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Impeach Bush

Texas Republicans Ask Court to Order Democrats Home
Public Broadcasting/Reuters
By Jeff Franks
2003-08-07

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas Republican leaders asked the state Supreme Court on Thursday to order 11 Democratic senators back from New Mexico, where they fled last month to stop a plan to add Republican seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Democrats, in turn, filed a lawsuit to prohibit the Republicans from having them arrested if they return to Texas, as an 11-day-old political stalemate turned into a legal battle.

At issue is a Republican plan to redraw congressional districts that could increase the narrow Republican majority in the House by up to seven seats. It is being pushed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas and the White House.

The legislature traditionally redraws congressional maps after the U.S. census every 10 years. It was last done in 2001 by federal judges after the legislature failed to agree on a plan.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told reporters in Austin, the state capital, he and Gov. Rick Perry filed a "writ of mandamus" with the Texas Supreme Court seeking the senators' return.

"It will order their return and provide sanctions if they don't return," said Dewhurst, who, like Perry, is a Republican.

The motion said the Texas Constitution mandates their attendance at a legislative session.

The Democrats fled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on July 28 to break quorum in the Republican-controlled state Senate to prevent a vote on redistricting, which is done by the state legislature. They have vowed to stay away, out of reach of Texas police, as long as necessary.

Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives did the same thing in May, fleeing to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to stop the plan. Perry has since called two special legislative sessions to try force the redistricting plan through.

The proposal likely would result in the election of 22 Republicans and 10 Democrats to Congress, instead of the state's current 17 Democrats and 15 Republicans, officials say.

The Democrats' lawsuit, filed in an Austin court, seeks to prevent their arrest in Texas and also charges that Perry had no right to call a special session for redistricting.

The Democrats say the Texas Constitution permits a special session only for "extraordinary occasions," and this is not one.

© Copyright 2003, Reuters

Commentary:
Republicans at every level of government now are saying screw the law and screw the courts.

I suppose an "extraordinary occasions" to republicans is an electon coming up and they want as many seats as possible. The Texas Governor should be impeached for violating the Constitution of Texas.

The Texas Supreme Court also won't end the Democrat boycott. Good for them. At least there are still some people in Texas who believe in the rule of law.


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US set to offer North Korea deal over nukes
The Sydney Morning Herald
By Hamish McDonald
Herald Correspondent in Beijing
August 11, 2003

To the distaste of hawks in the Bush Administration, US officials are likely to offer the North Korean regime lifelines of security pledges and economic aid next month in return for their abandoning nuclear weapons.

The offer will probably be made at a key meeting expected to be held in Beijing this month.

The United States and North Korea will talk officially for the first time in four months in the Chinese capital. Representatives from China, Russia, Japan and South Korea are to attend. All six countries have begun intensive diplomatic activity to prepare for the talks.

A Chinese vice-foreign minister, Wang Yi, who met North Korean counterparts in Pyongyang last week, said the talks would be held over three days from August 25. They would involve officials more senior than those in the inconclusive first meeting in April attended by the US, North Korea and China.

As part of the preparations, officials from the US, South Korea and Japan will meet this week in Washington, a South Korean vice-foreign minister will go to Moscow, and China's Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, will visit Seoul.

No-one is expecting the six-nation meeting to come up with an early solution to the crisis that unfolded over the past year as North Korea revealed covert nuclear weapons programs, a multilateral economic aid program was halted, and Pyongyang withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

China's President Hu Jintao, who heads a policy group that has steered the pivotal Chinese efforts to avert a threatening military clash between the US and North Korea, told the visiting Japanese cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, on Saturday that the coming talks would be "just a beginning".

The multilateral setting was arranged at the insistence of Washington, which had been resisting North Korean demands for direct talks.

Washington is now under pressure from the other participants to offer Pyongyang incentives to abandon nuclear arms, instead of insisting on verifiable disarmament before any aid is discussed.

In recent months a hawkish view has appeared to predominate in Washington that Kim Jong-il cannot be trusted to keep any agreement and that tighter pressure should be applied in the hope of precipitating the collapse of his isolated regime.

But recently the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, suggested Washington could provide some kind of security assurance to Pyongyang, though not the formal "non-aggression treaty" North Korea has been demanding.

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.

Commentary:
As I've said from almost day one that N. Korea beat Bush as soon as they said they had nukes. That statement put the fear of god in Bush and he didn't attempt to invade them--unlike invading Iraq which had no visible weapons on any level.

I've also said many times that N. Korea will get exactly what it wants---more fuel and an agreement that the US will not invade them. However, it should be noted that agreements signed by the US government have little or no value under the Bush regime. Bush gets his rocks off by when be breaks agreements (just like when be breaks laws).


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WH Ordered EPA to Lie About 9/11 Dangers
An Impeachable Offense
New York Times
JENNIFER 8. LEE
Aug 08, 2003

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 — An investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general into official statements about air quality after the collapse of the World Trade Center has found that White House officials instructed the agency to be less alarming and more reassuring to the public in the first few days after the attack.

The draft of the inspector general's report also says the agency "did not have sufficient data and analyses" to make a "blanket statement" when it announced seven days after the attack that the air around ground zero was safe to breathe. "Competing considerations, such as national security concerns and the desire to reopen Wall Street, also played a role in E.P.A.'s air quality statements," the report said.

The report, which has not yet been made public, is an evaluation of the agency's overall response to the attack on the World Trade Center. One chapter focuses on the role of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in helping to shape the agency's communication after the attack.

"As a result of the White House C.E.Q.'s influence, guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and information about the potential health effects from W.T.C. debris were not included in the E.P.A's issued press releases," said the report, which was made available by people who said it was too harsh. "In addition, based on C.E.Q.'s influence, reassuring information was added to at least one press release and cautionary information was deleted from E.P.A.'s draft version of that press release."

The inspector general is an investigator within the agency who is intended to be impartial and who audits and evaluates its programs, sometimes resulting in political tensions. Officials from the agency and from the White House criticized the report today, saying investigators misunderstood the complexity of the situation after the terror attack.

The report bases its conclusions on changes made in two news releases and interviews with agency officials about information that was withheld.

So far, researchers have found no significant harm to those who breathed the air around ground zero, which contained increased levels of benzene, lead, mercury, PCB's, asbestos and fiberglass, though one preliminary study published this week found a slight but significant increase in the percentage of small infants born to pregnant women who were at or near the site around the time of the attack.

The report has irritated agency officials, including Marianne Lamont Horinko, the acting administrator, who said the inspector general's office did not understand how serious a crisis the attack on the trade center presented. "It's almost like an academic look at an average emergency, and 9/11 wasn't academic or average," said Ms. Horinko, who was involved with the response to the attack.

