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 Physicians for Human Rights--Afghanistan
 War Crimes by US allies in Afghanistan
 Russian $140 billion Trade Deal with Iraq
 Russia Snubs Bush
 Lies, Lies and More Lies
 Europeans Not Needed for Iraq Attack - US Adviser
 White House sleepovers include GOP supporters, entertainers
 Veterans Fault Bush on Spending
 Bush asks congress for more spending, then blames them
 Justice official in charge of corruption sued
Physicians for Human Rights--Afghanistan
http://www.phrusa.org/

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today condemned the refusal of the US Government, the Afghan government, and the United Nations to secure and investigate the mass grave site at Dasht-e Leili, near Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan. It demanded an immediate comprehensive criminal investigation under the auspices of a Commission of Inquiry sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council to determine the number of bodies in the grave, the circumstances of their deaths, and the likely perpetrators-all essential to begin the process of accountability.

In early 2002, PHR discovered and forensically examined the site, which revealed a recently formed mass grave in an area where witnesses said the bodies of a large number of Taliban prisoners (who surrendered at Kunduz to Northern Alliance forces in late November 2001) had been deposited and buried. In May 2002, the UN seconded two PHR forensic experts, including the director of its International Forensic Program, William Haglund, Ph.D., to undertake a preliminary investigation of the site.

For the past six months, PHR has repeatedly urged the US Government and its coalition partners, the Afghan government, and the United Nations to ensure the security of both the physical site and witnesses and appealed for an official full investigation into these deaths before evidence is destroyed. It has also asked that the UN release its preliminary report. PHR has received no official response to its appeals (see timeline). This week's Newsweek investigation reinforces the urgency of PHR's appeals.

"The refusal of the United States to acknowledge and investigate the possibility that its military partner murdered hundreds or thousands of prisoners is a terrible repudiation of its commitment to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their deeds," said Leonard S. Rubenstein, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights.

The Newsweek report included multiple eyewitness accounts alleging that Northern Alliance forces under the command of General Abdul Rashid Dostum may have killed, through suffocation in containers, as many as 2,000 to 3,000 Taliban and foreign prisoners after their surrender at Kunduz in November of last year.

Pursuant to an official mandate, the US and its allies should immediately deploy members of the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan (ISAF) to secure the Dasht-e-Leili grave and other mass grave sites and protect witnesses from reprisals. Without adequate security and authorization, human rights experts cannot gather all available information about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of those buried at the Dasht-e-Leili grave site. The remains at the Dasht-e-Leili site and others in the area must be exhumed in accordance with internationally accepted scientific standards, every effort to repatriate the remains to their families should be made, and the identity of all those responsible should be determined. Pending the Commission's findings, the United Nations Security Council, in consultation with the Afghan government, should develop a proper accountability mechanism.

There have been three enormous massacres in this area since 1997, with the Northern Alliance and the Taliban retaliating against each other's abuses by murdering thousands. In the summer/fall of 1997, Northern Alliance forces murdered as many as 2,000 captured Taliban militia members in Mazar-I-Sharif. The Taliban retaliated in August of 1998 when it recaptured Mazar, killing as many as 5,000 unarmed Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara men, women, and children. Now, the Northern Alliance forces may have killed hundreds or thousands of captured Taliban soldiers and foreign combatants in and around Shebarghan/Mazar in November of 2001. In each of these instances of mass butchery the international community did nothing to protect the innocent, did nothing to identify and apprehend the perpetrators, and did nothing to prevent a recurrence of killings.

While claiming to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan, the United States' and the United Nations' suppressing or ignoring evidence of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity are instead contributing greatly to Afghanistan's instability by tacitly allowing warlords to act with impunity. The presence of a multinational force in Afghanistan and the mandate for an accountability process within the 2001 Bonn Agreement that established the Interim Afghan Administration offers an opportunity to do today what the international community failed to do in the past. The lessons of post-war realities in Bosnia, Rwanda, and East Timor have demonstrated that stability cannot occur without accountability.

