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Impeach Bush

9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida
An Impeachable Offense
UPI
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 7/25/2003 8:11 PM

(Editor's note: What follows is a corrected and updated version of a story originally published by UPI on July 23, 2003, under the headline "9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida.")

WASHINGTON, July 25 (UPI) -- A member of the independent commission set up to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has accused the Bush administration of deliberately delaying publication of an earlier congressional inquiry into the attacks.

Former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., told United Press International that the White House did not want the report made public before launching military action in Iraq. He said the administration feared publication might undermine the administration's case for war, which was based in part on the allegation that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had supported Osama bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction.

"The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of bin Laden's terrorist followers ... What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."

Cleland accused the administration of deliberately delaying the report's release to avoid having its case for war undercut.

"The reason this report was delayed for so long -- deliberately opposed at first, then slow-walked after it was created -- is that the administration wanted to get the war in Iraq in and over ... before (it) came out," he said.

"Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration."

The congressional inquiry, by members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees, was launched in February 2002 amid growing concerns that failures by U.S. intelligence had allowed 19 al-Qaida members to enter the United States, hijack four airliners and kill almost 3,000 people.

Although the committee completed its work at the end of last year, publication of the report has been delayed by what one committee staffer called "vigorous discussion" with administration officials over which parts of it could be declassified.

The 800-page report -- 50 pages of which were censored to protect still-classified information -- was published Thursday.

It is a litany of poor management, bad communication and flawed policy that enabled the 19 hijackers to carry out their deadly plan. Failures by the CIA, the FBI and the super-secret National Security Agency are catalogued.

Many of the censored pages concern the question of support for al-Qaida from foreign countries. Anonymous officials have told news organizations that much of the still-classified material concerns Saudi Arabia, and the question of whether Saudi officials -- perhaps acting as rogue agents -- assisted the 19 men, 15 of whom were Saudis.

Inquiry staff would not comment to UPI about the issue, but one did say that the section contained references to "more one country."

Prior to the report's publication, a person who had read it told UPI that it showed U.S. intelligence agencies had no evidence linking Iraq to the 9-11 attacks or to al-Qaida. In fact, the issue is not addressed in the declassified sections of the report.

One other person who has seen the classified version of the document told UPI subsequently that the Iraq issue is not addressed in the still-classified section, either. "They didn't ask that question," the person said.

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Commentary:
The cover-up continues. First, the 9/11 report was delayed until after the war because it shows Bush lied about a connection between 9/11 and Iraq and al-Qaida, and the second scandal is Bush delayed the report until after his silly war as over.

One of the primary reason's for Bush's war (before he started to rewrite history) is his claim that Iraq was a threat to the US because of its connections to al-Qaida. Since the report shows that's not true, then the rest of Bush's excuses (reasons) need to be explored even closer. There remains no evidence whatsoever that Bush told the truth about any aspect of the War with Iraq. Clearly the war was a political tool--used to beat up democrats and anyone in the press who dared to oppose his war. It was an attempt to use "national security" and war as a smoke-screen for his record deficits and campaign for reelection.


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Let them eat yellowcake
Star Tribune
Published July 13, 2003

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

President Bush, State of the Union message, Jan. 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The White House on Friday stood by President Bush's assertion that Iraq has sought uranium in Africa in recent years, saying that his allegation in January was supported by more evidence than a series of letters now known to have been forged . . . .

Associated Press, June 13

From White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's press briefing, Monday, July 7:

Q: I just want to take you back to your answer before, when you said you have long acknowledged that the information on yellowcake [uranium] turned out to be incorrect. If I remember right, you only acknowledged the Niger part of it as being incorrect -- I think what the --

Fleischer: That's correct.

Q: I think what the president said during his State of the Union was he --

Fleischer: When I refer to yellowcake I refer to Niger. The question was on the context of Ambassador [Joseph] Wilson's mission.

Q: So are you saying the president's broader reference to Africa, which included other countries that were named in the [national intelligence estimate], were those also incorrect?

Fleischer: Well, I think the president's statement in the State of the Union was much broader than the Niger question.

Q: Is the president's statement correct?

Fleischer: I'm referring specifically to the Niger piece when I say that.

Q: Do you hold that the president -- when you look at the totality of the sentence that the president uttered that day on the subject, are you confident that he was correct?

Fleischer: Yes, I see nothing that goes broader that would indicate that there was no basis to the president's broader statement. But specifically on the yellowcake, the yellowcake for Niger, we've acknowledged that that information did turn out to be a forgery.

Q: The president's statement was accurate?

Fleischer: We see nothing that would dissuade us from the president's broader statement.

Q: Ari, that means that, indeed, you all believe that Saddam Hussein was trying to obtain uranium from an African nation; is that correct?

Fleischer: What the president said in his statement was that according to a British report they were trying to obtain uranium. When I answered the question it was, again, specifically about the Niger piece involving yellowcake.

Q: So you believe the British report that he was trying to obtain uranium from an African nation is true?

Fleischer: I'm sorry?

Q: If you're hanging on the British report, you believe that that British report was true, you have no reason to believe --

Fleischer: I'm sorry, I see what David is asking. Let me back up on that and explain the president's statement again, or the answer to it.

The president's statement was based on the predicate of the yellowcake from Niger. The president made a broad statement. So given the fact that the report on the yellowcake did not turn out to be accurate, that is reflective of the president's broader statement, David. So, yes, the president's broader statement was based and predicated on the yellowcake from Niger.

Q: So it was wrong?

Fleischer: That's what we've acknowledged. . . .

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 7 -- The White House acknowledged for the first time today that President Bush was relying on incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information from American intelligence agencies when he declared, in his State of the Union speech, that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Africa. . . .

-- New York Times, late edition final, July 8, 2003

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.

