more annually.

That means big money for Republicans -- in more than one way.

Since 1995, when Republicans launched the effort to oust Democrats, there has been a dramatic swing in corporate contributions to the GOP. While this swing is mostly attributable to Bush and the GOP's takeover of Congress, the lobbyists have played an instrumental role in expanding the party's fundraising base by advising clients to steer their money away from Democrats. It "translates into a lack of money for Democrats," Coehlo lamented.

Before Republicans won control of the House in 1994, they received about 40 percent of business contributions. Now they get 60 percent or more, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the shift is ending a "disconnect" in which Democratic lobbyists persuaded companies to give to Democrats.

Moreover, by placing Republicans in these high-paying jobs, a whole new class of wealthy donors has been created. Most high-level lobbying jobs pay at least $300,000 per year, and some lobbyists are pulling down two or three times that amount annually.

Dan Mattoon -- who left the National Republican Congressional Committee a few years ago to partner with Democrat Tony Podesta to represent several corporations -- and his wife contributed $90,000 in the last election, with almost all of it going to GOP candidates.

"There is a recognition that Republicans are in a position to continue to control both houses of Congress for the next 10 years, and the K Street community should be reflective" of the party with power, Mattoon said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Appalling! A Congress (party) that forces companies to hire people from their party. Did you ever think the US government (party) would become this corrupt this fast?

Republicans know they can't win if the playing field is fair. That's why they have to out spend Democrats by so much. That's why they need around the clock propaganda on radio and TV.

The sad part is so many companies are cowering to the GOP's demands. Early in the Newt years, republicans punished companies that gave to democrats. Dems should remember who these companies are and when they retake control of Congress, find a way to ban them from ever donating to any party again. Bribery is not free speech, it's a crime, or at least it used to be.

When Dems retake the Congress, these companies might as well close down or move out of the country. Pay backs can be brutal.


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Making sense of the Supreme Court's college admissions rulings
By Michael C. Dorf
FindLaw Columnist
Special to CNN.com
Wednesday, June 25, 2003 Posted: 12:26 PM EDT (1626 GMT)

(FindLaw) -- This week, the Supreme Court upheld the use of race in admissions decisions by the University of Michigan Law School. But at the same time, it struck down as unconstitutional that same university's affirmative action program at the undergraduate level. (Full story)

Understanding the differences between the constitutional law school program and the unconstitutional undergraduate program will obviously be critical to colleges and universities, as they re-examine their own policies to ensure they are on the legal side of the line.

But beyond these important practical implications, the two cases provide a window on the operation of the Court and even on the justices' psyches.

Some background: The Bakke case and its legacy
The famous 1978 case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was the precedent on affirmative action in education with which the court had to reckon when it decided the Michigan cases.

There, the court invalidated the U.C. Davis Medical School's admission program -- under which 16 out of 100 seats in the entering class were reserved for members of designated racial and ethnic minority groups. But it also reversed an injunction by the California Supreme Court that had barred all use of race in university admissions.

That led to an important question: If universities could not set aside specific seats for minorities as U.C. Davis had done, in what ways could they use race in admissions?

According to Justice Powell, who announced the court's judgment in Bakke, universities could take account of race as a "plus factor" in evaluating a candidate as an individual whole. However, they could not insulate minority candidates from competition with non-minority candidates, as U.C. Davis had done by designating special minority seats.

Justice Powell wrote only on his own behalf in Bakke; no other Justice joined his opinion. As a result, over the succeeding 25 years, there has been some uncertainty over whether his views were binding.

Most lower courts treated them as dispositive. However, in recent years a number of courts had ruled that Powell's views either were never controlling, or if they were, that they had been superseded by subsequent Supreme Court cases.

Nevertheless, there has been general agreement, among universities and lower courts, as to what Powell's opinion means if it is binding: numerical quotas are forbidden; flexible targets based on pluses are permissible.

The reason the undergraduate program was struck down:

Quantification
In this week's University of Michigan cases the court, somewhat surprisingly, adopted Justice Powell's views, including the plus/quota distinction.

In the law school case, the court found no quota. Each year, the law school sought a "critical mass" of disadvantaged minority students – instructing admissions officers that, in considering each file in its entirety, they should be on the lookout for generally qualified applicants who would contribute to that critical mass.

The plaintiffs demonstrated that, at the law school, other things being equal, disadvantaged minority applicants had a substantially better chance of being admitted than non-minority students. But that fact, the majority said, was consistent with a permissible plus-factor approach.

In the college case, the court disapproved of the fact that admissions officers gave the same twenty-point bonus to all disadvantaged minority applicants. To process its large volume of applications, the undergraduate admissions office assigned points for various categories -- such as high school grades, test scores, athletic prowess, and membership in a disadvantaged minority group.

That's not exactly a quota in the sense that Bakke condemned. No seats were designated as minority-only. And all applicants competed with one another, albeit on not exactly the same terms: a non-minority applicant who garnered 21 extra points elsewhere in the application could gain a seat in the class in preference to a minority applicant.

Nevertheless, the rigidity of the numerical approach, six justices thought, denied the kind of individualized treatment that Powell's opinion in Bakke required of a permissible affirmative action program.

Does focusing on quantification make sense?
The result: attorneys for universities across the country will be advising their admissions offices that they can continue to use race as a plus factor. But what they must not do is to expressly quantify it. Linguistic benchmarks such as "critical mass" are acceptable. Point systems that give extra points for race are not.

Is that a sensible distinction? On the surface, it appears not to be
Consider the perspective of the applicant: He or she predominantly cares about how much his or her chances of admission are enhanced or diminished by his or her race -- and in the end, whether he or she will be admitted. Will I get the thin envelope or the fat envelope? In contrast, he or she will probably be indifferent as to whether the admissions officers assign a number based on race.

The evidence in the law school case showed that disadvantaged minority applicants received a substantial boost -- they were predictably more likely, due to race, to get the fat envelope. Yet, under the logic of the Court's rulings, even a very small but fixed numerical constant boost for minority status is worse than a much larger flexible boost that is never formally quantified by admissions personnel.

Furthermore, as justices Souter and Ginsburg argued in Gratz, a fixed numerical score for racial minority status has the virtue of honesty. These two justices thought the law school program permissible. But interestingly, they actually preferred quantification, given the choice: If one were to distinguish between giving varying and fixed weights to race as a factor in admissions, they thought fixed weights are more objective and transparent, and thus a better idea.

Nonetheless, there is something to be said for the idea that calculations, which are permissible if performed implicitly, are impermissible when made explicit. For example, expressly putting a dollar figure on human life seems to many far worse than taking actions that are in some sense equivalent to doing so.

Consider the litigation concerning the Ford Pinto. Studies showed the Pinto was vulnerable to catching fire during rear impacts. What outraged the jury, however, was that Ford had consciously and expressly decided it was cheaper to pay damages to victims of future accidents than to change the car's design: As a result, the jury ordered Ford to pay punitive damages for its callousness.

Was the jury irrational, given that the safety/cost tradeoff is routinely made at large companies -- albeit in more general terms? If not, there may be something to be said for avoiding express quantification in racial classifications, too.

Visible symbols can make a difference. For this very reason, the Supreme Court has invalidated bizarrely shaped electoral districts in which race was "the predominant factor" in the decision to draw irregular boundaries. A legislature's subtly shifting boundaries to take account of race along with other factors is one thing, in the Court's view; but creating geographic monstrosities is another.

