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Impeach Bush

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 Firefighters Vote to Boycott Bush Tribute
 Lawyers Group Opposes Secret Detentions
 Bush Ties Military Aid to Peacekeeper Immunity
 Congress hits White House over secrecy
 Bush Seeks to Limit Conservation Law
 Bush Allows Child Aid Abuses *
 Saudi Arabia, Our Enemy?
 Clinton and Corporate Reform--He was right again!
 Want More Spending? Vote Republican!
 Plan to Fight Al Qaeda Approved Week Before September 11
Firefighters Vote to Boycott Bush Tribute
Reuters.com

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The International Association of Fire Fighters voted unanimously on Wednesday to boycott a national tribute to firefighters who died on Sept. 11, in an angry response to U.S. President George Bush's rejection of a bill that included $340 million to fund fire departments.

Bush is expected to speak at the Oct. 6 ceremony in Washington D.C., where the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation is hosting its annual tribute to those who died in the line of duty during the prior year.

The ceremony will honor 343 firefighters who died responding to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, as well as about 100 others who also died in the year.

The IAFF, the umbrella organization for the nation's professional firefighter unions, is enraged by the president's rejection of a $5.1 billion appropriations bill that included $150 million for equipment and training grants requested by some of the nation's 18,000 fire departments.

It also include $100 million to improve the communications systems for firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel as well as $90 million for long-term health monitoring of emergency workers at the Ground Zero site where New York's World Trade Center towers once stood.

Firefighters and survivors will be urged to skip the Oct. 6 event in protest, said R. Michael Mohler of the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters Local 774.

Mohler made the boycott motion before about 2,000 union leaders convening in Las Vegas for the IAFF's first national conference since Sept. 11.

"The president has merely been using firefighters and their families for one big photo opportunity," Mohler said. "We will work actively to not grant him another photo op with us."

BUSH ACCUSED OF "NEGLECTING HEROES"

Bush said Tuesday the bill was bloated by less important projects and a White House spokeswoman said Bush remained committed to firefighters and other emergency groups.

"The president is committed to our nation's first responders," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, traveling with Bush in Des Moines, Iowa, said.

The firefighters' boycott vote followed anti-Bush speeches by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and IAFF general president Harold Schaitberger in which accused the president of neglecting the heroes of Sept. 11.

Schaitberger ridiculed as insincere Bush's videotaped remarks shown Monday at the conference, in which Bush expressed sympathy and admiration for the firefighters who responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Don't lionize our fallen brothers in one breath, and then stab us in the back by eliminating funding for our members to fight terrorism and stay safe," Schaitberger said. "President Bush, you are either with us or against us. You can't have it both ways."

Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, told the firefighters: "I strongly urge the President to reconsider. If he refuses to do so, however, I am prepared to do everything I can as majority leader to see that you get the resources you need to do your jobs safely and effectively."


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Lawyers Group Opposes 9/11 Secret Detentions
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Bar Association on Tuesday opposed the Bush administration's secret detention of foreign nationals after the Sept. 11 attacks, urging that their names be disclosed and they be given immediate access to lawyers and family members.

The nation's largest lawyer group joined civil libertarians and others who have criticized the U.S. government's policy of secret and prolonged immigration detentions.

Of those taken into custody as part of the investigation into the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks, the Justice Department has said more than 750 people were detained on immigration violations.

The vote marked the second time the Bush administration's anti-terrorism tactics, adopted after Sept. 11, have provoked criticism during the association's annual meeting.

An ABA task force said on Friday that American citizens who have been branded "enemy combatants" and who are being held in this country without any charges should at least be given access to judicial review and an attorney.

On the last day of its meeting, the governing body, which sets policy for the association, adopted by voice vote a recommendation opposing the "incommunicado detention of foreign nationals in undisclosed locations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service."

It urged the protection of the constitutional and legal rights of the immigration detainees, recommending the following specific steps:

-- disclosing their names, whereabouts and charges against the detainees, and assuring them access to lawyers and family members.

-- promptly charging detainees or releasing them when charges are not brought.

-- providing prompt custody hearings before immigration judges to determine detention and bond issues, with the opportunity for appellate review.

-- conducting public hearings on whether to deport a detainee, except when the individual's safety might be threatened or a judge finds information likely to be disclosed that would compromise national security.

-- permitting independent agencies to visit the detention centers and to meet privately with detainees to monitor compliance.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the Justice Department must release all the names of those it has arrested or detained in the Sept. 11 investigation, but the government is appealing the ruling.

The judge rejected the Justice Department's argument that disclosing the names would be helpful to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which the United States blames for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Commentary:
Lawyers say it's wrong, but Bush continues to do it. Does anyone still wonder why the "rule of law" died when the US Supreme Court said counting votes was unconstitutional?


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Bush Ties Military Aid to Peacekeeper Immunity
YahooNews/New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 — The Bush administration, making use of a provision of the new antiterrorism law, warned foreign diplomats this week that their nations could lose all American military assistance if they became members of the International Criminal Court without pledging to protect Americans serving in their countries from its reach.

The threat to withdraw military aid — including education, training and help financing the purchase of equipment and weaponry — could be felt by almost every nation that has relations with the United States, though the law exempts many of its closest allies. The law gives the president authority to waive the provision and decide to continue military aid if he determines it is in the national interest.

