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Impeach Bush

Reuters Sees Touched Up Bodies of Saddam Sons
Reuters/Washington Post
By Andrew Marshall
Friday, July 25, 2003; 10:00 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq partly rebuilt the faces of two bodies shown to journalists on Friday in an effort to convince Iraqis that the battle-scarred corpses were those of Saddam Hussein's widely feared sons.

I was one of 15 journalists shown into an air-conditioned, khaki tent at Baghdad airport to view the corpses. They did look like the brothers, who U.S. troops said they killed during a siege on Tuesday.

Arabic networks al-Jazeera, Abu Dhabi Television and other broadcasters began showing the bodies identified as Uday and Qusay, laid out at the makeshift airport morgue.

A U.S. military official said "facial reconstruction" was used to repair wounds, particularly to the face of the elder son Uday, which had disfigured the bodies shown originally to the public in photographs taken by soldiers after the battle.

An uncharacteristic beard on the body of Qusay, seen in those U.S. pictures, had been shaved off, leaving a mustache.

Inside the tent, U.S. officials said it was standard practice to use morticians putty to prepare bodies for viewing and was not intended to fool the Iraqi people.

But while it may be common in the United States, the move is unheard of in the Arab world. That could affect Washington's efforts to quash Iraqi conspiracy theories that the bodies are not in fact those of the once powerful and hated sons of Saddam, who is believed to be still in hiding in Iraq.

U.S. officials have already played down the importance of visually identifying the men, saying their dental and medical records positively identified the brothers. Four top Saddam aides have also made positive identification, they say.

"You can make anyone look like anyone else," one U.S. official said, insisting the medical evidence was compelling.

The brothers were lying side-by-side on metal trolleys, their bruised bodies, riddled with bullets and shrapnel, naked apart from a blue cloth that covered their genitals.

Autopsies had been performed on both men and large Y-shape incisions bound by black stitches marked their torsos.

SURGICAL HISTORY

Uday still wore his beard. A hole in the top of his skull was left untouched. U.S. officials said they had no evidence to support suggestions that he had shot himself to avoid capture.

A faint smell of disinfectant hung in the air.

Journalists were shown a metal orthopedic plate that officials said they had removed from Uday's left leg and were told that its serial number matched that of a disc that was inserted in his limb after a failed 1996 assassination attempt.

U.S. officials have declined to reveal how they have had access to the former ruling family's medical records.

They said both men had died from multiple gunshot wounds and blast injuries in the northern city of Mosul. Two other people also died. Those bodies were not shown. U.S. officials say one of them was probably Qusay's teenage son, Mustapha.

DNA tests were also being carried out but because previous samples of Uday and Qusay's DNA were not available, U.S. officials said this test would not conclusively identify the bodies. Washington says it has Saddam's DNA.

The officials said the bodies would be refrigerated to slow decomposition but their fate thereafter remains unknown. Muslim tradition demands that they be buried as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led administration said no one had so far come forward to claim the bodies of the fugitives for burial. He said: "If any of their family members want to come forward, we'd be delighted to speak to them."

© 2003 Reuters

Commentary:
We learn a couple interesting things. First a US official says "You can make anyone look like anyone else." Second, we have no clue where the medical records came from or if they are in fact really the records of the two sons. Knowing this we can ask ourselves some interesting questions, did Saddam's son's plant the "medical records" so the US would find them? If they did, then their supposed death is a rouse, created to keep the US military from looking for them.

I find it odd the US government said we might never know if we killed Saddam because we didn't have his DNA, but today we know for sure it was his son's without any previous DNA evidence. When standards change I become very suspicions.

 
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Report Challenges Medicare Reform Bills
By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2003; Page A02

Landmark Medicare legislation is unlikely to prompt older Americans to sign up for private health plans, a central goal of bills passed last month to transform the nation's insurance program for the elderly, the Congressional Budget Office told lawmakers yesterday.

The analysis by the nonpartisan budget office says that, despite efforts in both the House and Senate bills to create popular private-sector alternatives to the traditional Medicare program, the proportion of elderly patients in such health plans would be lower in a decade than it is today.

That conclusion is accompanied by a forecast that each bill would cost more than the $400 billion limit agreed to by lawmakers and the White House for spending to redesign Medicare. According to the analysis, the Senate measure would cost $461 billion in direct spending over the next decade, and the House version would cost $408 billion.

The CBO's findings -- relayed in oral briefings on Capitol Hill yesterday and issued in a 60-page report last night -- represent the budget office's first comprehensive critique of the legislation adopted a month ago by Congress on an issue that President Bush has defined as his top remaining domestic objective this year. Taken together, the enrollment predictions and cost estimates cast doubt on how well the legislation would achieve its basic purposes: adding to Medicare drug coverage that the nation could afford, and nudging people in the program into preferred-provider networks, HMOs or other forms of private health plans.

