Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Impeach Bush

Bush Appointees Get Bonuses
CBS News
July 11, 2003

(CBS/AP) Working at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission may not sound that glamorous — unless, of course, you were one of the six people who received an average bonus of $11,783 under a controversial Bush administration policy.

The Washington Post reports 470 political appointees received $1.44 million in bonuses last year, according to an Office of Personnel Management report obtained by Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

The trading commission posted the highest average bonus. The State Department handed out the most in bonus money, $257,500, to 23 appointees.

In March 2002 the White House lifted a ban ordered by President Clinton in 1994 on paying bonuses to political appointees. Mr. Clinton imposed the ban because of questionable payments in the last days of the first Bush administration.

But President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, lifted the ban, allowing bonuses for "substantial work achievements that go well beyond the performance of routine duties."

Only 19 percent of the roughly 2,500 political appointees got the bonuses. High-level appointees — those confirmed by the Senate — cannot receive any bonuses. Under law, no bonuses can be paid in presidential election years.

With the government facing the largest deficit ever, some Democrats say the bonuses are unwise. They also feel they are unfair, since the Bush administration tried to block a 4.1 percent raise for civilian federal employees this year and is trying to privatize roughly half the federal workforce.

In December, the president said the government would not award federal workers their usual raises based on private sector salary growth in metropolitan areas. Mr. Bush cited the war against terrorism as the reason for not paying those raises. He later relented and salaries were adjusted retroactively.

But the administration says the bonuses are cheap, coming atop a total federal payroll of $100 billion. Plus, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan tells The Post, "the administration believes that federal workers should have the opportunity to be rewarded for excellence, whether they are career employees or political appointees."

©MMIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Commentary:
How do you keep people in line--following the Party Line no matter what? You pay them using tax dollars. Federal workers didn't get a raise because we're at war, but there's plenty of money for awards going to political appointee's. Good grief. Who are these people and what did they do that was so good? I'd like to know.


top

Liars or Incompetents?
Washington Dispatch
Garfield Jones
July 10, 2003

This week another U.S. administration has had to admit to an error, one with dire consequences. There is no debate now on whether or not the administration of George W. Bush used false evidence, it is whether the use of such evidence was intentional or not. The debate now is whether to label them as liars or incompetents, either one of which cannot be in the best interests of the U.S.

Some would argue, that the administration is not infallible, that mistakes are tolerable; indeed, mistakes are inevitable. This only begs the question of whether or not America can afford an administration that makes mistakes of this cataclysmic proportion. After all, this mistake did lead to an armed conflict, and to the deaths of American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, and more importantly, Iraqi civilians. So can this mistake be labeled as tolerable? Hardly, it can only be labeled as incompetent if it was unintended.

I am of the belief though, that the error was not a mistake, it was not incompetence; it was a brutal and corrupt political scheme to "win' over public opinion for a cause not widely believed to be necessary. It was the politics of fear, the politics of keeping "them' –the electorate- afraid in order to achieve the new imperial order that conservative Americans feel is needed to maintain and extend American hegemony throughout the world- PNAC!

Some may say that is a bit of a stretch, but how did faulty intelligence find its way into a state of the union address and a UN briefing? How did so many smart people make the decision to go ahead with it, but more importantly, why? The answer lies within the power base that stands firm behind each and every President. The administration needed an imminent threat to convince their base that war now was the only viable answer. The base needed something tangible to scream loudly for action with. The administration put forth a lie, which was hungrily chewed up, devoured by the base and spit out into the mainstream. The base was willing, and are still willing, to overlook the obvious deceptions. They are the willing lambs of GWB, sheep.

No less a source than the CIA had already debunked the findings. The only way the leadership could not have known this is, if whoever it was at CIA headquarters that discovered the deception, did not tell anyone about it, but that has already been proven to not be the case. When the administration received this report, who decided that it was going to be ignored? Who decided that the information was going to be put out there, for Americans to willingly gobble up?

Was it the VP? He would have been obligated to share this with the President and if he did not, then his head should be the one on the block. Was it the Chief of Staff, the National Security advisor, the Secretary of State? Who will take the fall? Who will stand up and admit they lied? Who will step forth and try to protect the President?