As Justice O'Connor stated for the Court in the 1993 case of Shaw v. Reno, "reapportionment is one area in which appearances do matter." The Michigan cases show that university admissions is another such area.

Judging harmful and beneficial racial classifications by the same standard
Besides resolving the question of what affirmative action programs universities could use, the Michigan cases also resolved a larger, lingering question: Will the Court treat racial classifications the same way when they benefit racial minorities, as when they burden them? (Prior cases over the last decade and a half had said yes, but always over substantial dissent.)

Justice Powell's answer in Bakke was yes: All racial classifications are subject to the most exacting level of judicial review -- so-called "strict scrutiny." In the Michigan case, all nine Justices seemed to agree: every Justice joined at least one opinion that applied strict scrutiny to an affirmative action program.

The unanimity is deceptive, however. At least three of the justices -- Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer -- questioned the Court's attachment to the proposition "that the same standard of review controls judicial inspection of all official race classifications."

These justices were willing to apply strict scrutiny only if the standard means something different in affirmative action cases than it means in challenges to policies that deliberately disadvantage racial minorities.

Meanwhile the remaining members of the Grutter majority -- justices Stevens and O'Connor -- in fact applied a not-so-strict version of strict scrutiny. As result, there is a five-justice majority in favor of judging assertedly benign racial classifications under what is in practice a substantially more lenient standard than the Court would apply to, say, Jim Crow laws.

Six or seven justices say diversity is a 'compelling interest'
There is another issue that has dogged the lower courts since Bakke: Do universities serve a "compelling interest" (the kind of interest necessary to permit a racial classification) when they attempt to assemble a racially diverse student body? And if so, what exactly is that interest?

In Bakke, Justice Powell said they did -- and the interest was the First Amendment interest in promoting the expression of diverse viewpoints on campus. He reasoned that such expression in a university was part of academic freedom; that academic freedom is itself a constitutional value under the First Amendment; that viewpoint and background are connected (though not perfectly so); and thus that universities could use race as one factor among others in their efforts to compose a diverse student body. But controversy remained as to whether Powell's individual view was also that of the current Court.

In her majority opinion on the law school's program, Justice O'Connor formally and unambiguously endorsed Justice Powell's position. Justice Kennedy also agreed that diversity is a compelling interest. (Kennedy thought the law school program was not properly limited, but he indicated that he would be willing to uphold a different sort of affirmative action program, favorably citing an amicus brief filed by Amherst College and others.)

Meanwhile, even Chief Justice Rehnquist at least did not deny that diversity is a compelling interest. Instead, he simply acknowledged that the Court had deemed diversity compelling, and cagily declined to offer his own view.

That left only Justices Scalia and Thomas expressing the view that diversity is not a compelling interest. Six justices -- possibly seven, since Rehnquist did not touch on the question -- believe it is.

Defining diversity even more broadly than Justice Powell did In Bakke
Perhaps most intriguingly, Justice O'Connor advanced a conception of diversity that is more encompassing than the view taken by Justice Powell in Bakke.

To see why, it's necessary to first explore the subtleties of Justice Powell's opinion. At the same time that he embraced an interest in diversity, Justice Powell also rejected other arguments U.C. Davis made to justify its program.

Specifically, Davis argued that the medical school had an interest in remedying societal discrimination. Justice Powell did not deny that societal discrimination contributed to the disparities in numerical measures of qualifications. But he thought it unfair for non-minority applicants (who were not themselves responsible for societal discrimination) to have to bear the cost of the remedy, by foregoing the chance to compete for specific seats in the medical school class.

U.C. Davis also argued that it had an interest in educating minority doctors who presumably would be more likely to practice in under-served minority communities. But Justice Powell found insufficient evidence that this supposition was true.

Broadly speaking, Powell's Bakke opinion had come to be read for the proposition that a voluntary university affirmative action program cannot be justified by the external impact of the university's graduates. Rather, it must be sustained on the basis of the internal effect of the student body's composition.

That may not have been quite what Powell originally meant. In any case, this contention was easily mocked: Was the real reason for affirmative action, critics asked, so that the minority students could enhance the educational experience of the non-minority students? Were minority students merely there to provide a kind of cultural exchange program for the non-minorities?

To her credit, Justice O'Connor rejected the requirement that an affirmative action program be justified only by its internal effects. Citing briefs filed by business leaders, retired military officers and educators, she explained that universities could rightly be concerned about the racial composition of the highest ranks of business, the armed services, and government in composing their classes. Education, she recognized, is not an end in itself; it is preparation for the future, and universities could consider that fact.

Is Justice Thomas a radical egalitarian? No, he's just angry
Every one of the nine Justices wrote at least one opinion in the two Michigan cases. Perhaps the most interesting was the dissent of Justice Thomas (joined by Justice Scalia) in Grutter. He argued, among other things, that the problem in the case was entirely of Michigan's own making.

Because the University of Michigan Law School is so good, it can afford to reject all but the most highly qualified applicants. Justice Thomas suggested that if the school admitted a higher percentage of its applicants -- or admitted its applicants by some measure other than grades and test scores on which non-minority students outperform minorities -- it could produce a diverse student body without resorting to race-based preferences.

This argument turns on Justice Thomas's further contention that because the University of Michigan Law School mostly educates non-residents who will overwhelmingly make their careers outside of Michigan, "the Law School's decision to be an elite institution does little to advance the welfare of the people of Michigan or any cognizable interest of the State of Michigan." If having an elite law school doesn't serve any state interest, it certainly serves no compelling interest, and if the law school itself serves no compelling interest, then a diverse student body in the school is not compelling either.

It is difficult to know whether Justice Thomas intends this argument to be taken seriously. Does he really mean to suggest that states derive no concrete benefit from having prestigious educational institutions located within their borders (and in the case of the University of Michigan, providing an admissions advantage and tuition discount to their residents)? Does the Massachusetts economy not benefit from being home to Amherst, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, U. Mass, M.I.T., Northeastern, Smith, Wellesley, Williams and other institutions of higher education?

It might be objected that most of these are private institutions, but the difference is irrelevant in the current context. Under the Court's longstanding precedents, whatever rule of law applies to state institutions of higher education under the Equal Protection Clause applies identically to private ones under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. So if there's no legally cognizable interest furthered by the excellence of the University of Michigan Law School, then there's no cognizable interest furthered by the excellence of any law school -- or for that matter, of any university more generally. In the information age, that's a peculiar argument indeed.

In any event, the real heart of Justice Thomas's dissent in Grutter is more personal. He harbors an almost visceral hatred for what he terms "know-it-all elites." His dissent uses the word "elite" or "elites" no fewer than twenty times. How did this graduate of Yale Law School come to despise the sort of institution that opened so many doors for him?

The answer, it seems, is that he believes affirmative action stigmatizes not only its beneficiaries, but all people of color: "When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia," he asserts, "it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement."

Certainly, Justice Thomas has a point. Unfortunately, many people do wrongly assume that African-Americans with outstanding credentials and records do not deserve to be where they are, and that is a real cost of affirmative action. But, equally unfortunately, they might well continue to do so even if affirmative action were abolished.

For this and other reasons, most African Americans are willing to bear the cost of possible stigma in exchange for the benefit of increased likelihood of admission to elite educational institutions. Justice Thomas plainly disagrees, but what is most disappointing is that he fails to consider their arguments that affirmative action -- though stigmatizing in the eyes of some -- is still worthwhile.

