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Impeach Bush

Bush cites al-Qaeda link to justify Iraq attack
CBC (Canada)
Last Updated Wed, 19 Mar 2003 22:37:20

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush sent Congress a formal justification for invading Iraq Wednesday, citing the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.

The document was delivered hours before the military strike against Saddam Hussein began.

RELATED: Troops move to Iraqi border for quick invasion

The three-paragraph note justifying war said diplomacy has failed to guarantee America's security.

The Constitution gives Bush authority to "take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001," the note said.

White House spokesperson Sean McCormack said the reference is to Iraq. Bush has said Iraq has links with al-Qaeda, the organization blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Other countries remain unconvinced about the link.

White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer warned Americans that there might be casualties in the attack, and while the war is expected to be short, "it could be a matter of some duration."

Bush met Wednesday morning with top defence and foreign policy chiefs.

He also met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss Operation Atlas, the city's preparations for possible terror attacks that might be launched in retaliation for the U.S.-led strike against Iraq.

Copyright © CBC 2003

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Powell's UN Presentation
The Nation
by Phyllis Bennis
Posted February 5, 2003

Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation wasn't likely to win over anyone not already on his side. He ignored the crucial fact that in the last several days (in Sunday's New York Times and yesterday's briefing of UN journalists) Hans Blix has denied key components of Powell's claims. Blix said UNMOVIC has seen "no evidence" of mobile biological weapons labs, has "no persuasive indications" of Iraq-Al Qaeda links, no evidence of Iraq hiding and moving WMD material either outside or inside Iraq, none of Iraq sending scientists out of the country, none on Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, none on UNMOVIC conversations being monitored and none on UNMOVIC being penetrated.

Furthemorer, CIA and FBI officials still believe the Bush Administration is "exaggerating" information to make their political case for war. Regarding the alleged Iraqi link with Al Qaeda, US intelligence officials told the New York Times, "We just don't think it's there."

Powell's assessment of Iraq-Al Qaeda links was arguably his most compelling point. He played on the very real and reasonable fears of Americans and others about the capacity of Al Qaeda, focusing specifically on the potential threat posed by the al Zarqawi network.

But the disingenuous component was his clever segue from "al Zarqawi as danger" to "Iraq is harboring al Zarqawi," a claim that is fundamentally unproven. There is simply no clear evidence of these links; US intelligence officials (both CIA and FBI), have accused the Bush Administration of politicizing--cooking--the evidence to bolster the political case for war. UNMOVIC chief Blix said that there are other countries with far greater links to Al Qaeda than Iraq.

Powell did acknowledge that the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist organization operating in Northern Iraq is "outside Saddam Hussein's control." But he does not mention the crucial matching factor, that that area is inside US control--and in fact the US has troops entering Northern Iraq on a daily basis, who presumably could deal with that group if it indeed posed such a danger. Powell quotes an alleged associate of al Zarqawi saying that "the situation in Iraq is good," as evidence of al Zarqawi's links with the government in Iraq. In fact, such a remark, if it occurred at all, could as easily have referred to Al Qaeda operatives being pleased that the likelihood of a US attack in Iraq could well lead to increased support for them, as the population in Iraq and across the region turns against a US invasion.

It was in this section that Powell returned again and again to "detainees tell us...," "senior Al Qaeda operatives now detained...," "detainees tell their story..." In this context, we have particular need to be vigilant regarding the question of torture. Detainees may indeed tell "a story"; given that they may well be undergoing or threatened with torture, their stories must be taken with significant caution.

And finally, the fear-mongering regarding the potential power of Al Qaeda networks should not be broadened to sweep Iraq into its orbit.

Powell said one thing at least partially true: "1441 is to try to preserve the peace" (although it's not true that the US "wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace"). We should take that commitment to peace as the right approach, continue inspections.

Finally, the "even if" rule applies. "Even if" everything Powell said was true, there is simply not enough evidence for war. There is no evidence of Iraq posing an imminent threat, no evidence of containment not working. Powell is asking us to go to war, risking the lives of 100,000 Iraqis in the first weeks, hundreds or thousands of US and other troops, political and economic chaos and more, because he thinks maybe in the future Iraq might rebuild its weapons systems and might decide to deploy weapons or might give those weapons to someone else who might use them against someone we like or give them to someone else who we don't like. We reject going to war on spec.

©The Nation

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Cheney link of Iraq, 9/11 challenged
The Boston Globe
By Anne E. Kornblut and Bryan Bender, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent
9/16/2003

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney, anxious to defend the White House foreign policy amid ongoing violence in Iraq, stunned intelligence analysts and even members of his own administration this week by failing to dismiss a widely discredited claim: that Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Evidence of a connection, if any exists, has never been made public. Details that Cheney cited to make the case that the Iraqi dictator had ties to Al Qaeda have been dismissed by the CIA as having no basis, according to analysts and officials. Even before the war in Iraq, most Bush officials did not explicitly state that Iraq had a part in the attack on the United States two years ago.