The agency has been criticized before for the statements it made about air quality after the attack. At a Senate subcommittee hearing on post-Sept. 11 air quality in February, Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, contended that the agency had misled the public by declaring that the air around the trade center was safe.

The report notes that the agency's official position was that the levels of asbestos in outdoor air were safe for healthy adults, but that it lacked evidence about the potential health effects of indoor air and the risks of other contaminants or the effects on more vulnerable New Yorkers, including children and the elderly.

The report notes that the agency's news releases did not mention these caveats and that "for the general public, E.P.A.'s overriding message was that there was no significant threat to human health."

The report says an associate administrator considered adding to a news release information on the risks of exposure to fine dust particles for the more vulnerable segments of the population. But an official from the Council on Environmental Quality "discouraged her from doing so," the report says, arguing that information about health effects should not be in E.P.A. news releases. The report also notes that an official from the White House council asked that a statement encouraging those who lived around ground zero to hire professional cleaners was deleted from a release.

The report compares two news releases with their draft versions and concludes, "Every change that was suggested by the C.E.Q. contact was made."

The title for the original version of one news release was, "E.P.A. Initiating Emergency Response Activities, Testing Terrorized Sites For Environmental Hazards." In the final version, the second clause was changed to read, "Reassures Public About Environmental Hazards." In the same release, a section that said, "Even at low levels, E.P.A considers asbestos hazardous in this situation" was deleted and replaced with a section that read, in part, "Short-term, low-level exposure of the type that might have been produced by the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings is unlikely to cause significant health effects."

Ms. Horinko said the report made too much of the White House role. "What it ignores is that C.E.Q. had an appropriate role to play because we had data coming from everywhere," she said. "There needed to be an important coordinating role."

James Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, agreed. "The right word here is `collaborate,' " he said. "We had to do some very dramatic and significant coordination."

Ms. Horinko said the chapter focused too narrowly on press releases rather than on the entire range of public communication, including the monitoring data that was made public. Given the information that E.P.A. had available, "What we wanted to do was be reassuring to the public at that time," Ms. Horinko said.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
How many people died or will die because Bush's EPA lied? Killing innocent people has never bothered this Administration. In fact, they've got it down to an art form. But getting past all the political hooey, the people on the ground should have been given the best information available, not lied to.


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White House Mandates AIDS Research Funds Be Funneled to Anthrax Vaccine
An Impeachable Offense
Kaiser Network
July 28, 2003

NIH studies on AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases may be shortened in length because of a White House mandate stating that NIH should shift funding from existing research in order to finance efforts to develop a new anthrax vaccine, Long Island Newsday reports. More than 500 researchers will be affected by the order, which was announced last month and clarified in a June 2 letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee from Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten. Funding to develop a new anthrax vaccine was not included in the $1.75 billion appropriated for bioterrorism research for fiscal years 2003 and 2004; however, Congress last year approved $43 million of a $250 million White House request to fund anthrax research. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that Bush administration officials gave NIH the "unprecedented" order to develop a new vaccine without additional funding, Newsday reports. Further, it is the first time the agency has been ordered to conduct a "major applied science program," Fauci said, according to Newsday. Although an anthrax vaccine already exists and is supported by groups such as the American Medical Association, Congress and the Bush administration have called for new vaccines based on "more advanced technology," Newsday reports.

Shortened Studies
The shift in funding will likely mean that studies on other infectious diseases will be ended earlier than expected if researchers cannot find additional money, Dr. Dan Kruitzkes, an AIDS researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a member of the board of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said. According to IDSA, four-year projects will likely be reduced to three-and-a-half years and two-year projects will be shortened to one-and-a-half years. "We're not happy about it, but we tried to do what was least painful," Fauci said. One unnamed AIDS researcher said the atmosphere in the field is "the worst I've seen in my 30 years of research." Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on July 11 sent President Bush a letter asking him to reconsider the anthrax vaccine funding policy, but they had not received a response as of Friday, aides said (Garrett, Long Island Newsday, 7/28).

Commentary:
Why do we have a Congress? It appears Bush thinks he's a dictator--and you know what, the press is letting him get away with it. So are the democrats. It is the job of the Congress to tell the president where THEY want money spent. Not the other way around.


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Evolving Untruths
ABC News
August

Major combat in Iraq is over, but some of the evidence President Bush used to justify the war is still being hotly contested.  

In January 2003, the president used his State of the Union speech to argue for war on Iraq. He said: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Those allegations has turned out to be false, and now the president is facing one of his biggest political challenges since the war on terror began.

ABCNEWS has assembled a timeline to help readers understand how the false information made it into one of the president's most important speeches.

February 2002
The CIA dispatches Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson to Niger to investigate claim of attempted uranium sale to Iraq, reportedly in response to questions from aides in Vice President Dick Cheney's office. Wilson spends eight days in Niger and concludes the allegations are "bogus and unrealistic." Wilson later says he reported this verbally to the CIA in a debriefing upon his return.

March 9, 2002
CIA reportedly sends cable that does not name Wilson but says Nigerien officials denied the allegations.

September 2002
The story that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger is published in a British dossier. The CIA "tried unsuccessfully … to persuade the British government to drop [the references]," according to a July 12, 2003, Washington Post report.

Late September 2002
CIA Director George Tenet and top aides make two presentations on Capitol Hill. They reportedly are asked about uranium purchase story. They say there was info that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium but there were doubts about its credibility. Tenet did not tell lawmakers that an envoy had been sent to Niger, according to a July 12, 2003, Washington Post report.

October 2002
The National Intelligence Estimate is produced. It says "a foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of pure uranium (probably yellowcake) to Iraq," according to a July 11, 2003, statement from Tenet. It also states: "We do not know the status of this arrangement." Much later in the text, State Department researchers call the allegations "highly dubious."

October 2002
The CIA releases a White Paper document that omits the uranium allegations.

Oct. 7, 2002
The president gives a speech on Iraq in Cincinnati. He does not refer to the uranium story at the urging of the CIA, according to a July 2003 Washington Post report.

Dec. 12, 2002
American intelligence agencies say Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration to the United Nations doesn't account for chemical and biological agents that were missing at the end of the Gulf War.

Dec. 19, 2002
The State Department says in a fact sheet that Iraq omitted its attempts to purchase uranium from Niger in its report to United Nations on its weapons program.

Jan. 23, 2003
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice publishes a piece in New York Times, "Why We Know Iraq Is Lying," and says that the declaration of weapons "fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad."

Jan. 23, 2003
At the Council on Foreign Relations, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz also faults the Iraqi report, saying "there is no mention of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad."

