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Impeach Bush

On Yellowcake Rising
LA Weekly
by John Powers
July 18-24, 2003

Last week, President Bush dropped in on Africa to remind American swing voters that he's a "compassionate conservative' and convince the rest of the world that he wants to help people of color and not just bomb them. The trip was pure Dubya. He did a 20-minute dash around Senegal's Goree slave island — rather like the 60-second Louvre tour in Godard's Band of Outsiders — and came out speaking against racial injustice, although he didn't bother to visit any poor villages or urban slums. He lectured the locals on the virtues of free trade (even as economists pointed out that U.S. farm subsidies are killing African agriculture) and told Botswana's President Festus G. Mogae (a name worthy of W.C. Fields) that the U.S. plans to give Africa $3 billion this year to fight AIDS. The fact that the actual appropriation is only $2 billion didn't trouble his head much, not enough to make him change his speech, anyway.

Our supine networks would normally have covered this trip precisely as Karl Rove envisioned — shots of our benevolent leader surrounded by beaming Africans in picturesque surroundings. But just when Bush was expecting a week of photo ops, his past caught up with him in the form of a single, 16-word line from January's State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.' The problem was simple. This claim (about "yellowcake' uranium from Niger) was based on forged documents, and Bush administration higher-ups knew it. Oops.

Suddenly, the news cycle was whirring like a gyroscope, anchormen were pedantically referring to the country of "Nee-zher,' and for the first time since the war in Afghanistan, the Bush team wasn't setting the nightly news agenda. Adversity always turns the president rabbity and mean, and, asked about the controversial line, he accused his doubters of "rewriting history.' (The correct term, in fact, would be writing history, but we'll let that pass.) Bush may tauntingly say, "Bring 'em on,' when it's only somebody else's life that's at stake, but bring on a tough question and he turns into his mother's son, all ill-tempered haughtiness. In Africa, he acted as if the charges against his speech somehow concerned the depth of his convictions. "There's no doubt in my mind,' he kept saying. "There's no doubt in my mind . . . I'm confident in the decision I've made.'

Meanwhile, back in Washington, his top advisers were torn between trying to score points and covering their own backsides.

On July 9, Donald Rumsfeld said he'd only learned the yellowcake reports were false "within recent days' (he'd actually heard it in March, at the very latest).

On July 10, Colin Powell explained why he'd cut what he called the "bullshit' uranium claim from his U.N. presentation: It hadn't passed "the test of time' (i.e., one week).

On July 11, Condoleezza Rice passed the buck, blaming the CIA for the bad information. Shortly thereafter, CIA boss George Tenet did what good CIA bosses do — he fell on the sword. Tenet accepted the blame for the 16 words, even though (as the current Time spells out) the CIA had actually warned against using the bogus story about yellowcake last October. It was likely Rice's National Security Council team that was eager to keep it in.

On July 12, presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told the media, "The president considers the matter closed and wants to move on.'

Maybe so, but the next day Rice and Rumsfeld were telling the Sunday-morning talk shows that, while the 16 words had been technically true (you see, the British still believe the uranium hoax), such unverified intelligence should not have been in the speech.

Maybe not, but on July 14, Bush was back to declaring U.S. intelligence "darn good' (I love it when he's folksy), and as Josh Marshall noted in his Talking Points Memo blog, Fleischer devoted his farewell press briefing to "an interesting meditation on the newfound distinction between ‘accurate' and ‘true.'' When the briefing ended and his job was finally done, Fleischer looked like the world's giddiest hard-boiled egg.

ALTHOUGH MOST RECENT COVERAGE has focused on the Bush administration's attempts to hype the threat of a nuclear Iraq — could the president and his advisers, just maybe, have been trying to scare us into pre-emptive war? — this tampering with intelligence reports is only one national disgrace. The other is that most of the mainstream American media pretended to swallow the White House's propaganda in the months leading up to the war, and now that the U.S. is stuck in Iraq, they've begun playing the too-late blues.

True, reporters got the obligatory "smoking gun' only a few weeks ago, when ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson finally spilled the beans about the phony information coming out of Niger. Not that you needed his revelations to doubt the administration's case for immediate war. When Powell dropped Bush's claim about uranium from his U.N. presentation back in February, this absence was widely noted in European papers. Similarly, it was big international news when, in early March, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, debunked both the Niger uranium hoax and Powell's assertion that aluminum rods found in Iraq could be used in making nuclear weapons.

Yet, just like the top congressional Democrats, most mainstream media outlets weren't about to risk offending the public by appearing skeptical or un-American during the run-up to war. They gave the merest olé-sweep of their capes at Bush's charge toward Baghdad and then hopped on his back for the ride.

Of course, such capitulation seemed natural back in March and April, when we were crushing a Third World army. It's now mid-July, and each day we wake to news of more American casualties (33 American soldiers have been killed, and 81 have died altogether, since Bush landed on that aircraft carrier). The weapons of mass destruction haven't been found. While Saddam makes his basement tapes, American GIs are complaining about being targets in midsummer Iraq (imagine wearing a flak jacket in the 110-degree heat) on a mission they've come to think impossible, even crazy. To top it all off, Rumsfeld last week revealed that the occupation of Iraq will cost nearly $100 billion over the next two years. Predictably, people have begun comparing Iraq to Vietnam (although this is a grievous insult to both Ho Chi Minh and millions of Iraqis who didn't exactly see Saddam as their George Washington).