But Cheney left that possibility wide open in a nationally televised interview two days ago, claiming that the administration is learning "more and more" about connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq before the Sept. 11 attacks. The statement surprised some analysts and officials who have reviewed intelligence reports from Iraq.

Democrats sharply attacked him for exaggerating the threat Iraq posed before the war.

"There is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11," Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat running for president, said in an interview last night. "There was no such relationship."

A senior foreign policy adviser to Howard Dean, the Democratic front-runner, said it is "totally inappropriate for the vice president to continue making these allegations without bringing forward" any proof.

Cheney and his representatives declined to comment on the vice president's statements. But the comments also surprised some in the intelligence community who are already simmering over the way the administration utilized intelligence reports to strengthen the case for the war last winter.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism specialist, said that Cheney's "willingness to use speculation and conjecture as facts in public presentations is appalling. It's astounding."

In particular, current intelligence officials reiterated yesterday that a reported Prague visit in April 2001 between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi agent had been discounted by the CIA, which sent former agency Director James R. Woolsey to investigate the claim. Woolsey did not find any evidence to confirm the report, officials said, and President Bush did not include it in the case for war in his State of the Union address last January.

But Cheney, on NBC's "Meet the Press," cited the report of the meeting as possible evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link and said it was neither confirmed nor discredited, saying

: "We've never been able to develop any more of that yet, either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don't know."

Multiple intelligence officials said that the Prague meeting, purported to be between Atta and senior Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, was dismissed almost immediately after it was reported by Czech officials in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and has since been discredited further.

The CIA reported to Congress last year that it could not substantiate the claim, while American records indicate Atta was in Virginia Beach, Va., at the time, the officials said yesterday. Indeed, two intelligence officials said yesterday that Ani himself, now in US custody, has also refuted the report. The Czech government has also distanced itself from its original claim.

A senior defense official with access to high-level intelligence reports expressed confusion yesterday over the vice president's decision to reair charges that have been dropped by almost everyone else. "There isn't any new intelligence that would precipitate anything like this," the official said, speaking on condition he not be named.

Nonetheless, 69 percent of Americans believe that Hussein probably had a part in attacking the United States, according to a recent Washington Post poll. And Democratic senators have charged that the White House is fanning the misperception by mentioning Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks in ways that suggest a link.

Bush administration officials insisted yesterday that they are learning more about various Iraqi connections with Al Qaeda. They said there is evidence suggesting a meeting took place between the head of Iraqi intelligence and Osama bin Laden in Sudan in the mid-1990s; another purported meeting was said to take place in Afghanistan, and during it Iraqi officials offered to provide chemical and biological weapons training, according to officials who have read transcripts of interrogations with Al Qaeda detainees.

But there is no evidence proving the Iraqi regime knew about or took part in the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush officials said.

Former senator Max Cleland, who is a member of the national commission investigating the attacks, said yesterday that classified documents he has reviewed on the subject weaken, rather than strengthen, administration assertions that Hussein's regime may have been allied with Al Qaeda.

"The vice president trying to justify some connection is ludicrous," he said.

Nonetheless, Cheney, in the "Meet the Press" interview Sunday, insisted that the United States is learning more about the links between Al Qaeda and Hussein.

"We learn more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s," Cheney said, "that it involved training, for example, on [biological and chemical weapons], that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems."

The claims are based on a prewar allegation by a "senior terrorist operative," who said he overheard an Al Qaeda agent speak of a mission to seek biological or chemical weapons training in Iraq, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement to the United Nations in February.

But intelligence specialists told the Globe last August that they have never confirmed that the training took place, or identified where it could have taken place. "The general public just doesn't have any independent way of weighing what is said," Cannistraro, the former CIA counterterrorism specialist, said. "If you repeat it enough times . . . then people become convinced it's the truth."

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Rice: Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical weapons
CNN
Thursday, September 26, 2002 Posted: 1:28 PM EDT (1728 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's national security adviser Wednesday said Saddam Hussein has sheltered al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad and helped train some in chemical weapons development -- information she said has been gleaned from captives in the ongoing war on terrorism.

The comments by Condoleezza Rice were the strongest and most specific to date on the White House's accusations linking al Qaeda and Iraq.

The accusations followed those made by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who earlier in the day said the United States has evidence linking Iraq and al Qaeda, but they did not elaborate. And the charges came as the White House sought to dispel accusations by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who blasted the administration for an "outrageous" effort to seek political gain from the Iraq debate.

Meanwhile, President Bush will meet with House Democrats and Republicans this morning at the White House to specifically discuss Iraq. Bush is expected to speak in the Rose Garden immediately following the meeting.

In an interview with PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Rice said the U.S. government clearly knows "that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time."

"We know too that several of the detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development," Rice said.

"So, yes, there are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. We know that Saddam Hussein has a long history with terrorism in general. And there are some al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad," she said. "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented."

At the same time, she cautioned that "no one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein somehow had operational control of what happened on September 11th, so we don't want to push this too far."