The report comes as the drive to redesign Medicare -- something Congress has tried and failed to do for years -- has reached a delicate phase. After the House and Senate passed their plans, congressional negotiators began last week to search for compromises on the considerable differences between them. Many of those differences revolve around how far the government should go to tilt the 1960s-era system from a federal entitlement to a program built on market competition.

Yesterday, leaders of the conference committee vowed to produce an agreement that abides by the $400 billion ceiling.

Conferees did not comment on a conclusion in the CBO estimate that one provision of the Senate bill would cost $40 billion. That provision would require companies that manage pharmacy benefits for Medicare to disclose to federal agencies the discounts they negotiate with drug manufacturers. The companies are lobbying against it because, they say, it will limit their leverage in negotiations, but proponents say it would encourage the companies to pass cost savings on to consumers.

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, briefing reporters on Medicare, said the administration is "cautiously optimistic" that the House and Senate will resolve their differences. Thompson said Bush, who is to meet with the congressional negotiators this afternoon, would seek to place pressure on them to complete the work but would refrain from setting a deadline.

In the debate prior to last month's House and Senate votes, the CBO had privately told congressional staff members that it was far more pessimistic than administration officials about the allure of private health plans to older patients.

Specifically, the analysis estimates that 11 percent of the patients in Medicare probably would sign up for some kind of private health plan if the House bill were to become law. That bill would put a heavy emphasis on private-sector competition. It would pay HMOs more than the Senate version to encourage them to accept Medicare patients, and starting in 2010, would require the original fee-for-service version of the program to begin competing for patients based on price, a provision that some Democrats contend would undermine the program's traditional form.

The CBO estimates that 9 percent of Medicare patients would sign up for a private plan under the Senate bill.

In either case, the enrollment would be lower than it is today. According to Medicare statistics, 12 percent of Medicare patients obtain care through HMOs, and an additional 1 percent belong to various other private health plans.

In contrast with the CBO's predictions, a memo from the Medicare program's chief actuary dated June 26 -- the day that both chambers voted -- estimated that "roughly 43 percent" of Medicare patients would belong to some kind of private health plan by 2010.

"I've never seen such a big difference in judgment," Thomas A. Scully, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said yesterday. Scully said the difference stemmed from a disagreement over whether private health plans would prove less expensive to run than the traditional version of Medicare, and thus able to offer patients lower premiums.

Low enrollment in private health plans would not automatically affect patients' ability to obtain drug coverage.

Under both bills, Medicare patients could receive such coverage either through a private plan or by buying a new kind of insurance policy that covered only drugs.

Paradoxically, the CBO's forecast, while disagreeing with the administration's, lends support to a central aspect of a blueprint for revising Medicare that Bush proposed last winter. The White House wanted to try to draw patients into private health plans by offering relatively generous drug coverage only to patients willing to join them -- but essentially discarded that idea after congressional Republicans balked, insisting that long-promised drug benefits should be available to everyone in Medicare.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
So Medicare Reform is really a sham. The numbers, like all evidence provided by this administration is always shaky. Anywhere from 9% to 43% would avail themselves to Bush's new plan. If CBO is correct, it would be fewer people than currently receiving benefits. Under law, the Congress MUST use CBO numbers and since CBO is projecting negative growth in the program we know for sure the program is nothing but a political ploy created by both parties so they can run for reelection without actually doing anything. Shame on them.

Democrats are quickly learning how the game is played. Borrow huge chunks of money, give it to the rich, take money away from the elderly and call it reform. Someone tell me why I should vote for any democrat when they can't stop this nonsense?

We know republicans are corrupt so I don't waste too much time with them.

 
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9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
Published 7/23/2003 7:48 PM

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.

"The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida," said a government official who has seen the report.

Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who was a member of the joint congressional committee that produced the report, confirmed the official's statement.

Asked whether he believed the report will reveal that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Iraq, Cleland replied: "I do ... There's no connection, and that's been confirmed by some of (al-Qaida leader Osama) bin Laden's terrorist followers."

The revelation is likely to embarrass the Bush administration, which made links between Saddam's support for bin Laden -- and the attendant possibility that Iraq might supply al-Qaida with weapons of mass destruction -- a major plank of its case for war.

"The administration sold the connection (between Iraq and al-Qaida) to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war," said Cleland. "What you've seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."

The inquiry, by members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees, was launched in February last year amid growing concerns that failures by U.S. intelligence had allowed the 19 al-Qaida terrorists 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 interminable wrangles between the committees and the administration over which parts of it could be declassified.

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 case that administration officials made that al-Qaida was linked to Iraq was based on four planks.