Jan. 28, 2003
The president gives his State of the Union address. He says: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Jan. 29, 2003
At Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Saddam Hussein "recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Feb. 5, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell makes his presentation to the United Nations. He omits the uranium story. Three months later, he tells reporters he did not repeat the allegation because "I didn't sense in going through it all that I saw enough substantiation of it that would meet the tests that we were applying."

March 7, 2003
International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei says "the reports of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic" and "unfounded."

March 16, 2003
On NBC's Meet the Press, Vice President Cheney says: "I think Mr. ElBaradei, frankly, is wrong."

March 20, 2003
President Bush announces the start of the military campaign against Iraq.

May 2, 2003
President Bush declares the end of major combat operations in Iraq.

May 30, 2003
In response to growing criticism of U.S. pre-war intelligence, CIA Director George Tenet releases a statement defending the agency's findings. He writes, "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."

June 8, 2003
On ABCNEWS' This Week, Rice says that at the time the State of the Union address was being prepared, "there were also other sources that said that … the Iraqis were seeking yellowcake, uranium oxide from Africa. And that was taken out of a British report. Clearly, that particular report, we learned subsequently, subsequently, was not credible."

June 12, 2003
The Washington Post quotes a White House spokesman acknowledging documents "detailing a transaction between Iraq and Niger were forged." However, the spokesman says they were "only one piece of evidence in a larger body of evidence suggesting Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa."

July 6, 2003
Ambassador Wilson publishes an op-ed in the New York Times, for the first time identifying himself as the Niger envoy. Wilson writes: "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

July 9, 2003
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tells reporters, "With the advantage of hindsight, it's known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech. This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech."

July 9, 2003
In testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld says it was only "within recent days" that he learned that reports about uranium coming out of Africa were bogus.

July 11, 2003
The president says, "I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services."

July 11, 2003
Rice tells reporters the CIA cleared the State of the Union speech "in its entirety."

July 11, 2003
Tenet releases a statement saying the CIA approved of the State of the Union speech before it was delivered. Tenet says, "These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president."
 

Commentary:
I often wonder what a Bush supporter does with all these lies. In just one article we have lie after lie detailed for them, and yet they still think Bush isn't a pathological liar. Fox News must be their only source of news, because if they read the facts, they'd have walked away from this man on day one. There is some good in knowing there is one truly evil party--a party unable and uncaring enough to utter a truthful statement.

So the next time you hear one of these conservatives say "our intelligence says.." or "my tax cut will....." Ignore them.


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Officials Made Uranium Assertions Before and After President's Speech
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 8, 2003; Page A10

Since last month, presidential aides have said a questionable allegation, that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium for nuclear weapons, made it into President Bush's State of the Union address because of miscommunication between the CIA and Bush's staff.

  
  
But by the time the president gave the speech, on Jan. 28, that same allegation was already part of an administration campaign to win domestic and international support for invading Iraq. In January alone, it was included in two official documents sent out by the White House and in speeches and writings by the president's four most senior national security officials.

The White House has acknowledged that it was a mistake to have included the uranium allegation in the State of the Union address. But an examination of how it originated, how it was repeated in January and by whom suggests that the administration was determined to keep the idea before the public as it built its case for war, even though the claim had been excised from a presidential speech the previous October through the direct intervention of CIA Director George J. Tenet.

Dan Bartlett, White House director of communications, said yesterday that the inclusion of the allegation in the president's State of the Union address "made people below feel comfortable using it as well." He said that there was "strategic coordination" and that "we talk broadly about what points to make," but he added: "I don't know of any specific talking points to say that this is supposed to be used."

The allegation appeared in a draft of a speech Bush was to give Oct. 7 to outline the threat that he said Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. In that draft, an unnamed White House speechwriter wrote, "The [Iraqi] regime has been caught attempting to purchase substantial amounts of uranium oxide from sources in Africa."

The statement the Iraqis "had been caught" was described as "over the top" by a senior administration official familiar with the sketchy intelligence on which the statement had been based. Tenet succeeded in having it stricken the day the speech was given on the grounds that intelligence did not support it.

The CIA arranged to have a similar allegation deleted from a speech that John D. Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was to give Dec. 20 before the U.N. Security Council.

Yet in the days before and after the president's State of the Union address, the allegation was repeated by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz and in at least two documents sent out by the White House.

The first of those documents was a legislatively required report to Congress on Jan. 20 on matters "relevant to the authorization for use of military force against Iraq." It referred to Iraq as having failed to report to the United Nations "attempts to acquire uranium and the means to enrich it." The second document, a report distributed to the public Jan. 23 covering Iraq's weapons concealment activities, highlighted Baghdad's failure to explain "efforts to procure uranium from abroad for its nuclear weapons program."

The same day, the op-ed page of the New York Times included a piece by Rice that said Iraq's Dec. 7 declaration of its weapons of mass destruction to the U.N. Security Council "fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad." In a speech that same day before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Wolfowitz said: "There is no mention [in the declaration] of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad."

Three days later, Powell, in a speech before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, asked: "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?"

And the day after the State of the Union address, Rumsfeld opened a news conference by saying of Hussein: "His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon; it was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

When it came to the State of the Union speech, the White House has said that it was an unnamed speechwriter who reviewed a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq and perhaps a British intelligence dossier and came up with the 16-word sentence that Bush delivered: "The British government has learned Saddam Hussein has recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The NIE, dated Oct. 2, 2002, carried only four paragraphs on the subject, on page 25 of the 90-page document, according to unclassified excerpts released last month.

The first of those paragraphs said: "Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake." Support for that characterization was an item saying "a foreign government service reported" that Niger was planning to send several tons of "pure uranium" to Iraq and that, as of early 2001, the two countries "reportedly were still working out arrangements" for as much as 500 tons. A second item said: "Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

According to the intelligence official, the "vigorously" language was "quoted verbatim out of a [Defense Intelligence Agency] paper," along with other paragraphs relating to Niger, Somalia and Congo.

The CIA, which had its doubts about the intelligence, did not include the uranium item in the NIE's "key judgments," nor even as one of six elements supporting the key judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, Tenet said in written answers to questions posed by The Washington Post. He added that the four paragraphs, which had originated from the Defense Intelligence Agency, were kept in the NIE for "completeness."

Tenet, in a statement July 11, described the CIA as having only "fragmentary intelligence" related to what he termed "allegations" of Hussein's efforts to obtain additional raw uranium from Africa.

The British dossier, published Sept. 24, said in its executive summary: "We judge that Iraq . . . sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power program that could require it." It did not say the British had "learned" anything about Iraq and uranium. Support for that judgment was the single statement, "There is intelligence that Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The CIA suggested that the judgment be removed, but the British maintained then, as they do today, that they have their own source, which has not been disclosed.

Two congressional committees, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the inspectors general of the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon are all investigating how the material got into the president's speech.