Is affirmative action forever? No, just another 25 years
Finally, the court's opinions offered one odd twist on prior law. The Court had previously made clear that affirmative action could not last forever. But now some believe -- incorrectly, in my view -- that it has added a specific sunset provision to such programs.

Justice O'Connor noted that the number of minority applicants with high grades and scores had increased in the twenty-five years since Bakke was decided. And she predicted that in another twenty-five years, racial preferences would no longer be necessary.

Legislatures occasionally include sunset provisions in the statutes they enact, but it is highly unusual for a court to do so. Moreover, the period of twenty-five years is completely arbitrary, seemingly drawn only from the fact that Grutter and Gratz came to the court 25 years after Bakke. Accordingly, Justice O'Connor probably meant her reference to what would happen in twenty-five years as an aspiration or a rhetorical point.

Nonetheless, the dissenters took her to be expressing a rule of law: When racial preferences are no longer necessary, they will be unconstitutional (because they will not be "narrowly tailored" as required by strict scrutiny), and that will happen in twenty-five years.

Only time will tell if the court truly believes that affirmative actions program have a twenty-five-year sunset provision. In the dissenters' opinion, the Michigan rulings will expire on June 23, 2028. We'll have to wait and see.

Michael C. Dorf, a FindLaw columnist, is professor of Law at Columbia University School of Law. He was one of two principal authors of an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Association of American Law Schools in support of the University of Michigan Law School in the Grutter case. In her majority opinion, Justice O'Connor relied on the brief in support of the argument that elite law schools educate a disproportionately large fraction of high-ranking government officials.

© 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.

Commentary:
Affirmative Action for rich white kids continues to go unchallenged and under-reported. Surely no one thinks Bush's C average got him into Yale. Those who oppose affirmative action for blacks don't have a problem with it as long as it applies their own kind.


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THE SELLING OF THE IRAQ WAR
The New Republic
A Three Part Series
by John B. Judis & Spencer Ackerman
Post date 06.19.03 | Issue date 06.30.03

Foreign policy is always difficult in a democracy. Democracy requires openness. Yet foreign policy requires a level of secrecy that frees it from oversight and exposes it to abuse. As a result, Republicans and Democrats have long held that the intelligence agencies--the most clandestine of foreign policy institutions--should be insulated from political interference in much the same way as the higher reaches of the judiciary. As the Tower Commission, established to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal, warned in November 1987, "The democratic processes ... are subverted when intelligence is manipulated to affect decisions by elected officials and the public."

If anything, this principle has grown even more important since September 11, 2001. The Iraq war presented the United States with a new defense paradigm:  preemptive war, waged in response to a prediction of a forthcoming attack against the United States or its allies. This kind of security policy requires the public to base its support or opposition on expert intelligence to which it has no direct access. It is up to the president and his administration--with a deep interest in a given policy outcome--nonetheless to portray the intelligence community's findings honestly. If an administration represents the intelligence unfairly, it effectively forecloses an informed choice about the most important question a nation faces: whether or not to go to war. That is exactly what the Bush administration did when it sought to convince the public and Congress that the United States should go to war with Iraq.

From late August 2002 to mid-March of this year, the Bush administration made its case for war by focusing on the threat posed to the United States by Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and by his purported links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Officials conjured up images of Iraqi mushroom clouds over U.S. cities and of Saddam transferring to Osama bin Laden chemical and biological weapons that could be used to create new and more lethal September elevenths. In Nashville on August 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney warned of a Saddam "armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror" who could "directly threaten America's friends throughout the region and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail." In Washington on September 26, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed he had "bulletproof" evidence of ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda. And, in Cincinnati on October 7, President George W. Bush warned, "The Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons." Citing Saddam's association with Al Qaeda, the president added that this "alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

Yet there was no consensus within the American intelligence community that Saddam represented such a grave and imminent threat. Rather, interviews with current and former intelligence officials and other experts reveal that the Bush administration culled from U.S. intelligence those assessments that supported its position and omitted those that did not. The administration ignored, and even suppressed, disagreement within the intelligence agencies and pressured the CIA to reaffirm its preferred version of the Iraqi threat. Similarly, it stonewalled, and sought to discredit, international weapons inspectors when their findings threatened to undermine the case for war.

Three months after the invasion, the United States may yet discover the chemical and biological weapons that various governments and the United Nations have long believed Iraq possessed. But it is unlikely to find, as the Bush administration had repeatedly predicted, a reconstituted nuclear weapons program or evidence of joint exercises with Al Qaeda--the two most compelling security arguments for war. Whatever is found, what matters as far as American democracy is concerned is whether the administration gave Americans an honest and accurate account of what it knew. The evidence to date is that it did not, and the cost to U.S. democracy could be felt for years to come.

  

THE BATTLE OVER INTELLIGENCE
Fall 2001-Fall 2002

The Bush administration decided to go to war with Iraq in the late fall of 2001. At Camp David on the weekend after the September 11 attacks, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz floated the idea that Iraq, with more than 20 years of inclusion on the State Department's terror-sponsor list, be held immediately accountable. In his memoir, speechwriter David Frum recounts that, in December, after the Afghanistan campaign against bin Laden and his Taliban sponsors, he was told to come up with a justification for war with Iraq to include in Bush's State of the Union address in January 2002. But, in selling the war to the American public during the next year, the Bush administration faced significant obstacles.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, many Americans had automatically associated Saddam's regime with Al Qaeda and enthusiastically backed an invasion. But, as the immediate horror of September 11 faded and the war in Afghanistan concluded successfully (and the economy turned downward), American enthusiasm diminished. By mid-August 2002, a Gallup poll showed support for war with Saddam at a post-September 11 low, with 53 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed--down from 61 percent to 31 percent just two months before. Elite opinion was also turning against war, not only among liberal Democrats but among former Republican officials, such as Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger. In Congress, even conservative Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and House Majority Leader Dick Armey began to express doubts that war was justified. Armey declared on August 8, 2002, "If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is, without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation-states who might do so."

Unbeknownst to the public, the administration faced equally serious opposition within its own intelligence agencies. At the CIA, many analysts and officials were skeptical that Iraq posed an imminent threat. In particular, they rejected a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. According to a New York Times report in February 2002, the CIA found "no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups."

CIA analysts also generally endorsed the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which concluded that, while serious questions remained about Iraq's nuclear program--many having to do with discrepancies in documentation--its present capabilities were virtually nil. The IAEA possessed no evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program and, it seems, neither did U.S. intelligence. In CIA Director George Tenet's January 2002 review of global weapons-technology proliferation, he did not even mention a nuclear threat from Iraq, though he did warn of one from North Korea. The review said only, "We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program." This vague determination didn't reflect any new evidence but merely the intelligence community's assumption that the Iraqi dictator remained interested in building nuclear weapons. Greg Thielmann, the former director for strategic proliferation and military affairs at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), tells The New Republic, "During the time that I was office director, 2000 to 2002, we never assessed that there was good evidence that Iraq was reconstituting or getting really serious about its nuclear weapons program."

The CIA and other intelligence agencies believed Iraq still possessed substantial stocks of chemical and biological weapons, but they were divided about whether Iraq was rebuilding its facilities and producing new weapons. The intelligence community's uncertainty was articulated in a classified report from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in September 2002. "A substantial amount of Iraq's chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM [United Nations Special Commission] actions," the agency reported. "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has--or will--establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."