-- Washington Post, July 11, 2003

ENTEBBE, Uganda, July 11 (Reuters) -- The White House pointed the finger at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency on Friday over a false accusation that Iraq tried to buy African uranium.

President George W. Bush said his charge Iraq tried to buy nuclear material from Africa was approved by his "intelligence services," and U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the specific wording was approved by the CIA.

© Copyright 2003 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Bush spent over a year trying to go to war. He asked Congress to authorize war last October, and now we're led to believe he didn't know his evidence was bogus and it's the CIA fault that they didn't stop him from lying. Clearly Bush was clueless about key elements of his reasons for going to war–in other words, he was simply making things up.

There isn't a single fact presented by Bush that has turned out to be true. We can all understand one mistake, perhaps two, but when there's a consistent record of misleading and lying to the American people and Congress (or worse yet, the inability to know the facts because of limited intellect or curiosity) then Bush has proven himself unqualified to preside.


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Iraq: Yellowcake Aside, How Real was the Rest?
Time
Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2003

Iraq: Yellowcake Aside, How Real was the Rest?
Besides the intelligence the Administration knew was bad, it's worth examining the intel they assumed was good.

The Niger yellowcake uranium imbroglio concerns a piece of intelligence Washington knew was bad that was nonetheless restated in President Bush's State of the Union address. A bureaucratic snafu, says the Bush Administration, and one which doesn't detract at all from the case for war; in fact it was hardly a significant part of that case in the first place. Indeed. But three months after taking control of Iraq, the deeper question looming on the horizon is less how one item of bad intelligence slipped into a keynote speech than how so much of the intelligence the Administration had believed was solid appears to have been rather liquid, even gaseous.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has attempted to ride out the yellowcake crisis by defending Bush and at the same time clearing his own name by making clear that he never repeated that particular untruth. Combining those two objectives can be tough. "At the time of the president's State of the Union, a judgement was made that was an appropriate statement for the president to make," he told reporters in South Africa last week, referring to the Niger allegation. "When I made my presentation to the United Nations and we really went through every single thing we knew about all of the various issues with respect to weapons of mass destruction, we did not believe that it was appropriate to use that example anymore. It was not standing the test of time. And so I didn't use it, and we haven't used it since." The test of time?! Exactly eight days passed between the president's speech and the secretary's UN presentation.

Powell doesn't get off that easily, because it's not only the President's Niger claim that is now under a shadow of doubt. The Secretary of State began his February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council — supposedly the best-scrubbed version of the indictment against Saddam — with the promise that "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." Three months after coalition forces have taken control of Iraq, it's worth asking how many of Powell's facts have stood the test of time. For example: "While we were here in this Council chamber debating Resolution 1441 last fall," Powell told the Council, "we know, we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agent to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq. Most of the launchers and warheads had been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection." These days, President Bush likes to tell us that when all is said and done, we will "realize that Saddam had a weapons program." In other words that he harbored the intent and some of the means to build weapons of mass destruction at some point in the future, and had, as we all know, done so in the past. But in making its case for war, as Powell's UN testimony shows, the Administration was claiming a lot more — it told us, for example, that Saddam was at that moment hiding missiles carrying biological warheads in the palm groves of Western Iraq. And that's a very different order of menace.

If these bio-tipped missiles did, in fact exist, then the failure to find them must surely rank as the most frightening screw-up of the war. If they're still out there, then the 150,000 U.S. personnel currently in Iraq are presumably in considerable danger, and the likelihood of bio-weapons finding their way into terrorist hands would have increased rather than decreased as a result of Saddam's ouster. Finding them would also presumably be the first and absolute priority of the coalition forces, which it doesn't exactly seem to be. That's if they're still out there. Of course, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld would have us believe that Saddam may have destroyed illegal weapons on the eve of the invasion, although it's hard to imagine why the Iraqi leader would have. Indeed, if as Powell says, he was hiding these bio-tipped missiles, it's safe to presume he wanted to hang onto them. It's worth asking whether the "sources" Powell cited for this claim have been asked to point coalition forces to forensic evidence to back their allegations.

The missiles in the palm groves are but one example. Although Powell claims those mobile labs found in northern Iraq vindicate his claims, British intelligence disputes the claim and even the State Department's own intelligence wing says the evidence is not definitive. Those aluminum tubes supposedly showing a uranium-enrichment centrifuge program? The International Atomic Energy Agency investigated and pooh-poohed the claim — the centrifuge parts revealed as having been buried under the rosebush of a Baghdad scientist since 1991 certainly show that Saddam had a decade earlier squirreled away components to allow him to restart a program at some point in the future, but also, perhaps, that this had not been done by the time of the invasion. The IAEA inspectors had concluded in March 2003 on the basis of unfettered inspections that there was no evidence that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, exploring the Administration's claim that the yellowcake allegation was but one of many indicators that Saddam was trying to reconstitute his nuclear program, concludes in fact that one reason the Niger story remained in the State of the Union address was that it was one of the few claims that hadn't already been publicly repudiated by the time of the speech.

Then there are the claims of an al-Qaeda link with Iraq, which are being challenged by former U.S. intelligence officials. Powell handled those carefully, avoiding some of the sweeping generalities of other administration officials. He focused narrowly on Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who had received medical treatment in Baghdad. Powell described Zarqawi as "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants." But European intelligence gathered through interrogating some of Zarqawi's own lieutenants suggests that Zarqawi was more of a rival to bin Laden than an associate. And so on.