Firstly, the man suspected of being the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, was supposed to have met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, in April 2001. But Czech intelligence - the original source of the report - later recanted, and U.S. intelligence officials now believe that Atta was in the United States at the time of the supposed meeting.

The Iraqi official, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani is now in U.S. custody.

Secondly, U.S. officials said Iraq was harboring an alleged al-Qaida terrorist named Abu Mussab al-Zakawi.

But the government official who has seen the report poured scorn on the evidence behind this claim.

"Because someone makes a telephone call from a country, does not mean that the government of that country is complicit in that," he told UPI.

"When we found out there was an al-Qaida cell operating in Germany, we didn't say 'we have to invade Germany, because the German government supports al-Qaida.' ... There was no evidence to indicate that the Iraqi government knew about or was complicit in Zakawi's activities."

Newsweek magazine has also reported that German intelligence agencies - having interrogated one of Zakawi's associates - believed that Zakawi was not even an al-Qaida member, but headed a rival Islamic terror group.

Thirdly, defectors provided to U.S. intelligence by the then-exiled opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, said that Islamic terrorists had been training to hijack airliners using a disused plane fuselage at a camp in Salman Pak in Iraq.

"My understanding was that there was an alternate explanation for that," said the government official, suggesting that that they were doing counter terrorism training there. "I'm not saying that was the explanation, but there were other ways of looking at it."

Fourthly, officials have cited a series of meetings in the 1980's and 1990's between Iraqi officials and al-Qaida members, especially in Sudan.

Former CIA counter-terrorism analyst Judith Yaphe has questioned the significance of this data, "Every terrorist group and state sponsor was represented in Sudan (at that time)," she said recently, "How could they not meet in Khartoum, a small city offering many opportunities for terrorist tête-à-têtes."

The government official added that the significance of such meetings was unclear: "Intelligence officials, including ours, meet with bad guys all around the world every day. That's their job. Maybe to get information from them, maybe to try and recruit them.

"There are a series of alternative explanations for why two people like that might meet, and that's what we don't know."

He went on to suggest that the conclusions drawn from the information about the Sudan meetings was indicative of a wider-ranging problem with the administration's attitude to intelligence on the alleged Iraq al-Qaida link.

"They take a fact that you could draw several different conclusions from, and in every case they draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make that conclusion," he concluded.

Copyright © 2001-2003 United Press International

Commentary:
The war has been over for months and we still don't have a shred of evidence to support Bush's "CLAIM" that Iraq was involved with al-Qaida. In fact, Bush continues to look for his evidence and strongly believes he'll find it some day. Good grief, he stated he had the evidence before the war but today he gets away with saying he's looking for it. The media is as worthless as Bush.

 
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States Plan Big Tuition Increases
By Dale Russakoff and Amy Argetsinger
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 22, 2003; Page A01

State colleges and universities in every region of the country are preparing to impose this fall their steepest tuition and fee increases in a decade -- the latest fallout of state fiscal crises in which most governors and legislatures this year sharply reduced aid to higher education.

Recently announced tuition increases for in-state students of as much as 21 percent in Maryland and almost 30 percent in Virginia over last fall's levels are larger than those in many states, but still well behind increases in states with even larger budget gaps. Tuition and fees at the State University of New York and the University of Oklahoma are rising about as much as those at the University of Virginia, but they are rising 39 percent at the University of Arizona and 40 percent at the University of California.

The pattern marks a reversal from the boom times of the late 1990s, when state tax collections soared and most governors dramatically raised aid to public colleges and universities, which educate two-thirds of the nation's four-year college students. Some states, including Virginia, froze or even rolled back in-state tuition; others, including Maryland, kept increases to a minimum.

Like most of their counterparts, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) lifted tuition limits in the face of record budget gaps. Tuition and fees at the University of Maryland at College Park will be $6,759 this fall ($1,089 more than last year), and at the University of Virginia, $5,968 ($1,370 more than last fall). In dollar terms, those increases are among the nation's highest.

Governors and lawmakers in several states said they cut state aid to higher education reluctantly, but did so knowing that colleges and universities could raise money from other sources, including tuition.

University officials voiced concern that many lower- and moderate-income students now will be pushed into community colleges or out of higher education because federal financial aid and most state aid programs are not keeping pace with rising tuition. Meanwhile, the job market for young adults is dismal, and more students need to work to afford college.

"It is curious that national and state political leaders are so interested in ensuring access to and quality in K-12 education, yet once you get to higher education, the interest in accessibility seems to fall off," said Charles Hoslet, director of state relations for the University of Wisconsin system, where tuition on flagship campuses is going up 18 percent.

David W. Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, said the shift represents a largely unacknowledged national policy decision, as states react one by one to the most serious fiscal crises in decades. The effect, he and others said, is to shift the cost of higher education away from states, onto in-state students and their families.