Had the administration accurately depicted the consensus within the intelligence community in 2002--that Iraq's ties with Al Qaeda were inconsequential; that its nuclear weapons program was minimal at best; and that its chemical and biological weapons programs, which had yielded significant stocks of dangerous weapons in the past, may or may not have been ongoing--it would have had a very difficult time convincing Congress and the American public to support a war to disarm Saddam. But the Bush administration painted a very different, and far more frightening, picture. Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who ultimately voted against the war, says of his discussions with constituents, "When someone spoke of the need to invade, [they] invariably brought up the example of what would happen if one of our cities was struck. They clearly were convinced by the administration that Saddam Hussein--either directly or through terrorist connections--could unleash massive destruction on an American city. And I presume that most of my colleagues heard the same thing back in their districts." One way the administration convinced the public was by badgering CIA Director Tenet into endorsing key elements of its case for war even when it required ignoring the classified findings of his and other intelligence agencies.

  

As a result of its failure to anticipate the September 11 attacks, the CIA, and Tenet in particular, were under almost continual attack in the fall of 2001. Congressional leaders, including Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wanted Tenet to resign. But Bush kept Tenet in his job, and, within the administration, Tenet and the CIA came under an entirely different kind of pressure: Iraq hawks in the Pentagon and in the vice president's office, reinforced by members of the Pentagon's semi-official Defense Policy Board, mounted a year-long attempt to pressure the CIA to take a harder line against Iraq--whether on its ties with Al Qaeda or on the status of its nuclear program.

A particular bone of contention was the CIA's analysis of the ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, former CIA Director James Woolsey, a member of the Defense Policy Board who backed an invasion of Iraq, put forth the theory--in this magazine and elsewhere--that Saddam was connected to the World Trade Center attacks. In September 2001, the Bush administration flew Woolsey to London to gather evidence to back up his theory, which had the support of Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, then the Defense Policy Board chairman. While Wolfowitz and Perle had their own long-standing and complex reasons for wanting to go to war with Iraq, they and other administration officials believed that, if they could tie Saddam to Al Qaeda, they could justify the war to the American people. As a veteran aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee observes, "They knew that, if they could really show a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, then their objective, ... which was go in and get rid of Hussein, would have been a foregone conclusion."

But this theory immediately encountered resistance from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. Woolsey's main piece of evidence for a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda was a meeting that was supposed to have taken place in Prague in April 2001 between lead September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official. But none of the intelligence agencies could place Atta in Prague on that date. (Indeed, receipts and other travel documents placed him in the United States.) An investigation by Czech officials dismissed the claim, which was based on a single unreliable witness. The CIA was also receiving other information that rebutted a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. After top Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah was captured in March 2002, he was debriefed by the CIA, and the results were widely circulated in the intelligence community. As The New York Times reported, Zubaydah told his captors that bin Laden himself rejected any alliance with Saddam. "I remember reading the Abu Zubaydah debriefing last year, while the administration was talking about all of these other reports [of a Saddam-Al Qaeda link], and thinking that they were only putting out what they wanted," a CIA official told the paper. Zubaydah's story, which intelligence analysts generally consider credible, has since been corroborated by additional high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorists now in U.S. custody, including Ramzi bin Al Shibh and September 11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Facing resistance from the CIA, administration officials began a campaign to pressure the agency to toe the line. Perle and other members of the Defense Policy Board, who acted as quasi-independent surrogates for Wolfowitz, Cheney, and other administration advocates for war in Iraq, harshly criticized the CIA in the press. The CIA's analysis of Iraq, Perle said, "isn't worth the paper it is written on." In the summer of 2002, Vice President Cheney made several visits to the CIA's Langley headquarters, which were understood within the agency as an attempt to pressure the low-level specialists interpreting the raw intelligence. "That would freak people out," says one former CIA official. "It is supposed to be an ivory tower. And that kind of pressure would be enormous on these young guys."

But the Pentagon found an even more effective way to pressure the agency. In October 2001, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith set up a special intelligence operation in the Pentagon to "think through how the various terrorist organizations relate to each other and ... state sponsors," in Feith's description. Their approach echoed the "Team B" strategy that conservatives had used in the past: establishing a separate entity to offer alternative intelligence analyses to the CIA. Conservatives had done this in 1976, criticizing and intimidating the agency over its estimates of Soviet military strength, and again in 1998, arguing for the necessity of missile defense. (Wolfowitz had participated in both projects; the latter was run by Rumsfeld.) This time, the new entity--headed by Perle protégé Abram Shulsky--reassessed intelligence already collected by the CIA along with information from Iraqi defectors and, as Feith remarked coyly at a press conference earlier this month, "came up with some interesting observations about the linkages between Iraq and Al Qaeda." In August 2002, Feith brought the unit to Langley to brief the CIA about its findings. If the separate intelligence unit wasn't enough to challenge the CIA, Rumsfeld also began publicly discussing the creation of a new Pentagon position, an undersecretary for intelligence, who would rival the CIA director and diminish the authority of the agency.

In its classified reports, the CIA didn't diverge from its initial skepticism about the ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam. But, under pressure from his critics, Tenet began to make subtle concessions. In March 2002, Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Iraqi regime "had contacts with Al Qaeda" but declined to elaborate. He would make similar ambiguous statements during the congressional debate over war with Iraq.

The intelligence community was also pressured to exaggerate Iraq's nuclear program. As Tenet's early 2002 threat assessments had indicated, U.S. intelligence showed precious little evidence to indicate a resumption of Iraq's nuclear program. And, while the absence of U.N. inspections had introduced greater uncertainty into intelligence collection on Iraq, according to one analyst, "We still knew enough, [and] we could watch pretty closely what was happening."

These judgments were tested in the spring of 2002, when intelligence reports began to indicate that Iraq was trying to procure a kind of high-strength aluminum tube. Some analysts from the CIA and DIA quickly came to the conclusion that the tubes were intended to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon through the kind of gas-centrifuge project Iraq had built before the first Gulf war. This interpretation seemed plausible enough at first, but over time analysts at the State Department's INR and the Department of Energy (DOE) grew troubled. The tubes' thick walls and particular diameter made them a poor fit for uranium enrichment, even after modification. That determination, according to the INR's Thielmann, came from weeks of interviews with "the nation's experts on the subject, ... they're the ones that have the labs, like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where people really know the science and technology of enriching uranium." Such careful study led the INR and the DOE to an alternative analysis: that the specifications of the tubes made them far better suited for artillery rockets. British intelligence experts studying the issue concurred, as did some CIA analysts.

But top officials at the CIA and DIA did not. As the weeks dragged on, more and more high-level intelligence officials attended increasingly heated interagency bull sessions. And the CIA-DIA position became further and further entrenched. "They clung so tenaciously to this point of view about it being a nuclear weapons program when the evidence just became clearer and clearer over time that it wasn't the case," recalls a participant. David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, who had been asked to provide the administration with information on past Iraqi procurements, noticed an anomaly in how the intelligence community was handling the issue. "I was told that this dispute had not been mediated by a competent, impartial technical committee, as it should have been according to accepted practice," he wrote on his organization's website this March. By September 2002, when the intelligence agencies were preparing a joint National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, top CIA officials insisted their opinion prevail. Says Thielmann, "Because the CIA is also the head of the entire U.S. intelligence community, it becomes very hard not to have the ultimate judgment being the CIA's judgment, rather than who in the intelligence community is most expert on the issue."