Founded in 1986, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), based in Boston, MA, mobilizes the health professions to promote health by protecting human rights. The International Forensic Program of PHR has conducted scientific investigations in over a dozen countries, including several efforts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia on behalf of International Criminal Tribunals. PHR shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its role as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Commentary:
Recent press reports suggest Bush is prepared to do something about these reports. Where was he for six months? On vacation? Where was the Red Cross, the UN, the Congress? Has the entire world gone goo-goo over terrorism to the point where human suffering has become acceptable (as long as it's not our own?). The US, led by Bush should be ashamed of itself.

It must be noted very strongly Bush may do something about these war crimes now ONLY because it's on the cover of Newsweek and bad for his poll numbers.


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War Crimes by US allies in Afghanistan
MSNBC.com/NEWSWEEK

The Death Convoy of Afghanistan

Witness reports and the probing of a mass grave point to war crimes. Does the United States have any responsibility for the atrocities of its allies? A NEWSWEEK investigation.

By Babak Dehghanpisheh, John Barry and Roy Gutman
NEWSWEEK

Aug. 26 issue — Trudging over the moonscape of Dasht-e Leili, a desolate expanse of low rolling hills in northern Afghanistan, Bill Haglund spotted clues half-buried in the gray-beige sand. Strings of prayer beads. A woolen skullcap. A few shoes. Those remnants, along with track marks and blade scrapes left by a bulldozer, suggested that Haglund had found what he was looking for. Then he came across a human tibia, three sets of pelvic bones and some ribs.

MASS GRAVES are not always easy to spot, though trained investigators know the signs. "You look for disturbance of the earth, differences in the vegetation, areas that have been machined over," says Haglund, a forensic anthropologist and pioneer in the field of "human-rights archeology." At Dasht-e Leili, a 15-minute drive from the Northern Alliance prison at Sheber-ghan, scavenging animals had brought the evidence to the surface. Some of the gnawed bones were old and bleached, but some were from bodies so recently buried the bones still carried tissue. The area of bulldozer activity—roughly an acre—suggested burials on a large scale. A stray surgical glove also caught Haglund's eye. Such gloves are often used by people handling corpses, and could be evidence, Haglund thought, of "a modicum of planning."

Haglund was in Dasht-e Leili on more than a hunch. In January, two investigators from the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights had argued their way into the nearby Sheberghan prison. What they saw shocked them. More than 3,000 Taliban prisoners—who had surrendered to the victorious Northern Alliance forces at the fall of Konduz in late November—were crammed, sick and starving, into a facility with room for only 800. The Northern Alliance commander of the prison acknowledged the charnel-house conditions, but pleaded that he had no money. He begged the PHR to send food and supplies, and to ask the United Nations to dig a well so the prisoners could drink unpolluted water.

STORIES OF MASS GRAVES

But stories of a deeper horror came from the prisoners themselves. However awful their conditions, they were the lucky ones. They were alive. Many hundreds of their comrades, they said, had been killed on the journey to Sheberghan from Konduz by being stuffed into sealed cargo containers and left to asphyxiate. Local aid workers and Afghan officials quietly confirmed that they had heard the same stories. They confirmed, too, persistent reports about the disposal of many of the dead in mass graves at Dasht-e Leili.

That's when Haglund, a veteran of similar investigations in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and other scenes of atrocity, was called in. Standing at what he reckoned from the ‘dozer tracks was an edge of the grave site, he pushed a long, hollow probe deep into the compacted sand. Then he sniffed. The acrid smell reeking up the shaft was unmistakable. Haglund and local laborers later dug down; at five feet, they came upon a layer of decomposing corpses, lying pressed together in a row. They dug a trial trench about six yards long, and in that —short length found 15 corpses. "They were relatively fresh bodies: the flesh was still on the bones," Haglund recalls. "They were scantily clad, which was consistent with reports that [before they died] they had been in a very hot place." Some had their hands tied. Haglund brought up three of the corpses, and a colleague conducted autopsies in a tent. The victims were all young men, and their bodies showed "no overt trauma"—no gunshot wounds, no blows from blunt instruments. This, too, Haglund says, is "consistent" with the survivors#8217; stories of death by asphyxiation.