There is one congressional query into how other administration officials came to repeat the allegation.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing July 9, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) asked Rumsfeld to supply information for the committee record on why he, on Jan. 29, and the president, the day earlier, had made this "very significant statement" at the same time "the intelligence community knew in the depths of their agency that this was not true."

Nothing had been supplied as of Wednesday, a committee aide said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Not much new here. The entire Bush Administration is corrupt and liars. I think most of us got that part a long time ago.


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States, cities struggle with security
MSNBC
By Brock N. Meeks
March 04, 2003

EFFECTIVE SECURITY and readiness carry a mammoth price tag, a burden that many localities claim they can't afford to pay. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the White House promised cash-strapped state and local jurisdictions some $7 billion to help defray costs related to increased security mandates. Washington hasn't delivered on that promise, and it's weighing heavily on the nation's local elected officials.

The National Conference of State Legislators figures that homeland security mandates from Washington cost states $4 billion last year. "Our nation cannot fund America's homeland security on the back of local property taxes and fire hall bingo proceeds,' argues Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Administration officials blame Congress for the shortfall, saying national lawmakers stripped out most of the president's request of $3.5 billion in new funds earmarked for homeland security, leaving only $1.3 billion for new anti-terrorism initiatives.

Meanwhile, Bush's proposed 2004 budget is also drawing criticism from the nation's mayors.

"While we are pleased that the budget proposes a second installment of $3.5 billion for local homeland security investments, cities continue to wait for the first round of this funding, which was promised more than one year ago,' said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.   

Such shortfalls have an immediate and devastating impact on the ability of America's cities to protect citizens from potential terrorist acts. A survey of 122 mayors by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that while three-quarters of those surveyed thought their plans for reacting to a terrorist act were satisfactory, fewer than a third had confidence in their ability to detect a threat in the first place, equip emergency workers to handle the threat or even communicate effectively with residents, businesses or health workers in the event of a terrorist strike.

A POLITICAL FOOTBALL

Complicating the picture, as always, is politics. When it became clear late last year that Bush's pledge for local and state aid would fall short of the actual need, potential Democratic presidential candidates seized on the issue. From Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle to Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, there has been scathing criticism aimed at Bush, alleging that the administration is short-changing local security efforts.

But it's not just Democrats. When Bush met the National Governors Association at the White House last week, Republicans joined the chorus criticizing Washington.

"Generally speaking, we're saying, ‘No more unfunded mandates' said Republican Gov. John Rowland of Connecticut.

Rowland knows all too well what the funding crunch has done to his budget, already in deficit because of the sluggish economy. Across the country, city, state and county governments have adopted a kind of triage system to meet federal mandates and other requirements related to homeland security while also attending to basic municipal services. In many cases, changes ordered by Washington — like the recent hike in the national terrorist alert status to threat level "orange,' can force police overtime and other spending by cities and localities that destroy fiscal planning.

In Los Angeles, city and county leaders asked Washington last month for an immediate cash infusion of $100 million to help prevent and respond to possible terrorist attacks. City Councilman Jack Weiss wrote Washington officials a letter stating that security improvements are "urgently' needed to protect the Los Angeles airport, its harbors and other crucial infrastructure. Weiss' letter followed a simulated terrorist attack on Los Angeles, dubbed "Operation Nighthawk,' which revealed gaping holes in the city's ability to respond to a terrorist event.

One in four cities across the nation is being forced to cut police ranks or will shortly, according to a survey of 322 cities by the National League of Cities.

"These numbers underscore the very real threat to hometown America posed by the federal, state and local budget crises,' said John DeStefano, NLC president and mayor of New Haven, Conn. The lack of funding from Washington and state legislators' cutting funding to cities "are leaving America's hometowns to carry the burden alone,' he said.

NEVER ENOUGH

Beyond the financial shortfall issue, homeland security experts concede that the possibility of some breach in security cannot be

"If your readiness aim is zero events, zero casualties, never have a problem, then no human being can succeed,' said David McIntyre, deputy director for the Anser Institute for Homeland Security. "If you're after flexibility and responsiveness and coordination so that people aren't caught flatfooted in a crisis, well then I'd say we are far more ready than in the past,' he said. However, there's a "big but' to attach to that statement, McIntyre said.

"No one has enough resources to do everything. And that's especially a problem given that we face multiple threats,' McIntyre said. Responses and preparations for a chemical attack are very different from a radiological attack, which differs from a nuclear attack or a terrorist bombing, he said. Cities and states "can't do them all, so you have to prioritize,' he said. And that inevitably means there are going to be compromises that affect security.

TRAINING DAYS LACKING

One of the big compromises so far has been training. Security experts and local officials say that no response plan is worth the paper its printed on unless some form of training — possibly including large-scale drills — is undertaken.

John Kane, a retired 20-year veteran of the Sacramento, Calif., police department, runs a three-day-long program called "terrorism for first responders.' He says city officials who claim their town is ready for anything are most likely just shading the truth so they won't get in trouble with state or federal officials or with constituents.   

Anti-terrorism trainer

"Having a plan is only the first step,' Kane said. "I just don't want to see some cookie-cutter piece of crap that you put up on the wall, I want to see the actual training you've done with the men and women of day watch, the men and women of swing shift, the men and women on the graveyard,' he said. "And if you can't show me that, then you're not ready.'

Kane's seminar — attended by police, fire and rescue teams from all over the nation — helps teach "the grunts on the street,' as he puts it, to make the right choices if they are the scene of a terrorist incident. The state of California and several federal agencies are clients.

Kane says that, across the board, he is finding that there is a dangerously low amount of training.

Most cities "have done no coordinated drills to get the bulk of [first responders] prepared to work together as a team,' Kane said, "to have them become a unified group of responders.'

Kane said first responders are men and women of a special breed. "Driving 100 miles per hour to a gunfight, these people do not read plans; these people run to the guns,' Kane said. "If these guys haven't actually trained on the exercises, no one is going to stop to read a book when the building blows up.'

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

The estimated cost of the needed training is huge. The Hart-Rudman report on homeland defense undertaken by the Council on Foreign Relations projected that some 9 million first responders require training, yet there is only one federal training facility, the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., with the capability to train these teams to handle chemical attacks. Now running at peak capacity, the center can train only 10,000 people a year.

Nearly every fire department across this nation lacks specialized training and the appropriate equipment … to effectively respond to the aftermath of a terrorist attack involving chemical, biological, radioactive or nuclear agents,' said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

In the end, the ability of cities to handle potential terrorist threats may rest with its residents.

"What we haven't come to grips with is that this is a long-term, expensive problem, and we're going to have to sort out where it fits on our personal priority,' said McIntyre of the Anser Institute for Homeland Security.