An important offshoot of this question, should one of them claim responsibility, is who is in charge in the Bush White House. If someone other than congress or the President can take the country to war by misrepresenting evidence, then what does this mean for Bush and the American public? How will they separate fact from fiction, when it all spews forth from the same source? It would seem that the President's advisors keep an awful lot from him (remember the denials after 911 that he had received any security briefings?). In so doing, they seem to be the ones dictating all the important domestic and foreign policy decisions. Is this the persona that the Bush Administration wishes to adopt- that anyone, other than the President, dictates the decisions and direction of the country?

The most plausible explanation is that they all knew the reports were false and used them as a strategic maneuver regardless- from the President on down. What exactly am I alleging- that the President lied to the American public to achieve a narrow political gain. It's that simple. They knew, and they put it out there anyway, because they were counting on public apathy to overcome any credible questioning. They put it out there because once discovered, they felt they had the political cover, the plausible deniability (British intelligence) to cover their tracks. They put it out there because they knew that Americans, conservative Americans in particular, would not be willing to lay blame at the door of the President and ask for accountability. The hope is that I am wrong, and that conservatives who asked the tough questions about Bill Clinton's sexual escapades will now ask tougher questions about a President lying his way into an armed conflict, that has cost and continues to cost, countless lives.

The leader of the most powerful country in the world has led his nation into a war backed up by faulty information. Some of you out there may be comfortable with that; hopefully most of you are not. Today it was Iraq, tomorrow, who knows. What will you believe when this same leader tells you that the U.S. is in imminent danger of a nuclear missile strike and must act first? What if he says the intelligence points to it but is too sensitive to share? What will you believe? The President has opted to create a credibility gap, which is now in serious need of repair.

Garfield can be reached for comment at feedback@washingtondispatch.com

© Washington Dispatch 2003

Commentary:
I think Bush silly war was about his "New World Order" and about getting power for his party (remember how he wanted Congress to vote for war last October just before the election) and he wanted to cement his legacy of being a "wartime President." To do all this, he had to lie, mislead, break laws, defraud the congress in the State of the Union, and allow innocent Americans soldiers to die for his cause--that cause being his reelection.

Do you recall how Bush attacked any democrat who dared to disagree with him in the mid term elections last year? Then when dems or the Dixie Chicks dared to defend themselves or say he's wrong the entire media jumped them for being un-American. Shame on Bush for abusing his presidential power, and shame on the media for helping him.


top

WTO decision on steel tariffs favors Europe
Houston Chronicle
New York Times
July 11, 2003

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The World Trade Organization issued its formal finding Friday that steel tariffs imposed by the United States last year were illegal. The ruling could lead the European Union countries and other nations to retaliate later this year with sanctions on U.S. exports.

The United States will appeal the decision, said Richard Mills, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. trade representative. "In the meantime, the steel safeguard measures will remain in place," he said in a statement.

Friday's ruling came after an interim ruling in March also went against the United States. The ruling now goes to an appellate body of seven judges within the WTO that is expected to give its final word in November or December.

If Washington's appeal fails, the EU will impose sanctions on American imports worth as much as $2.2 billion almost immediately, said Arancha Gonzalez, the European Commission spokeswoman on trade issues.

Although the United States had granted many European steel makers exemptions from the import tariffs, Europe would still push for the maximum sanctions allowed by the WTO, she said.

"The exemptions were granted to help U.S. steel users, not to give European steel makers a present," she said, adding "There is no reason to modify the $2.2 billion sanctions list."

Trade lawyers, however, said they expect the EU to pare back its list. "The WTO would call for a reduction in the amount of U.S. products to be targeted," said Richard Weiner, a trade specialist in the Brussels office of the law firm of Hogan & Hartson.

Commentary:
Bush is like Reagan in a lot of ways. He's clueless about what's going on so he can get away with playing dumb and he talks about free trade all the while he restricts it--just like Reagan. Reagan didn't find a tariff he didn't like. If you believe in free-trade, don't vote for a republican president.


top

New Overtime Rules
The New York Times
By CARL HULSE
July 11, 2003

WASHINGTON, July 10 — The House cleared the way today for the Bush administration to impose new rules on overtime pay, narrowly rejecting Democratic arguments that the plan will cost millions of workers the opportunity to earn extra money.