Rice added: "This is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clear, and we're learning more. ... When the picture is clear, we'll make full disclosure about it."

With the administration trying to build support at the United Nations and in Congress for possible military action against Iraq, the White House in recent days has sought to place its push to depose Saddam in the context of the war on terrorism, warning that Iraq could give nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to terrorist groups like al Qaeda -- the group responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans in four attacks September 11, 2001.

Bush Wednesday warned that al Qaeda could become "an extension of Saddam's madness."

"Both of them need to be dealt with," Bush told reporters at the White House. "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."

Seeking to fend off criticism from Democrats, he called the Iraq issue "a legitimate national security concern."

"I view it as my main obligation -- that is to protect the American people," he said.

Speaking in Poland, Rumsfeld said U.S. officials shared information linking Iraq and al Qaeda with NATO defense ministers meeting in Warsaw.

"The deputy director of central intelligence briefed on that subject. I have no desire to go beyond saying the answer is yes," Rumsfeld told reporters.

Daschle blasts White House
Daschle accused the White House of exploiting the threat of war with Iraq for political gain and demanded that Bush apologize.

"We've got to rise to a higher level," Daschle said. "Our founding fathers would be embarrassed by what they are seeing going on right now. Those who died gave their lives for better than what we're giving now." (Full story)

Rumsfeld told the allies that Bush has made no decision on whether to attack, but argued that a decade of sanctions and occasional aerial bombardment has failed to deter Iraq from attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction.

"Everyone is on notice," he said. "All now have a clear understanding of the threats that are posed."

The White House quickly dismissed the demand for Bush to apologize.

Asked by reporters at the White House whether he was politicizing the war, Bush responded, "My job is to protect the American people."

At a fund-raising dinner later Wednesday evening for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the president seemed to respond to Daschle's comments.

"Unfortunately, some senators -- not all senators -- but some senators believe it is best to micromanage the process, believe the best way to secure the homeland is to have a thick book of regulations which will hamstring this administration and future administrations from dealing with an enemy that could care less about thick books of regulations," Bush said.

"Unfortunately, some in the Senate -- not all in the Senate -- want to take away the power that all presidents have had since Jimmy Carter, and I'm not going to stand for it."

"The Senate must hear this, because the American people understand it -- they should not respond to special interests in Washington, D.C. They ought to respond to this interest: protecting the American people from future attacks," he added.

In the PBS interview, Rice said, "The president has never politicized this concern about war and the national security of the American people."

Commentary:
Condi is a liar.


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CIA had doubts on Iraq link to al-Qaida
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday June 10, 2003
The Guardian

The debunking of the Bush administration's pre-war certainties on Iraq gathered pace yesterday when it emerged that the CIA knew for months that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was highly unlikely. As President George Bush was forced for the second time in days to defend the decision to go to war, a new set of leaks from CIA officials suggested a tendency in the White House to suppress or ignore intelligence findings which did not shore up the case for war.

The interrogation reports of two senior al-Qaida members, both in US custody, showed that the CIA had reason to doubt the allegations of a connection between Saddam's regime and the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Such assertions, promoted vigorously by the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, were used as an additional justification for war, after the central argument that Iraq's arsenal of banned weapons posed an imminent danger.

The charge of a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam was contentious even at the time, and yesterday's report in the New York Times that the two al-Qaida members, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, dismissed the idea deepened the impression that Americans had been deliberately misled to support the decision for war.

In recent days that impression has become sufficiently widespread to put officials on the defensive.

Yesterday Mr Bush predicted that US inspectors scouring Iraq would soon find evidence of a programme of weapons of mass destruction. He also reaffirmed that al-Qaida maintained a network in Baghdad.

"Intelligence throughout the decade shows they had a weapons programme," Mr Bush said. "I am absolutely convinced that with time, we'll find out they did have a weapons programme."

That assertion stops well short of Mr Bush's statement during a visit to Poland on May 31 that US troops had already found weapons of mass destruction: two trailers the US said at the time had been used as mobile biological labs.

With the White House fighting for its credibility, the New York Times reported that the two al-Qaida lieutenants had dismissed the notion of cooperation between Saddam and Bin Laden.

Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March last year, told his CIA interrogators that Bin Laden had considered and then rejected the idea of working with Saddam because he did not want to be in the Iraqi leader's debt.

His information was supported on the eve of war after Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan on March 1. Mohammed, who had been al-Qaida's chief of operations, told the CIA the group did not work with Saddam.

While the CIA shared its interrogation record of Zubaydah with other intelligence agencies, it did not release its conclusions to the public.

That omission could prove extremely damaging to the administration because it suggests that officials ignored intelligence that did not fit with their plans for Iraq.

"This gets to the serious question of to what extent did they try to align the facts with the conclusions that they wanted," an intelligence official told the New York Times.

"Things pointing in one direction were given a lot of weight, and other things were discounted."

Commentary:
The CIA says it doubts a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda and the UN doubt it. Bush appears to be the only person on earth who doubts what the rest of us have known for a very long time.