The Bush Administration and its British counterparts assure us that given time, they will find evidence of a weapons program in Iraq. But evidence of a program is two degrees of separation from actual weapons of mass destruction, which was the reason they gave for going to war. Vice President Cheney last August told an audience of U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." The Vice President went even further in a March appearance on NBC?s meet the press, declaring that "we believe (Saddam) has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

So the Administration's credibility problem on prewar claims over Iraq may turn out to be a lot deeper than the yellowcake from Niger. But part of the importance of the yellowcake saga may be what it reveals about the inner workings of the Bush Administration as it geared up for war. The reason CIA director George Tenet has some explaining to do on Capitol Hill is not simply that he signed off on a speech that contained a claim based on bogus intelligence. It's that he did so three months after his own agency had warned the Brits against making the same claim in their dossier on Saddam's weapons. Democrats looking to make hay from the imbroglio will be asking whether anyone in the administration was leaning on the CIA to endorse the case for war. One question, in particular, that Tenet may have to answer on the Hill is just what transpired during Cheney's visits, reported as "multiple" and "unusual," to CIA headquarters last summer.

If most Iraqis had, as the hawks predicted, embraced U.S. soldiers as liberators; if the number of U.S. troops required there had been low and the duration of their stay short; and if the Iraq war had been a relatively low-cost affair it's likely that nobody would even be asking questions about the evidence against Saddam. Unfortunately, the hawks' postwar scenarios have proved hopelessly naïve. Which could mean the revisiting of prewar intelligence has only just begun.

Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Commentary:
The entire case for going to war with Iraq has fallen apart. It was one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated on the American people in our history. Just the other day Bush was once again trying to rewrite history by saying Iraq refused to let the inspectors in. Only complete morons (read conservatives who listen to Fox) would believe such nonsense. Iraq not only allowed the inspectors in after 1441 but they gave them unfettered access to all sites. Bush doesn't know the facts, doesn't care what the facts are and simply lies. He's unfit to be president because he can't be trusted to know the truth.


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Bush's Mis-State-Ment Of The Union Fiasco
Ariannaonline.com
Filed July 16, 2003

Poor Karl Rove. He spends close to two years meticulously staging photo ops and carefully crafting sound bites to create the image of President Bush as a take-charge, man-the-controls, land-the-jet-on-the-deck-of-the-aircraft carrier, "Bring 'em on" kind of leader. But now the latest revelations about the Misstatement of the Union fiasco are threatening to bring back the old notion of W as a bumbling, detached figurehead-in-chief.

And it's the president's own people who are painting this unflattering portrait.

Take George Tenet: While robotically impaling himself on his sword, the CIA director took great pains to point out that he thought so little of the Niger/Saddam uranium connection that he and his deputies refused to bring it up in congressional briefings as far back as fall 2002. It just didn't meet his standards.

Same with Colin Powell. The Secretary went on at great length about the intense vetting process -- "four days and three nights" locked up with the leaders of the CIA, working "until midnight, 1 o'clock every morning," going over "every single thing we knew about all of the various issues with respect to weapons of mass destruction" -- that went into deciding what information would be used in his United Nations presentation. A presentation that ultimately did not include the Niger allegation because it was not, in Powell's words "standing the test of time."

Hmmm, just how hard is that test? Powell's UN speech came a mere eight days after Bush's State of the Union -- leaving one to wonder what the expiration date is on patently phony data? About a week after a president uses it, it turns out.

So here's the picture we're left with: When faced with using explosive but highly questionable charges in vital presentations leading up to a possible preemptive war, both Powell and Tenet gave the information they were handed a thorough going over before ultimately rejecting it. But not the commander in chief. Apparently, he just took whatever he was handed, and happily offered it up to the world. He was, therefore, little more than the guy in the presidential suit, mindlessly speaking the words that others had debated and polished and twisted and finally agreed he would say. And then when the uranium hit the fan, our stand-up-guy president decided that the buck actually stops with George Tenet.

As the Niger controversy -- Yellowcake-gate -- is turning into a political firestorm, the question should be: What didn't the president know -- and why didn't he know it? And why does he know less and less every day?

After all, it's becoming clearer by the day that just about everyone else involved knew that the president was using a bogus charge to alarm the nation about Saddam's nuclear threat. Whatever the opposite of "top secret" is, this was it.

The U.S. ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, knew: She had sent reports to Washington debunking the allegations. Joe Wilson, the envoy sent to Niger by the CIA, knew: His fact-finding trip quickly confirmed the ambassador's findings. The CIA knew: The agency tried unsuccessfully in September 2002 to convince the Brits to take the false charge out of an intelligence report. The State Department knew: Its Bureau of Intelligence and Research labeled it "highly dubious." Tenet and Powell knew: They refused to use it. The president's speechwriters knew: They were told to remove a reference to the Niger uranium in a speech the president delivered in Cincinnati on Oct. 7 -- three months before his State of the Union. And the National Security Council knew: NSC staff played a key role in the decision to fudge the truth by having the president source the uranium story to British intelligence.

The bottom line is: This canard had been thoroughly discredited many, many times over, but the administration fanatics so badly wanted it to be true they just refused to let it die the death it deserved. The yellowcake lie was like one of those slasher movie psychos that refuse to stay buried no matter how many times you smash a hatchet into their skull. It had more sequels than "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" combined.

Cherry-picking convenient lies about something as important as nuclear war is bad enough but the administration's attempts to spin the aftershocks have been even worse. They just don't seem to grasp the concept that when you're sending American soldiers to die for something the reasons you give -- all of the reasons -- should be true.

Instead of a sword for Mr. Tenet, somebody should get this bunch a copy of "All the President's Men." The slow drip, drip, drip of incremental revelations and long-overdue admissions is not the way to stem a brewing scandal.

Condoleezza Rice has been the worst offender. Now that we know that Tenet personally warned Rice's deputy, Steve Hadley, not to use the yellowcake claim back in October, and the role NSC staffers played in manipulating the State of the Union, Rice's widely publicized claim, made little over a month ago, that at the time of the State of the Union, "maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery" has been revealed for what it is: A bald-face lie.