This part of the new law, which passed Congress with broad bipartisan support and was signed last week by President Bush ( news - web sites), provides the administration with its broadest and most coercive tool to keep American peacekeepers out of the hands of the new court.

Written by Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the majority whip, the measure is intended to force as many countries as possible to sign bilateral agreements not to extradite Americans to the new court for trial, according to a Republican Congressional aide who worked on the measure.

Romania and Israel have signed such agreements.

The Bush administration opposes the court, the world's first permanent forum for trying individuals charged with genocide and other crimes against humanity, on the ground that it could subject Americans to politically motivated prosecutions abroad.

This week, the State Department invited foreign ambassadors in for briefings to lay out American opposition to the court and to warn them of the prohibition against military aid to countries that are a party to the treaty establishing the court.

"That is a fact under the law, it's right there in the law," said Philip Reeker, a State Department spokesman. "The president welcomes the law — I can't underscore how important this is to us to protect American service members."

Another provision in the law gives the president authority to free members of the armed services or other Americans who are in the court's custody by any "necessary and appropriate means," including use of the military.

Nations that are members of NATO ( news - web sites) and other major allies — including Israel, Egypt, Australia, Japan and South Korea ( news - web sites) — are exempted from the military assistance prohibition. The Pentagon ( news - web sites) said the measure could touch just about every other country on the globe.

"It is easier to list what countries do not receive American military assistance than those that do," said Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Burfeind of the Navy, a Pentagon spokeswoman. "Virtually every country but Cuba, Iraq, Iran and the other countries on the terrorist list receive some military training or aid from us."

Jonathan Grella, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said, "This is just an effective tool, and we have said numerous times that we have to do whatever it takes to protect our service members from this rogue court." The United States has about 9,000 peacekeepers stationed in nine countries.

After pitched debates with its European and North American allies, the administration won agreement from the United Nations ( news - web sites) Security Council last month to exempt American peacekeepers for one year.

After winning that temporary solution, the administration began seeking longer exemptions through a provision in the treaty known as Article 98, which allows nations to negotiate immunity for their forces on a bilateral basis.

Human rights groups condemned the administration's latest tactic of using the threat of withdrawing military assistance as a tool in those negotiations.

"This makes the remote possibility of American prosecution by the court trump every other definition of national interest — it is fixation to the point of craziness," said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.

His organization sent a letter to every country that has signed or ratified the court treaty informing them that they should not necessarily feel compelled to sign an agreement because of the presidential authority to waive the provision on military aid.

Military assistance programs that could be terminated include international military education that brings foreign officers and students here for professional military training and financing for the purchase of American weapons and services. The goal of military assistance programs, the Pentagon says, is to "enable friends and allies to acquire U.S. equipment, services and training for their legitimate self-defense and multinational security efforts."

Threatening to end these programs appears heavy-handed even to some of those who share the administration's concerns about the court.

James B. Steinberg, vice president of the Brookings Institution and a deputy national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, said he shared some of the administration's concerns about the court. Still, he added, military assistance programs "reflect shared common interest between the United States and foreign nations and should not be used as a club to get these countries to sign agreements."

"It's a very awkward way to deal with allies, " Mr. Steinberg said. "We ought to be able to persuade them rather than coerce them. This has a very heavy feel to it."

Several foreign diplomats said they were angry and puzzled by this threatened cutoff of military assistance even to countries that provided valuable military cooperation to the United States in the world wars, the Vietnam War, the gulf war ( news - web sites) and the current campaign against terrorism. None agreed to be quoted by name.

"Why is this court so important that Washington would risk our military friendship?" asked a diplomat who represents a country that was a wartime ally of the United States.

Even diplomats from countries exempt from the prohibition and who sympathize with some of the Americans' concerns said they were uneasy.

"Military aid is given out after much careful thought," one diplomat said. "How has the world changed so suddenly that now this military assistance is no longer in American national interests?"

Commentary:
One word; "blackmail." Why do we have a State Department if we all we're going to do is use money to buy our friends or use money to stop those who oppose us? Follow the money...without it Bush is dust.


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Congress hits White House over secrecy
thehill.com

The Bush administration's refusal to cooperate with even the most routine and basic congressional requests for information is infuriating members of Congress and violating congressional rights and responsibilities, members charge.

From Democratic liberals like Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), who calls getting a response from the White House "a nightmare," to Republican conservatives like Rep. Dan Burton (Ind.), who said he had to use "strong-arm tactics" to get what he needed, there has been a rising tide of congressional complaints in both the House and Senate.

Furthermore, the administration is exacerbating the frustration among lawmakers by failing to acknowledge requests for information — even as a courtesy.

A number of lawmakers are threatening to subpoena the administration — an extreme step reserved by lawmakers as a last resort to elicit cooperation on mundane inquiries.

While power struggles between the executive and legislative branches over information are not new, most of those struggles traditionally have been confined to four areas: national defense, law enforcement, foreign policy and the White House.

Since President Bush has been in office, the battle for information between Congress and the White House has spread to other areas such as environmental, educational and science issues, lawmakers say.