Next: "People [kept] telling you first that things weren't right, weird things going on, different people saying, 'There's so much pressure..."

By the fall of 2002, when public debate over the war really began, the administration had created consternation in the intelligence agencies. The press was filled for the next two months with quotes from CIA officials and analysts complaining of pressure from the administration to toe the line on Iraq. Says one former staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, "People [kept] telling you first that things weren't right, weird things going on, different people saying, 'There's so much pressure, you know, they keep telling us, go back and find the right answer,' things like that." For the most part, this pressure was not reflected in the CIA's classified reports, but it would become increasingly evident in the agency's declassified statements and in public statements by Tenet. The administration hadn't won an outright endorsement of its analysis of the Iraqi threat, but it had undermined and intimidated its potential critics in the intelligence community.

  

THE BATTLE IN CONGRESS
Fall 2002

The administration used the anniversary of September 11, 2001, to launch its public campaign for a congressional resolution endorsing war, with or without U.N. support, against Saddam. The opening salvo came on the Sunday before the anniversary in the form of a leak to Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon of The New York Times regarding the aluminum tubes. Miller and Gordon reported that, according to administration officials, Iraq had been trying to buy tubes specifically designed as "components of centrifuges to enrich uranium" for nuclear weapons. That same day, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared on the political talk shows to trumpet the discovery of the tubes and the Iraqi nuclear threat. Explained Rice, "There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Rumsfeld added, "Imagine a September eleventh with weapons of mass destruction. It's not three thousand--it's tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children."

Many of the intelligence analysts who had participated in the aluminum-tubes debate were appalled. One described the feeling to TNR: "You had senior American officials like Condoleezza Rice saying the only use of this aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that on television. And that's just a lie." Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, recalled, "I became dismayed when a knowledgeable government scientist told me that the administration could say anything it wanted about the tubes while government scientists who disagreed were expected to remain quiet." As Thielmann puts it, "There was a lot of evidence about the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons programs to be concerned about. Why couldn't we just be honest about that without hyping the nuclear account? Making the case for active pursuit of nuclear weapons makes it look like the administration was trying to scare the American people about how dangerous Iraq was and how it posed an imminent security threat to the United States."

In speeches and interviews, administration officials also warned of the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. On September 25, 2002, Rice insisted, "There clearly are contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq. ... There clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship there." On the same day, President Bush warned of the danger that "Al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness." Rice, like Rumsfeld--who the next day would call evidence of a Saddam-bin Laden link "bulletproof"--said she could not share the administration's evidence with the public without endangering intelligence sources. But Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, disagreed. On September 27, Paul Anderson, a spokesman for Graham, told USA Today that the senator had seen nothing in the CIA's classified reports that established a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in fact, was the greatest congressional obstacle to the administration's push for war. Under the lead of Graham and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, the committee enjoyed respect and deference in the Senate and the House, and its members could speak authoritatively, based on their access to classified information, about whether Iraq was developing nuclear weapons or had ties to Al Qaeda. And, in this case, the classified information available to the committee did not support the public pronouncements being made by the CIA.

In the late summer of 2002, Graham had requested from Tenet an analysis of the Iraqi threat. According to knowledgeable sources, he received a 25-page classified response reflecting the balanced view that had prevailed earlier among the intelligence agencies--noting, for example, that evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program or a link to Al Qaeda was inconclusive. Early that September, the committee also received the DIA's classified analysis, which reflected the same cautious assessments. But committee members became worried when, midway through the month, they received a new CIA analysis of the threat that highlighted the Bush administration's claims and consigned skepticism to footnotes. According to one congressional staffer who read the document, it highlighted "extensive Iraqi chem-bio programs and nuclear programs and links to terrorism" but then included a footnote that read, "This information comes from a source known to fabricate in the past." The staffer concluded that "they didn't do analysis. What they did was they just amassed everything they could that said anything bad about Iraq and put it into a document."

Graham and Durbin had been demanding for more than a month that the CIA produce an NIE on the Iraqi threat--a summary of the available intelligence, reflecting the judgment of the entire intelligence community--and toward the end of September, it was delivered. Like Tenet's earlier letter, the classified NIE was balanced in its assessments. Graham called on Tenet to produce a declassified version of the report that could guide members in voting on the resolution. Graham and Durbin both hoped the declassified report would rebut the kinds of overheated claims they were hearing from administration spokespeople. As Durbin tells TNR, "The most frustrating thing I find is when you have credible evidence on the intelligence committee that is directly contradictory to statements made by the administration."

  

On October 1, 2002, Tenet produced a declassified NIE. But Graham and Durbin were outraged to find that it omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war. For instance, the intelligence report cited the much-disputed aluminum tubes as evidence that Saddam "remains intent on acquiring" nuclear weapons. And it claimed, "All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program"--a blatant mischaracterization. Subsequently, the NIE allowed that "some" experts might disagree but insisted that "most" did not, never mentioning that the DOE's expert analysts had determined the tubes were not suitable for a nuclear weapons program. The NIE also said that Iraq had "begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents"--which the DIA report had left pointedly in doubt. Graham demanded that the CIA declassify dissenting portions.

In response, Tenet produced a single-page letter. It satisfied one of Graham's requests: It included a statement that there was a "low" likelihood of Iraq launching an unprovoked attack on the United States. But it also contained a sop to the administration, stating without qualification that the CIA had "solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." Graham demanded that Tenet declassify more of the report, and Tenet promised to fax over additional material. But, later that evening, Graham received a call from the CIA, informing him that the White House had ordered Tenet not to release anything more.

That same evening, October 7, 2002, Bush gave a major speech in Cincinnati defending the resolution now before Congress and laying out the case for war. Bush's speech brought together all the misinformation and exaggeration that the White House had been disseminating that fall. "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program," the president declared. "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." Bush also argued that, through its ties to Al Qaeda, Iraq would be able to use biological and chemical weapons against the United States. "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," he warned. If Iraq had to deliver these weapons on its own, Bush said, Iraq could use the new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that it was developing. "We have 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," he said. "We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States." This claim represented the height of absurdity. Iraq's UAVs had ranges of, at most, 300 miles. They could not make the flight from Baghdad to Tel Aviv, let alone to New York.

After the speech, when reporters pointed out that Bush's warning of an imminent threat was contradicted by Tenet's statement the same day that there was little likelihood of an Iraqi attack, Tenet dutifully offered a clarification, explaining that there was "no inconsistency" between the president's statement and his own and that he had personally fact-checked the president's speech. He also issued a public statement that read, "There is no question that the likelihood of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or our allies ... grows as his arsenal continues to build."

Five of the nine Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Graham and Durbin, ultimately voted against the resolution, but they were unable to convince other committee members or a majority in the Senate itself. This was at least in part because they were not allowed to divulge what they knew: While Graham and Durbin could complain that the administration's and Tenet's own statements contradicted the classified reports they had read, they could not say what was actually in those reports.