And even now as the truth comes flooding out, Rice continues to play fast and loose with the facts -- and stand by her man. "The statement that he made," she said on Sunday, speaking of the president, "was indeed accurate. The British government did say that."

Joining the still-don't-get-it unit were Don "Haldeman" Rumsfeld, who termed the president's speech "technically correct," and Ari "Ehrlichman" Fleischer who offered up this classic bit of spinsanity: "What we have said is it should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech. People cannot conclude that the information was necessarily false."

Watergate gave us the non-denial denial. Yellowcake-gate is giving us the non-admission admission.

And that's not the only parallel. In July 1973, at the height of the Watergate hearings, Richard Nixon announced: "What we were elected to do, we are going to do, and let others wallow in Watergate." George Bush seems to be taking the same head-in-the-sand approach, letting it be known that, with Tenet taking responsibility for the Niger snafu, he considers the matter closed. "The president has moved on," said Fleischer over the weekend. "And I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on as well." Let others wallow in Yellowcake-gate, right, Ari? But wishing doesn't make it so, either for phantom uranium transfers or the evaporation of skepticism.

In the spirit of Tricky Dick, let me make myself perfectly clear: I'm not saying that Yellowcake-gate is the equivalent of Watergate. I'm saying it's potentially much, much worse.

At its core, Watergate was all about trying to make sure that Nixon won an election. Yellowcake-gate is much more than a dirty trick played on the American public. It's about the Bush administration's pattern of deception as it pushed and shoved this country into a preemptive war -- from the much-advertised but nonexistent links between Iraq and al-Qaeda to the sexing-up of Saddam's WMD.

No one died as a result of Watergate, but more than 200 American soldiers have been killed and thousand more wounded to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't. To say nothing of the countless Iraqis who have lost their lives. And those numbers will only rise as we find ourselves stuck in a situation Gen. Tommy Franks predicts will continue for at least another four years.

With the events of the last week, George Bush has come across as very presidential indeed. Like his Dad, he's been out of the loop; like Clinton he's become a world class word weasel; and like Nixon he's shown a massive propensity for secrecy and dissembling. Not exactly the role models Karl Rove had in mind.

President Clinton was impeached for seven words he should never have uttered: "I never had sex with that woman." What price will President Bush have to pay for his sixteen-word scam?

Copyright © 1998-2002 Christabella, Inc.

Commentary:
Those who continue to support Bush after he lied about WMD are hopeless. But for the rest of us, we need a president we can trust on national security issues, defense and the budget. Bush is not that person. In fact, there isn't a single republican that can be trusted on national security, defense or the budget. It's time for clean slate--time to rid our government of the most corrupt party to ever exist in US history--the republican party.

It was the republican party that said we needed a tax cut (using borrowed money), it was the republican party that gave us the largest deficits in US history, first under Reagan, then under Bush 1 and now under Bush 2, and it was the republican party that lied to us about a threat to our national security, then led to war with two nearly defenseless countries on manufactured evidence.

The only threat to the republican party is the threat of losing power. To insure that doesn't happen they will bankrupt us, take us on endless wars and hide everything under the veil of secrecy and national security. And if you dare to question them you're unpatriotic.


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Body Found in Hunt for U.K. Expert in Iraqi Arms Row
Bloomberg
July 18,2003

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- A body has been found during a hunt for a missing armaments expert named by the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense as a possible source for a report that a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "sexed up," police said.

A police helicopter was dispatched to help search for David Kelly, who was reported to have failed to return to his home in Southmoor, Oxfordshire, northwest of London, yesterday afternoon, according to Thames Valley Police.

The body of a male was found at Harrowdown Hill, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from his home at 9:20 a.m. this morning, Acting Superintendent Dave Purnell said in a televised news conference.

Kelly, 59, a U.K. government weapons adviser, admitted meeting a British Broadcasting Corp. journalist a week before a government dossier was published that said Iraq was capable of firing weapons of mass destruction with 45 minutes' notice and was a threat to other countries. He denied he told the journalist there was concern in intelligence circles that the dossier exaggerated Iraq's weapons capability.

A BBC report on the alleged "sexing up" of the dossier caused a rift with the government that has dominated the domestic media agenda. There have been calls by legislators for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to resign for "misleading parliament" over the reasons for going to war with Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since a U.S.-led coalition invaded it in March.

`Shaken and Shocked'

Blair, on a flight to Tokyo to start an Asian tour, was told of the body's discovery, the U.K.'s Sky News reported. When Blair's party aboard his plane was informed of Kelly's disappearance, they appeared "visibly shaken and shocked," Sky correspondent Adam Boulton said in a report from the plane.

The prime minister's tour follows his stopover in Washington yesterday, where he received 17 standing ovations by U.S. lawmakers during a speech in which he defended his support for the war against Iraq.

Kelly was publicly questioned Tuesday over the row by a House of Commons committee. He said he didn't believe he was the main source for the BBC story. He also said he didn't think the intelligence services were unhappy with the dossier.

The BBC has refused to say whether it relied solely on Kelly for the information.

Kelly went for a walk at 3 p.m. London time yesterday without wearing a coat on a stormy day. He was reported missing after failing to return home by late evening, Purnell said.

The BBC report on the allegations surrounding the government dossier was compiled by journalist Andrew Gilligan.

Donald Anderson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs select Committee that questioned Kelly, said the weapons adviser had been "poorly treated" since admitting he had met Gilligan. The Ministry of Defense has challenged that accusation.

Embarrassment

Some members of parliament have said Kelly was the "fall guy" in an episode that was embarrassing for the government.