David Walker, the controller general of the Government Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, confirmed to The Hill that the current administration has been slower to respond to congressional inquiries than previous administrations.

But by delaying the release of information that could provide ammunition to its critics, the Bush administration has sidestepped a number of draining political confrontations and kept the country focused on the president's agenda.

For example, the Bush administration has treated some environmental issues with the same level of circumspection previous administrations have reserved for national security.

"I think they have a penchant for secrecy," said Boxer, chairwoman of the Superfund, Waste Control and Risk Assessment Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee. "We've seen it over and over again on trying to get information on Superfund. It's been a nightmare."

Boxer said the committee is on the verge of issuing subpoenas to get information on the issue.

"They have sent us things that are not responsive, that are not helping us. We can't tell people whether their sites are being cleaned up or not," she said. "It's just been a mess."

Boxer has also had problems soliciting information on a proposal to move a major National Aeronautics and Space Administration facility from Palmdale, Calif., to Florida, which Boxer suspects is a favor for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), the president's brother.

Boxer and the administration officials disagree on the level and source of funding for cleaning these polluted sites around the country and their different approaches may explain the lack of cooperation.

Sen. Jim Jeffords (Ind-Vt.), is chairman of the Environment panel that has battled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for nearly nine months in an effort to obtain documents on the decision to loosen pollution restrictions on coal plants. Jeffords, who is pushing tough, clean-air legislation that the White House opposes, only saw progress on his request after he threatened to issue subpoenas for the data.

Jeffords is also criticizing the administration for being less cooperative than previous ones.

"It's unfortunate that the administration will not constructively engage with us on this very important matter," Jeffords said at a recent hearing on the matter. "Perhaps even more disturbing, the EPA has not been allowed to provide the kind of technical assistance that this committee has received in the past."

In an interview, Jeffords said his staff has also had difficulty with the administration on educational issues.

"I do know it has been a problem," he said. "It's been quite difficult on some issues. I've had complaints — on educational stuff mostly."

Jeffords has been known to disagree with the president on educational issues. In fact, a difference with Bush over education spending for disabled children was one of the main reasons Jeffords quit the Republican Party last year.

But even those who are closer to Bush ideologically have had to wrangle with his administration over modest informational requests. Even House Republicans have had to resort to strong negotiating tactics to perform their oversight duties.

"I think that Mr. [Alberto] Gonzalez, the president's counsel, and others have advised the president to keep things pretty close to the vest across the board," said Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee."

Burton said his committee has had difficulty getting the Justice Department to turn over documents related to a 30-year-old case of FBI corruption in Boston, not a matter he sees as impacting national security.

"We finally got them but we had to be pretty strong-armed. We had to use strong-armed tactics to get the information," said Burton.

Burton and the White House have also hit an impasse on making public the records of previous administrations, including the administration of the president's father: George H. W. Bush.

Last year President Bush issued an executive order giving him the power to postpone the release of presidential papers. Burton said he will try to reverse that order through legislation when Congress returns in September.

Burton explained the disagreements over the FBI corruption case and the presidential papers as a power struggle between the branches.

"They believe in making the chief executive stronger by protecting information and sources and the Congress," said Burton. "Many people in Congress, like myself, feel we need to continue to fight for our right to have access to things so there is a difference of opinion."

"I still have very high regard for the president and support him but, where necessary, Congress has to assert its right to documents, and if that happens in my particularly committee we'll certainly push to get them," he added.

Other House Republicans have also had problems with the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy.

"I've heard other congressmen and people outside Congress saying that they need to be a little bit more open and they are too secretive," said Burton. "I have heard rumblings like that."

House GOP Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) sent two letters in late spring to the administration asking for information on the decision to cut the Crusader heavy artillery program from the defense budget. Watts received a partial response to only one of the inquiries.

Republicans on the other side of the Capitol are also frustrated. During a Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Department of Justice in late July, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) chided Attorney General John Ashcroft for being unresponsive to his requests for information.

"I want to ask you about how busy you are," Specter asked Ashcroft, his former colleague, during the hearing. "Now, maybe you're too busy to respond to senators' letters. And if you are, frankly, I could understand that. But if that's so, then I know I can always track you down, find you at the White House. But it is a little difficult."

"How do we communicate with you?" Specter said, referring to an inquiry about suspected terrorists in federal custody that never received a Justice Department response.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, has fought for information on White House contacts with executives from Enron Corp. since the beginning of the year.

Lieberman ultimately subpoenaed the White House, but administration officials never fully complied with the order. Democratic committee staff and White House lawyers were negotiating over the disputed documents last month.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the panel's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, had to leak the threat of a subpoena to make the administration respond to his inquiry about the number of people detained so far in the war on terrorism.

Even after the threat of a subpoena, the Justice Department refused to reveal the number of people who have been detained as material witnesses to suspected terrorist activities.

"Take a look at what Lieberman tried to get from the Vice President's Office, he couldn't get it; he couldn't get it; he couldn't get it," said Levin. "We finally had a vote. We're going to issue a subpoena on this energy task force, and all of a sudden here is some of it the same day we voted on a subpoena."

"So to say they've been slow regularly is an understatement," he said. "They slow-walk information all the time."