Bush, meanwhile, had no compunction about claiming that the "evidence indicates Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." In the words of one former Intelligence Committee staffer, "He is the president of the United States. And, when the president of the United States says, 'My advisers and I have sat down, and we've read the intelligence, and we believe there is a tie between Iraq and Al Qaeda,' ... you take it seriously. It carries a huge amount of weight." Public opinion bears the former staffer out. By November 2002, a Gallup poll showed 59 percent in favor of an invasion and only 35 percent against. In a December Los Angeles Times poll, Americans thought, by a 90 percent to 7 percent margin, that Saddam was "currently developing weapons of mass destruction." And, in an ABC/Washington Post poll, 81 percent thought Iraq posed a threat to the United States. The Bush administration had won the domestic debate over Iraq--and it had done so by withholding from the public details that would have undermined its case for war.

Next: "'They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie,' the former ambassador tells TNR."

THE BATTLE WITH THE INSPECTORS
Winter-Spring 2003

By January 2003, American troops were massing on Iraq's borders, and the U.N. Security Council had unanimously approved Resolution 1441, which afforded Saddam a "final opportunity" to disarm verifiably. The return of U.N. inspectors to Iraq after four years had raised hopes both in the United States and abroad that the conflict could be resolved peacefully. On January 20, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin launched a surprise attack on the administration's war plans, declaring bluntly, "Nothing today justifies envisaging military action." Nor was this sentiment exclusively French: By mid-January, Gallup showed that American support for the impending war had narrowed to 52 percent in favor of war and 43 percent opposed. Equally important, most of the nations that had backed Resolution 1441 were warning the United States not to rush into war, and Germany, which opposed military action, was to assume the chair of the Security Council in February, on the eve of the planned invasion.

In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Bush introduced a new piece of evidence to show that Iraq was developing a nuclear arms program: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. ... Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

One year earlier, Cheney's office had received from the British, via the Italians, documents purporting to show Iraq's purchase of uranium from Niger. Cheney had given the information to the CIA, which in turn asked a prominent diplomat, who had served as ambassador to three African countries, to investigate. He returned after a visit to Niger in February 2002 and reported to the State Department and the CIA that the documents were forgeries. The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR. But, after a British dossier was released in September detailing the purported uranium purchase, administration officials began citing it anyway, culminating in its inclusion in the State of the Union. "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," the former ambassador tells TNR. "They were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this to make their case more persuasive."

On February 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell took the administration's case to the Security Council. Powell's presentation was by far the most impressive the administration would make--according to U.S. News and World Report, he junked much of what the CIA had given him to read, calling it "bullshit"--but it was still based on a hyped and incomplete view of U.S. intelligence on Iraq. Much of what was new in Powell's speech was raw data that had come into the CIA's possession but had not yet undergone serious analysis. In addition to rehashing the aluminum-tube claims, Powell charged, for instance, that Iraq was trying to obtain magnets for uranium enrichment. Powell also described a "potentially ... sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder." But Powell's evidence consisted of tenuous ties between Baghdad and an Al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who had allegedly received medical treatment in Baghdad and who, according to Powell, operated a training camp in Iraq specializing in poisons. Unfortunately for Powell's thesis, the camp was located in northern Iraq, an area controlled by the Kurds rather than Saddam and policed by U.S. and British warplanes. One Hill staffer familiar with the classified documents on Al Qaeda tells TNR, "So why would that be proof of some Iraqi government connection to Al Qaeda? [It] might as well be in Iran."

But, by the time Powell made his speech, the administration had stopped worrying about possible rebukes from U.S. intelligence agencies. On the contrary, Tenet sat directly behind Powell as he gave his presentation. And, with the GOP takeover of the Senate, the Intelligence Committee had passed into the hands of a docile Republican chairman, Pat Roberts of Kansas.

  

As Powell cited U.S. intelligence supporting his claim of a reconstituted nuclear weapons program in Iraq, Jacques Baute listened intently. Baute, the head of the IAEA's Iraq inspections unit, had been pestering the U.S. and British governments for months to share their intelligence with his office. Despite repeated assurances of cooperation, TNR has learned that Baute's office received nothing until the day before Powell's presentation, when the U.S. mission in Vienna provided the IAEA with an oral briefing while Baute was en route to New York, leaving no printed material with the nuclear inspectors. As IAEA officials recount, an astonished Baute told his aides, "That won't do. I want the actual documentary evidence." He had to register his complaints through a United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) channel before receiving the documents the day Powell spoke. It was an incident that would characterize America's intelligence-sharing with the IAEA.

After a few weeks of traveling back and forth between Baghdad and Vienna, Baute sat down with the dozen or so pages of U.S. intelligence on Saddam's supposed nuclear procurements--the aluminum tubes, the Niger uranium, and the magnets. In the course of a day, Baute determined, like the ambassador before him, that the Niger document was fraudulent. Though the "president" of Niger made reference to his powers under the constitution of 1965, Baute performed a quick Google search to learn that Niger's latest constitution was drafted in 1999. There were other obvious mistakes--improper letterhead, an obviously forged signature, a letter from a foreign minister who had not been in office for eleven years. Baute also made quick work of the aluminum tubes. He assembled a team of experts--two Americans, two Britons, and a German--with 120 years of collective experience with centrifuges. After reviewing tens of thousands of Iraqi transaction records and inspecting Iraqi front companies and military production facilities with the rest of the IAEA unit, they concluded, according to a senior IAEA official, that "all evidence points to that this is for the rockets"--the same conclusion reached by the State and Energy Departments. As for the magnets, the IAEA cross-referenced Iraq's declarations with intelligence from various member states and determined that nothing in Iraq's magnet procurements "pointed to centrifuge enrichment," in the words of an IAEA official with direct knowledge of the effort. Rather, the magnets were for projects as disparate as telephones and short-range missiles. Baute, who according to a senior IAEA official was in "almost daily" contact with the American diplomatic mission in Vienna, was surprised at the weakness of the U.S. evidence. In one instance, Baute contacted the mission after discovering the Niger document forgeries and asked, as this official described it, "Can your people help me understand if I'm wrong? I'm not ready to close the book on this file. If you've got any other evidence that might be authentic, I need to see it, and I'll follow up." Eventually, a response came: The Americans and the British were not disputing the IAEA's conclusions; no more evidence would be provided.

On March 7, IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei delivered Baute's conclusions to the Security Council. But, although the United States conceded most of the IAEA's inconvenient judgments behind closed doors, Vice President Cheney publicly assaulted the credibility of the organization and its director-general. "I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney told Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" on March 16. "I think, if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past." Incredibly, Cheney added, "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Cheney was correct that the IAEA had failed to uncover Iraq's covert uranium-enrichment program prior to the Gulf war. But, before the war, the IAEA was not charged with playing the role of a nuclear Interpol. Rather, until the passage of Resolution 687 in 1991, the IAEA was merely supposed to review the disclosures of member states in the field of nuclear development to ensure compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By contrast, in the '90s, the IAEA mounted more than 1,000 inspections in Iraq, mostly without advance warning; sealed, expropriated, or destroyed tons of nuclear material; and destroyed thousands of square feet of nuclear facilities. In fact, its activities formed the baseline for virtually every intelligence assessment regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

UNMOVIC Chairman Hans Blix received similar treatment from American officials--even though he repeatedly told the Security Council that the Iraqis had yet to account for the chemical and biological weapons they had once possessed, a position that strengthened the U.S. case for war. According to The Washington Post, in early 2002 Wolfowitz ordered a CIA report on Blix. When the report didn't contain damning details, Wolfowitz reportedly "hit the ceiling." And, as the inspections were to begin, Perle said, "If it were up to me, on the strength of his previous record, I wouldn't have chosen Hans Blix." In his February presentation, Powell suggested that Blix had ignored evidence of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons production. After stalling for months, the United States finally shared some of its intelligence with UNMOVIC. But, according to UNMOVIC officials, none of the intelligence it received yielded any incriminating discoveries.