"So are we more ready today to handle a terrorist threat? Yes. Are we ready enough? I think not,' McIntyre said. "That means we'll suffer casualties, and if we haven't demanded better [of our local officials] and been willing to pay for it, then we have nowhere to look but ourselves.'

Brock N. Meeks is MSNBC.com's chief Washington correspondent.

Commentary:
I find it odd that conservatives now require States to take care of National Defense. Actually I don't. Homeland Security is another excuse for republicans to spend at every level of government. Homeland Security is called National Defense in the real world and it's the job of the national government to defend the US, not the States. We can only hope the next president will dismantle this nonsense as soon as possible.

Is there any evidence that all this spending on Homeland Security has done one bit of good? Absolutely not. In fact, a reasonable person has to ask himself if terrorism really exists. If terrorism is a national threat why haven't we been hit since 9/11? Isn't it more likely that terrorism is a political ploy (excuse) to spend till we drop, create massive deficits, and keep Americans cowering their basements?

I didn't fall for this WMD nonsense in Iraq and I won't fall for "A war on terrorism" without some proof.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are idiots who hate the policies of Bush and the US government. We should go after those people not go after countries based on manufactured evidence, forged documents and fabricated intelligence. But "a war?" Never, I'll never believe that crap.


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Hijackers crashed flight 93
Guardian
Simon Jeffery and agencies
Friday August 8, 2003

Investigators piecing together the final minutes of United Airlines flight 93 now believe that it was deliberately crashed into a Pennsylvania field by its suicide hijackers.
A version of events that emerged after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington suggested that a group of passengers, who had learned of the strike on Manhattan from mobile phone calls to their loved ones, forced their way into the cockpit and fought for the controls as the plane went down.

The last words businessman Todd Beamer's wife heard her husband say - "Let's roll" - became a rallying cry for some in the United States as the country adjusted itself to the aftermath of an attack on two of its most important cities.

The report, based on the FBI's analysis of cockpit recordings, does not alter the broader sequence of events - that the plane crashed because of a passenger revolt - but questions some of the detail in the more popular version.

Citing transcripts of the still-secret cockpit recordings, the FBI's director, Robert Mueller, told congressional investigators in a closed session that one of the hijack gang had told their pilot, Ziad Jarrah, to crash the plane to end the passengers' attempt to seize control.

His version of events was disclosed in a brief passage in the 858-page report to the US Congress.

Previous statements by FBI and other government officials about what occurred in the cockpit have been ambiguous.

The FBI strenuously maintains that its suggestion that the passengers did not take control of the plane from the hijackers does not diminish their actions.

"While no one will ever know exactly what transpired in the final minutes of Flight 93, every shred of evidence indicates that this plane crashed because of the heroic actions of the passengers," said FBI spokeswoman Susan Whitson.

People who have heard the recording describe it as almost indecipherable, containing static noises, cockpit alarms and wind, interspersed with cries in English and Arabic.

Near the end of the tape, sounds of breaking glass and crashing dishes can be heard, lending credence to the theory that passengers used the food trolley to rush the jet's narrow aisle.

In April 2002, the same cockpit recording was played privately to family members of victims aboard Flight 93, and the FBI also provided them with its best effort at producing an understandable transcript.

Family members today disputed the latest FBI analysis.

"It is totally obvious, listening to that flight recorder, that they made it into the cockpit," Deena Burnett, who lost her husband, Thomas, on Flight 93, told the Associated Press. "You cannot listen to the tape and understand it any other way."

She said that she remembered hearing a hijacker telling Jarrah to crash the plane deliberately, as Mr Mueller described, and the pilot refusing to follow his instructions.

The singer Neil Young used Beamer's last known words as a song title and the US president, George Bush, quoted them in speech two months after the three other hijacked jets were flown into the World Trade Centre's twin towers and the Pentagon.

He said that "courage and optimism" led the passengers to save lives on the ground.

Thirty-three passengers, seven crew members and the four hijackers died when the plane, which intelligence officials believe was heading for the White House, plunged to the ground

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
Let's see if I've got this right. The private Lynch story was a lie. The Flight 93 story was a lie. The WMD story was a lie. Does anyone tell the truth anymore these days?

The current regime was fully aware all these stories were lies but they allowed the myth making to continue. They have no shame. The era of propaganda is upon us--your best weapon is to NEVER believe anything this regime says.


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Al Gore's Speech to MoveOn.org
Move On.org
Al Gore
August 07, 2003

Former Vice President Al Gore
Remarks to MoveOn.org
New York University
August 7, 2003

-AS PREPARED-

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for your investment of time and energy in gathering here today. I would especially like to thank Moveon.org for sponsoring this event, and the NYU College Democrats for co-sponsoring the speech and for hosting us.

Some of you may remember that my last formal public address on these topics was delivered in San Francisco, a little less than a year ago, when I argued that the President's case for urgent, unilateral, pre-emptive war in Iraq was less than convincing and needed to be challenged more effectively by the Congress.

In light of developments since then, you might assume that my purpose today is to revisit the manner in which we were led into war. To some extent, that will be the case - but only as part of a larger theme that I feel should now be explored on an urgent basis.

The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me -- not only in Iraq but also here at home on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.

The way we went to war in Iraq illustrates this larger problem. Normally, we Americans lay the facts on the table, talk through the choices before us and make a decision. But that didn't really happen with this war -- not the way it should have. And as a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price, for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments, and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm's way.

I'm convinced that one of the reasons that we didn't have a better public debate before the Iraq War started is because so many of the impressions that the majority of the country had back then turn out to have been completely wrong. Leaving aside for the moment the question of how these false impressions got into the public's mind, it might be healthy to take a hard look at the ones we now know were wrong and clear the air so that we can better see exactly where we are now and what changes might need to be made.

In any case, what we now know to have been false impressions include the following:

(1) Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for the attack against us on September 11th, 2001, so a good way to respond to that attack would be to invade his country and forcibly remove him from power.

(2) Saddam was working closely with Osama Bin Laden and was actively supporting members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group, giving them weapons and money and bases and training, so launching a war against Iraq would be a good way to stop Al Qaeda from attacking us again.

(3) Saddam was about to give the terrorists poison gas and deadly germs that he had made into weapons which they could use to kill millions of Americans. Therefore common sense alone dictated that we should send our military into Iraq in order to protect our loved ones and ourselves against a grave threat.

(4) Saddam was on the verge of building nuclear bombs and giving them to the terrorists. And since the only thing preventing Saddam from acquiring a nuclear arsenal was access to enriched uranium, once our spies found out that he had bought the enrichment technology he needed and was actively trying to buy uranium from Africa, we had very little time left. Therefore it seemed imperative during last Fall's election campaign to set aside less urgent issues like the economy and instead focus on the congressional resolution approving war against Iraq.