"He did give a hint of the pressure he was under when he said he was unable to get to his house at the moment because of the media intrusion," the BBC cited Richard Ottaway, an opposition Conservative member of parliament, as saying. "He is not used to the media glare. He is not used to the intense spotlight he has been under."

Ottaway called for an inquiry "at the highest level" into the treatment of Kelly. His demand was echoed by Peter Kilfoyle, a member of Blair's Labour Party.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee cleared the government's director of communications, Alastair Campbell, of "sexing up" the dossier. It said the "jury was still out" over case for war in Iraq. Anderson said it was "most unlikely" that Kelly was Gilligan's source.

Last Updated: July 18, 2003 06:58 EDT

©2003 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Wouldn't it be a shame if Kelly died because he exposed one of Blair's countless lies about Iraq, and then have Blair rewarded for lying by getting reelected? I doubt Blair can survive another election, but if the Brits are that stupid, it's their own fault.


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White House Doesn't Share Concerns Over Deficit
LA Times
By Janet Hook and Edwin Chen
July 16, 2003

WASHINGTON — White House officials on Tuesday called this year's projected $455-billion federal budget deficit manageable and fleeting, brushing aside charges that the record amount of red ink was an indictment of President Bush's economic and fiscal policies.

Joshua Bolten, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, also predicted that the sweeping tax cuts enacted since Bush took office would help spur an economic recovery that would halve the deficit by 2006.

Still, the new deficit projection — more than 50% higher than the OMB estimated in February — may complicate prospects for a Medicare prescription drug benefit or an expansion of tax relief for low-income families.

It is the latest in a series of worsening forecasts that have led Bush and his fellow Republicans to shelve past campaign promises to keep the budget in balance. The new report poses a fresh test of the GOP's willingness to put aside conservative orthodoxy and argue that reducing the deficit should take a back seat to other priorities at a time of war and economic slowdown.

There were some signs that Republicans were finding it more difficult to sustain that argument. "It is significantly higher than we anticipated," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said of the deficit. "It is high. It is too high."

And it is likely to go even higher. The forecast does not include the ongoing costs of U.S. operations in Iraq beyond what already has been appropriated. Even without those costs, the OMB said, the deficit would rise to $475 billion next year.

Yet neither the White House nor Republicans in Congress have proposed any major change in fiscal course to cut the deficit. Rolling back recent tax cuts is a nonstarter. The year's appropriations bills are expected to continue moving through Congress at previously set levels.

Still, the growing deficit could make the climate less favorable to Bush's plan to establish a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. "It doesn't come at a good time," a senior House GOP aide said of the deficit report. "There is some consternation about how these numbers will play out in Medicare."

The deficit could aid Republicans who object to the cost of a Medicare prescription benefit. A small but influential group of conservatives turned last month's House vote on its Medicare bill from a party-line certainty into a one-vote cliffhanger. "It's going to be harder," said House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa). "This should give everybody pause with respect to spending."

Concerns about the deficit also may make it more difficult for House and Senate Republicans to agree on a compromise to expand tax relief for low-income families with children. Deficit-conscious Senate Republicans have been resisting a big, $80-billion version of that bill passed by the House; the new deficit figures could make them even less likely to compromise on their insistence that any new tax cuts be offset with tax increases in other areas.

The deficit also could undercut bipartisan support Congress has given to Bush's requests for increased security and defense spending. "Is it sustainable to have the continuing increases the president is proposing?" asked Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) "We're going to have to go back to basics."

Democratic presidential candidates seized on the deficit report to criticize Bush economic policies that their party's lawmakers in Congress have been powerless to stop. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said the new projection was "proof that we don't just need a new economic team, we need a new president."

Some Republicans worry that concern about growing deficits could undercut public support for Bush's stewardship of the economy. "Democrats are trying to frame it in terms of the deficit," said David Winston, a GOP pollster. "If the economic discussion happens in the context of the deficit, it's a problem."

The new estimates easily top the previous record of $290 billion set in 1992. But Bolten argued it is more important to focus on the deficit as a percentage of the gross domestic product to assess its impact on the economy. By that measure, the deficit would be 4.2% of the economy, he said, a level well below the post-World War II peak of 6% of GDP.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times

Commentary:
This story is amazing. The post WW2 peak of deficit spending was 6% under Reagan, another failed president but because Reagan was worse than Bush, the Bush teams says it's ok. Don't forget Reagan borrowed tons of money, gave it away and created more debt than all previous presidents combined. You can't get worse than Reagan, but the Bush team is trying their best.

It's also appalling that the White House isn't concerned about the record deficits they're creating. In fact, they simply pass one tax cut after another and pass the bill to the next generation. This is the most immoral president and party in US history.

In a little over two years Bush created $1 trillion of debt. That's more debt than all president prior to Reagan combined and just $600 billion from what Reagan created in eight years. $1 trillion of debt also represents the largest tax INCREASE in US history.


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Senator: Tenet Said White House Wanted Unverified Intel
An Impeachable Offense
WPTZ/Assoicated Press
POSTED: 12:17 p.m. EDT July 17, 2003
UPDATED: 12:53 p.m. EDT July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Thursday disputed a Democratic senator's account of congressional testimony of CIA Director George Tenet regarding the furor over President George W. Bush's now-discredited assertion that Iraq sought uranium in Africa.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that a White House official insisted that President George W. Bush's State of the Union address include an assertion about Saddam Hussein's nuclear intentions that had not been verified. Durbin is a member of the Senate panel.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Durbin's account "nonsense" from a lawmaker who voted against authorizing the Iraq war. Key documents behind the Bush claim turned out to be forgeries. The claim was made in Bush's Jan. 28 State of the Union address.

The White House has admitted Bush shouldn't have uttered the notorious 16 words, and Tenet has taken the blame for not warning speechwriters to omit the claim on grounds the intelligence was shaky.