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Bush: No Link Between Iraq, Sept. 11 Attacks
Fox News
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

WASHINGTON — Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (search) may have not been involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but he definitely is linked to the terrorists who did commit those crimes, President Bush said Wednesday.

"We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11" attacks, Bush said at the start of a meeting with congressional lawmakers discussing new energy legislation. But, he added, "There's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties."

The White House expressed consternation earlier in the day over reports that members of the administration have led the public to believe a link exists between Saddam and the attacks on the United States.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that in no way did Vice President Dick Cheney suggest in interviews over the weekend that there was evidence of Saddam's participation in the attacks. Bush never came to that conclusion either, the spokesman said.

McClellan could offer no clear explanation as to why recent public opinion polls indicate that 70 percent of Americans think there is a tie between Iraq and the attacks.

In an appearance on a Sunday newsmaker show, Cheney was asked whether he was surprised that more than two-thirds of Americans in a Washington Post poll would express a belief that Iraq was behind the attacks.

"No, I think it's not surprising that people make that connection," Cheney answered.

Cheney said on Sunday that success in stabilizing and democratizing Iraq would strike a major blow at the "the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9-11."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he had no reason to believe that Iraq's deposed leader, Saddam Hussein, had a hand in Sept. 11.

At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about the Post poll.

"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that," Rumsfeld said.

He added: "We know he [Saddam] was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities. But on that specific one, no, not to my knowledge."

The Bush administration has asserted that Saddam's government had links to Al Qaeda , the terrorist network led by Usama bin Laden that conducted the Sept. 11 attacks. And in various public statements over the past year or so, administration officials have suggested close ties.

In a television interview Tuesday night, White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that one of the reasons Bush went to war against Saddam was because he posed a threat in "a region from which the 9-11 threat emerged."

Rice, asked about the same poll numbers, said, "We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9-11."

She continued: "What we have said is that this is someone who supported terrorists, helped to train them, but most importantly that this is someone who, with his animus toward the United States, with his penchant for and capability to gain weapons of mass destruction, and his obvious willingness to use them, was a threat in this region that we were not prepared to tolerate."

Cheney said he recalled being asked about an Iraq connection to Sept. 11 shortly after the attacks, and responded that the time that he knew of no evidence at that point.

"Subsequent to that, we have learned a couple of things," he said.

"We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s; that it involved training, for example, on [biological warfare] and [chemical warfare]; that Al Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems, and involved the Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the Al Qaeda organization."

Bush and others have stressed that the war in Iraq is part of the overall war on terror. The war was also aligned with Bush's preemption policy, or first-strike doctrine, which says the United States will not stand by and wait to be attacked before it takes action to root out those who wish to do harm to Americans.

"This is a new kind of war against a new enemy," Cheney said at an Air Force Association National Convention in Washington on Wednesday. "In addition to taking on terrorists, we're also going after the states that sponsor terror."

While many were critical of suggestions Saddam had anything to do with the Sept. 11 attacks, most people agree that Saddam himself terrorized his own people and others.

Officials maintain that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and/or was in the process of building them. Those weapons could at some point be used against Americans, officials have said.

Coalition forces in Iraq have been hunting for those weapons for months and administration officials have expressed confidence that some will eventually be found.

But former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told an Australian radio station Wednesday that he thinks Iraq destroyed most of its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, but kept up the appearance that it had them to deter a military attack.

"The more time that has passed, the more I think it's unlikely that anything will be found," Blix said.

McClellan responded on Wednesday that the president stands by his warnings before the war. He added that Iraq's threat was documented in resolution after resolution at the U.N. Security Council .

At his Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld reiterated his belief that U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq are making satisfactory progress in stabilizing the country.

He said it was an "open question" whether the United States would get the 10,000 to 15,000 additional international troops it seeks to create a third multinational division for security duty in Iraq. The Pentagon hopes to get at least that many additional troops from Turkey, Pakistan or other friendly countries to beef up security and possibly to allow some of the 130,000 U.S. troops there to go home next year.

"It would relieve some of the pressure on our forces," Rumsfeld said. "Whether or not there will be a [United Nations] resolution and whether or not — even if there were a resolution — we would get that number of troops is an open question."

Rice acknowledged that if commitments for more troops are gained, it "could be months" before they were in place.

Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who appeared with Rumsfeld, said there are more than 210,000 coalition troops in Iraq: 130,000 American troops, 24,000 British and other international troops, and 60,000 Iraqi police, border guards and members of civil defense forces.

Fox News' Wendell Goler, Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Commentary:
I recall one of the so-called embedded journalists asking a soldier why we were fighting the war and he said to get back for 9/11. When the reporter said there was no connection, he said that's up the politicians. It seems the politicians lied to us about everything regarding war. Some may wonder why it's important. It's important because taking the country to war based on false or misleading information is a felony because it involved giving this false and misleading information to the Congress.