Emboldened by this turn of events, the Democrats and the so-called liberal media have finally begun going after Bush's arguments for the war, albeit in a way that gives them a safe foothold. That is, they aren't yet going after his mistaken geopolitical presuppositions or the other whoppers (like Saddam's links to 9/11) that he used to push the country into war. Instead, they've fixated on those 16 words (hardly Bush's worst) precisely because such microscopic analysis appears factual, not ideological. It was precisely this sort of lie that took down Nixon, and if you listen closely, you can already hear the familiar lyrics of that boomer hit "The Ballad of Bob and Carl.' With dreary inevitability, bloggers are writing of "Nigergate,' Howard Dean has begun asking, "What did the president know and when did he know it?' and I sit waiting, gun in hand, for the first TV pundit to complete the trifecta by solemnly informing me that it's always the cover-up that gets you. It was 30 years ago, folks, 30 years.

There is, of course, enormous pleasure in watching the Bush team squirm, yet I fear that the Democrats (and the media) will overplay their hand. On KCRW's Left, Right & Center the other day, Roberto "Che' Scheer was already blaring about impeachment. Now, granted Scheer specializes in tone-deaf stridency (hasn't he learned anything from the charming Ms. Huffington?), yet he's not alone. Many of my Bush-hating friends express their own anger in these same terms; I myself am happy to have the idea out there. Still, before we get too ecstatic at the vision of a manacled Bush in The Hague, we should remember that the Republicans blew it by demanding Clinton's impeachment when his approval ratings were the same as Bush's are now.

At the moment, it's far from clear that the majority of Americans think there's a cover-up, let alone a crime — or give a damn about the yellowcake story at all.

In fact, Bush is far more likely to be done in by the steady drip-drip-drip of casualties in Iraq than by his lies in the State of the Union address, however reprehensible they may be.

The media may not like this, but most Americans accept the fact that presidents bend the truth, just as they know that even the most clean-cut young NBA star might well cheat on his wife with a blond 19-year-old, even one who's not entirely willing.

John Powers' e-mail address is on@laweekly.com

Commentary:
The author forgets a couple major points. President Clinton didn't have to face the voters again, Bush does. Second, Bush lied in his official capacity as president and lied in the State of the Union--a legal document required by the Constitution.

The article hits it on the head when they say Bush controlled the media from just after 9/11. They used 9/11 and fear to gain power for their power and to go to war based on ideology instead of facts. They will play a very heavy price.


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Wait for the Facts
Washington Post
Editorial
Wednesday, July 16, 2003; Page A22

A COUPLE OF questions have crystallized about the Bush administration's handling of intelligence information on Iraq. First, were U.S. and allied intelligence agencies wrong when they reported that Saddam Hussein continued to possess weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them? Second, did the Bush administration deliberately distort the intelligence reports to convince Americans that war was necessary? A yes to the first of those questions would confirm a major failure by U.S. intelligence, one that would cause serious damage to U.S. foreign policy and demand a strict accounting of what went wrong. If the second supposition proved true, those war opponents and Democratic presidential candidates who claim a major presidential scandal is unfolding might find some traction. For the moment, however, the answer to the first question is not yet known, though the failure of U.S. forces to find banned weapons is disturbing. And so far there is no hard evidence that President Bush or his top aides knowingly falsified the case for war.

In the absence of evidence, there has been an extraordinary amount of attention paid to marginal issues -- most recently, those 16 words in President Bush's State of the Union speech that said, accurately, that British intelligence believed Iraq had been seeking to obtain uranium in Africa. In fact, British intelligence did believe that -- and still does, even though one set of documents purporting to show an Iraqi procurement mission in Niger proved to be forgeries. Last week the White House announced that the sentence should not have been included in the speech, because the CIA knew of the Niger forgery and had not been able to confirm the broader British report. The claim was deleted from other administration statements, but some White House officials, banking on the British, apparently pressed for its inclusion in spite of the CIA's doubts. If so, that would represent one of several instances in which administration statements on Iraq were stretched to reflect the most aggressive interpretation of the intelligence.

Yet that does not mean the decision for war was based on false information. The Africa nugget, after all, formed a small part of the president's argument -- and like other questionable parts of the administration's case, it was widely disputed before the war. The heart of the argument -- that Iraq had repeatedly defied disarmament orders from the United Nations -- was endorsed in December by all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, and remains indisputable. Similarly, the conclusion that Saddam Hussein had retained chemical and biological weapons was one shared by the Clinton administration as well as every major Western intelligence service. That conclusion is now being challenged, but it hasn't yet been disproved; nor has it been established that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program. Indeed, the recent unearthing of designs and machinery for producing bomb-grade material in a scientist's garden seems more suggestive than the discrediting of the report on Niger.

The excessive heat generated by this secondary issue reflects the troubling but, for the moment, unresolvable uncertainty about why Iraq's WMD have not been found. Mounting anxiety in Congress and among the public about how the postwar occupation is going feeds this surrogate debate as well. It is vital that a debate go forward, and that the Bush administration be prepared to respond to it constructively. If intelligence assessments were wrong, Congress must probe why they were, and whether political pressures had any influence. But first it is necessary to determine the facts. Despite what some of the rhetoric from both sides might suggest, that job has not yet been done.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
I get a kick out of watching the press rewrite history. The Washington Post Editorial Board seems very apt at doing so, so let's take a quick look back to see why they supported war. Was it Saddam's failure to follow UN resolutions, or was it his WMD program?

'Drumbeat' on Iraq? A Response to Readers--Thursday, February 27, 2003; Page A26
"An outlaw dictator, in open defiance of U.N. resolutions, unquestionably possessing and pursuing biological and chemical weapons, expressing support for the Sept. 11 attacks."

There are many countries in defiance of UN resolutions that have weapons of mass destruction. Israel for example is one such country, so the logic is flawed. But the next part is best; "unquestionably possessing and pursuing biological and chemical weapons."

The Post was caught up in the Bush lies back then and it can pull itself away. What evidence did Bush provide that Saddam was pursuing biological and chemical weapons? None. What evidence did they have to prove he was "unquestionably possessing these weapons?" None. They simply made it up. Just like Bush.