  

AFTERMATH

What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat," Cheney instructed a Nashville gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, "is give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness." Cheney's admonition is resonant, but not for the reasons he intended. The Bush administration displayed an acute case of willful blindness in making its case for war. Much of its evidence for a reconstituted nuclear program, a thriving chemical-biological development program, and an active Iraqi link with Al Qaeda was based on what intelligence analysts call "rumint." Says one former official with the National Security Council, "It was a classic case of rumint, rumor-intelligence plugged into various speeches and accepted as gospel."

In some cases, the administration may have deliberately lied. If Bush didn't know the purported uranium deal between Iraq and Niger was a hoax, plenty of people in his administration did--including, possibly, Vice President Cheney, who would have seen the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Rice and Rumsfeld also must have known that the aluminum tubes that they presented as proof of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were discounted by prominent intelligence experts. And, while a few administration officials may have genuinely believed that there was a strong connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, most probably knew they were constructing castles out of sand.

The Bush administration took office pledging to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House. And it's true: Bush has not gotten caught having sex with an intern or lying about it under oath. But he has engaged in a pattern of deception concerning the most fundamental decisions a government must make. The United States may have been justified in going to war in Iraq--there were, after all, other rationales for doing so--but it was not justified in doing so on the national security grounds that President Bush put forth throughout last fall and winter. He deceived Americans about what was known of the threat from Iraq and deprived Congress of its ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the country to war.

The most serious institutional casualty of the administration's campaign may have been the intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA. Some of the CIA's intelligence simply appears to have been defective, perhaps innocently so. Durbin says the CIA's classified reports contained extensive maps where chemical or biological weapons could be found. Since the war, these sites have not yielded evidence of any such weapons. But the administration also turned the agency--and Tenet in particular--into an advocate for the war with Iraq at a time when the CIA's own classified analyses contradicted the public statements of the agency and its director. Did Tenet really fact-check Bush's warning that Iraq could threaten the United States with UAVs? Did he really endorse Powell's musings on the links between Al Qaeda and Saddam? Or had Tenet and his agency by then lost any claim to the intellectual honesty upon which U.S. foreign policy critically depends--particularly in an era of preemptive war?

Democrats such as Durbin, Graham, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, who has become the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, are now pressing for a full investigation into intelligence estimates of the Iraqi threat. This would entail public hearings with full disclosure of documents and guarantees of protection for witnesses who come forward to testify. But it is not likely to happen. Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, initially called for public hearings but recanted after Cheney visited a GOP senators' lunch on June 4. Cheney, according to Capitol Hill staffers, told his fellow Republicans to block any investigation, and it looks likely they will comply. Under pressure from Democrats, Roberts, the new Intelligence Committee chairman, has finally agreed to a closed-door hearing but not to a public or private investigation. According to Durbin, the Republican plan is to stall in the hope that the United States finds sufficient weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to quiet the controversy.

The controversy might, indeed, go away. Democrats don't have the power to call hearings, and, apart from Graham and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are treating the issue delicately given the public's overwhelming support for the war. But there are worse things than losing an election by going too far out on a political limb--namely, failing to defend the integrity of the country's foreign policy and its democratic institutions. It may well be that, in the not-too-distant future, preemptive military action will become necessary--perhaps against a North Korea genuinely bent on incinerating Seoul or a nuclear Pakistan that has fallen into the hands of radical Islamists. In such a case, we the people will look to our leaders for an honest assessment of the threat. But, next time, thanks to George W. Bush, we may not believe them until it is too late.

Correction: This article originally referred to Trent Lott as Senate majority leader in August of 2002. At the time he was Senate minority leader. The article has been corrected to reflect that change. We regret the error.

John B. Judis is a senior editor at TNR. Spencer Ackerman is an assistant editor at TNR.

Copyright 2003, The New Republic

Commentary:
The part that still pisses me off is no one in the media is demanding to know why Bush didn't give the UN inspectors proof that Iraq had WMD's. This one question and its lack of an answer will destroy this pesky little twirp once and for all.


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Senate Agrees to Investigate WMD Lies
The New York Times
By JAMES RISEN
June 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, June 20 — Senate leaders reached a compromise agreement today on the scope of their investigation into the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq, breaking a political logjam that had threatened the chances for a bipartisan approach to the inquiry.

In effect, the compromise calls for the Republicans to agree to conduct a review, through the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, while the Democrats agree not to call it an investigation. The compromise appears to allow both sides to claim victory in what had turned into a tense, partisan showdown within the normally quiet confines of one of the most secretive committees in Congress.

In a joint statement this afternoon, Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who is chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman and ranking Democrat, announced a "joint commitment" to conduct a "thorough review" of the prewar intelligence. Neither lawmaker used the word "investigation" to describe their plan of action.

Congressional officials said the wording of today's statement was carefully crafted by both senators, underscoring the political importance to both parties of the language employed by Congress as lawmakers wade cautiously into one of the most volatile political issues facing the nation today.

Republicans appear determined to limit the damage to the Bush administration from the increasing questions about the failure to find Iraq's unconventional weapons since the end of the war. Leading Democrats, meanwhile, appear uncertain about how aggressively to pursue the issue of prewar intelligence out of fear that evidence of Iraq's weapons program might surface any day, leaving them out on a political limb.

The behind-the-scenes battle within the Senate intelligence committee in many ways served as a proxy for the larger struggle between the two parties over the shape of the debate about Iraq's missing weapons.

The failure to find illegal weapons is raising questions for President Bush, who argued before the war that Iraq's development of such weapons posed an imminent threat to the United States. Intelligence reports concerning Iraq's development of such weapons formed the centerpiece of the Bush administration's case for war, both in its efforts to convince the American people and other nations of the need to oust Saddam Hussein.

Republican Congressional officials have said that they find the Democratic arguments over the nature of the investigation to be silly and partisan. They said that the Senate intelligence panel could conduct a thorough review as part of its normal oversight process, and that the Democratic calls for a full investigation were only intended to grab headlines. Democrats, on the other hand, argued that the normal oversight process would not provide for an aggressive investigation of the intelligence community.

In their statement, Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller said the committee "will continue to examine the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein's threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his own people; the objectivity, reasonableness, independence and accuracy of the judgments reached by the intelligence community; whether those judgments were properly disseminated to policy makers in the executive branch and Congress; whether any influence was brought to bear on anyone to shape their analysis to support policy objectives."

Even before the compromise was reached, the committee's staff had begun to dig into a pile of intelligence reports and documents that have been turned over to Congress by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies. The Senate panel has also agreed to hold a hearing soon on the role played by a special Pentagon intelligence unit in the shaping of intelligence before the war.

Officials with the Senate panel said they planned to hold a hearing in which they would ask Douglas J. Feith, an under secretary of defense, to testify about that unit, which worked under him, and which critics inside the intelligence community say issued reports that overstated the threat posed by Iraq.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
The Senate can't use the word "investigate." That word has been sanitized out of the discussions because it implies guilt and we don't want anyone thinking Bush is guilty of lying to Congress, the UN, the world, and the American people.