Bush says there's no doubt al Qaeda and Iraq are connected. He may want to pick up a newspaper or maybe have someone of the UN read him their report which says it's not true. What bugs me about the press is no one challenges Bush around the clock, demanding him to put up his evidence or shut up. We can only hope Howard Dean will ask him for proof. I don't know about you, but I miss the good old day when we had a free press.


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Bush overstated Iraq links to al-Qaeda
USA Today
Posted 7/13/2003 9:51 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Bush works to quiet a controversy over his discredited claim of Iraqi uranium shopping in Africa, another of his prewar assertions is coming under fire: the alleged link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. Before the war, Bush and members of his cabinet said Saddam was harboring top al-Qaeda operatives and suggested Iraq could slip the terrorist network chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.

Critics attacked those assertions from the beginning for being counter to the ideologies of Saddam and al-Qaeda and short on corroborating evidence. Now, two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam to the group responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was never more than sketchy at best.

"There was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist operation," former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann said this week.

Intelligence agencies agreed on the "lack of a meaningful connection to al-Qaeda" and said so to the White House and Congress, said Thielmann, who left State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research last September.

Another former Bush administration intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed there was no clear link between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

"The relationships that were plotted were episodic, not continuous," the former official said.

A United Nations terrorism committee says it has no evidence — other than Secretary of State Colin Powell's assertions in his Feb. 5 U.N. speech — of any ties between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

And U.S. officials say American forces searching in Iraq have found no significant evidence tying Saddam's regime with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

"One of the things that concerns me is the continued reference to the war in Iraq as part of the war on terrorism. There's not much evidence to support that linkage," said Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a presidential candidate.

In the weeks and months before the war, Bush and administration officials repeatedly said Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups which could provide a pathway for weapons of mass destruction to find their way to terrorists. U.S. forces have not found any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq so far.

"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda," Bush said in his January State of the Union speech.

"Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own," Bush said.

At the time, many terrorism experts criticized the claim. They noted that Saddam's secular regime was just the kind of Arab government bin Laden's Islamic extremists want to replace. Critics also pointed out the lack of hard evidence of links between Saddam and bin Laden.

The administration's case apparently was persuasive. In a poll conducted last month by Knowledge Networks, 52% of those questioned said they thought the United States found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam was working closely with al-Qaeda — although no such evidence has been found.

"You see the polls — lots of Americans believe that there was a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda despite the lack of intelligence evidence on that score," said Gregory Treverton, a former chairman of the National Intelligence Council under President Clinton.

The administration's key evidence of a link was an operative named Abu Musab Zarqawi, who got medical care in Baghdad in May 2002 after being wounded in Afghanistan. In his Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations, Powell called Zarqawi "an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants."

Current and former intelligence officials now say Zarqawi's links to al-Qaeda are more tenuous — the CIA now says Zarqawi considers himself independent of al-Qaeda, for example. And while Zarqawi spent time in Iraq, it's unclear whether Saddam's regime simply allowed him to be there or actively tried to work with him.

"There was scant evidence there had been any other contacts between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," Graham said in an interview Friday.

U.S. officials say a handful of suspected al-Qaeda members have been captured in Iraq, but most are probably low-level operatives. The biggest catch was a man described as a midlevel terrorist operative who worked for Zarqawi, who was nabbed in April near Baghdad.

Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief, said last week it's still unclear how much support Zarqawi and his followers got from Saddam.

"That he (Saddam) was promoting al-Qaeda is absurd," Cannistraro said. "That there was a tolerance for a Zarqawi network in Iraq seems clear."

High-level captives from both al-Qaeda and Saddam's regime also have denied any links between the two, U.S. officials say. They say al-Qaeda leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubayda denied their network worked with the former Iraqi government.

Farouk Hijazi, a former Iraqi intelligence operative who U.S. officials allege met with al-Qaeda operatives and perhaps bin Laden himself in the 1990s, also has denied any Iraq-al-Qaeda ties, officials say.

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

Commentary:
To sum up the war lies would take have a day, so why doesn't the media do it. I'd like to see a special report showing a day by day account of Bush lies. It won't happen. Mostly because the media pushed those lies around the clock. Not since McCarthyism has the media been part of a major national disgrace and scandal. It's easy to see why they don't what to report the fact, but if they want to regain our trust they must.


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U.N. Panel Finds No Iraq Link to Al Qaida
AP/Common Dreams
Dafna Linzer
Published on Friday, June 27, 2003 by the Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. terrorism committee has found no evidence linking Iraq to al-Qaida and did not investigate Bush administration claims of such ties, officials said Thursday.

The terrorism committee has just completed a draft report charting efforts by countries to track and shut down Osama bin Laden's operations. The report notes success in the war on terrorism stemming from the arrests of some top al-Qaida figures.

But it also notes the group has been able to reconstitute support and benefit from loopholes in order to continue acts of terror worldwide.

Nowhere in the 42-page draft is there any mention of Iraq or claims that it served as a safe haven for al-Qaida.

"Nothing has come to our notice that would indicate links between Iraq and al-Qaida," said Michael Chandler, the committee's chief investigator.