"Iraq must disarm "because it represents a danger for the region and maybe the world . . . but we believe this disarmament must happen peacefully." Like everyone else, we hope it does happen peacefully. But if it does not -- if Saddam Hussein refuses as he has for a dozen years -- should that refusal be accommodated?"

It was happening peacefully until the Post and the rest of the media beat the drums of war. Saddam was disarming, but there were so few weapons the UN couldn't find them. The US has been in Iraq for months and still can't find the weapons the Post claims he had to disarm. Did it occur to them that he didn't have any weapons?

Here the Post does something truly appalling by quoting President Clinton; "In 1998 Mr. Clinton explained to the nation why U.S. national security was, in fact, in danger. "What if he fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? . . . Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal."

President Clinton was forced to launch an attack against Iraq because the UN inspectors weren't allowed to do their jobs. But under 1441, Saddam allowed the inspectors unfettered access. There's no words to express the Post's inability to place things in their proper perspective and tell the truth.

Were the inspectors allowed to do their jobs under 1441? Yes. Was there any evidence that they could find that proved Bush's statements about WMD were true? No. Yet the Post continues to this day to believe this nonsense. It boggles the mind that people of such low integrity write for major newspapers.

Final Days--Monday, March 17, 2003; Page A18
"If neither ultimatum proves effective, which seems likely, tens of thousands of American military personnel will be ordered on a mission to disarm Iraq and remove its dictator by force."

Again, what evidence did the Post have to suggest Saddam was armed? None. Their fatal flaw continues today as they attempt to rewrite why we went to war. It was about Saddam's arms, not about his violation of UN Resolutions. In fact, the Post has an almost disdain for the UN in the two editorials listed in this commentary, but today they hide behind Saddam not following UN resolutions when in fact he was following 1441.

"In our view, military action has been made necessary by Saddam Hussein's repeated defiance of U.N. disarmament orders;"

But Saddam was disarmed. What evidence did the Post provide in their editorials proving Saddam had NOT disarmed or disarming? None, they simply made it up. The title of this editorial is "Wait for the facts." It's too bad they didn't wait for the facts before supporting war.


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$455 Billion -- and Counting
Washington Post
Editorial
Wednesday, July 16, 2003; Page A22

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION projected yesterday that the federal budget deficit will reach a stomach-churning $455 billion this year and $475 billion in fiscal 2004; the sad part is, as terrifyingly large as those numbers sound, that's not the worst of it. Even scarier than the deficits this year and next, and even more troubling for the country's long-term economic health, is that large deficits appear here to stay -- sapping the economy and piling on debt that will have to be paid by generations to come.

Just two years ago, the administration was projecting a surplus of $334 billion for this fiscal year. In February, the administration estimated that this year's deficit would be a "mere" $304 billion; the new estimate is 50 percent higher. In explaining how things deteriorated so quickly, the Bush administration and its allies point fingers in various directions -- the recession, the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath, the cost of the war in Iraq -- and all of these contain a significant element of truth. In particular, the lagging economy has resulted in a dramatic falloff in tax receipts that, according to the Office of Management and Budget, accounts for more than half of this year's shortfall. But this omits a major culprit: the administration's reckless tax cuts. As OMB itself estimates, these account for 23 percent of the change since its 2001 projection, or $177 billion. In other words, without the tax cuts, the deficit this year would be $278 billion. The new OMB director, Joshua B. Bolten, said yesterday that the tax cuts were "not the problem," but "part of the solution." Some of the cuts may have provided a short-term boost, but the long-term price is far too high.

How bad are these deficits? The administration argues that, viewed in historical terms, the deficit is not that big. "A legitimate subject of concern," Mr. Bolten said. During the Reagan administration, the deficit hit a record 6 percent of gross domestic product; the administration points out that this year's projection would be 4.2 percent of GDP. But if the Social Security surplus isn't included in the calculation, the deficit will be $614 billion, or 5.6 percent of GDP. In addition, the deficit could be worse than the administration projects; for one thing, its figures don't include the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, running at about $5 billion a month.

The far bigger problems, though, are down the road. The administration projects that things will improve dramatically after the next two years, with deficits dropping to 1.7 percent of GDP by 2008. These figures benefit from projected spending levels that other budget experts see as entirely unrealistic. Moreover, this analysis ignores costs that will kick in later. The administration's projections conveniently cut off in 2008, before many of the costs of the tax cuts start to pile up -- especially if the administration gets its way and the supposedly temporary cuts are made permanent. Its projections also ignore the cost of fixing the alternative minimum tax, and the larger problem of dealing with Social Security and Medicare. Mr. Bolten's former colleagues at Goldman Sachs project deficits totaling $4.5 trillion over the next decade.

The Concord Coalition had it right in a report released just before these awful new numbers. The current approach, it said, "goes a step beyond deficits caused by understandable temporary factors. It is a deliberate decision to risk deficits throughout the coming decade. And it comes despite the fact that the only plan for dealing with the fiscal pressure of the boomers' retirement in the following decade is to run even bigger deficits. This fiscally irresponsible policy rates a failing grade."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
There's little doubt now that republicans are attempting to destroy the United States. The debt Bush is creating with these tax cuts will be with us for the rest of time. How will the next generation pay for real wars when they're still paying for this war and Bush's tax cut? No one bothers to ask these morons that question.

As of this writing (July 24, 2003) Bush is just one billion away from creating One Trillion Dollars of debt. That's more debt than all presidents before Reagan combined and he's doing it in a little over 2 1/2 years.

Borrowing money and giving it away to the super rich while at the same time cutting back services for the poor is immoral and bad government. The debt created through Bush Senior resulted in interest payments of over $1.9 trillion during the Clinton years. Financing our debt (interest) is very, very expensive (requiring taxes), but conservatives continue to hide these basic facts from the true believers. Shame on them.