Asked repeatedly if Bush is responsible for what is in his speech, McClellan insisted the issue has been "fully addressed."

But Durban repeated his version on the Senate floor Thursday and demanded Bush give a full accounting to Congress on the issue.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Commentary:
Bush is now saying Iraq didn't allow UN inspectors into Iraq. That's a lie. We all know they allowed the inspectors in and gave them unfettered access. What this president says can't be trusted so I'm inclined to believe just about anyone over Bush.

Durbin's statement is nonsense according to the White House because he didn't believe Bus's lies about WMD. This WH is twisted and amoral.


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Will Bush maintain public trust on Iraq occupation?
MSNBC
By Howard Fineman
July 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, July 10 —  George W. Bush likes cards now and then, and the favorite game in the state he hails from is called "Texas Hold ‘Em.' The choices are limited, though the betting is not, and most of the cards are dealt face up. It puts a premium on bravado, and on a willingness to put everything on the line in an "OK Corral' style shootout. You win big — or lose big.

THE PRESIDENT has played the poker game of war leadership this way — cards face up — since 9/11, pushing all his, and our, chips to the middle of the table in a showdown with the axis of evil. He hasn't shied away from betting big time on dramatic victory in Iraq, which he decided to invade a year ago. Now the question is whether he chose the right game and the right strategy. His presidency, and our safety, depends on this deal of the cards.

;By and large, the American people still like his "bring ‘em on' attitude. They still seethe at the memory of the 9/11 attacks on something they've only recently learned to call "the homeland.' They rallied in 2001 to an untested president's firm response — rhetorical and actual — and cheered, or quietly enjoyed, the sight of bombs falling on the Taliban and Saddam.

INGRAINED AMERICAN VALUES

They also like his basic notion, which is that we will use force when and where necessary, with the United Nations or without, to protect ourselves. It's an idea as deeply ingrained in America as, say, the right to bear arms. Even if you think the Second Amendment applies only to state militias, the point is the same: Diplomacy is all well and good, but where's my rifle?

Americans also have a sense that something bigger is at stake in the war on terrorism: the idea of freedom and democracy in the world as a whole. They know that there is no more "Over There,' as the song went in World War I. Over There is everywhere, and no country is too obscure or distant. Any of them could breed the hate and the repression that threaten us.

For all those reasons — emotional, intuitive, pragmatic — President Bush's approval ratings remain high, and confidence in the course of the war in Iraq, while diminished somewhat, remains pretty strong. Europeans detest Bush's vision; most Americans still see it as their own.

But there is a cloud on the horizon of the Bush presidency, and it is not the controversy about what he did or didn't know concerning the alleged — and we now know fictitious — effort by Iraq to acquire uranium "yellow cake' from Niger. In and of itself, the question means little to the American people, who wanted Saddam Hussein obliterated no matter what the specific excuse. They knew that, even if he wasn't an immediate threat, he or his Baathist regime quite likely would become one eventually. Better to deal with him now.

PERSONAL VS. POLITICAL

The political threat to Bush is elsewhere, but very real. It has to do with how the voters see him. Much of the president's support is personal: People tend to like the guy. They tend to trust him. If he undermines that trust, his presidency could collapse.   

"Trust Me' works as an explanation for political leadership — but only when the voters already do. Reacting defensively or dismissively to questions about who knew what when won't work in the long run. The risk for the administration is that it will react badly to all the questions — and put at risk the thing that holds it together, which is Bush's credibility with mainstream voters.

The president also needs to speak frankly about the long-term costs of the war in Iraq, in blood and treasure. Forget the Democrats: They're lining up against his policy, big time, even though many of them voted for it. An open-ended war with no evidence of a stable government in Baghdad will begin to undermine the president's support in the place it has been strongest — among the military and military families. Gung-ho once, they are no longer. It's hard to imagine a Democrat who could successfully appeal to those voters over Bush's head. But they could simply stay away from the polls — or not mail military absentee ballots — next year.

Finally, and most important, voters need to be convinced that the president's anywhere and everywhere theory of the world has made us safer here at home. With Osama Bin Laden at large and Saddam Hussein still a factor in Iraq, that isn't as easy a sell as the White House might think. The conventional wisdom is that, if there is another terrorist attack on the homeland, voters will rally around the president. Maybe. Maybe not. It would depend on the facts. Big bets are on the table, but we don't know what cards the other guys are holding.

Howard Fineman is Newsweek's chief political correspondent and an NBC News analyst.

© 2003 MSNBC

Commentary:
I can't imagine anyone in the military, past or present who still respects or trusts Bush. Without trust, a commander in chief is worthless.

It's kinda odd though that the press is still filled with complete morons. The first Gulf War more than anything else created terrorism against the US. Now, we've had two Gulf Wars and the likelihood of more hate, fear and terrorism against the US has only grown. Estimates put the number of civilians killed at 10,000. Those 10,000 represent a fraction of their extended families which probably number into the hundreds of thousands. Add to them their friends and regular nuts that exist in any society and we've created terrorism for as far as the eye can see. I also can't imagine an Iraqi supporting the US when we killed one of their family members.


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Intelligence Dispute Festers as Iraq Victory Recedes
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 17, 2003; Page A15

With surprising swiftness, an esoteric debate over 16 words in this year's State of the Union address has changed the national political scene in recent days.

Once-lifeless Democratic presidential candidates, buoyed by declining support for President Bush and his Iraq policy, talk of a full-blown scandal. They say the sentence in Bush's speech declaring Saddam Hussein sought nuclear material in Africa -- a charge the White House now admits was wrong or insufficiently documented -- is symbolic of a president who misled a nation into a costlier-than-expected war by distorting intelligence.

The White House has been uncharacteristically flat-footed, responding with defensive and often contradictory explanations. "It is 16 words, and it has become an enormously overblown issue," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said on CNN on Sunday.