"They're just balancing budgets, and this is the fallout, and nobody is asking, 'What about our future?' " said Joni E. Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education in San Jose.

Some states, including New York, Oklahoma and Washington, are increasing financial aid to cover some or all tuition increases for lower- and moderate-income families, but many, including Maryland and Virginia, made no changes. And several, including Tennessee and Massachusetts, reduced need-based aid, saying the fiscal crisis left them no alternative. The largest federal grant program, the Pell Grant, is not increasing its maximum award.

With the increases, tuition and room and board at many state universities is now more than $10,000 a year. The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges found that room and board at major state universities last year averaged a little less than $6,000.

Students interviewed last week in several states had reactions ranging from annoyance to despair, depending on their financial circumstances. Michael Hansen, who faces a $570 tuition increase at Maryland's Salisbury University, where he will be a junior this fall, said he already works two jobs -- at the library and delivering Chinese food -- to help his parents pay his tuition, and now "will have to work a little harder so that I can remain a member of academia and not a full-time delivery boy at some random Chinese restaurant."

The stakes are higher for University of Iowa senior Mayrose Wegmann, one of eight children of a single mother who earns the minimum wage working at a coffee shop. Wegmann already has more than $24,000 in debt, works more than 40 hours a week, doubles up with three students in a two-bedroom apartment, does without cable TV and long-distance service and walks rather than driving or riding the bus. She also receives the maximum Pell Grant of $4,000, which isn't going up, although her tuition and fees will increase almost $900 this fall -- for a combined increase of 55 percent more than when she was a freshman. She said her options are to work even more hours or go further into debt.

"It's disheartening for anyone from my background to see these increases, because we know how important a higher education is," said Wegmann, a political science major. "We're all working harder and harder to pay our way, but we're not getting a better education. In fact, we're getting a worse education because the time we have to study is so limited."

A survey by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges found tuition rising at public institutions in all 37 states that have responded so far, almost all as a result of state budget cuts. Increases were less than 5 percent in only three states -- Montana, New Mexico and Hawaii.

This is the second consecutive year of higher education budget cuts in 24 states, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and with no sign of an upturn in state revenue, another round is likely next year. Many states have raised tuition two years in a row.

In Minnesota, the state colleges and universities system recently approved 12.5 percent increases for this September and September 2004, which will mean four consecutive years of double-digit tuition increases for in-state students. The legislature increased need-based grants by 17 percent over the past two years, but officials said some financial-aid students still will pay more.

While public colleges are still far more affordable than their private counterparts, unpredictable costs are a growing issue. Karen Kielbasa, who is putting herself through Virginia Tech, where she will be a senior, said she could handle last year's 9 percent increase and this year's 7.6 percent boost -- she simply took out larger loans -- but was blindsided by the school's decision to raise tuition in the middle of the year by about $400 a semester.

She said she had to double the hours she worked in the campus library and at a horse stable -- from 15 to 30 a week -- while taking 15 credits.

Elizabeth Hust, who is paying her own way through the University of Wisconsin with financial aid and an almost 40-hour work week, said she cannot afford to finish her five-year program for a bachelor of fine arts degree. With tuition increasing $700 this fall, she said, she will have enough money for only one more year of college and will drop out in the spring, work full-time and finish her degree part-time over the next few years.

Meanwhile, she may profit from her privation. She has reduced her food budget to $40 a month by eating a lot of rice and making her own bread and pasta -- a regimen she is detailing in a cookbook for students that she plans to call "How to Survive on Literally Nothing."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The super rich get massive tax cuts using borrowed money and states are forced to raise revenue using whatever they can find. Wouldn't it be really cool if Bush was forced to do the same on the national level....raise taxes until the budget was balanced? The Constitution isn't flawed but the man running our government is--therefore it's becoming increasingly necessary to amend the Constitution to stop republicans from bankrupting us.

 
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Big Spending Means Big Deficit, Bigger Problem
Bloomberg
Caroline Baum
July 22, 2003

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- The deficit is back, not just as a blob of red ink on the government's ledger but as a concept.

In the past five weeks, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has skyrocketed 115 basis points, from an intraday low of 3.07 percent on June 16 to an intraday high of 4.22 percent yesterday. That qualifies as the biggest back-up in yields since May 1987, according to Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research in Chicago.

Yields started their ascent following the Federal Reserve's 25 basis-point cut in the federal funds rate on June 25, a move that was regarded as chintzy by many investors in light of Fed chief Alan Greenspan's discourses on the dangers of deflation.

Almost half the rise in long-term rates came in the wake of Greenspan's semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress last Tuesday. It's still not clear exactly what he said to inspire such angst. The list of reasons for the decline in Treasury prices ranges from fears of inflation (wasn't deflation the concern just a few weeks back?) to strong economic estimates for next year to the diminished likelihood the Fed would buy long- term bonds to stimulate the economy to -- yes -- the burgeoning federal budget deficit.