While considering a $138 billion measure that pays for labor, health and education programs, the Republican-controlled House defeated a Democratic proposal to block proposed wage rules that have become the subject of a struggle between business and labor. The vote was 213 to 210. The underlying spending measure was approved 215 to 208.

Under a proposal made this spring by the Labor Department, anyone earning less than $22,100 would qualify for overtime if they worked more than 40 hours, an increase from the current level of $8,060.

At the same time, businesses would gain new authority to exempt white-collar workers and others deemed to hold "positions of responsibility" from extra pay.

Democrats said the proposal would mean that as many as eight million workers like police officers and fire and hospital employees who count on overtime as an essential part of their income could be denied the money.

"Overtime is not a luxury, it is a necessity for many American families," said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California.

Mr. Miller said the administration plan would take "hundreds of millions of dollars of hard-earned pay" out of families' pockets.

Republicans disputed the estimate of how many workers could lose overtime and said the proposal was an overdue effort to modernize complicated regulations and make 1.3 million low-income workers eligible for overtime pay. The Labor Department estimated that 640,000 workers could lose overtime benefits.

Representative Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican and author of the spending measure at issue, said House Republican leaders thought the "rules that have been promulgated are fair because it does elevate the million people into an opportunity to make some extra money and get paid for time if they put it in."

The rules have become a point of contention between labor and business, and the two worked the halls of the House to make their case. Fourteen Republicans, mainly from New York and New Jersey, joined Democrats in the effort to block the rules.

Republican lawmakers with ties to labor said some lawmakers uneasy with the new rules were hesitant to vote against them because the House leadership and the administration were making the vote a test of loyalty. The administration threatened to veto the spending bill if it contained the Democratic proposal.

"The White House feels very strongly," said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of Long Island and an opponent of the overtime change.

Mr. King said he believed that it was a political mistake to move ahead with the rule and that "we're just handing an issue to the Democrats."

Other Republicans said the old rules were confusing and had not been updated since the 1970's.

"They simply do not meet the needs of today's 21st-century work force," said Representative John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who is chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee.

Democrats could try to stall the wage changes in the Senate, but the House vote will complicate such an effort. If Congress does not object, the administration will be able to move forward with the new rules.

Democrats also challenged the overall bill, saying it failed to provide what was needed for health and education. But efforts to generate more money for those programs by reducing the recently passed tax cut for the affluent were ruled out of order.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
I'm thinking Bush is going to be so weakened that he'll have to give democrats whatever they want. They hold the key to keeping him in power. If all the dems oppose him and a few republicans he's gone. I don't see a need for the federal government taking away overtime pay. It's a pay back to those who bought his presidency.

As I understand it a lot of firemen, police officers and nurses (as well as others) need this pay to survive.

I suppose when your daddy sets up business schemes so you can become a millionaire by doing nothing, it's hard to understand why anyone needs overtime. Talk about out of touch. Every republican who voted for this nonsense should be booted out of office.


top

Tenet Testimony Raises New Furor
CBS News
WASHINGTON, July 17, 2003

(CBS/AP) CIA Director George Tenet told members of Congress a White House official argued with the CIA and insisted that President Bush's State of the Union speech contain the now-discredited claim about Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa, according to a Democratic senator.

The White House quickly dismissed the charge by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., calling it "nonsense" and "ridiculous.

Durbin, who was present for a 4½-hour appearance by Tenet behind closed doors with Intelligence Committee members Wednesday, said Tenet named the official. But Durbin said the name could not be revealed because of the confidentiality of the proceedings.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said it's "not surprising" the charge came from a member of a small minority in Congress that didn't support the president's action in Iraq, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.

"If the CIA had said take it out, we would have taken it out," said McClellan.

Durbin told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Tenet "certainly told us who the person was who was insistent on putting this language in which the CIA knew to be incredible, this language about the uranium shipment from Africa."