(5) Our GI's would be welcomed with open arms by cheering Iraqis who would help them quickly establish public safety, free markets and Representative Democracy, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US soldiers would get bogged down in a guerrilla war.

(6) Even though the rest of the world was mostly opposed to the war, they would quickly fall in line after we won and then contribute lots of money and soldiers to help out, so there wouldn't be that much risk that US taxpayers would get stuck with a huge bill.

Now, of course, everybody knows that every single one of these impressions was just dead wrong.

For example, according to the just-released Congressional investigation, Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of Sept. 11. Therefore, whatever other goals it served -- and it did serve some other goals -- the decision to invade Iraq made no sense as a way of exacting revenge for 9/11. To the contrary, the US pulled significant intelligence resources out of Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to get ready for the rushed invasion of Iraq and that disrupted the search for Osama at a critical time. And the indifference we showed to the rest of the world's opinion in the process undermined the global cooperation we need to win the war against terrorism.

In the same way, the evidence now shows clearly that Saddam did not want to work with Osama Bin Laden at all, much less give him weapons of mass destruction. So our invasion of Iraq had no effect on Al Qaeda, other than to boost their recruiting efforts.

And on the nuclear issue of course, it turned out that those documents were actually forged by somebody -- though we don't know who.

As for the cheering Iraqi crowds we anticipated, unfortunately, that didn't pan out either, so now our troops are in an ugly and dangerous situation.

Moreover, the rest of the world certainly isn't jumping in to help out very much the way we expected, so US taxpayers are now having to spend a billion dollars a week.

In other words, when you put it all together, it was just one mistaken impression after another. Lots of them.

And it's not just in foreign policy. The same thing has been happening in economic policy, where we've also got another huge and threatening mess on our hands. I'm convinced that one reason we've had so many nasty surprises in our economy is that the country somehow got lots of false impressions about what we could expect from the big tax cuts that were enacted, including:

(1) The tax cuts would unleash a lot of new investment that would create lots of new jobs.

(2) We wouldn't have to worry about a return to big budget deficits -- because all the new growth in the economy caused by the tax cuts would lead to a lot of new revenue.

(3) Most of the benefits would go to average middle-income families, not to the wealthy, as some partisans claimed.

Unfortunately, here too, every single one of these impressions turned out to be wrong. Instead of creating jobs, for example, we are losing millions of jobs -- net losses for three years in a row. That hasn't happened since the Great Depression. As I've noted before, I was the first one laid off.

And it turns out that most of the benefits actually are going to the highest income Americans, who unfortunately are the least likely group to spend money in ways that create jobs during times when the economy is weak and unemployment is rising.

And of course the budget deficits are already the biggest ever - with the worst still due to hit us. As a percentage of our economy, we've had bigger ones -- but these are by far the most dangerous we've ever had for two reasons: first, they're not temporary; they're structural and long-term; second, they are going to get even bigger just at the time when the big baby-boomer retirement surge starts.

Moreover, the global capital markets have begun to recognize the unprecedented size of this emerging fiscal catastrophe. In truth, the current Executive Branch of the U.S. Government is radically different from any since the McKinley Administration 100 years ago.

The 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, George Akerlof, went even further last week in Germany when he told Der Spiegel, "This is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history...This is not normal government policy." In describing the impact of the Bush policies on America's future, Akerloff added, "What we have here is a form of looting."

Ominously, the capital markets have just pushed U.S. long-term mortgage rates higher soon after the Federal Reserve Board once again reduced discount rates. Monetary policy loses some of its potency when fiscal policy comes unglued. And after three years of rate cuts in a row, Alan Greenspan and his colleagues simply don't have much room left for further reductions.

This situation is particularly dangerous right now for several reasons: first because home-buying fueled by low rates (along with car-buying, also a rate-sensitive industry) have been just about the only reliable engines pulling the economy forward; second, because so many Americans now have Variable Rate Mortgages; and third, because average personal debt is now at an all-time high -- a lot of Americans are living on the edge.

It seems obvious that big and important issues like the Bush economic policy and the first Pre-emptive War in U.S. history should have been debated more thoroughly in the Congress, covered more extensively in the news media, and better presented to the American people before our nation made such fateful choices. But that didn't happen, and in both cases, reality is turning out to be very different from the impression that was given when the votes -- and the die -- were cast.

Since this curious mismatch between myth and reality has suddenly become commonplace and is causing such extreme difficulty for the nation's ability to make good choices about our future, maybe it is time to focus on how in the world we could have gotten so many false impressions in such a short period of time.

At first, I thought maybe the President's advisers were a big part of the problem. Last fall, in a speech on economic policy at the Brookings Institution, I called on the President to get rid of his whole economic team and pick a new group. And a few weeks later, damned if he didn't do just that - and at least one of the new advisers had written eloquently about the very problems in the Bush economic policy that I was calling upon the President to fix.

But now, a year later, we still have the same bad economic policies and the problems have, if anything, gotten worse. So obviously I was wrong: changing all the president's advisers didn't work as a way of changing the policy.

I remembered all that last month when everybody was looking for who ought to be held responsible for the false statements in the President's State of the Union Address. And I've just about concluded that the real problem may be the President himself and that next year we ought to fire him and get a new one.

But whether you agree with that conclusion or not, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican -- or an Independent, a Libertarian, a Green or a Mugwump -- you've got a big stake in making sure that Representative Democracy works the way it is supposed to. And today, it just isn't working very well. We all need to figure out how to fix it because we simply cannot keep on making such bad decisions on the basis of false impressions and mistaken assumptions.

Earlier, I mentioned the feeling many have that something basic has gone wrong. Whatever it is, I think it has a lot to do with the way we seek the truth and try in good faith to use facts as the basis for debates about our future -- allowing for the unavoidable tendency we all have to get swept up in our enthusiasms.

That last point is worth highlighting. Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty.

Unfortunately, I think it is no longer possible to avoid the conclusion that what the country is dealing with in the Bush Presidency is the latter. That is really the nub of the problem -- the common source for most of the false impressions that have been frustrating the normal and healthy workings of our democracy.

Americans have always believed that we the people have a right to know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth -- and a shared respect for the Rule of Reason as the best way to establish the truth.

The Bush Administration routinely shows disrespect for that whole basic process, and I think it's partly because they feel as if they already know the truth and aren't very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it. They and the members of groups that belong to their ideological coalition are true believers in each other's agendas.

There are at least a couple of problems with this approach:

First, powerful and wealthy groups and individuals who work their way into the inner circle -- with political support or large campaign contributions -- are able to add their own narrow special interests to the list of favored goals without having them weighed against the public interest or subjected to the rule of reason. And the greater the conflict between what they want and what's good for the rest of us, the greater incentive they have to bypass the normal procedures and keep it secret.