Table Action

The same day Greenspan was taking the purchase of long-term bonds off the table, the White House's Office of Management and Budget was putting government debt back on the table -- for future sale. The OMB upped its estimate for the 2003 fiscal deficit to a record $455 billion, up from $304 billion in April. For 2004, the OMB projects another record deficit of $475 billion, after which it's cut in half by 2006.

``While I would be the last to minimize the significance of this development, it hardly qualifies as the singular surprise that can explain the bond market's extreme gyrations over the past few weeks,'' writes Steve Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, in today's daily note.

The Congressional Budget Office said last month the 2003 deficit would top $400 billion, catching up with private-sector forecasts.

As a share of the economy, the 2003 and 2004 deficits represent 4.2 percent of gross domestic product, below the record 6 percent registered in 1983. If everything goes according to Hoyle, with GDP growing at the administration's projected 2.8 percent in this calendar year and 3.7 percent in 2004, the 2006 deficit would represent 1.9 percent of GDP.

Growth Matters

Just to give you an idea of how important economic growth is in the equation, if the economy grows at 2 percent rather than 3.7 percent, the deficit could easily balloon to $600 billion next year, according to Chris Wiegand, an economist at Citigroup Inc.

The administration said 53 percent of the deterioration in the estimated 2003 deficit from a projected $334 billion surplus in April 2001 was the result of weaker economic activity, which affects both tax receipts and government outlays. The three tax cuts in the last three years accounted for 23 percent of the change while new spending on things like war and homeland security account for 24 percent.

The combination of tax cuts and spending increases has caused a rapid deterioration in the structural, or full- employment, budget balance from 1.1 percent of GDP in fiscal 2000 to an estimated -2.1 percent this year, according to Wiegand. The full-employment deficit assumes the economy is growing at its potential, thereby eliminating economic effects from the budget calculations.

Spending Binge

Democrats have criticized this year's tax cut, which will raise the deficit by $13 billion in 2003 and $36 billion next year, according to the OMB. The administration is counting on the cut to restore the economy to solid growth and generate more tax revenue.

The dirty little secret that neither party wants to talk about is that President George W. Bush is a big spender. Stripping out the increase in national defense outlays, discretionary spending, which is dictated by 13 annual appropriation bills, rose 12.3 percent in fiscal 2002 and will rise 12.6 percent in 2003, according to Veronique de Rugy, a fiscal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

Discretionary spending does not include things like unemployment insurance and food stamps, which along with Social Security and Medicare are mandatory and which always rise when the economy is weak.

Son Beats Dad

Bush's three-year track record for real non-defense discretionary spending in inflation-adjusted terms shows a cumulative 20.8 increase, exceeding the first three years of Bush I (up 11.6 percent) and the full four-year terms of Jimmy Carter (up 13.8 percent), Ronald Reagan (down 13.5 percent in the first term and down 3.2 percent in the second), Bill Clinton (down 0.7 percent and up 8.2 percent), according to de Rugy.

The latest congressional spending binge didn't start with President Bush.

``As soon as the budget turned to surplus, Congress found very creative ways to circumvent the budget caps,'' which mandated spending increases and tax cuts be offset by spending cuts and tax increases elsewhere, Wiegand says.

When it became clear in 1998 that the budget was headed for a surplus or at least balance, Congress discovered ``emergency spending.'' By fiscal 2000, ``they ignored the caps altogether,'' Wiegand says.

Concept Into Action

While Bush may have inherited a Congress already on a spending tear, the fact is ``Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill during his time in office,'' de Rugy says. That compares with 22 vetoes by Reagan in his first three years in office, she says. ``No one talks about eliminating entire Cabinet departments anymore.''

With Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, the party of limited government has strayed far from its principles.

Unless the concept of the deficit starts to sink in with the free-spenders in Washington, the deficit as a concept will reflect itself in a continued rise in long-term rates.

Last Updated: July 22, 2003 13:52 EDT

Commentary:
The best way to read this article is to know republicans are and always have been the big spenders. David Stockman outed the big spenders in his party during the Reagan revolution. In his book he claims he had to increase spending to buy votes to cut spending, which resulted in historic deficits (just like today). Bush is a lot like Reagan in that they both don't give a damn about our future and they buy votes in congress and around the world with our money.

It must be extremely easy to be president when you can have between $400 and $500 billion of deficits in a single year and it hardly hits the evening news.

Democrats love republican spending spree's because they get to spend and not be blamed also. When dems control the congress, republicans pretend to be cost-cutting thrift minded people, attacking democrats for even one penny of debt. But when they have power, debt is meaningless, so everyone gets to spend.