Commentary:
Bush can't tell the American people or the Congress the truth. The facts are against him on every point so he resorts to secrecy. When both Houses of Congress, democrats and republicans say Bush is hiding the facts from us we have to wonder where the press is? Maybe people like Tim Russart from "Meet the Press" should stop kissing Bush's ass and do his job.


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U.S. Seeks to Limit Conservation Law
YahooNews/New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 — The Bush administration is arguing that a major environmental law does not apply to the vast majority of oceans under United States control, a move that environmentalists say could allow military maneuvers, oil and gas pipelines, commercial fishing, ocean dumping and scores of other activities to escape public environmental review.

In a federal court case in Los Angeles that involves the testing of a new type of sonar system by the Navy, the Justice Department said that the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 — landmark legislation that requires federal agencies to review the environmental implications of their projects — did not apply beyond the nation's territorial waters, which traditionally extend three miles from shore.

That view is being challenged by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which asserts that in addition to the territorial waters, the act covers all activity within the nation's "exclusive economic zone," which extends 200 miles from shore.

A decision in the case is expected later in the summer.

Environmentalists say that barring application of the act in these zones would open up the oceans to unregulated activity that could damage them and destroy marine life.

In addition to the sonar project, which they say could disorient and kill whales and dolphins, they say other unregulated activity would include commercial fishing for depleted species, proposals for liquified natural gas plants and pipelines, and other energy projects.

Offshore oil and gas drilling would not be affected by the administration's position because another law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, specifically requires that the environmental law apply to such activity.

At issue is the National Environmental Policy Act, often referred to as the Magna Carta of environmental law. Signed by President Richard M. Nixon on Jan. 1, 1970, the act requires all federal governmental actions to be reviewed and analyzed for their effect on the environment.

In an indication of the importance of the matter, the White House Council on Environmental Quality convened with ranking officials from five agencies and departments to discuss the implications of the Justice Department's position both before the department filed its brief and then again this week, administration officials said. They plan to discuss it further in September.

Administration officials said there was little disagreement at the meeting, which was first reported today by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, about the administration's approach. And the Justice Department has argued in the sonar case that federal agencies should decide case by case whether to apply the National Environmental Policy Act in the oceans.

But e-mail messages written before the meeting suggested that officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration disagreed with the Navy.

One message written by a Navy official hailed the "good news" that the Justice Department agreed with the Navy, "over NOAA objection," that the environmental law "does NOT extend beyond the limits of our territorial waters."

Administration officials said that the Justice Department position and the meeting did not represent a change of policy, but environmentalists disagreed.

"This is a major policy change," said Andrew Wetzler, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles. "For the first time, the White House is considering stepping in and seeking to impose the Navy's restrictive view of the statute on the entire federal government."

The Navy has long believed that the act does not extend to activities conducted within the nation's "exclusive economic zone," which stretches 200 miles off all coastal waters and thus covers more than one million square miles off all American coasts, including those of Alaska and Hawaii. The Navy appears to be the driving force behind the Bush administration's discussion of whether to apply that concept to all federal activity in the zone.

Administration officials believe that the environmental act is too restrictive, that it spawns nettlesome lawsuits and that most ocean activity is already regulated by an executive order signed in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, according to administration officials and internal e-mail correspondence that was obtained by environmental groups opposing the administration's view.

Environmental groups assert that the Carter executive order is too weak to guarantee enforcement. They say it does not provide for lawsuits or public review, meaning that an array of damaging activities could take place far out at sea without public knowledge or recourse.

Michael Jasny, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Los Angeles, said that the National Environmental Policy Act "depends on public comment and public scrutiny and judicial review for its effectiveness, and if you do away with it, all of that would be lost — we'd have no public accountability" about military and industrial activities in the oceans.

Tim Eichenberg, a lawyer with Oceana, a group in San Francisco dedicated to preserving the oceans, called the executive order "a very poor cousin" to the policy act.

"The executive order doesn't provide for public input or any analysis of alternatives and it doesn't allow for judicial review — there is no recourse for the public," he argued.

Administration officials said that their position in the California case did not represent a change of policy. They said that the National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law before the United States established its exclusive economic zones, was never intended to apply to the ocean beyond the territorial waters and did not apply now.

But an internal Navy document contradicts that view, noting that the Justice Department and the Council on Environmental Quality in the Clinton administration "pressed to apply N.E.P.A. worldwide."

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of a subcommittee on oceans and fisheries, issued a statement saying: "I am incredulous that the Bush administration may actually be considering rolling back central environmental protections of our oceans and marine environment. The National Environmental Policy Act is the cornerstone of protection for our citizens and natural resources — and new limits on the law would have profound impacts on coastal issues from fisheries management to marine protection to ocean dumping."

Commentary:
Using the Bush logic the US government wouldn't be able to control fishing off our shores no matter how depleated the oceans become. When the court rules against Bush, I'll tag this as an impeachable offense.


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Bush Allows Child Aid Abuses *
An Impeachable Offense
nytimes.com

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 — Congressional investigators said today that the Bush administration had improperly allowed some states to spend federal money intended for the Children's Health Insurance Program on childless adults instead.

Senators said the practice violated the intent of Congress, and they vowed to stop it if the administration did not.