How many are buried at Dasht-e Leili? Haglund won't speculate. "The only thing we know is that it's a very large site," says a U.N. official privy to the investigation, and there was "a high density of bodies in the trial trench." Other sources who have investigated the killings aren't surprised. "I can say with confidence that more than a thousand people died in the containers," says Aziz ur Rahman Razekh, director of the Afghan Organization of Human Rights. NEWSWEEK's extensive inquiries of prisoners, truckdrivers, Afghan militiamen and local villagers—including interviews with survivors who licked and chewed each other's skin to stay alive—suggest also that many hundreds of people died.

The dead of Dasht-e Leili—and the horrific manner of their killing—are one of the dirty little secrets of the Afghan war. The episode is more than just another atrocity in a land that has seen many. The killings illustrate the problems America will face if it opts to fight wars by proxy, as the United States did in Afghanistan, using small numbers of U.S. Special Forces calling in air power to support local fighters on the ground. It also raises questions about the responsibility Americans have for the conduct of allies who may have no —interest in applying protections of the Geneva Conventions. The benefit in fighting a proxy-style war in Afghanistan was victory on the cheap—cheap, at any rate, in American blood. The cost, NEWSWEEK's investigation has established, is that American forces were working intimately with "allies" who committed what could well qualify as war crimes.

(edited)

Questions can be raised, as well, about international agencies. How seriously has the United Nations pursued investigations of what happened at Sheberghan? The reports of atrocity come at a time when the international community is desperately trying to bring stability to Afghanistan. Well-meaning officials may be wondering if a full-scale investigation might set off a new round of Afghan slaughter. Would it be worth it? A confidential U.N. memorandum, parts of which were made available to NEWSWEEK, says that the findings of investigations into the Dasht-e Leili graves "are sufficient to justify a fully-fledged criminal investigation." It says that based on "information collected," the site "contains bodies of Taliban POW's who died of suffocation during transfer from Konduz to Sheberghan." A witness quoted in the report puts the death toll at 960. Yet the re—port also raises urgent questions. "Considering the political sensitivity of this case and related protection concerns, it is strongly recommended that all activities relevant to this case be brought to a halt until a decision is made concerning the final goal of the exercise: criminal trial, truth commission, other, etc."

(edited)

U.S. INVOLVEMENT

The close involvement of American soldiers with General Dostum can only make an investigation all the more sensitive. "The issue nobody wants to discuss is the involvement of U.S. forces," says Jennifer Leaning, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the pair of Physicians for Human Rights investigators who pushed their way into Sheberghan. "U.S. forces were in the area at the time. What did the U.S. know, and when and —where—and what did they do about it?"

(edited)

PACKED ‘LIKE CATTLE'

For some, the agony in the containers was intensified because they were tied up. This appears to have been a fate reserved for Pakistani—and perhaps other non-Afghan—prisoners. Mahmood, 20, says he surrendered at Konduz along with 1,500 other Pakistanis. All were bound hand and foot either with their own turbans or with strips ripped from their clothing, he says. Then they were packed in container trucks "like cattle," he says. He reckons that about 100 people died in his container.

The drivers remain tormented by what they took part in. "Why weren't there any United Nations people there to see the dead bodies?" asks one. "Why wasn't anything being done?" Another driver shook uncontrollably as he spoke with NEWSWEEK.

The convoys of the dead and dying, along with many truckloads of living prisoners, seem to have arrived at Sheberghan for perhaps 10 days. Prying eyes were kept away. The Red Cross, learning of the arrivals of prisoners from Konduz, applied on—Nov. 29 to get into Sheberghan. Dostum's commander at the prison promised that access would be granted within 24 hours. In fact, it was not until Dec. 10 that the Red Cross got into the prison. By then, most of the bodies had probably been buried. (Dostum's spokesman denies that access was blocked by prison officials.)