 
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Rice Aide Takes Blame For Claim In Bush Speech
Boston Globe
By Wayne Washington
July 23, 2003

WASHINGTON -- A top national security official in the White House took responsibility yesterday for failing to remove from President Bush's State of the Union address a now-disputed claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Africa to build nuclear weapons.

 

The admission from Stephen Hadley, Bush's deputy national security adviser, came after administration officials, including Hadley's boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, blamed the CIA for failing to remove the uranium reference, which was based on dubious intelligence. CIA Director George J. Tenet accepted blame for clearing the speech but later told members of Congress in a closed-door session that he had never actually read it.

On a day when the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons dominated the news, Hadley met with a group of reporters and accepted responsibility for allowing the uranium reference to remain in the president's speech, which laid out the administration's case for going to war in Iraq.

"It is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility,' Hadley said. His remarks brought at least partial responsibility for the erroneous uranium claim into the West Wing.

Hadley said he received two memos and a telephone call from Tenet in October objecting to a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons that was included in a draft speech the president was to make in Ohio that month. After the CIA warned that the intelligence on which the claim was based was faulty, that portion of the speech was removed.

However, in January, with the country on the verge of war, Bush made another, more general claim about Iraq attempting to buy uranium from Africa in his State of the Union address. Hadley said he should have remembered the CIA's earlier objections when he reviewed the State of the Union speech as it was being crafted.

'Had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy,' said Hadley, adding that he apologized to Bush on Monday.

One forgotten CIA memo on the uranium claim was discovered over the weekend by speechwriter Michael Gerson, according to White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

'The process failed,' said Bartlett, who participated in the briefing with Hadley.

Bartlett said Hadley still has Bush's confidence. But the admission seemed to add new life to the controversy over the case the administration made for going to war at a time when officials had been reaching out to their Republican allies on Capitol Hill for help defusing the issue.

The administration pressed Republicans on Capitol Hill to do more to emphasize some of the upside to deposing Hussein. Other aggressive efforts are expected by the administration as it tries to regain control of the message, including a possible speech on the issue by Vice President Dick Cheney, administration and congressional GOP aides said.

But Democrats, especially those running for the party's presidential nomination, increased their criticism of the administration yesterday.

Senator Bob Graham of Florida, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Democratic candidate for president, said Hadley's revelation 'raises sharp new questions as to who at the White House engaged in a coverup and why President Bush told the nation something that was blatantly false in making his case to go to war.'

Another Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, added: 'It's more bureaucratic finger-pointing, more failures of leadership, more passing the buck, and more politics as usual. George W. Bush is responsible for his administration and needs to take responsibility for using flawed intelligence.'

During his visit to Washington last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who has faced accusations that his government inflated the intelligence used to justify the war, stood by the uranium claim despite doubts raised about its legitimacy by US spy agencies.

Spokesmen for the White House have continued to emphasize that Hussein's threat was real, despite the discredited uranium claim, and they have pointed to nuclear documents found buried in the garden of a former Iraqi scientist. Bush says he is convinced that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Now, however, with no weapons of mass destruction found, questions swirling about the nuclear danger Hussein might have posed, and American soldiers dying on a near-daily basis in Iraq, political opponents have been taking advantage of what they say are weaknesses in the administration's national security credentials.

'From the beginning, we hoped this was an honest mistake,' Graham said, 'but each new day the evidence continues to mount that something deeper and darker is going on here. The president must come clean and tell us the truth.'

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 7/23/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Commentary:
I can't imagine anything Rice, Bush or anyone else in the Administration will do in their lives that is more important than taking us to war--yet, we're to believe they were clueless about the facts they used to take us to war. It's enough to make me sick.

 
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Iraqis Accuse U.S. Forces of Torture
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters/Washington Post
By Cynthia Johnston
July 23, 2003; 9:28 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis detained by U.S. troops accused their captors of torture and degrading treatment, rights group Amnesty International reported on Wednesday, calling on the occupying forces to bring human rights violators to justice.

Detainees also said U.S. troops had shot some captives, the London-based rights watchdog reported, in a study based on interviews with former prisoners of U.S. forces across Iraq.

Amnesty staff heard complaints that included prolonged sleep deprivation and detainees being forced to stay in painful positions or wear hoods over their heads for long periods.

"These conditions taken together would amount to torture as defined by U.N. standards," Amnesty's deputy executive director in the United States, Curt Goering, told a news conference.

"Amnesty International is urging the coalition forces here to undertake an investigation into these allegations and if found substantiated, must bring those responsible to justice."

Amnesty said it discussed its report with U.S. authorities in Iraq, and described the talks so far as "mixed."

"There is an acknowledgement that there are some serious problems," he said. "Yet at the same time on some fundamental issues, there is a difference of opinion on what laws apply."

U.S. military officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

But their British allies in the war that deposed Saddam Hussein said they would study the report.