"And there was this negotiation between the White House and the CIA about just how far you could go and be close to the truth and unfortunately those sixteen words were included in the most important speech the president delivers in any given year," Durbin added.

Countered McClellan: "The whole idea that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was not real was something that was never under debate previously. This is an attempt to continue to rewrite history."

Tenet — described as "very contrite" — told the Senate panel he was responsible for bad intelligence finding its way into Mr. Bush's Jan. 28 speech to Congress and the nation. In that address, the president cited the accusation about an African connection as part of his justification for going to war to oust Saddam.

"The more important question is who is it in the White House who was hell-bent on misleading the American people and why are they still there?" Durbin said Thursday.

"Being a member of the Intelligence Committee I can't disclose that but I trust that it will come out," he said. "But it should come out from the president. The president should be outraged that he was misled and that he then misled the American people."

Durbin and other Democrats in the Senate had said earlier the question is not why Tenet failed to remove the Africa information from the speech, but who insisted on leaving it in. "All roads still lead back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Durbin said.

He promised to offer an amendment later Thursday to a pending defense-spending bill "calling on the president to report to Congress as to exactly how intelligence was used by his White House. Was he given good information, or people in his White House given good information, which was then hyped or spun or exaggerated to try to create this sentiment in favor of war. That's a very important question."

The claim that Saddam sought uranium from Africa was supported by British intelligence but rejected by U.S. officials. It was based, at least in part, on a series of forged documents.

Mr. Bush and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, blamed Tenet for failing to seek the removal of the statement from the January speech. Tenet issued a statement Friday accepting responsibility.

After Wednesday's hearing, Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., described Tenet as "very contrite. He was very candid, very forthcoming. He accepted full responsibility."

Roberts said it was clear "there were mistakes made up and down the chain." He said the hearing reaffirmed his belief that "the handling of this was sloppy."

Roberts also said he expected to hold open hearings on the Iraq intelligence, probably in September.

But Democratic committee members said too much blame was being placed on Tenet.

"In a sense, I feel a little badly for George Tenet," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Wyden said the CIA was not pushing to have the uranium matter included in Mr. Bush's speech, but that the White House was trying to justify its drive to oust Saddam.

"I believe that there was if not a battle royal between the CIA staff and the White House staff, certainly some back and forth," he said. "I believe that in this case, the White House political staff was looking at every rock, every nook and cranny to make their case and I believe the political staff prevailed."

Responding to a question, Roberts said White House officials may be called before the panel to discuss the handling of the intelligence.

Both the Senate and House intelligence committees are holding inquiries on whether prewar intelligence was inaccurate or mishandled to help Mr. Bush make the case for war. Democrats have stepped up demands for a formal investigation after the White House acknowledged that the uranium claim should not have been in the State of the Union speech.

A proposal by Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., for an independent investigation of the prewar intelligence was defeated Wednesday in the Senate on a 51-45 vote. Corzine sought to include the amendment as part of a $386.6 billion defense-spending bill.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, described the proposal as "an attempt to smear the president of the United States."

©MMIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Commentary:

Our right to know what our government does and why it's doing it has been severely limited and restricted.

Why does the republican Senate do everything in secret? Why can't we know who told Bush to put that line in the State of the Union? Without his veil of secrets, this Oz would have fallen a long time ago. Once again, blame the media for allowing republicans to get away to SECRET hearings.


top

CIA Asked Britain To Drop Uranium Claim
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 11, 2003; Page A01

The CIA tried unsuccessfully in early September 2002 to persuade the British government to drop from an official intelligence paper a reference to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa that President Bush included in his State of the Union address four months later, senior Bush administration officials said yesterday.

"We consulted about the paper and recommended against using that material," a senior administration official familiar with the intelligence program said. The British government rejected the U.S. suggestion, saying it had separate intelligence unavailable to the United States.

At that time, the CIA was completing its own classified national intelligence estimate on Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. Although the CIA paper mentioned alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from three African countries, it warned that State Department analysts were questioning its accuracy when it came to Niger and that CIA personnel considered reports on other African countries to be "sketchy," the official said. The CIA paper's summary conclusions about whether Iraq was restarting its nuclear weapons program did not include references to Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa.