It is too early to know whether the controversy will fade or provide Democrats with political traction. For the moment at least, Bush has little to fear. The majority Republicans in the House and Senate, convinced the Democrats have overreacted, are nearly unanimous in opposing hearings on the matter. But that could change.

Political strategists say the controversy ultimately depends on events far away -- in the streets and fields of Iraq. If Hussein is killed or captured, illegal weapons are found in Iraq and the near-daily attacks on U.S. soldiers subside, Democrats and Republicans agree the intelligence flap will be largely forgotten. If, however, Congress returns from its summer break in September with Hussein still at large, no discovery of weapons of mass destruction and continued attacks on U.S. troops, the issue will almost surely become the subject of congressional hearings and fodder for the presidential campaign.

"People are waiting for the other shoe to drop," said Bill Knapp, a Democratic strategist. "If we get [Hussein], a lot of sins could be forgiven. If we don't get the guy, people will want answers."

A senior Senate GOP aide expressed a similar view about the intelligence controversy. "This is a canary in the coal mine for what the administration could face if these other problems aren't resolved," he said. "If we go through a bad August, there will be immense pressure to have hearings up here in September."

For Bush, the intelligence dispute increases pressure to locate Hussein and the forbidden weapons. It also increases pressure to protect U.S. troops, even if that means pulling them out before Iraq is stabilized -- something Bush promised he would not do. Bush may have raised the stakes when he appeared on an aircraft carrier May 1 in front of a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" and declared the end of major combat.

At the moment, developments in Iraq are discouraging. Another American was killed yesterday, by a rocket-propelled grenade, making him the 33rd U.S. soldier killed since Bush declared major combat over and the seventh since Bush two weeks ago said "bring 'em on" to Iraqi militants. In addition, the pro-American mayor of Hadithah was assassinated yesterday, an Iraqi boy was killed in another attack on U.S. troops, and a missile was fired at a military plane.

ABC's "Good Morning America" showed soldiers from the Third Infantry Division in Iraq criticizing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and questioning their mission. Minnesota Public Radio this week quoted Mary Kewatt, the aunt of a soldier killed in Iraq, saying: "President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said 'bring it on.' Well, they brought it on, and now my nephew is dead."

This has hurt Bush's standing. A Washington Post/ABC News poll last week showed that support for Bush had dipped 9 percentage points in about two weeks, to 59 percent, mirroring a decline in support for his handling of the Iraq situation. A small majority for the first time found the level of casualties in Iraq unacceptable, while half thought the administration intentionally exaggerated evidence of Iraq's weapons programs. Another poll released last week by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 23 percent of Americans thought the military effort in Iraq was going very well, down from 61 percent in mid-April.

Fueling the controversy is the awakening of Democrats, who have a lot of pent-up frustration because they have not believed they could challenge Bush on foreign affairs since the Sept. 11 attacks. "President Bush should tell the truth -- and get out of the way and let us find the truth -- about the intelligence gap," Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a presidential candidate, said yesterday.

Republicans say Democrats are dangerously overreaching -- conservative publisher Bill Kristol says they have become the "anti-anti-Saddam party" -- into criticizing the entire Iraq operation, which the public still supports. White House press secretary Scott McClellan parried the charge by reading earlier statements by Kerry and other Democrats attesting to the dangers posed by Hussein's weapons. "The president has been very straightforward about this from the beginning," McClellan said. "He laid out a very compelling case. . . . It was based on solid evidence, and it was based on a number of factors."

Some Democrats think the damage to Bush could go well beyond the Iraq issue. One of Bush's most valuable attributes has been his reputation for honesty and straight talking. But the controversy has caused the White House to appear slippery. In moments reminiscent of the Clinton presidency Bush and his aides have sought to parse phrases -- they have called the disputed claim "technically accurate" because it was pinned on British intelligence -- and they have said it is time to "move on," the same phrase Clinton aides used. Also, a president who came to office criticizing those who would blame others for their problems has put responsibility on the CIA and the British.

"This is most dangerous for Bush in that it erodes two of his very real and durable political strengths: his perceived competence as commander in chief and his perceived honesty," said Jim Jordan, Kerry's campaign manager.

But some political professionals dispute that Bush will lose his honest appeal. Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institution scholar who wrote speeches for President Dwight Eisenhower, said presidents have always exaggerated facts to make their cases, and the public expects it. "These are understandable," Hess said, noting that Bush retains "an umbilical cord to Main Street."

One Democratic operative reluctantly agreed that the issue will not endure. Once Hussein and weapons of mass destruction are found in Iraq, "that is the spear in the heart of this whole argument."

Of course, that depends on finding Hussein and the weapons. John Mueller, a specialist in war and public opinion at Ohio State University, said the public has little tolerance for casualties in a purely humanitarian operation. "If a year from now it's still one American getting killed a day and there are still no weapons," he said, Americans will ask, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" That is when Bush would be vulnerable to charges that he distorted intelligence. "It's going to hurt the credibility of the administration," Mueller said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The paper presidency of Bush continues to fall apart. All it needed a breath of fresh air--otherwise called truth. With truth there was no imminent threat to our national security, no WMD, no program to build nuclear weapons in six months, no missiles being armed with chemical and biological warheads, no claim that Saddam could launch in 45 minutes etc.

Can Bush be trusted? He promised us balanced budgets and instead has given us record deficits. Projections show he'll preside over deficits exceeding $300 billion a year for as far as the eye can see. If ONE AMERICAN votes for this man again, then that person is a fool


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GOP Attorneys General Asked For Corporate Contributions
By R. Jeffrey Smith and Tania Branigan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 17, 2003; Page A01

Republican state attorneys general in at least six states telephoned corporations or trade groups subject to lawsuits or regulations by their state governments to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, according to internal fundraising documents obtained by The Washington Post.