"Of course we take very seriously any such allegations by an organization like Amnesty," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told BBC radio.

"I will study the allegations and the evidence behind them with very great care and if... I think it appropriate I shall also ensure they are discussed with the Americans."

Amnesty staff gathered testimony from former detainees and from relatives of some still being held.

DETENTION CENTERS

Amnesty said it was concerned about the treatment of detainees, saying they often did not have quick enough access to lawyers, were sometimes mistreated.

"We have found that after being taken into custody, individuals have effectively disappeared for unacceptably long periods of time," Goering said. "Despite extensive efforts to establish their whereabouts, at the end of the day (families) still cannot determine where their relatives are being held."

Amnesty said U.S. forces, which have been struggling to impose law and order since occupying Iraq, repeatedly denied it permission to visit detention centers.

The rights group has said thousands were being held in prisons run by U.S. troops, including Abu Ghraib, one the most feared jails under Saddam, and Camp Cropper near Baghdad airport.

"Detainees continue to report suffering extreme heat while housed in tents, insufficient water, inadequate washing facilities, open trenches for toilets, no change of clothes, even after two months' detention," Amnesty said.

It said it had received several reports of cases of detainees who have died in custody, "mostly as a result of shooting by members of the coalition forces."

Amnesty said the U.S.-led troops' "window of opportunity" was rapidly closing to win over Iraqis, and feared a growing problem of human rights violations.

"One cannot be a popular occupier if you are becoming at that very time a human rights violator," Goering said.

© 2003 Reuters

Commentary:
More war crimes from the liberators.

 
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War may have killed 10,000 civilians
The Guardian/Occupation Watch
Simon Jeffery
June 13th, 2003

At least 5,000 civilians may have been killed during the invasion of Iraq, an independent research group has claimed. As more evidence is collated, it says, the figure could reach 10,000.

Iraq Body Count (IBC), a volunteer group of British and US academics and researchers, compiled statistics on civilian casualties from media reports and estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 civilians died in the conflict.

Its latest report compares those figures with 14 other counts, most of them taken in Iraq, which, it says, bear out its findings.

Researchers from several groups have visited hospitals and mortuaries in Iraq and interviewed relatives of the dead; some are conducting surveys in the main cities.

Three completed studies suggest that between 1,700 and 2,356 civilians died in the battle for Baghdad alone.

John Sloboda, professor of psychology at Keele University and an IBC report author, said the studies in Iraq backed up his group's figures. "One of the things we have been criticised for is quoting journalists who are quoting other people. But what we are now finding is that whenever the teams go into Iraq and do a detailed check of the data we had through the press, not only is our data accurate but [it is] often on the low side.

"The totality is now producing an unassailable sense that there were a hell of a lot of civilian deaths in Iraq."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said he had not seen anything to substantiate the report's figures. "During the conflict we took great pains to minimise casualties among civilians. We targeted [the] military. So it is very difficult for us to give any guidance or credence to a set of figures that suggest there was x number of civilian casualties."

IBC's total includes a figure of at least 3,240 civilian deaths published this week by the Associated Press news agency, which was based on a survey of 60 Iraqi hospitals from March 20 to April 20, when the fighting was declining. But many other bodies were either buried quickly in line with Islamic custom or lost under rubble.

Prof Sloboda said there was nothing in principle to stop a total count being made using forensic science methods similar to those used to calculate the death toll from the September 11 attack: it was a question of political will and resources.

He said even an incomplete record of civilian deaths was worth compiling, to assist in paying reparations and in assessing the claim before the war that there would be few civilian casualties.

Lieutenant Colonel James Cassella, a US defence department spokesman, said the Pentagon had not counted civilian deaths because its efforts had been focused on defeating enemy forces rather than aiming at civilians.

He said that under international law the US was not liable to pay compensation for "injuries or damage occurring during lawful combat operations".

The Iraqi authorities estimated that 2,278 civilians died in the 1991 Gulf war.

Commentary:
10,000 people had to die in Iraq so Bush could be a war time president and get reelected. Well, those nuts who wanted his daddy to get rid of Saddam should be satisfied the son finally got it done. Now help us get rid of the son before he destroys us.

These 10,000 innocent civilians have families, all of whom are targets for terrorism recruitment.

 
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The witch hunt against the BBC
Working for Change
Robert Scheer
July 22, 2003

In England, they shot the messenger. True, the death of British biological weapons expert David Kelly was a suicide. But if the reserved scientist took his own life, it was in response to the British Ministry of Defense outing and reprimanding him as the alleged whistle-blower behind the BBC's controversial report that the government "sexed up" its intelligence information to make the case for war.