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Black Thursday For Bush
By David S. Broder
Tuesday, July 15, 2003; Page A19

If President Bush is not reelected, we may look back on last Thursday, July 10, 2003, as the day the shadow of defeat first crossed his political horizon. To be sure, Bush looks strong. The CBS News poll released that evening had his approval rating at 60 percent, with solid support from his own party, a 26-point lead among independents and a near-even split among Democrats. Two-thirds of those surveyed could not name a single one of the nine Democrats vying for the right to oppose him.

But "The CBS Evening News" that night was like Karl Rove's worst nightmare, and the other network newscasts -- still the main source of information for a large number of Americans -- were not much better.

The headlines announced by John Roberts, substituting for Dan Rather on CBS, were: "President Bush's false claim about Iraqi weapons; he made it despite a CIA warning the intelligence was bad. More Americans say U.S. is losing control of Iraq. Also tonight, food lines in America; they're back and getting longer."

Brian Williams, filling in for Tom Brokaw on NBC, began: "War zone. Two more Americans dead in Iraq, and now the general who led the war says the troops could be there four more years."

Peter Jennings on ABC gave the administration a break, opening the broadcast with this: "The secretary of state says there was no attempt to deceive the American people about the case for war in Iraq." But then Jennings described Colin Powell's news conference as "damage control," an effort to explain "why the president used some false information in his State of the Union address to justify attacking Iraq."

All of them -- and cable news -- cited the dissonant voices from within the administration blaming one another for Bush's use of a report, which the CIA had long since discredited, claiming that Iraq tried to buy uranium for a nuclear weapons program from the African country of Niger.

Even after CIA Director George Tenet tried to take responsibility for the foul-up, the White House faces a credibility gap that reaches down into the non-discovery of the weapons of mass destruction Bush and his top associates said Saddam Hussein was amassing to threaten the United States.

And the doubts don't stop there. Two and a half months after Bush proclaimed victory in Iraq -- "mission accomplished" -- CBS reported that only 45 percent of the public now believes the United States is in control of events there. On the question of credibility regarding weapons of mass destruction, 56 percent say Bush administration officials were hiding important elements of what they knew or were outright lying.

The next day a Washington Post-ABC News poll reported that while Bush's approval score was still at a healthy 59 percent, there had been a 9-point drop in less than three weeks both in his overall rating and on the question of confidence in his handling of Iraq. Ominously, the poll found a dramatic reversal in public tolerance of continuing casualties, with a majority saying for the first time that the losses are unacceptable when weighed against the goals of the war.

Eight out of 10 in the Post-ABC poll said they were very or somewhat concerned that the United States "will get bogged down in a long and costly peacekeeping mission." And this was before the networks showed Gen. Tommy Franks telling Congress the troops would be in Iraq for years.

If Iraq looks increasingly worrisome on TV and in the polls, the economy is even worse. CBS found jobs and the economy dwarfing every other issue, cited by almost four times as many people as cited Iraq or the war on terrorism. On that black Thursday for the administration, first-time unemployment claims pushed the number of Americans on jobless relief to the highest level in 20 years.

And the most troubling pictures on any of the three broadcasts were those of a line of cars, stretching out of sight down a flat two-lane road in Logan, Ohio -- jobless and struggling families waiting for the twice-a-month distribution of free food by the local office of America's Second Harvest. The head of the agency said, "We are seeing a new phenomenon: Last year's food bank donors are now this year's food bank clients." Said CBS reporter Cynthia Bowers, "You could call it a line of the times, because in a growing number of American communities these days, making ends meet means waiting for a handout."

Some may say, "Well, it's one day's news," or dismiss it all as media bias. But that does not dissolve the shadow that now hangs over Bush's bright hopes for a second term.

David S. Broder will answer questions about this column during a Live Online discussion

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The beginning of the end? It's highly likely, but it all depends on how much good news coverage Bush can manufacture. Broder believes this is day the press turned against Bush. We'll see.

For example, if we conclude that the war with Iraq was an illegal war and unjustified because of Bush's lies and US casualties, will Americans still look to the networks and want to know if we killed Saddam's two sons? Since the war was clearly based on lies or unsubstantiated allegation it's hard to take much glee out of Saddam's sons being killed. I'm sure many will say it was cold-blooded murder, though I won't go that far.

However, if they were killed and if Saddam is still alive, I know if I were him I'd use whatever I have to hit the US back and it would be huge. These kind of stories sound good, but we should never underestimate how much Saddam hates the US--especially now.


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Jeb Bush Targets GOP Senators
Miami Herald
BY LESLEY CLARK AND PETER WALLSTEN
July 11, 2003

TALLAHASSEE - In a move that would pit Republicans against each other in next year's elections, an aide to Gov. Jeb Bush has suggested unseating two GOP senators and aggressively coaxing others who oppose the governor's push for caps in medical malpractice cases.

A memo from Deputy Chief of Staff Alan Levine to a Florida hospital executive describes the governor as ''out on a limb'' on the malpractice issue and uses strong language to suggest punishments for those who stand in the way.

In one case, referring to Bradenton Sen. Mike Bennet, a freshman, Levine writes, ``I think your comment about finding another candidate may not be out of line.''

The memo suggests the same treatment for Senate Majority Leader Dennis Jones of Treasure Island, a close friend of Senate President Jim King and a recent critic of Bush's hard-line stance.

''He's been a real issue,'' Levine wrote in the Tuesday e-mail, which was copied to Bush's personal e-mail account.

The memo, obtained by The Herald late Thursday, was greeted with anger by Senate leaders who have refused to accept Bush's insistence on a strict cap.