The latest disclosures further illustrate the lack of confidence expressed by the U.S. intelligence community in the months leading up to Bush's speech about allegations of Iraqi efforts to buy uranium in Africa. Even so, Bush used the charge -- citing British intelligence -- in the Jan. 28 address as part of his effort to convince Congress and the American people that Iraq had a program to build weapons of mass destruction and posed a serious threat.

The White House on Monday acknowledged that Bush's uranium claim was based on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech, further stoking a controversy over the administration's handling of prewar intelligence. Democratic lawmakers yesterday called for public hearings, while the Democratic National Committee opened an advertising campaign to encourage people to sign petitions calling for an independent commission.

At a news conference in Botswana, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell defended the president's use of the intelligence. "There was no effort or attempt on the part of the president or anyone else in the administration to mislead or to deceive the American people," Powell said. "There was sufficient evidence floating around at that time that such a statement was not totally outrageous or not to be believed or not to be appropriately used."

Only eight days after the State of the Union speech, however, Powell himself did not repeat the uranium allegation when he presented the administration's case against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council. "After further analysis, looking at other estimates we had and other information that was coming in, it turned out that the basis upon which that statement was made didn't hold up, and we said so, and we've acknowledged it, and we've moved on," Powell told reporters in explaining his decision. Under the British formulation of events, Powell would not necessarily know all of the basis underlying their statement.

The U.S. and British governments, whose intelligence agencies have a long history of close relations, have sought to maintain a united front despite suggestions in Congress and Parliament this week that both governments may have exaggerated the evidence against Iraq to support the case for war. But as the controversy escalates, the interests of the two allies have begun to diverge.

The Bush administration effectively has discarded the uranium allegation. The government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, however, has stood behind its September conclusion that Iraq "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" for a possible nuclear weapons program despite the release of a report by a British parliamentary commission this week that challenged the allegation and, in effect, Bush's decision to include it in his address.

British officials have insisted that the Bush administration has never been provided with the intelligence that was the basis for the charge included in London's September intelligence dossier.

National Security Council guidance distributed within the U.S. government yesterday acknowledged that "no intelligence has been provided to the United States [by Britain] on this subject," sources said. The British intelligence was provided by an unidentified "third country," a diplomatic source said.

Meanwhile, administration officials shed some new light yesterday on the process that led to the inclusion of the uranium-purchase allegation in the president's State of the Union speech in which Bush said that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The early drafts of the speech did not include Britain as the source of the information, according to administration officials. A senior official denied that Britain was inserted in the final draft because the CIA and others in the U.S. intelligence community were concerned that the charge could not be supported. The British addition was made only "because they were the first to say it publicly in their September paper," the official said.

Powell noted yesterday that the British government continues to believe in the information it produced. "I would not dispute them or disagree with them or say they're wrong and we're right, because intelligence is of that nature," Powell said. "Some people have more sources . . . on a particular issue. Some people have greater confidence in their analysis."

Administration officials preparing drafts of the speech also wanted to name Niger as the focus of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium, according to a senior administration official who has looked into the process. But when CIA officials said there were problems with the Niger information, the more vague reference to Africa was substituted for Niger. The State Department, in its talking points on Iraq, had made a similar change the month before the speech.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told the U.N. Security Council in March that the Niger claim had been based on forged documents, a conclusion the Bush administration did not dispute at the time.

Staff writer Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Blair's intelligence is as wishy-washy as Bush's. When will Bush demand to see Blair's intelligence and better yet why hasn't the Congress demanded Bush turn it over. I smell cover-up coming from the Republicans in Congress. Bush is going down and it's only a matter of time before we see how many republicans he takes with him.


top

Rumsfeld: Iraq call based on old facts
Charlotte Observer
ESTHER SCHRADER
Los Angeles Times
Jul. 10, 2003

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday that the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq was based not on new evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but on old evidence reinterpreted in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We acted because we saw the existing evidence in a new light -- through the prism of our experience on 9/11."