The committee first heard of alleged ties during Secretary of State Colin Powell's February presentation to the Security Council ahead of the Iraq war.

"It had never come to our knowledge before Powell's speech and we never received any information from the United States for us to even follow-up on," said Abaza Hassan, a committee investigator.

U.S. diplomats said Powell had laid out all the evidence to the council.

"We know that Iraq provided some training to al-Qaida in chemical weapons development and we also know there were clear contacts between them that can be documented," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission here.

Powell insisted in his presentation that Saddam Hussein's regime was allowing a senior al-Qaida member named Abu Musab Zarqawi to operate from Baghdad. Zarqawi has been indicted for the murder of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan on Oct. 28, 2002.

The alleged connections were cited by the administration as one of the key reasons for going after Saddam.

But the committee saw no need to investigate Zarqawi's movements and deliberately stayed away from investigating Iraq. "There are other committees in the United Nations that deal with Iraq," Chandler said. "We have concentrated our efforts where clearly al-Qaida was active."

One of the places it is looking into is Iran.

The United States has said senior al-Qaida figures are in Iran and officials were investigating whether they were linked to a May attack in Saudi Arabia.

Chandler, who visited the Iran-Afghanistan border in October, said he had been satisfied then with steps the Iranians were taking. "They captured some people coming across the border and handed those people over to their countries of origin."

But he said recent reports on al-Qaida activity there merited another look.

In poring over attacks and incidents in the last year, including a Chechen attack on a Moscow theater, the committee has come to believe in a link between al-Qaida and Chechen separatists.

For the first time, it added the name of a Chechen to its list of al-Qaida members.

The inclusion of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was a victory for Russia, which has long insisted on a relationship between Chechen rebels and bin Laden's group.

Countries are forbidden from doing business with individuals on the list and are required to report any activities conducted in their names.

The decision is recognition of the "direct connection" between a Chechen rebel leader and "the avant-garde of international terrorism," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Moscow.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
What more can I say. Another day, another Bush lie. I'd like to meet a Bush supporter and ask him what it god's name makes him believe anything Bush says. He's a pathological liar.


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The Bush Plan--more Mercury
Bismarck Tribune
By LAUREN DONOVAN
Sunday, August 10, 2003

GRAND FORKS ‹ Any kid who ever kiped mercury from a high school science class knows it's rightly named from the Greek for quicksilver.

Let it out of the glass vial, and it slips away before you know it.

It isn't easy to hold on to mercury in its pure form, as anyone knows who's ever tried to put it back into the vial before the teacher knows it's missing.

It isn't easy to grab it in any form, but in the not too distant future, the coal burning industry is going to have to figure out a way to grab the mercurial substance before it hits the atmosphere.

The coal industry's challenge will be vastly different from trying to gather up slippery silvery drops. The industry is dealing with mercury contained in coal that leaves the power plants as an invisible vapor, falls to earth and gets into the flesh of fish in lakes and oceans. On a national scope, it's estimated that capturing mercury will cost an easy $6 billion.

That size investment has the coal industry nervously eying the horizon because the cleanup mandate is looming while the technology to get the job done isn't fully developed.

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to impose a standard that would have the coal industry reduce mercury emissions 90 percent by 2007. The Bush administration is countering with the Clear Skies Act. It's kinder and gentler on the industry, calling for a 46 percent reduction by 2010 and a 70 percent reduction by 2018. Under the act, mercury polluters could make beneficial tradeoffs among themselves.

For this story about mercury it'd be helpful to get reacquainted with that old high school devil of memorization, the periodic table of elements, arranged from the lightest substance on earth to the heaviest.

The symbol for mercury is Hg, from the Greek hydrargyrum. It's number 80 in the table, ranging toward the heavy end of elements. On one side is gold, with the symbol Au. On the other side is thallium, symbol Tl.

Everyone knows what gold is, but thallium?

In another brief high school detour, anyone who remembers when their science teacher still had mercury lying around might remember thallium. It's a silvery white metallic substance once used to treat ringworm. Thallium isn't used medically anymore because it's toxic, and the margin between prescription and poison is too narrow for comfort.

Mercury, its elemental neighbor, is toxic, too.

Not only is it toxic in minuscule amounts, it has the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier in the human body as methyl mercury. Children under age 14 and women of child-bearing age are most at risk in eating mercury contaminated fish because of the potential for neurological brain related impairments to young children and fetuses.

That's why the federal government has mercury in its cross hairs.

Whether it's the EPA's more stringent standard, or Bush's less stringent approach, the clock is ticking. The boom is about to come down on coal burners.

It's coming down even though mercury from coal accounts for a small share of the mercury swirling around the atmosphere in what's called the global pool.

There are 2,000 tons of mercury in the global pool, roughly the same as 20 railroad cars loaded with wheat. Of the 2,000 tons, some 48 tons are attributable to coal burning plants in the United States.

There's a good chance that the mercury that accounted for fish advisories posted on 941 Minnesota lakes last year actually came from power plants in Asia, which pumps about 150 tons into that swirling global mercury pool.