Senators said they were stunned by the specter of a powerful Republican governor using his political muscle to threaten members of his own party -- especially so close to a presidential election in which Bush will be counting on party support to help deliver the state for his brother.

''These are clearly efforts to intimidate by threatening,'' said state Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican who is mentioned in the memo. ``They're on the ballot. You bet it's an attempt to try to intimidate them into doing something they otherwise would not do for fear of their political livelihoods.''

In an e-mail to The Herald late Thursday, Bush called Levine's memo a ''mistake'' but did not close the door on taking aim at GOP senators next year.

''At this time, there are no plans on my office's part to target any senators,'' Bush wrote. ``I believe we can come to a settlement to the med mal crisis by working with the leadership of the House and Senate.''

Bush spokeswoman Jill Bratina said Levine's note was merely a response to complaints from the hospitals frustrated by the Senate's reluctance to back the governor.

''The hospitals feel they're not being represented,'' Bratina said. ``It's their right to back a different candidate and the governor believes Republicans need to stick with their core Republican beliefs, and that's providing access to healthcare.''

Lee said late Thursday that Levine called him to apologize.

The memo is the latest and most jarring development in what has become an all-out ideological war within the GOP over the medical malpractice issue -- a GOP that only eight months ago celebrated its most sweeping electoral success of the modern age.

The governor, backed by insurance companies and doctors, this week endorsed a compromise $1 million cap on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering that injured patients can win in court.

But King, an ally of the trial lawyers who represent patients and oppose caps, rejects a ''one size fits all'' approach.

Last week, King increased the tension by accusing Bush of pushing for jury award caps as part of a vendetta against the trial lawyers, who poured millions of dollars into campaigns against his brother in 2000 and the governor in 2002.

This week, Bush used a state GOP e-mail list to attack his party comrades in the Senate.

The Tuesday e-mail from Levine illustrates a feverish effort by Bush's office to find votes in the unfriendly Senate. But with the note's disclosure Thursday, the move could backfire and make matters even more treacherous for the governor.

''For the Republican governor who is the titular head of the Republican Party to be engaged in any kind of activity that targets Republicans or works against elected Republican officials is disappointing,'' said Senate President Pro Tempore Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. ``I don't think the governor or any Republican has a monopoly on Republicanism or has a monopoly on the truth.''

The e-mail was sent to Dan Miller, a regional executive for HCA in west-central Florida and the incoming chairman of the Florida Hospital Association.

According to Sen. Lee, Levine has close ties to Nashville-based HCA, which as one of the nation's biggest hospital operators has a major stake in the outcome of the malpractice debate.

Before working for Bush, he was the administrator of the HCA hospital in Sun City Center, near Tampa.

Every senator mentioned in Levine's memo represents districts in west-central Florida.

Herald staff writer Douglas Hanks III contributed to this report

© Knight Ridder

Commentary:
Can we say hubris? Dare to oppose a Bush and there will be consequences. Look how the press cow-towed to Bush's war machine and lies. Now the poor people of Florida have to endure the monster they created also. My heart goes out to them.


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Saddam's Second tape
Islam Online
July 17, 2003

BAGHDAD, July 17 (IslamONline.net & News Agencies) – As if U.S. President George Bush and  his war ally British Prime Minister Tony Blair were not having enough hard times at home over charging of cocking or at least exaggerating intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to make the case for war, ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein joined the chorus of critics blasting the war duo as "liars."

In an audiotape aired Thursday, July 17, by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV on the 35th anniversary of the Baath party seizure of power in Iraq, Saddam reportedly hailed Iraqi towns where U.S. troops have repeatedly come under attack.

He told Iraqis they were one people, be they Sunni or Shiite Muslim, Arab, Kurd or Turkmen.

The speaker, said to be Saddam, lambasted Iraqis appointed by the U.S. forces as being "lackeys" of the American occupier who will not serve their people's interests.

"What can those appointed by the occupier offer the people and country other than what the occupier wants?" Saddam asked in a thinly veiled reference to the U.S. handpicked interim Governing Council.

"How can the people benefit from employees named by the foreign occupiers," he said, charging the council was "made by the will of the foreigners, therefore it is the servant of the foreigner and not a servant of the people."

Meeting Sunday, the council first act was to abolish holidays marked by Saddam's regime and declare the day of Baghdad fall as a national holiday.

Iraqis received the formation of the new council with mixed feelings, but hoped it would be a key milestone to ruling themselves.

The reference to the council indicates the reported Saddam audiotape was new.

The speaker also underlined that the "lies" of Bush and Blair to justify the war on his country were finally being exposed.

"What will the liars Bush and Blair tell their people and mankind, what will the chorus of liars that backed them say, and what will they tell the world after they wove a scenario of lies against Iraq and its leadership?

"(What will they do) after it became clear that what they said were lies and that this was known to the president of the United States and the prime minister of Britain when they decided to wage war and aggression?" Saddam asked.

"In order to save themselves," Bush and Blair were now "trying to blame others" for those lies, he noted.

"What will Arab officials ... say after some jumped on the (U.S.-British) bandwagon and took part in the aggression?"

As with previous messages, the authenticity of the tape could not be verified, though U.S. intelligence sources have said the other tapes appeared to be the voice of Saddam.

The new audiotape comes amid an upsurge in attacks on U.S. troops in Baghdad and to the north and west, which the top U.S. commander in the region, General John Abizaid, described as a guerrilla war.

On June 4, a day after the U.S. put up 25 million dollars for information leading to his arrest, Saddam said he was still inside Iraq and that "Jihad cells" had already been formed "on large scale" across the country to resist the occupation.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Thursday, March 20, called on Iraqis to resist, vowing victory will be theirs just hours after the United States unleashed war.