That's what happened, for example, when Vice President Cheney invited all of those oil and gas industry executives to meet in secret sessions with him and his staff to put their wish lists into the administration's legislative package in early 2001.

That group wanted to get rid of the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming, of course, and the Administration pulled out of it first thing. The list of people who helped write our nation's new environmental and energy policies is still secret, and the Vice President won't say whether or not his former company, Halliburton, was included. But of course, as practically everybody in the world knows, Halliburton was given a huge open-ended contract to take over and run the Iraqi oil fields-- without having to bid against any other companies.

Secondly, when leaders make up their minds on a policy without ever having to answer hard questions about whether or not it's good or bad for the American people as a whole, they can pretty quickly get into situations where it's really uncomfortable for them to defend what they've done with simple and truthful explanations. That's when they're tempted to fuzz up the facts and create false impressions. And when other facts start to come out that undermine the impression they're trying to maintain, they have a big incentive to try to keep the truth bottled up if -- they can -- or distort it.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, the White House ordered its own EPA to strip important scientific information about the dangers of global warming out of a public report. Instead, the White House substituted information that was partly paid for by the American Petroleum Institute. This week, analysts at the Treasury Department told a reporter that they're now being routinely ordered to change their best analysis of what the consequences of the Bush tax laws are likely to be for the average person.

Here is the pattern that I see: the President's mishandling of and selective use of the best evidence available on the threat posed by Iraq is pretty much the same as the way he intentionally distorted the best available evidence on climate change, and rejected the best available evidence on the threat posed to America's economy by his tax and budget proposals.

In each case, the President seems to have been pursuing policies chosen in advance of the facts -- policies designed to benefit friends and supporters -- and has used tactics that deprived the American people of any opportunity to effectively subject his arguments to the kind of informed scrutiny that is essential in our system of checks and balances.

The administration has developed a highly effective propaganda machine to imbed in the public mind mythologies that grow out of the one central doctrine that all of the special interests agree on, which -- in its purest form -- is that government is very bad and should be done away with as much as possible -- except the parts of it that redirect money through big contracts to industries that have won their way into the inner circle.

For the same reasons they push the impression that government is bad, they also promote the myth that there really is no such thing as the public interest. What's important to them is private interests. And what they really mean is that those who have a lot of wealth should be left alone, rather than be called upon to reinvest in society through taxes.

Perhaps the biggest false impression of all lies in the hidden social objectives of this Administration that are advertised with the phrase "compassionate conservatism" -- which they claim is a new departure with substantive meaning. But in reality, to be compassionate is meaningless, if compassion is limited to the mere awareness of the suffering of others. The test of compassion is action. What the administration offers with one hand is the rhetoric of compassion; what it takes away with the other hand are the financial resources necessary to make compassion something more than an empty and fading impression.

Maybe one reason that false impressions have a played a bigger role than they should is that both Congress and the news media have been less vigilant and exacting than they should have been in the way they have tried to hold the Administration accountable.

Whenever both houses of Congress are controlled by the President's party, there is a danger of passivity and a temptation for the legislative branch to abdicate its constitutional role. If the party in question is unusually fierce in demanding ideological uniformity and obedience, then this problem can become even worse and prevent the Congress from properly exercising oversight. Under these circumstances, the majority party in the Congress has a special obligation to the people to permit full Congressional inquiry and oversight rather than to constantly frustrate and prevent it.

Whatever the reasons for the recent failures to hold the President properly accountable, America has a compelling need to quickly breathe new life into our founders' system of checks and balances -- because some extremely important choices about our future are going to be made shortly, and it is imperative that we avoid basing them on more false impressions.

One thing the President could do to facilitate the restoration of checks and balances is to stop blocking reasonable efforts from the Congress to play its rightful role. For example, he could order his appointees to cooperate fully with the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, headed by former Republican Governor Tom Kean. And he should let them examine how the White House handled the warnings that are said to have been given to the President by the intelligence community.

Two years ago yesterday, for example, according to the Wall Street Journal, the President was apparently advised in specific language that Al Qaeda was going to hijack some airplanes to conduct a terrorist strike inside the U.S.

I understand his concern about people knowing exactly what he read in the privacy of the Oval Office, and there is a legitimate reason for treating such memos to the President with care. But that concern has to be balanced against the national interest in improving the way America deals with such information. And the apparently chaotic procedures that were used to handle the forged nuclear documents from Niger certainly show evidence that there is room for improvement in the way the White House is dealing with intelligence memos. Along with other members of the previous administration, I certainly want the commission to have access to any and all documents sent to the White House while we were there that have any bearing on this issue. And President Bush should let the commission see the ones that he read too.

After all, this President has claimed the right for his executive branch to send his assistants into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading. That's been the law ever since the Patriot Act was enacted. If we have to put up with such a broad and extreme invasion of our privacy rights in the name of terrorism prevention, surely he can find a way to let this National Commission know how he and his staff handled a highly specific warning of terrorism just 36 days before 9/11.

And speaking of the Patriot Act, the president ought to reign in John Ashcroft and stop the gross abuses of civil rights that twice have been documented by his own Inspector General. And while he's at it, he needs to reign in Donald Rumsfeld and get rid of that DoD "Total Information Awareness" program that's right out of George Orwell's 1984.

The administration hastened from the beginning to persuade us that defending America against terror cannot be done without seriously abridging the protections of the Constitution for American citizens, up to and including an asserted right to place them in a form of limbo totally beyond the authority of our courts. And that view is both wrong and fundamentally un-American.

But the most urgent need for new oversight of the Executive Branch and the restoration of checks and balances is in the realm of our security, where the Administration is asking that we accept a whole cluster of new myths:

For example, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was an effort to strike a bargain between states possessing nuclear weapons and all others who had pledged to refrain from developing them. This administration has rejected it and now, incredibly, wants to embark on a new program to build a brand new generation of smaller (and it hopes, more usable) nuclear bombs. In my opinion, this would be true madness -- and the point of no return to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- even as we and our allies are trying to prevent a nuclear testing breakout by North Korea and Iran.

Similarly, the Kyoto treaty is an historic effort to strike a grand bargain between free-market capitalism and the protection of the global environment, now gravely threatened by rapidly accelerating warming of the Earth's atmosphere and the consequent disruption of climate patterns that have persisted throughout the entire history of civilization as we know it. This administration has tried to protect the oil and coal industries from any restrictions at all -- though Kyoto may become legally effective for global relations even without U.S. participation.

Ironically, the principal cause of global warming is our civilization's addiction to burning massive quantities carbon-based fuels, including principally oil -- the most important source of which is the Persian Gulf, where our soldiers have been sent for the second war in a dozen years -- at least partly to ensure our continued access to oil.