Health care experts said states were stretching the children's health program beyond its original purpose because they were short of money and had large numbers of uninsured people.

The investigators, from the General Accounting Office, said states like New York, which use their full allotments of federal money for children, could suffer as a result of the misuse of federal money in other states. "Allowing the expenditure of unspent funds on childless adults could prevent the reallocation of these funds to states that have already exhausted their allocations," the report said.

Congress created the program in 1997, with the explicit purpose of providing health insurance to uninsured children in low-income families. The accounting office said using the money to insure adults without children was "inconsistent with the statutory objectives" of the program.

The Department of Health and Human Services and three states named by the accounting office — Arizona, Illinois and Utah — disagreed with the findings.

Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said states using CHIP money for childless adults were violating the clear intent of Congress. Mr. Baucus is chairman of the Finance Committee, which has authority over the program, and Mr. Grassley is the senior Republican on the panel.

The accounting office said the "impermissible expenditures" reduce the amount of money available to cover children. If money remains unspent in a state, it is redistributed to other states with unmet needs.

Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, has encouraged states to cover more people through innovative use of federal money. In 14 years as governor of Wisconsin, Mr. Thompson often expressed frustration with federal officials who delayed or withheld approval for his novel ideas, and as secretary he has given states much more flexibility.

Mr. Thompson has waived many requirements of federal law so states can use money from Medicaid and the children's health program to cover people who would not otherwise be eligible.

But the accounting office said Mr. Thompson was making these decisions without giving the public an adequate opportunity to comment on the changes, as required by the policies and procedures of his department.

In addition, the accounting office said the waivers were likely to increase federal costs, by allowing tens of millions of dollars in benefits for people who would not otherwise qualify for assistance. The waivers are not supposed to generate any new costs.

The accounting office, an investigative arm of Congress, expressed "legal and policy concerns" about waivers granted to Arizona, Utah and Illinois, among other states. It did not say how extensive the problems might be elsewhere. Many states are working on waivers like those already approved. Four states have received waivers like the one granted to Illinois.

"The report does not provide a balanced view of the progress we have made" in trying to reduce the number of uninsured, Mr. Thompson said. "In the debate over the technicalities of the law, we must not lose our focus" on the goal of providing health care benefits to low-income people.

But Senators Baucus and Grassley sided with the General Accounting Office.

"The focus on children is not a technicality of the law, but rather the explicit purpose" of the Children's Health Insurance Program, Mr. Baucus and Mr. Grassley said in a letter to Mr. Thompson. "We agree that covering uninsured adults is an important public policy objective, but that does not justify the defiance of Congressional intent."

The senators told Mr. Thompson, "You should not continue to approve waivers that divert funds set aside by Congress for children to insure childless adults."

If the Bush administration continues approving coverage of childless adults with CHIP money, the senators said, "we intend to take legislative action to end this violation of Congressional intent."

Leighton Ku, a health policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and advocacy group, said that at least a dozen states had spent their 2000 allotments of CHIP money on children, as Congress intended, and would be shortchanged if other states chose to spend money on childless adults. Besides New York, he said, the states that stand to lose federal money include Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri and West Virginia.

Researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health care philanthropy, and the Urban Institute said last week that nearly five million uninsured children were eligible for CHIP or Medicaid, but not enrolled.

In their letter, Senators Baucus and Grassley said, "These children should never have to compete with childless adults" for use of the remaining CHIP money.

The administration has urged states to follow the example of Illinois, which was allowed to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicaid to low-income elderly people who would not otherwise qualify.

Illinois contends that a prescription drug benefit for low-income elderly people will keep them healthy so they do not become eligible for Medicaid by incurring high costs for nursing homes and hospitals.

The accounting office expressed grave doubt that the drug benefit would "pay for itself" in this way. It said the Bush administration was using "risky assumptions" about the savings.

Illinois agreed to an overall limit on federal payments to the state for services to the elderly, including the drug benefit. If the state cannot achieve the promised savings, it might have to cut spending on elderly Medicaid recipients, cut benefits or reduce payments to health care providers, the accounting office said.

To secure waivers, states are supposed to show that their new programs would not result in more cost to the federal government than existing programs. The accounting office said that Illinois and Utah provided "inadequate justification" to support that conclusion.

"Consequently," it said, "these waivers have put the federal government at increased financial risk." The accounting office estimated that the waivers could increase costs by $59 million, or 10 percent, over five years in Utah, and by at least $275 million, or 2 percent, in Illinois.

To promote public comment, the accounting office said that federal officials should publish notice of pending waiver requests in the Federal Register. The Bush administration rejected this recommendation, saying that the "opportunity for public comment is more than adequate."

Commentary:
Once again the Congress passes a law, the Administration breaks it. The "rule of law" has become meaningless under Bush.

On this day, Mr. Bush becomes eligible for articles of  impeachment and removal from office for violating the laws of the United States.


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Pentagon Board Told Saudi Arabia Is an Enemy
Reuters.com
August 6, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A briefing last month for a top Pentagon advisory panel depicted longtime U.S. ally Saudi Arabia as an emerging enemy of the United States and a backer of terrorism, sources familiar with the briefing said on Tuesday.