Saddam's whereabouts have been a mystery since his overthrow by the U.S.-British forces on April 9.

Copyright © 1999-2003 Islam Online All rights reserved

Commentary:
One quick point. The media stated as fact every time Bush or the military claimed Saddam was dead. Now, we get tape after tape showing he's alive and press reports and the government are slow in determining if the tapes are really him. Wouldn't it have been nice if both had the same standards when they claimed he was killed--over and over and over and over?


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Greenspan: Deficits threaten reduction of unemployment
Kansas City Star
July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says that "substantial and excessive" federal budget deficits -- if not reduced -- will hurt the economy's ability to grow enough to reduce unemployment.

Greenspan, testifying Wednesday before the Senate Banking Committee, was more pointed in his criticism of rising federal deficits than he had been in an appearance before a House panel Tuesday, the day the Bush administration announced its new projections showing a serious worsening of the deficit outlook.

"There is no question that if you run substantial and excessive deficits over time, you are draining savings from the private sector, and, other things being equal, you do clearly undercut the growth rate of the economy," Greenspan said, noting the area where economists think deficits inflict the most harm.

Rising government borrowing crowds out the borrowing that private corporations need to make investments to expand and modernize. It is this investment that is a major contributor to rising productivity, which allows the economy to grow at faster rates and boosts U.S. living standards.

"I have no question that if we do not come to grips with these deficit issues, it will make it more difficult for us to maintain the type of growth rates" that will bring the unemployment rate down, Greenspan said.

He noted that 75 million baby boomers begin retiring at the beginning of the next decade. Those retirements will make severe demands on the government's two biggest benefit programs, Social Security and Medicare.

Greenspan said the benefits mean Congress promised a level of spending "in excess of our capability to finance it...When we get into the period beyond 2010...we are running into potentially serious troubles."

Greenspan never specifically mentioned the Bush administration's new deficit projections, which forecast record deficits of $455 billion this year and $475 billion next year, sharply higher than the administration's forecast earlier in the year.

But Democrats on the committee seized on Greenspan's remarks to bolster their arguments that the government's soaring deficits, which they blame on the administration's tax cuts, will be harmful to the economy.

"We're in the midst of some of the worst economic news we've had in a long time, particularly the unemployment numbers," Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, told Greenspan. "And the administration seems to suggest more tax cuts and it'll get better. So the Congress has passed more tax cuts, and it's getting worse."

President Bush heard more encouraging words Wednesday from handpicked economists.

Bush invited private economists to reassure him -- and to try to persuade the country -- that the large tax cuts he engineered are helping create jobs at a time when the unemployment rate is at a nine-year high of 6.4 percent.

The economists, who included two Reagan White House officials, told Bush what he wanted to hear -- "how the growth and tax package has had such a very positive impact on the economy," Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said.

Democrats argued otherwise.

"This administration's economic policy is a failure, a total failure," said Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. "This is about as dismal and poor a performance in economics as I can remember in the history of this country."

The economists summoned to the White House said they saw no short-term harm in the deficits.

"I think the deficits at this point are having a positive impact," Martin Feldstein, an economics professor at Harvard University who was an adviser to President Ronald Reagan, told reporters after meeting Bush. He said the deficits had to be controlled in the long term.

Princeton University economist Burton Malkiel added: "If there is any time in which one ought to have a deficit, it is a time where there is economic slack and a job market that is not recovering the way we would like to see it recover."

Greenspan said that the level of government deficits affects long-term interest rates, a view that some administration officials have challenged.

And he told the committee that he didn't think tax cuts were the right way to provide short-term stimulus to the economy.

Many economists think that it takes Congress so long to pass tax cuts that they normally only have an effect after the economy has begun to improve.

Greenspan told the Senate committee Wednesday that it had been "fortuitous" that the large tax cuts turned out to have passed Congress in time to help the economy.

Greenspan provided crucial support to Bush shortly after he took office in 2001 by dropping his longtime insistence that any government surpluses should be used to reduce the national debt as a way of bolstering the government's finances.

He said in 2001 that the surpluses being projected at that time -- $5.6 trillion over 10 years -- were so large that there was enough money to pay down the debt and provide for a tax cut of the size Bush was proposing.

However, at the beginning of this year, Greenspan voiced opposition to Bush's third round of tax cuts, saying he thought the economy would improve without them.

He also repeated his view that the worsening deficits necessitate paying for any further tax cuts, either by reductions in government spending or by increases in taxes in other areas.

© Kansas City Star

Commentary:
Ya gotta love this story. Bush told us his tax cut was necessary to create jobs but Greenspan says Bush's deficits, which are caused in part by his tax cut is causing the job loss. Damn, talk about perfect timing. Fiscal policy can destroy the economy. Without job growth, the deficit soars and tax cuts kill job growth, therefore they create deficits. The cycle feeds on itself until we have record deficits and an economy in shambles.

Deficits exceeding $400 billion are reason enough to vote every republican out of office--as if you need another. Don't forget, deficits are future taxes, they are not tax cuts.

Reagan created massive deficits with his tax cut in 1981. Don't forget how these guys operate. They borrow tons of money, give it away, create massive tax increases for future presidents and then bask in phrases like "it's morning in America." Don't fall for it and don't forgive them. Deficits ARE NOT TAX CUTS.


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General: U.S. faces guerrilla warfare
Twin City.com
Thu, Jul. 17,

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military acknowledged Wednesday for the first time that American troops in Iraq were facing "a classical guerrilla-type campaign," as a string of attacks in Baghdad left one U.S. soldier dead and at least six wounded.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, the new head of U.S. Central Command, said the fighting was being waged by former members and supporters of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime and by foreign Islamic terrorists.

"It's low intensity but it's war, however you describe it," said Abizaid, who said the anti-American fighters are increasingly organized.