In a packed hearing room, Rumsfeld fielded questions from senators who praised U.S. commanders and troops for their actions in Iraq but repeatedly questioned whether they could sustain their long and grueling deployment and whether the administration overplayed intelligence assessments of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

Rumsfeld's testimony came a day after the White House acknowledged that President Bush's claim in his State of the Union speech that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa was based, in part, on false documents. Congressional committees are investigating whether the administration used faulty or exaggerated intelligence on Iraq's weapons to bolster its case for war.

Bush said he stood by the central argument of his speech.

"I am confident that Saddam Hussein had a weapons-of-mass-destruction program," the president said Wednesday during his visit to South Africa. "I am absolutely confident in the decision I made."

Ten weeks after Bush declared major combat operations done in Iraq, no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been found.

At a news conference Wednesday by the Arms Control Association, a private advocacy group, Greg Thielman, former director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research, said the administration misused information on Iraq.

"I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq," he said. "When we began military operations, Iraq posed no imminent threat to either its neighbors or to the United States."

In his Senate testimony, Rumsfeld did not go into much detail on the ways that Sept. 11 influenced assessments of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, but he noted that the attacks "changed our appreciation of our vulnerability and the risks the U.S. faces from terrorist states."

Rumsfeld defended U.S. intelligence on Iraq leading up to the war as "quite good" and insisted that finding weapons of mass destruction was a matter of time.

The secretary faced some of his toughest questions from senators concerned about protection of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., grilled Rumsfeld on whether he had worked hard enough to secure a commitment from NATO to send troops.

"Why have we not asked NATO to formally decide as NATO to raise that force and to give its endorsement to our action? Is it because we're afraid France might not go along, or what?" Levin asked.

Rumsfeld insisted that administration officials had reached out to NATO on the issue of sending troops to Iraq.

@copy The LA Times 2003

Commentary:
Did you ever think 19 people could so destroy the ability of Americans to think logically? Those 19 so-called terrorists have done enormous damage to our Constitution, our economy, our allies, our standing in the world, our ability to hear facts instead of beliefs, our congress, our president and our media. Those 19 people are probably the strongest 19 people in the history of the world. Their actions have almost brought the US to its knees--and they still have power almost two years after 9/11.

It's time for us to take that power back.


top

PM's Iraq claims 'reek of dishonesty'
News.com (AU)
July 11, 2003

CLAIMS yesterday that a key intelligence agency withheld from the government American doubts about Iraq's nuclear aspirations reeked of dishonesty, former intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie said today.

The Office of National Assessments (ONA) yesterday revealed it knew American agencies in January had doubts over claims Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Africa but did not pass the information on to Prime Minister John Howard.

Mr Wilkie, who resigned from ONA earlier this year in protest at the government's pro-war stance, today said the story appeared to be either a monumental blunder or dishonest.

"There is something wrong with this whole story, it reeks of dishonesty, it reeks of children overboard, the fact that the prime minister is claiming he was unaware," he said.

"I just find that story unbelievable.

"This was either a terrible act of dishonesty or it was a monumental blunder, a blunder so serious that it calls into question our whole intelligence relationship with the US and Australia's intelligence processes."

Mr Wilkie said he had enormous respect for ONA officers, including the agency's director-general Kim Jones, and did not believe they would make such a significant mistake.

"I think some sort of failure within government is a much more likely scenario rather than a failure within ONA," he said.

AAP

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

Commentary:
Australian Intelligence knew the evidence was phoney, but the line is they didn't share it with government leaders. What the hell is going on here? If I was the PM of Australia and found out key information was withheld or glossed over, heads would be rolling. I don't believe it.


top

Private Lynch hoax officially corrected
News.com (AU)
July 11, 2003

A US army report blamed jammed weapons, wrong turns, fatigue and the harsh environment for the Iraqi ambush in which 11 soldiers died and six, including Private Jessica Lynch, were captured.

The March 23 ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company's convoy near the southern city of Nasiriyah resulted in the worst single-day loss of life during the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Lynch's dramatic rescue on April 1 made her a national hero, although the report - a draft of which was obtained today by AFP - indicates military officials initially got the story of her capture wrong.

The report, which is expected to be released officially by next week, praises the company's soldiers for their conduct and does not recommend any disciplinary action.