The sources, including former U.S. officials, told Reuters an analyst from the private Rand Corporation said Washington should press Riyadh to stop funding militant Islamic outlets worldwide and halt anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli statements in the Gulf kingdom.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quickly attacked the leak from a classified briefing, stressing it was one analyst's opinion and represented neither the views of the U.S. government nor the advisory Defense Policy Board of former top government officials and military officers.

"I just think its a terribly unprofessional thing to do. It's harmful in this case ... because it creates a misimpression," he told Pentagon employees in response to questions about a report by the Washington Post about the July 10 briefing by Rand Corporation analyst Laurent Murawiec.

"Of course Saudi Arabia is like any other country. It has a broad spectrum of activities and things, some of which obviously ... that we agree with and some we may not," the secretary said.

Saudi Arabia was a key U.S. ally in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq and has bought billions of dollars in American arms and provided bases for U.S. forces in the region.

SAUDIS INVOLVED IN SEPT. 11 ATTACKS

While the Bush administration and the conservative Saudi leadership have remained friends and allies publicly, some U.S. officials have privately voiced deep concern over Islamic militancy in the kingdom and Saudi support of fundamentalist education throughout the Muslim world.

"It is correct, as somebody said to the briefing, that a number of the people who were involved in September 11 (attacks on America) happened to have been Saudi individuals and that there are those issues that Saudi Arabia is wrestling with just as other countries are wrestling with," Rumsfeld said.

Saudi Arabia, along with many Middle East and European allies of the United States, has expressed strong reservations about any U.S. attempt to invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein, who Washington says is developing chemical, biological and nuclear arms.

The sources, who asked not to be identified, declined to provide details of the July meeting of prominent intellectuals and former senior U.S. officials and retired officers who provide advice to the Defense Department on policy.

But the Post reported direct quotes from Murawiec, who it said provided a harsh assessment of Saudi Islamic fundamentalism at a time when Washington is preparing military contingency plans for a possible invasion of Iraq to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," the Post reported Murawiec as saying.

'SUPPORTS OUR ENEMIES, ATTACKS OUR ALLIES'

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," Murawiec was quoted as saying in the briefing.

The briefing urged U.S. officials to target Saudi oil fields and overseas financial assets if the Saudis refused to comply, according to the Post.

The newspaper quoted Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke as saying in a written statement that "Saudi Arabia is a long-standing friend and ally of the United States. The Saudis cooperate fully in the global war on terrorism and have the department's and the administration's deep appreciation," Clarke was quoted as saying.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, told the newspaper he did not take the briefing seriously. "I think that it is a misguided effort that is shallow, and not honest about the facts," he said. "Repeating lies will never make them facts."

The Post said members of the Defense Policy Board include former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretaries James Schlesinger and Harold Brown, former House of Representatives speakers Newt Gingrich and Thomas Foley; and several retired senior military officers.

The Rand Corporation, a prominent think tank, said in a brief statement it would not comment on what it called a routine exchange between its analysts and U.S. officials.

"Individuals working at Rand frequently exchange a broad and diverse range of views with government officials, and we do not comment on such exchanges," it said. "There is no recent Rand report on the subject of U.S.-Saudi relations, nor is one in progress."

Commentary:
When Bush said, "You're either with us or against us" he didn't really mean it. Saudi Araba won't even let us use bases we built for them to attack Iraq. Bush fails his own standard when he makes excuses for Saudi Arabia.


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Clinton and Corporate Reform
Washington Times.com

Republicans yesterday disputed former President Bill Clinton's claims that Republicans in Congress stymied his efforts to protect investors and increase government oversight of corporations.

Mr. Clinton blamed Republicans for overriding his veto of a 1995 securities bill to protect corporations from lawsuits by disappointed investors. In fact, 20 Senate Democrats — including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts — and 89 House Democrats voted to override Mr. Clinton's veto of the bipartisan measure.

Comment: Bill was right.

"Looks like Bill Clinton wants to wade into the blame game, which won't catch corporate criminals or create jobs," said Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke.

Mr. Clinton, in Little Rock on Wednesday, told reporters that he was "sure some of the people in Congress that stopped a lot of the reforms I tried to put through are probably rethinking that now."

Mr. Clinton blamed congressional Republicans and Harvey L. Pitt — now chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission — for blocking a Clinton-backed proposal to bar accounting firms such as Arthur Anderson from hiring themselves out as auditors and consultants to the same corporate clients.

Comment: Bill was right.

Another initiative, a rule change proposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in 1994, would have required companies to charge against current earnings the value of stock options that they gave executives and other employees.

Comment: Bill was right.

The disputed measures were never clear-cut partisan issues. They were supported by some lawmakers in both parties who thought the measures would be helpful, but opposed by others, also in both parties, who thought they would do more harm than good.

Republicans say it was Democrats — such as Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and others now complaining the loudest about corporate accounting scandals — who played key roles in killing the proposed reforms.

"Clinton apparently forgot that Senator Lieberman led the charge for Senate Democrats against Clinton's own SEC chairman," Mr. Dyke said. "In fact, Arthur Levitt was extremely upset with Lieberman for leading Senate Democrats to sink two proposed [changes in] regulations."

The proposals would have required higher accountability standards in the accounting profession.