It was the first time that a senior U.S. commander had acknowledged that daily attacks nearly three months after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations were more than uncoordinated strikes by disparate groups of former regime members, criminals or foreigners.

In the most serious assault on U.S. soldiers Wednesday, insurgents attacked a large Army truck convoy traveling west out of Baghdad, near the Abu Ghraib prison, with rocket-propelled grenades.

The attack killed one soldier and wounded three others, and left a demolished truck cab sitting on the side of the highway, its hood blown off by the force of the blast. Another truck, burned but still intact, came to rest in a shallow ravine next to the highway.

The death brought the number of American combat deaths in Iraq to at least 147, matching the total number of troops killed by hostile fire in the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict.

At least three other Americans were wounded in a flurry of attacks Wednesday on the anniversary of Saddam's seizure of power in 1979, and the U.S. military braced for more attacks today, the anniversary of the Baath Party's 1968 revolution — Saddam's biggest holiday.

Suspected Saddam loyalists also assassinated the U.S.-backed mayor of Haditha and one of his sons Wednesday, while insurgents also unsuccessfully fired a surface-to-air missile at a C-130 cargo aircraft landing at Baghdad International Airport, the second such attack in 10 days.

Abizaid, who will go to Iraq shortly to confer with U.S. commanders, said attacks were being conducted by hard-line remnants of the Baath Party, security forces and paramilitary units that are "organized at the regional level in cellular structure."

"We're seeing a cellular organization of six to eight people armed with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), machine guns, etc., attacking us at, sometimes, times and places of their choosing. And at other times we attack them at times and places of our choosing," he said. "They are receiving financial help from probably regional-level leaders."

Abizaid pledged that the United States and its allies would not be driven from Iraq by the attacks, but he cautioned that pacifying Iraq might require that fresh American troops be ordered to yearlong tours there, double the normal duration of Army forces on peacekeeping duty.

The assessment by Abizaid was a significant change from previous comments by senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said as recently as June 30 that the insurgents' raids were too haphazard to qualify as a guerrilla war or organized resistance.

Abizaid refused to be drawn into discussing whether his assessment of the insurgent threat in Iraq contradicted that of Rumsfeld or other officials; he said that the description of "guerrilla tactics" was proper "in strictly military terms."

Pentagon planners disclosed Wednesday that a number of new or unusual options are under consideration to replace battle-weary U.S. ground forces in Iraq such as the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team, built around a new, lightly armored vehicle, might be ordered to Iraq this fall, and Pentagon officials are analyzing whether to activate, early next year, any of the National Guard's enhanced brigades, which are specially designated units that train with the active-duty Army and are assigned its most modern combat equipment.

Pentagon officials said other options include assigning the Marine Corps a major piece of the long-term peacekeeping operation, though it has been a traditionally expeditionary force, or turning to individual Army battalions or brigades — and not full division structures — if they have not yet seen duty in Iraq.

The focus on assigning Marines to Iraq peacekeeping duties — as well as pressing allies for contributions of forces — is driven at least in part by the fact that of the Army's 33 active-duty combat brigades, 21 already are deployed: 16 in Iraq, two in Afghanistan, two in South Korea and one in the Balkans, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

In an effort to rally allies to contribute forces for the stabilization mission in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that he was discussing with his foreign counterparts and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan the possibility of introducing new U.N. resolutions that might make it possible for countries like India to take part in the coalition in Iraq.

India, as well as France and Germany, has said it would only send troops under U.N. auspices.

Stress on American ground combat units has been evident in recent days as members of the 3rd Infantry Division, the longest-serving Army unit in Iraq, were quoted in television and other interviews as being openly critical of Rumsfeld and their mission after hearing that their promised return home may slip into late autumn.

The Knight Ridder Foreign Service, New York Times and Bloomberg News Service contributed to this report.

© Pioneer Press

Commentary:
Poor Bush and Rumsfeld. They managed a war against a nearly defenseless country with ease, all the while the press was captivated by this strong leaderershp, but in reality Bush lied to us about going to war and he got us stuck in a war we can't win.

If the US had support from the UN we could fix this mess but as long as it's just the US and Britain I don't see the killing coming to an end. Some of these people hate the US and of course being offered $500 to take a shot at an American is probably too easy to turn down.

We had to rush to war because....? The French wanted us to wait 30 or 60 days to see what the inspectors turned up. We couldn't wait because......?

Bush needed war to be done and over with fast so the markets could recover so the economy could recover before the presidential election. The vote to go to war was about getting his party in power during the mid-term elections and war was about making sure he was reelected. War had NOTHING to do with a threat to our national security.


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Senate widens intelligence inquiry
Washington Times
July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- The Senate Intelligence committee will dig deeper into why President Bush used bad information to send troops to Iraq.

The committee indicated Wednesday it will widen its investigation into President Bush's disputed charges last January about Iraq's attempts to buy uranium in Africa, going beyond the CIA's responsibility.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said it was possible the committee would call White House officials to testify, USA Today reported.

It was the first indication from the Republican-controlled committee that its inquiry would go beyond the CIA's role in vetting portions of Bush's State of the Union address.

Meanwhile, the FBI has begun a preliminary investigation into the source of the forged documents that outlined Iraq's alleged efforts to obtain uranium from the African nation of Niger, senior law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Federal investigators have already begun interviewing a number of potential witnesses in the inquiry, including CIA officers.

© 2003 News World Communications, Inc.

Commentary:
Now we know republicans are scared. If it looks like they're hiding something and it does, they're in trouble. Bush has gone from being an asset to being an albatross around their collective necks. With the 9/11 investigation coming out soon, it appears timing is against Bush. I can't imagine they give Bush a clean bill after the biggest intelligence failure in US history. At some point, Bush has to take responsibility. It's not one of his strong traits, in fact, he seems completely unable to do so. Too bad, the longer he holds out the more republicans that will bite the dust.