The BBC charge against the government in this instance was quite mild, because what Tony Blair did was not merely hype the case for preemptively invading Iraq. Rather, he deliberately lied to his public about the certainty of his claims to frighten the people into sending their children off to war. In this case, the Brits said — wrongly — that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons in 45 minutes, a lie also employed by our president as one of his hysterical claims to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But in England, Kelly's death and the unraveling justifications for war have created a governmental crisis and prompted calls for Blair to resign.

The prewar confetti of frightening claims about Iraq has been exposed as nothing more than cherry-picked snippets from intelligence reports that generally regarded that nation's threat to the world as modest and shrinking. Instead of admitting this now-obvious fact, the Blair government unleashed a witch hunt against the BBC and anyone in the Blair administration who might have been a source for the news agency's reporting.

Kelly was the first victim of the government's revenge against the British Broadcasting Corp., which had — until Kelly was found dead — refused to name its source. The BBC has been a target of the Blair-Bush partnership ever since they decided to invade Iraq.

During the Iraq war, the BBC, in stark contrast to leading U.S. news outlets, distinguished itself for objective coverage of its own government, even during a time of heightened patriotism. This should be a great advertisement for the model of a free society that we claim to be eager to export to, or impose on, the rest of the world. In most countries, publicly subsidized broadcasting is an important source of news, and the BBC serves as the premier example that such reporting can withstand official government assaults on its independence. The BBC's reporting on the doctored intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction followed its notable report debunking the U.S. military propaganda tale of the battle and rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

Remember, the BBC was not taking the safe route that so many news organizations prefer. Yet, time and again, they have been proved right with each new revelation of half-truths, outright lies and data manipulation on the part of the coalition's leaders-in-chief.

As Paul Reynolds, a veteran BBC military affairs analyst, said of the British intelligence dossier cited as the source for Bush's now-repudiated claim about Iraq's nuclear program: "Of the nine main conclusions in the British government document 'Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction,' not one has been shown to be conclusively true."

Blair last week told the U.S. Congress that he and Bush were right to invade Iraq even if no weapons of mass destruction are ever found. Left unmentioned is that it was the coalition that chased U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, claiming they weren't doing their job and that the Iraq threat was growing. Clearly the immediacy of the threat from Hussein was a phony claim that Blair and Bush should have known full well was not backed up by any substantial evidence.

What's left is the idea that we are in Iraq to build a democracy there by force. Yet the people on both sides of the Atlantic were adamantly opposed to this sort of nation-building, smacking as it does of past disasters, from the collapse of the British Empire to the U.S. war in Vietnam. In essence, we are now told to be happy with a rationale for war that we didn't find convincing before the war started.

This is a denigration of the core ideal of representative democracy — rule by an enlightened public — as are vindictive attacks on journalistic watchdogs and whistle-blowers who keep our representatives honest. Last week in his speech, Blair smugly claimed the favorable judgment of future historians, but it is the BBC that history will celebrate for its pursuit of truth.

c) 2003 Creators Syndicate

Commentary:
Bush and Blair lie their collective butts off when they laid out their reasons for going to war, but now we get to judge the BBC on one story about "45 minute" and we judge Bush on only 16 words in the State of the Union. Good grief, how did the media become so shallow?

How about all the other lies? Will the press hit Bush hard and endlessly until he admits the only reason he went to war was to increase his popularity?

 
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Bush exposed identity of CIA covert operative
New York Times
July 22, 2003
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Some nonrevisionist history: On Oct. 8, 2002, Knight Ridder newspapers reported on intelligence officials who "charge that the administration squelches dissenting views, and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary." One official accused the administration of pressuring analysts to "cook the intelligence books"; none of the dozen other officials the reporters spoke to disagreed.

The skepticism of these officials has been vindicated. So have the concerns expressed before the war by military professionals like Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, about the resources required for postwar occupation. But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.

Issues of principle aside, the invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; this leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats. Moreover, military experts say that with almost two-thirds of its brigades deployed overseas, mainly in Iraq, the Army's readiness is eroding: normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit.

And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."

To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a "huge coalition," but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are non-American — and administration pleas for more help are sounding increasingly plaintive.

How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as "one of the best military institutions in human history," warns that "the Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep on the current path."

But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here's Frank Gaffney Jr. in The National Post: "Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations, second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of America's armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged."

Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking intelligence to promote a war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden — who really did attack America — and Kim Jong Il — who really is building nukes.

And while we're on the subject of patriotism, let's talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson's wife. Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.

Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
Bush uses the cloak of national security whenever it suits his lies, disinformation and secrets, but releasing the name of a CIA covert operative is ok if it helps Bush. These people have no standards of decency. Besides, it's a crime to release this information. Will Ashcroft prosecute those who released this classified information? Not a chance. Who cares if she's killed? Surely, not the folks in the Bush White House.

So much killing to do, so little time to do it. How will Bush quench his thirst for blood before the next election?

 
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