North Dakota posts its advisories by sized fish, not lake. The higher up the predatory food chain and the bigger the fish, the less of it young people and childbearing-aged women should consume.

State Health Officer Terry Dwelle said mercury intoxication is not a reportable event, but he did survey physicians with 100 years of clinical experience among them and none diagnosed so much as a single case in North Dakota.

Despite the U.S. coal industry's relatively small contribution to the global problem, the mandate to reduce mercury is coming like a train to the station. The challenge now is in figuring out how to get the job done before the train gets in.

Across the country, there's a scramble in research labs and at power plants to test the best means for reducing mercury.

A significant player in the research field is the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. Mercury research accounts for 25 percent of the EERC's $20 million budget, a proportion that will get closer to 40 percent over the next couple of years.

Steve Benson heads up the mercury research program at EERC. When he talks about the issue, he unloads reams of paper and studies to demonstrate his point.

He already knows this much: "Meeting the EPA's 2007 timeframe will be next to impossible. Under the Clear Skies Act, there's a chance."

Some of the research at EERC and elsewhere looks promising.

Generally, it's divided into two methods.

One method involves spraying a reactive substance into the plant's flue gas ‹ the stream that ends up going out the tall stack ‹ to either oxidize or cause a reaction with mercury and trap it with other small particles.

Experiments involve spraying the flue gas with different substances, called sorbents, such as activated carbons and forms of chlorine. The list of experimental sorbents is long and complex. Some are described as chemical formulas.

"I used to say we've looked at everything but dirt, and now we've looked at dirt," Benson said. "Dirt didn't work."

A second method involves running the flue gas over sorbent beds, basically surfaces coated with a cling-on substance like gold, which amalgamates with mercury.

Other experiments are looking at where in the plants' pollution equipment ‹ filter houses or scrubbers ‹ mercury controls should be installed.

No method has been field tested long enough to know how effective it is over time.

Great River Energy, with North Dakota plants in Underwood and Stanton, is a leader in mercury experimentation.

Mark Strohfus analyzes environmental policy for his company. He said Great River has a hyper-awareness because it's headquartered in Minnesota, where mercury has for years been a political hot button.

Right now, Great River is experimenting with activated carbon, oxidation and gold-plated sorbent bed technology at its Stanton and Underwood plants.

Coal burned at Great River is typical of North Dakota lignite. It contains about 100 parts mercury per billion raw and about 10 parts per billion after the boiler. That's a minuscule enough amount, but it adds up. North Dakota plants contribute about 1.3 tons to the global mercury pool.

A mercury study done in 2002 used a hypothetical example to highlight the coal industry's challenge. It calculated the Houston Astrodome could hold 30 billion ping pong balls and 30 of the balls contained mercury, the same ratio of mercury in coal. To get to 90 percent reduction, the industry will have to get 27 balls out of the "dome."

North Dakota power plant operators will have a bigger handicap. The mercury that leaves power plant stacks here and in the Powder River Basin to the west is elemental mercury, unlike from eastern coal where the mercury is already oxidized and easier to capture.

Strohfus said despite his company's aggressive approach, it's early in the game. He sees significant problems in being ready to meet the coming standard.

"We don't have a slam-dunk technology that we can apply now," Strohfus said. "Could we install (this) next year and could we be confident that it would meet the standard? Absolutely not."

There are some practical concerns ahead of that.

Installing mercury controls will require a plant shutdown. In Great River's case, it may have to install filters, or bag houses, which will cost millions.

"Everything is millions," Strohfus said.

Just like those drug ads on television, the mercury cure won't come without side effects.

Great River sells a lot of fly ash ‹ a powdery substance left after coal is burned ‹ for everything from a concrete additive to an ingredient in cosmetics. Those sales will be at risk if the fly ash is contaminated with activated carbons that were added to the process to capture mercury.

Scott Renninger is a project manager for the Department of Energy's energy laboratory. Besides the unintended consequences of such things as fouled fly ash, Renninger said mercury captures will affect pollution control equipment, either plugging it up, or just plain causing it to wear out faster.

"We just don't know what the side effects might be," he said.

The federal government, states like North Dakota with its research funded through the Lignite Research Council and the energy industry are spending millions of dollars now. They will spend millions more to get mercury controls out of the laboratory and into the field as quickly as possibly.

It'll take a commitment.

In the end it may mean that plant operators have to install multiple controls, especially if the most stringent reduction carries the political day, because it may take several forms of control to grab all or most of the mercury.

Renninger said finding the mercury fix will also take something elusive, something beyond the realm of cold hard science.

"It's not like hitting the Powerball, but we need to be kind of lucky in the next couple of years," he said.

(Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 888-303-5511, or scoop@ndonline.com.)

© Bismarck Tribune 2003

Tribune Archive File--no link

Commentary:
If you're pregnant or nursing don't eat ANY fish, especially tuna in a can. The risk is too high. If you live in Canada they advise fish consumption of no more than once per month for mothers and young children.