"They fought the best they could until there was no longer a means to resist. They defeated ambushes, overcame hastily-prepared enemy obstacles, defended one another, provided lifesaving aid and inflicted casualties on the enemy," the report said.

"Every soldier performed honourably and each did his duty."

The ambush occurred after 33 soldiers from the company in 18 vehicles became separated from the main US military advance into Iraq after falling more than 12 hours behind. They had been on the road for three days with little sleep.

In his efforts to catch up, the company commander, Captain Troy King, took the wrong route into Iraqi-held Nasiriyah instead of bypassing the city, the report said.

On their way into the city, they passed two checkpoints that appeared to be manned by armed Iraqi soldiers, who waved at the convoy, according to the report.

The convoy came under attack while passing through Nasiriyah a second time after a series of wrong turns. For more than an hour, the soldiers fought a running battle with their attackers. In the confusion, the convoy became split into three smaller groups. Vehicles became disabled and crashed into each other.

Some of the soldiers reported their M-16 rifles jammed when they tried to return fire, which "may have resulted from inadequate individual maintenance in a desert environment", the report said.

It said Lynch was seriously injured when the vehicle she was in crashed into the back of another vehicle at high speed and was later captured, refuting earlier, unconfirmed reports that she had been shot or stabbed while resisting.

Lynch was still recovering from her wounds today at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, where she was listed in satisfactory condition, a hospital statement said.

She has declined all requests for interviews.

The report said six other soldiers were captured, including Private Lori Piestewa, who died in captivity of her wounds.

The five survivors were freed by their captors after the April 9 fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The report said the circumstances of how two soldiers died remains under investigation.

Video images broadcast on the Arabic satellite news channel Al-Jazeera after the battle showed what appeared to be bullet holes in the foreheads of some of the dead US soldiers, indicating they may have been executed after being captured.

Last week, nine of the company's soldiers were honoured with medals, including Private Patrick Miller, who the report said may have killed as many as nine Iraqis as he fought to protect his wounded comrades before being surrounded and captured.

Agence France-Presse

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

Commentary:
Are you beginning to wonder if anything we were told is true? The military let the media say some really stupid things, of course never correcting the record, until now It's seems a shame that we have to wait months for the military to tell us the truth. In the mean time Lynch was made into a national hero and NBC is or was going to make a movie about her. Now it all seems a bit more than I can handle. How about the soldiers that died, or did really heroic stuff. We didn't hear about them because we were caught up in this farce about Lynch. Months ago the BBC said the story was fabricated. Now the US military is finally giving-in and admitting it also. What took them so long? And after knowing the truth do you believe Lynch doesn't remember what happened anymore? Call me a cynic but I think she knows exactly what happened so she played the part assigned to her by her government and country. Hero? Not a chance.


top

Rumsfeld doubles Iraq cost estimate
Washington Times/UPI
July 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has nearly doubled the estimated military costs in Iraq to $3.9 billion a month.

Under intense questioning from Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Rumsfeld reported to the committee cost estimates for the Iraq campaign had reached $3.9 billion per month, on average from this past January through September, the New York Times reported.

A Pentagon official said the figure includes expenses for military operations, including fuel, transportation, food, ordnance and personnel, but not reconstruction costs. The $3.9 billion figure is nearly double the $2 billion per month estimate issued by administration officials in April. In addition, the cost of operations in Afghanistan are now $900 million to $950 million monthly, Rumsfeld said.

During a grueling four-hour hearing, committee members alternately complimented the military's war plan but criticized the Pentagon's planning for the postwar stabilization of the nation.

All site contents copyright © 2003 News World Communications, Inc.

Commentary:
Imagine it, almost $1 billion a week in Iraq. Now that's money. First our government manufactured a reason to go to war, then we blow the country to pieces, now we have to rebuild it--mostly by ourselves because we didn't get UN support. What a mess and we did it to ourselves. We believed Bush's war machine and we believed the media and their war machine.

This is the first political scandal that I can think of since McCarthyism in which the media not only played a major part in the scandal but the scandal wouldn't have been possible without their support. Shame on them.


top