"[Mr. Clinton's] own party and especially Joe Lieberman are the ones that helped frustrate his proposals," Mr. Dyke said. "Twenty Democrats voted to override Clinton's veto of the bill to amend securities-industry regulations."

Mr. Lieberman said July 14 that he "had no regrets about his opposition" to Clinton administration proposals for the Financial Accounting Standards Board and International Accounting Standards Board. Mr. Lieberman, like some of his Republican colleagues, thought the proposals would hurt business and accomplish little else.

Comment: Bill was right.

Mr. Clinton said he vetoed the 1995 bill to curb securities-fraud suits because he said it "basically cut off investors from being able to sue if they were getting the shaft." But the bill's backers believed the measure was necessary to protect businesses from opportunistic lawyers.

"One law firm was filing more than 70 percent of the predatory lawsuits against securities firms," a Republican legislative aide recalled. "The measure was a recognition that some standard had to be set to prevent securities ambulance chasers from going wild."

Democrats in both houses of Congress joined to form the two-thirds margin necessary to override Mr. Clinton's veto of the measure — 68-30 in the Senate and 319-100 in the House.

Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, was singled out Wednesday by Mr. Clinton as an opponent of corporate-accountability measures.

But Mr. Gramm yesterday pointed out that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, "was the principal sponsor of the securities-litigation reform bill" that Mr. Clinton vetoed. "It was a bipartisan bill and the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, was able to override Clinton's veto," Mr. Gramm said.

"There is no evidence that the legislation was a mistake and [Federal Reserve Chairman] Alan Greenspan said as much in a hearing up here last week," Mr. Gramm said.

Commentary:
I like this article even though it doesn't have anything to do with Bush. It does point out that Bill Clinton was able to take donations from large corporations but he wasn't bought off. Some members of Congress, including conservative democrats take money and decide issues based on who gives them money. Corporate greed is ok to them, investor protection is not. The Bush Administration could learn a lot about ethics from Bill Clinton.


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Want More Spending? Vote Republican
YahooNews/AP

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal spending in Republican congressional districts increased 50 percent faster than in Democratic districts following the 1994 GOP takeover of the House, an Associated Press analysis shows.

After six years of GOP control, the average Republican district in 2000 was getting $612 million more in federal money than the average Democratic district, the computer analysis found. In 1995, the last year Democrats controlled the budget process in the House, the average Democratic district got $35 million more.

Rather than pork barrel projects for new GOP districts, however, the change was driven mostly by Republican policies that moved spending from poor rural and urban areas to the more affluent suburbs and GOP-leaning farm country, the computer analysis showed.

In terms of services, that translates into more business loans and farm subsidies, and fewer public housing grants and food stamps.

"There is an old adage," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, "To the victor goes the spoils."

House Democratic Conference Chairman Martin Frost said the analysis shows that "who's in the majority does make a difference."

The findings highlight the huge stakes for voters in the November midterm elections, when Republicans will try to hold onto their narrow six-seat majority in the House. The Senate, which the Republicans also won in 1994, switched to Democratic control last year when Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont left the Republican Party and became an independent.

Average spending in GOP House districts jumped nearly $2 billion from 1995 to 2001, from $3.86 billion to $5.84 billion, while the average federal outlay in Democratic districts increased $1.3 billion, from $3.89 billion in 1995 to $5.23 billion in 2001. The result was a shift of billions of federal dollars from Democratic to Republican districts.

Armey and other GOP leaders say the shift wasn't part of a premeditated strategy, although they acknowledge directing federal spending toward districts where Republican representatives are politically vulnerable.

"Clearly that happens, whether you're Republican or Democrat," said former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., who oversaw the House Appropriations Committee for three years after the GOP takeover.

The biggest spending hikes during the six years came in districts that stayed Republican through the 1990s. Those that switched from Democratic to Republican in the 1994 election also benefited more than Democratic districts.

GOP leaders say the spending shift mainly was a byproduct of their efforts to change the direction of government and to ensure GOP areas received fairer treatment after four decades of being in the minority.

Between 1995 and 2001, AP's analysis found that 20 of the 30 fastest growing federal programs had disproportionately benefited constituents in GOP districts in 1995. Similarly, 20 of the 30 programs that were cut the most had disproportionately benefited Democratic districts before the takeover.

For instance, spending on child care food programs was slashed 80 percent; public and Indian housing grants were virtually eliminated; rental housing loans for rural areas and special benefits for disabled coal miners were cut by two-thirds; and the food stamp program was cut by a third.

Rock Myrthil felt the impact when he brought his family to the United States two years ago looking for opportunity and an escape from crime in his native Haiti. Despite a full-time job as a mechanic, Myrthil said he's unable to support his wife and four children on his $400-a-week salary.

Myrthil, 38, of Brockton, Mass., is one of thousands of legal immigrants who don't qualify for food stamps because of changes Congress made in 1997. He can obtain food stamps only for his 3-month-old baby, who automatically became a U.S. citizen when she was born stateside.

"I have family, four brothers over here, a sister, when I need some food they can give me some food," he said.

Armey said the programs cut by the GOP Congress were "institutional pork," designed to help Democrats build a loyal constituency. By cutting those programs, he said, Republicans reduced the amount of money going to Democratic districts.