One of the documents mentions potential state actions against health maintenance organizations and suggests the attorneys general should "start targeting the HMO's" for fundraising. It also cites a news article about consolidation and regulation of insurance firms and states that "this would be a natural area for us to focus on raising money."

The attorneys general were all members of the Washington-based Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). The companies they solicited included some of the nation's largest tobacco, pharmaceutical, computer, energy, banking, liquor, insurance and media concerns, many of which have been targeted in product liability lawsuits or regulations by state governments.

The documents describe direct calls the attorneys general made, for example, to representatives of Pfizer Inc., MasterCard Inc., Eli Lilly and Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos., Citigroup Inc., Amway Corp., U.S. Steel Corp., Nextel Communications Inc., General Motors Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Shell Oil Co., among other companies. They also make clear that RAGA assigned attorneys general to make calls to companies with business and legal interests in their own states.

One of those soliciting funds between 1999 and 2001, according to the documents, was Alabama Attorney General William Pryor Jr., a pending nominee by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Sources said that a former RAGA employee recently turned some of the fundraising documents over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which could vote as early as today on his nomination. A source who asked not to be named provided the documents to The Post.

The nomination had already provoked a partisan battle, with Democrats contending that Pryor is a conservative ideologue and raising the possibility of a filibuster.

Other attorneys general mentioned in the documents include then-Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley; Delaware Attorney General Jane Brady; then-South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon; then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, now in the Senate, and then-Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

One document states, for example, that Cornyn was asked to collect a donation from Shell Oil in late 1999, but does not mention whether Shell gave the group money. The firm was one of five energy companies that reached a $12.6 million settlement with Cornyn in August 1999 in a dispute over unpaid royalties. Two years later, Shell was one of 28 oil and petrochemical companies to reach a $120 million settlement with him and the U.S. Department of Justice in a separate dispute over toxic waste.

Last night, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Cornyn, said the senator does not recall telephoning Shell Oil. Stewart also said he was "troubled by the inference that there is some kind of connection" between any such phone call and a legal settlement that "benefited the citizens of Texas."

"This is incredibly tawdry," said Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity, an independent group that highlights the link between money and politics. "That famous statue of the lady of justice with the blindfold -- this kind of throws that out the window. There is an incredible mercenary element to this that implies that policy is bought and sold."

"I do not see anything wrong with that," Earley said. "Attorney generals are elected officials and regularly solicit funds for their own campaigns from organizations and businesses in their states. With RAGA, it was being done on a group basis."

A spokesman for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., one of the companies mentioned in the documents, said he is not familiar with the cited contributions. However, he said, the firm routinely gives funds to "those who share our beliefs" and protect the rights of smokers. Calls to other firms the documents mention were not returned.

All funds collected by RAGA were passed to the Republican National Committee -- without any public link to the attorneys general who made the solicitations -- and then disbursed to campaigns by the attorneys general and other candidates, the documents indicated. The group does not file public disclosure statements.

The documents state that in return for contributions, company officials would be entitled to meet with the attorneys general, participate in conference calls with them and socialize with them. As of Feb. 22, 2000, the group had collected $235,000 from 21 firms, received promises of $188,500 from 24 other firms, and was soliciting funds from an additional 114 firms, the documents state.

RAGA was founded by Pryor and the Republican National Committee with the explicit aim of soliciting funds from the firearms, tobacco and paint industries and other industries facing state lawsuits over cancer deaths, lead poisoning, gunshots and consumer complaints, according to statements by Pryor and other officials.

Pryor, who did not return a phone call to his Alabama office seeking comment yesterday, has told reporters that he does "not want corporations to be punished" by trial lawyers and favors a "market-oriented" approach to state law enforcement. He has also said that contributions do not influence legal decisions by RAGA members.

In the documents, Pryor is described as phoning Philip Morris Inc. and Brown & Williamson in 1999 to obtain $25,000 "Roundtable" memberships in RAGA from each company. He also is described as phoning Boeing Co., BP/Amoco, GTE Corp., AT&T Corp., MCI Communications Corp., SouthTrust Bank and other firms, including some in Alabama, and collecting an additional $75,000.

The two tobacco companies were parties to a $2.6 billion liability settlement reached in 1998 with 26 state attorneys general, including Pryor. In a written statement following his June 11 confirmation hearing, Pryor said he was unaware of any funds RAGA solicited or collected from companies in Alabama. He also told Congress he did not know whether any tobacco companies were RAGA members.

In November 1999, when Democrats were pressing for tighter gun controls, Earley told Congress that the solution was better enforcement, not more legislation. He was assigned to solicit a contribution from the Fairfax-based National Rifle Association, which donated $25,000 a month after Earley's testimony, the documents state. Randy Kozuch, the gun group's director of state and local affairs, also served on the RAGA finance committee that year.

The documents state that Earley was assigned to contact several other major donors, including pharmaceuticals giant Eli Lilly, which paid $15,000 to join RAGA and sponsored a lunch at its spring conference for $5,000.

Earley said he had never solicited funds from the NRA for RAGA. "There may be documents that someone suggests [calls] be parceled out to certain individuals, but I do not remember dealing with the NRA," he said. "I did deal with some businesses that did business in Virginia," he added.

The executive director of RAGA, Tim Barnes, said the actions described in the documents preceded his tenure with the group and that he is unfamiliar with them. But he said that "Republican attorney generals assist us in our fundraising efforts."

Staff researcher Karl Evanzz contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Every one of these state attorneys general should be impeached and removed from office. When AG's prosecute they must do so without prejudice. How can they do their jobs when their taking money from the companies they're prosecuting? After these crooks are impeached they should all go to jail. Money is not free speech. Money is bribery.


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