We need to face the fact that our dangerous and unsustainable consumption of oil from a highly unstable part of the world is similar in its consequences to all other addictions. As it becomes worse, the consequences get more severe and you have to pay the dealer more.

And by now, it is obvious to most Americans that we have had one too many wars in the Persian Gulf and that we need an urgent effort to develop environmentally sustainable substitutes for fossil fuels and a truly international effort to stabilize the Persian Gulf and rebuild Iraq.

The removal of Saddam from power is a positive accomplishment in its own right for which the President deserves credit, just as he deserves credit for removing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. But in the case of Iraq, we have suffered enormous collateral damage because of the manner in which the Administration went about the invasion. And in both cases, the aftermath has been badly mishandled.

The administration is now trying to give the impression that it is in favor of NATO and UN participation in such an effort. But it is not willing to pay the necessary price, which is support of a new UN Resolution and genuine sharing of control inside Iraq.

If the 21st century is to be well started, we need a national agenda that is worked out in concert with the people, a healing agenda that is built on a true national consensus. Millions of Americans got the impression that George W. Bush wanted to be a "healer, not a divider", a president devoted first and foremost to "honor and integrity." Yet far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America. His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of 'civil cold war' against those with whom they disagree.

And as for honor and integrity, let me say this: we know what that was all about, but hear me well, not as a candidate for any office, but as an American citizen who loves my country:

For eight years, the Clinton-Gore Administration gave this nation honest budget numbers; an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation; honest advocacy for the environment; real compassion for the poor; a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued, in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity, and not every administration in recent memory has displayed it.

So I would say to those who have found the issue of honor and integrity so useful as a political tool, that the people are also looking for these virtues in the execution of public policy on their behalf, and will judge whether they are present or absent.

I am proud that my party has candidates for president committed to those values. I admire the effort and skill they are putting into their campaigns. I am not going to join them, but later in the political cycle I will endorse one of them, because I believe that we must stand for a future in which the United States will again be feared only by its enemies; in which our country will again lead the effort to create an international order based on the rule of law; a nation which upholds fundamental rights even for those it believes to be its captured enemies; a nation whose financial house is in order; a nation where the market place is kept healthy by effective government scrutiny; a country which does what is necessary to provide for the health, education, and welfare of our people; a society in which citizens of all faiths enjoy equal standing; a republic once again comfortable that its chief executive knows the limits as well as the powers of the presidency; a nation that places the highest value on facts, not ideology, as the basis for all its great debates and decisions.

Commentary:
Brilliant. The only problem I have with the speech is Gore didn't go after the clowns in the media that pushed all these lies around the clock. Sure Bush is the liar-in-chief, the guy who gets the ball rolling, but it's the media that pushed this crap around the clock. Impeach Bush, then impeach the media. There isn't a single reporter who challenged Bush's UNPROVEN CLAIMS about WMD. There is a single reporter YOU can trust.

I'll be hitting the media harder next week. They go after Gore for telling us the truth--something they forgot to do.


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Defense Spending Drives U.S. Recovery
Reuters
By Glenn Somerville
Thu July 31, 2003 03:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The strongest wave of federal defense spending since the Korean War helped fuel U.S. economic growth at a stronger-than-expected 2.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday.

U.S. gross domestic product increased at a 2.4 percent annual rate that handily outstripped Wall Street's expectations. The GDP number, taken with a separate report showing a third straight weekly fall in new claims for jobless benefits, sent stock prices and the dollar soaring.

"The economy truly does look to be on the mend," said economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. He noted especially the solid pickup in business investment, which had lagged noticeably since a tepid recovery from the 2001 recession began.

Strengthened second-quarter GDP figures follow anemic growth of 1.4 percent in each of the two prior quarters. It was the best pace of expansion since a 4 percent surge in the third quarter of last year.

The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits declined last week by 3,000, to a revised 388,000 -- well below the psychologically important 400,000 level.

Most private analysts, as well as Bush Administration officials, said the data was heartening and implied stronger growth ahead. But they cautioned that growth remains below the economy's long-term sustained potential of around 3 percent a year and was too low to generate jobs quickly.

"I think it indicates clearly the economy is turning and recovery is well underway,' Treasury Secretary John Snow said when questioned by reporters after a Capitol Hill appearance. But he added that it is "well short of a full recovery."

Spending on defense, much of it to support the war in Iraq, shot up at a 44.1 percent rate -- the strongest since 110 percent in the third quarter of 1951 -- after falling 3.3 percent in the first three months of the year. That accounted for much of the unexpected surge in GDP expansion.

"Without the voracious winds of government spending, the USS Economy might have been a rudderless dinghy," said Rich Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research Corp. in New York. He added that federal tax cuts now showing up in lower withholding rates on employee pay stubs should be a boost.

Similarly, economist James Glassman of J.P. Morgan Chase said second-quarter GDP and jobless claims were "quite promising" in their implication that consumers and businesses saw better times ahead, even if growth is still below what is needed to reduce the unemployment rate.

"On GDP the trend is not impressive and no one was expecting it to be impressive. But the composition of growth is, and it just reinforces the optimism about a second-half pickup," Glassman said.

BUSINESS KICKS IN

Business investment, which has lagged during the slow expansion from the 2001 recession, showed definite signs of revival in the spring quarter.

Non-residential spending -- a broad gauge of business spending -- rose at a 6.9 percent annual rate after decreasing 4.4 percent in the first three months of the year.

A third report on Thursday, on manufacturing activity in the Chicago area, buttressed other reports that the hard-pressed sector was beginning to show signs of new life that could mean more investment on expanded operations.

The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago index climbed to 55.9 in July, its highest level since January, from 52.5 in June. Analysts said it represented "a significant comeback" for manufacturers in the Midwest region that boded well for the broader economy.

"Manufacturing has typically been a leading indicator in economic recoveries," said economist Maria Forres of Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson. "Continued growth in the Chicago sector will boost national levels."

Financial markets welcomed the economic data as promising for a stronger second-half GDP performance. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was ahead more than 150 points, or 1.6 percent, at mid-day and the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC was up more than 30 points, or 1.9 percent.

The dollar climbed against other major currencies, reflecting investors' belief that U.S. investment opportunities may be relatively brighter than in Europe and Asia.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Commentary:
Why is it that the only way a conservative can get the economy growing is by growing defense spending and growing government? I know, I know...they borrow tons of money, give it away to the super rich, create record deficits (Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2), then the only way they can get reelected is to spend more money on defense to make it look like the economy is growing.

Remember one thing. Deficits are unpaid taxes and Bush is raising your taxes every day he's in office. If you want historic tax increases, keep voting for morons who give you historic deficits (Republicans).


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