Does he care? Not a chance. Look at the Jeb Bush story above.


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The Buck Stops There
Slate.com
By William Saletan
Posted Monday, July 14, 2003, at 3:31 PM PT

When George W. Bush ran for president, one of his big selling points was responsibility. Americans were tired of Bill Clinton's fudges and legalisms. They were tired of hearing that the latest falsehood was part of a larger truth, or that it was OK because the president had attributed it to somebody else, or that the country should "move on." Bush promised to end all that. He promised an "era of responsibility" in which leaders and citizens would no longer "blame somebody else."

This month, Bush was given a chance to make good on those promises. In his State of the Union address earlier this year, he told Americans, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." But in March, the International Atomic Energy Agency debunked the only public documentation for that claim. And on July 6, a U.S. emissary who had been sent to Niger to check out the principal basis of the claim disclosed in the New York Times that he had found—and had told the U.S. government more than a year ago—that "it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place."

What do Bush and his aides have to say about this?

1. It's the CIA's fault. On Friday, in a joint briefing with White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice emphasized that the CIA had "cleared" Bush's speech. In case anyone missed the point, Rice repeated it nine times verbatim and another eight times indirectly. Hours later, a reporter asked Bush, "Can you explain how an erroneous piece of intelligence on the Iraq-Niger connection got into your State of the Union speech? Are you upset about it, and should somebody be held accountable?" Bush replied that the speech "was cleared by the intelligence services."

CIA Director George Tenet took a different approach. He didn't blame CIA underlings who had cleared the speech. "I am responsible for the approval process in my Agency," he said.

The honorable step for Bush—who had often promised to restore honor to the White House—would have been to follow Tenet's example by declaring, "I am responsible for the approval process in my administration." Instead, Fleischer told reporters on Saturday, "The President is pleased that the Director of Central Intelligence acknowledged what needed to be acknowledged. … The President said that line because it was based on information from the intelligence community, and the speech was vetted." On Sunday, Rice repeated on Face the Nation that "the clearance process should have picked up" the error and that Bush had to "depend on the intelligence agencies" to remove bogus lines from his speeches. On Monday, Bush repeated three more times that the CIA had "cleared" the speech.

2. It's the speechwriters' fault. The intelligence reports on which the claim was based were "given to the speech writers; they wrote it," Rice pleaded on Fox News Sunday. When asked on Face the Nation how the line got into Bush's speech, Rice described the process this way: "A text is created." Tenet agreed that the line "should never have been included in the text written for the President." True, every president relies on speechwriters. But if presidents get the credit for good lines (and, as in the case of "axis of evil," get irked when speechwriters take credit for them), they ought to take equal responsibility for the bad ones. If speechwriters were always at fault, no president who stuck to his script could ever be called a liar.

3. It's true that Britain said it. Rice went on three of the five Sunday talk shows to insist that the uranium line "was indeed accurate. The British government did say that." On the other two shows, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likewise argued that the line was "technically correct" and "technically accurate." When Bush ran for president, he derided Bill Clinton for failing to correct the statement by Clinton's lawyer, Bob Bennett, that "there is no sexual relationship" between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Evidently, that standard of responsibility has expired. Now it's OK not just to permit a fishy statement but to repeat it, as long as you attribute it to somebody else.

It's also now OK to hedge your language just enough to avoid clear falsehood. According to Tenet, CIA "officials who were reviewing the draft remarks on uranium raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence with National Security Council colleagues. Some of the language was changed." By all accounts, the change consisted of attributing the statement to Britain. On Sunday, Rice assured CNN viewers that "had there been a request to take that [line] out in its entirety, it would have been followed immediately." Since the CIA didn't demand removal of the line "in its entirety," the White House decided that tweaking the language was good enough.

4. It's part of a larger truth. On Wednesday, Bush was asked whether he still believed that Saddam had sought "to buy nuclear materials in Africa.' Bush reframed the question in broader terms: "I am confident that Saddam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program." On Saturday, Fleischer added: "A greater, more important truth is being lost in the flap over whether or not Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. The greater truth is that nobody, but nobody, denies that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons." Fleischer went on to emphasize the "larger truth" and the "bigger picture." Monday, Bush again changed the subject to this "larger point"—evidently forgetting that he and Fleischer took a slightly less generous view of larger truths back when the subject was Al Gore's role in creating the Internet.

5. It's time to move on. "The President has moved on. And I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on as well," Fleischer told reporters Saturday, without apparent irony.

Rice's comments raise several additional questions. In her briefing with Fleischer, she said twice that the CIA cleared the speech "in its entirety." But according to Tenet, the CIA received only "portions" of the draft. On Late Edition, Rice claimed that "the Agency did not react to [the] statement" about uranium during the vetting. On Face the Nation, she added, "Had there been even a peep that the agency [CIA] did not want that sentence in … it would have been gone." Neither comment squares with Tenet's assertion that CIA officials who reviewed "the draft remarks on uranium raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence with [NSC] colleagues."

It's fitting that Fleischer asks us to move on from the uranium story as he prepares to move on to a new career in the private sector. We'd like to move on, too, Ari. It's just that when it comes to presidential responsibility, we seem to be moving in circles.

©2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
As I see this whole flap, the Bush defense is the CIA didn't stop him from lying therefore he's not responsible. I don't get it. If he's president then he should know if the line is accurate or not. He's been doing this war with Iraq stuff for over a year and you'd think he learned something in all that time. Bush's best defense then, is "the buck stops at the CIA, not on the president's desk."

Perhaps someone should have connected the dots or draw a picture for him. Oops, he's already used that excuse.


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