If democrats ever get balls again, they'll start calling it an investigation and leak every word to the press. National Security! Hooey! Cover-up!


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John Kerry's lighter side
MSNBC
By William Saletan SLATE.COM
June 16, 2003

June 16 —  For years, I've been dreading John Kerry's inevitable presidential candidacy. His precocious pomposity and corny Camelotisms convinced me both that he would run for president some day and that he would lose. And he was on his way to doing that until last week, when he attended a living-room reception in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Somebody seems to have removed the pole from Kerry's tuchis. He was funny, relaxed, and self-deprecating. If he keeps this up, he might actually become president.

Maybe the credit belongs to the bad weather that made him horribly late, throwing him off script. Or maybe it was the odd layout of the room, with some people seated on the floor and others on a sofa facing away from him. The senator's rumpled shirt sagged over his trousers. He thanked the audience for waiting, praised its "good humor,' and launched into an impromptu comic routine. His timing was excellent; his deadpan was worthy of late-night TV.

PUNCH LINES

Gesturing to a nearby piano, he joked that for a minute there, he thought he'd been booked for a recital. He recalled Bill Clinton's suggestion that presidents be allowed to serve three terms. "I promise just to serve two terms,' said Kerry, adding, "Republicans do it differently. … They just have the son repeat the father's whole first term.' His language was salty and boisterous. "What the hell's going on?' he teased. As the audience got into it, he demanded, "Yeah, applaud! Come on!'

Turning serious, Kerry reeled off several good lines I'd never heard from him before. He charged that President Bush's tax cut had "trickled on' the middle class. He accused the administration of "opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in American cities.' He dismissed Bush's conservative reputation, arguing that "no conservative Republican in America would run up the deficits' as Bush had done. Referring to Bush's Iraq victory speech, Kerry cracked, "I know something about working with aircraft carriers for real. I think it takes more than having a very skilled Navy pilot land you on an aircraft carrier to make up for two and a half million jobs lost.'

Kerry couldn't resist a few flowery allusions to President Kennedy and the moon landing. But overall, his presentation was refreshingly human. He dropped some of his G's. He raised both hands to his forehead to convey how crazy he thought Bush's tax cut was. It's hard to imagine Kerry mustering this much body language without Viagra. "This is a choice between common-sense American values-down-to-earth common sense-and a bunch of extremists who are prepared to undo 50 years of progress in this country,' Kerry declared. Down to earth? John Kerry? Heavens.

KERRY AT EASE   

My favorite moment was Kerry's response to an elderly woman who asked whether he was reconsidering his support of the Iraq war in light of Bush's failure to find weapons of mass destruction. For months, Kerry, the only man in the race to have risked his life for his country, has been the most cowardly candidate on the Iraq war. He's never walked into a sentence on that subject without leaving himself a way out. When I heard the question, I assumed Kerry would bend with the wind, attacking Bush's failure to find the WMD, but leaving himself an escape hatch in case the weapons turned up. I was wrong.

"I don't know yet' about the WMD, Kerry told the woman. "There are people who yet have to be debriefed. There are sites that yet need to be inspected. … I'm not going to jump to any conclusions.' The words were uncertain, but Kerry's expression was perfectly at ease. He wasn't focusing on how to protect himself from the question. He wasn't afraid. He was just trying to tell the truth as far as he knew it, and no more.

Leaving the reception, Kerry climbed onto a motorcycle outside. A woman who had just seen him speak called out, "Senator, you're not arrogant, and you're not aloof.' Kerry didn't answer. He just looked up at her, raised a devilish eyebrow, and gunned the motor.  

© 2003 MSNBC

Commentary:
From recent press reports and commentary the press is going to pull another Al Gore. They intend on attacking Kerry around the clock so Bush won't have to, kinda like they did with Gore and Clinton.

This story is from Slate, a left leaning rag. Take a look at what conservatives right wingers are saying about Kerry. He's clearly the man they fear.


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Presidential Wanna-Be's Are Inventing The WMD Myth
American Daily

By Rick Erickson
on 06/23/03

How important is it that our troops cannot find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when they really went to war to eliminate or reduce Iraq's ability to use WMD against the United States, either directly or through terrorist networks?

We know that, by ousting Sadaam Hussein's regime, the Coalition accomplished its mission to reduce the threat of WMD, and Iraqi defectors have confirmed Sadaam's programs intended to produce WMD for war and to funnel WMD to terrorists trained to kill non-combatant, innocent people throughout the world. The Iraqis' freedom from Sadaam was simply a by-product of accomplishing our mission to reduce the WMD threat.

Frustrated Democrats like Senator John Kerry are presuming (they do that a lot) that, because President Bush and Prime Minister Blair communicated WMD as a reason for the war, the war was not necessary until that reason is proven true by location of a thriving WMD plant in Iraq. It is like Kerry is saying that, in World War II, killing Germans was not necessary because Hitler never posed a legitimate threat to the U.S. from faraway Europe. Therefore, after World War II, President Roosevelt never proved that it was truly necessary for us to intervene and sacrifice American lives in Europe. To the contrary, neither Roosevelt nor Bush had to prove the necessity for war. They only had to direct a just war.

Throughout its long history and supplementation reflecting the evolution of armed conflict, the Law of War defines just and unjust wars for all nation states. The Law of War contemplated considerations before waging war, but the Law of War also recognized that it was not just to constrain nations from preemptively striking to prevent a looming attack, direct or indirect. The Law of The Hague, which identifies just means and methods of warfare, specifically provides that anticipatory self-defense justifies war. What the Law of War does not require is permission from multi-national bodies like the United Nations as legal grounds to attack another nation state. Neither does the Law of War require nation states to verify reasons for a preemptory attack when another nation state terrorizes upon secreted threats.

Because Sadaam slaughtered Kurds with WMD, it was plausible to believe that he was expanding his WMD programs. When the U.S. challenged Sadaam to disprove the threat, he was evasive and even defiant. The U.S. would not risk another reality-check like September 11, 2001, and Sadaam failed to make his case rebutting anticipatory self-defense threatened by the U.S. The Coalition was considerably tolerant and steadfast until it became tactically disadvantageous not to attack, especially due to the significant amount of time allowed for Sadaam to hide WMD at almost 600 suspected sites throughout Iraq's 171,559 square miles.

Detractors, like Senator Kerry, inventing the mystery of WMD in Iraq as grounds to de-legitimize Operation Iraqi Freedom, are also wrong to suggest that Coalition leaders deceived (Kerry said "lied' to) the public to make war. According to a recent report from USA Today, entitled "Weapon search has barely begun,' there are over 400 remaining "suspect sites' to be searched and analyzed. Therefore, Kerry's accusation is premature at best, and, with 64% of Americans believing that President Bush did not lie to make war, Kerry's accusation can only be seen for what it is - an incredible campaign slur.

Copyright 2003 American Daily unless otherwise noted.
Views are those of individual authors and not necessarily those of American Daily.

Commentary:
What a kicker. WMD are now just a myth and the Bushies are saying those who disagree with their lies are rewriting history. Most of America and the world were given false US intelligence. We know now how unreliable Bush's CIA and intelligence is. To blame the world, the UN or the Congress because they believed Bush is the height of hubris.

If the CIA wants to continue to have power, it best start proving to us that Bush lied.


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