But Congress under GOP rule also directed more money to programs that disproportionately benefited GOP districts. Direct payments to farmers increased sevenfold during the six years of GOP rule; business and industrial loans quadrupled; home mortgage insurance went up 150 percent; and crop insurance assistance jumped by two-thirds.

Mississippi farmer David Waide got about $40,000 in federal crop subsidies during 2001, covering more than a fifth of his costs. Without that money, he said, "I couldn't operate the row crop part of it."

Federal spending records analyzed by AP are maintained by the Census Bureau and reflect both direct spending and government loans and insurance. In almost all cases, they also provide the location where the money was spent, making it possible to compare spending on a district-by-district basis.

Programs like flood insurance are reported in terms of the government's total liability, should it have to pay insurance claims. While that inflates the overall totals, spending increased faster in Republican districts regardless of whether government insurance programs are counted or not.

From 1995 to 2001, average federal spending without insurance increased 41 percent in Republican districts, compared with 27 percent in Democratic districts.

Robert M. Stein, a Rice University political scientist and co-author of a book on federal spending after the GOP takeover of Congress, said Republicans "love contingent liabilities, guaranteed loans, subsidies, and insurance payments because they really don't break the budget."

Armey agreed.

"That is possible because of the way (budget) scorekeeping is set up," he said. "Our intuitive first reaction is what does it cost? And if the scorekeeper comes back and says it costs less, we have more of an inclination to leave it alone."

The House, of course, is just one player in the complicated process that results in the parceling out of federal money. The Senate and the administration also have a say in how federal dollars are spent.

During the six years after the GOP takeover, for example, two districts in then-President Clinton's home state of Arkansas had the biggest increases in federal spending among the 377 districts with constant boundaries.

Ironically, House leaders proved less adept at directing money toward their own districts, further showing that policy changes — not pork politics — were the driving force behind the spending shift.

Armey's Texas district, for instance, ranked 211th when the GOP took control, and slipped to 213th by 2001. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt's Missouri district fell from 36th in 1995 to 77th six years later.

Commentary:
If Armey is correct, then republicans are using our tax dollar to fund their elections, "...although they acknowledge directing federal spending toward districts where Republican representatives are politically vulnerable." Not only are they hypocrites, but we can see they love spending far more than democrats. Dems held a slight lead in spending in their districts, while republicans had a massive increase in spending. So if you want a lot more government, and lots of spending, vote republican.


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Plan to Fight Al Qaeda Approved Week Before September 11
Reuters.com
August 4, 2002

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A plan for the United States to take on al Qaeda languished for eight months because of the change in presidents and was approved just a week before the Sept. 11 attacks on America, Time Magazine reported on Sunday.

A White House official disputed parts of the Time story, saying no plan was handed over and arguing that President Bush's administration moved quickly to take steps against al Qaeda, which it blames for the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to Time, proposals to strike at al Qaeda were developed in the final days of the Clinton administration and presented to the Bush administration's new national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, in January 2001.

The proposals were developed by Richard Clarke, a career bureaucrat who had served in the first Bush administration and became the point man on terrorism in the Clinton White House.

The draft initiative became the victim of the transition between the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Bush, the magazine said, as the Bush White House instituted its own "policy review process" on the terrorist threat and the proposals outlined by Clarke were not reviewed by top officials until late April.

The resulting draft presidential directive, which was redesigned not to "roll back" al Qaeda but to "eliminate it," was approved by top national security officials on Sept. 4, 2001, a week before the hijacked airliner attacks that killed some 3,000 people in New York and Washington, Time said.

"There was no plan that was handed over," a White House official who asked not to be named told Reuters. "The nature of the ideas that were sketched out were for a roll back of al Qaeda over a three- to five-year period. Our focus very early in the administration changed to eliminating al Qaeda and we took immediate steps to focus on ... terrorism and al Qaeda.

ELIMINATE AL QAEDA, NOT ROLL IT BACK

"We're talking about apples and oranges here," the official added. "Our strategy became focused on eliminating al Qaeda, not trying to 'roll it back,"' the official added.

The magazine also reported that while concern was mounting by last summer that a major terrorist attack against U.S. interests was imminent, no decision was made to send a Predator drone -- the best possible source of intelligence on the terror camps run by Osama bin Laden -- to fly over Afghanistan.

"The Predator sat idle from October 2000 until after September 11," Time reported.

"The Predator was not flown because we were in the final stages of developing new capabilities for it," the Bush administration official told Reuters. The official declined to describe the new capabilities, which could have included arming the drone.

Time said Clarke's proposals called for the breakup of al Qaeda cells and arrest of their personnel, a systematic attack on the financial support for its terrorist activities and for aid to nations where al Qaeda was operating to fight terrorism. Clarke also wanted an increase in covert action in Afghanistan to eliminate the al Qaeda sanctuary provided by the Taliban.

All of these are steps that the Bush administration took after Sept. 11.

Commentary:
An interesting defense of Bush could be along the lines of "doing nothing is better than doing something." Good grief,these people have no shame. They didn't admit they had a plan to take out al Qaeda for eight months after 9/11. Now we learn they were given a plan by President Clinton and they failed to act on both. Rank amateurs is the only way to describe the Bush foreign policy team.


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