The EPA no longer tests tuna and industry isn't saying much mercury they have (not that you could trust them if they were). We need an EPA that tests fish again.


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Federal spending on the rise
Star Tribune
August 31, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the Washington blame game over who's responsible for ever-worsening federal deficit projections, Republicans and Democrats offer predictably different explanations. Republicans say a lousy economy is largely at fault; Democrats point the finger at President Bush's tax cuts.

But neither side talks much about a third factor: Federal spending once again is going through the roof.

After a decade in which penny-pinching by both parties limited spending increases to about 3 percent a year, federal outlays are again heading upward quickly.

In the past four years, annual spending increases have shot up an average of 6 percent, double the rate of inflation. Last year, the federal budget grew by 7.9 percent, highest in a dozen years, and the Bush administration is projecting even higher increases this year.

"The political consensus for restraining spending is just gone," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the budget watchdog Concord Coalition.

The surge in federal spending is tied largely to the government's ramped-up military and homeland security fight against terrorism. But it's hardly the only factor. In the past two years, for example, Medicaid spending has shot up 26 percent while Medicare costs have gone up 17 percent.

In some respects, the spending story is even worse than it appears because lower interest rates have counter-balanced some of the growth. Last year, for example, government costs would have grown nearly 10 percent if not for a $35 billion drop in interest payments.

The upshot is that Bush and Congress have set an aggressive spending course that is significantly deepening the government's swing toward annual deficits. The Congressional Budget Office last week projected a record $401 billion deficit this year and warned that the red ink could reach $480 billion in 2004.

Less than three years ago, the budget office had projected a decade-long era of surpluses.

Many budget-watchers say that even the newly stark projections are too rosy.

A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said that if Congress approves a prescription drug benefit for seniors and extends current tax policies, as most observers expect, annual deficits could reach $650 billion by 2013.

"Running deficits of this magnitude after the economy recovers is a prescription for severe fiscal distress in the decades ahead," said Robert Greenstein, the group's executive director.

Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the unfavorable budget trends are occurring at precisely the wrong time. "At a time when the nation should be saving for the retirement of the baby boomers," he said, "budget policies are saddling us with long-term debt."

The Bush administration defends its spending policies as economically prudent and necessary to defend the country against the threat of terrorism. While lamenting the resulting deficits, officials say the combination of tax cuts and growing federal spending have helped limit damage from the recent recession.

In some respects, the federal government's core growth has been masked for a full decade. Throughout most of the 1990s, military spending was on a steady decline. Then, with the arrival of annual surpluses, interest expense began to fall. With lower rates accelerating the trend, interest costs this year are down nearly $100 billion from the peak year of 1998.

Budget forecasters say neither trend is likely to continue over the next 10 years.

Bixby of the Concord Coalition says only political will can prevent federal deficits from ballooning. And that quality, he says, is sorely lacking in Washington right now.

"There really is no plan by anyone to deal with this," he said. "This is quite clearly a gamble. The White House is gambling that something will happen -- some boom that will take care of this problem."

According to the Congressional Budget Office's new report, federal spending is expected to moderate in future years. But the analysis doesn't fully deal with the expected costs of reconstructing Iraq and Afghanistan.

With weekly costs of $1 billion just to finance military operations in Iraq, the Bush administration is expected to ask Congress this fall for a huge supplemental funding bill.

The United States' occupation coordinator, L. Paul Bremer, told the Washington Post last week that "several tens of billions" of dollars will be needed over the next year to fix Iraq's infrastructure and create a functioning economy.

Beyond that, Congress returns Tuesday to consider a Medicare prescription drug benefit that, according to the budget office, could add another $400 billion to the deficit over 10 years.

All of which could set the stage for a politically painful reckoning that federal spending needs to be reined in.

Veronique de Rugy and Ted DeHaven, scholars at the libertarian-minded Cato Institute, recently analyzed spending policies in the first three budget years of the Bush administration and concluded that the president is most responsible for the sudden growth.

"It is true that Congress shares the blame," they wrote in their analysis. "However, Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill during his tenure in office. . . . Real spending in nearly every department has increased substantially, sometimes exorbitantly, under Bush."

David Westphal is at dwestphal@mcclatchydc.com.

© Copyright 2003 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Spending has been on the rise for at least fours--long before Bush became president, before the recession, before 9/11. When we hear politicians and political commentators tell us the deficits are caused by any of the above---ignore them.

Conservatives like to say they're for less government but look at spending and the deficits when they have power. Reagan, Bush 1 and now Bush 2 are presiding over record deficits. If this issue has value to you it seems obvious by now that conservatives can't balance the budget.

In 1996 Bob Dole proposed a $600 billion tax cut. He lost the election. Then the republican congress proposed a $900 billion tax cut. Had either of these cuts become law we wouldn't have seen a penny of surpluses in the 90's. But, lucky for us and future generations, Bill Clinton set out a policy that gave us the largest surpluses in US history. It's not a hard policy to reenact. Cut spending when possible and increase taxes because it's absolutely necessary. We can't live with $400 billion deficits forever.


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