(edited)

But is that entirely true? The American unit most directly involved was the 595 A-team, part of the Fifth Special Forces Group based at Fort Campbell, Ky. The leader of the dozen-man 595 was Capt. Mark D. Nutsch. Throughout the Afghanistan operation, the Pentagon insisted that reporters identify Special Forces personnel by their first names only, claiming this was necessary to protect their families back home from possible terrorist reprisals. But the Army waived that concern in April, when—at the instigation of his Army superiors—the Kansas state Legislature passed a resolution of both houses honoring Captain Nutsch, a 33-year-old native of Kansas. Nutsch's wife, Amy, and their baby daughter, Kaija, born while Nutsch was in Afghanistan, were present at the very public ceremony. Contacted recently by NEWSWEEK about the container deaths, Nutsch said he did not want to discuss them.

(edited)

It may not be easy for Americans to summon much sympathy for Taliban or Qaeda prisoners. But the rules of war cannot be applied selectively. There is no real moral justification for the pain and destruction of combat if it is not to defend the rule of law. The line is tough to hold even in a conventional conflict. In a proxy war, it's much more difficult. The dead at Dasht-e Leili are proof of that.

Commentary:
When will Americans learn? We ally ourselves with evil people and then wonder why people hate us.


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Russian $140 billion Trade Deal with Iraq
clevland.com
8/20/02

- Russia insisted yesterday that its proposed 10-year trade agreement with Iraq had been in the works for years and should not cause alarm, but a leading political analyst said the deal's timing was designed to send a strong message to the United States.

"Maybe it is intelligent, certainly it is cunning," Georgy Mirsky, chief political analyst at the Institute for World Economics and International Relations, said on Echo of Moscow radio.

He said the announcement - coming just as Washington is rallying support for a possible invasion of Iraq - appeared designed to make it clear to President Bush that Russia is prepared to flex its muscles.

"Why is it [announced] now? Why not earlier?" Mirsky asked. "It is connected."

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday that it was in talks with Iraq about a 10-year trade agreement, which envisions new cooperation in oil, irrigation, agriculture, transportation, railroads and electrical energy. Iraq's ambassador to Russia, Abbas Khalaf, said the agreement was worth $40 billion, but Moscow would not confirm that figure.

In Washington yesterday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States and Russia had worked "shoulder to shoulder with the United Nations" to revise sanctions against Iraq, allowing for broader trade in goods that are not deemed to help Saddam Hussein develop the military or weapons of mass destruction.

"We fully expect that Russia will live up to its obligations in the United Nations and in the international community," Fleischer said.

Russia has spoken forcefully against any unilateral U.S. action in Iraq, but Russia's Kommersant newspaper said the proposed Russia-Iraq deal would increase the stakes, particularly if dozens of Russian specialists headed to Iraq to work on economic projects.

"It is sufficient to say that bombing citizens of a country which is one of the members of the global anti-terror coalition would be for Washington not so simple," the newspaper said.

Russian officials played down the deal yesterday, saying it was "publicly announced" more than a year ago.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov said that it "absolutely does not contradict" the U.N. sanctions against Iraq. The U.N. sanctions, imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons have been destroyed along with the long-range missiles to deliver them.

"Russia as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council strictly adheres to its assumed international obligations," Malakhov said. "In full measure, this applies, naturally, to Iraq too."

Russian officials did not say when an agreement might be signed. "At the present moment, [we] are beginning to complete the finishing touches of this agreement," Malakhov said. Khalaf earlier said he expected it to be signed next month.

Mirsky was skeptical about whether the deal would materialize, but he said the Kremlin appeared to be playing a crafty political game, designed to garner support in the Arab world for its stance. However, analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika Foundation, said that Russia was making a mistake.

"For Russia, strategic relations with the U.S. are much more important than relations with Iraq, and therefore it is quite pointless to challenge Washington so openly without any visible results," he told the Interfax news agency.

Commentary:
I'm not sure what to make out of this but it seems Putin thinks Bush is a moron (a view most intelligent Americans would agree with). Russia is clearly testing/hurting Bush and his war on terror, while at the same time helping itself with the Arab world. If Russia can put together a coalition with the Arabs against the US, it would be formidable. Putin is playing a long-term game which most likely includes more financial aid and other goodies, while Bush is caught-up in short-term political maneuvers.

No matter how you cut it, Russia is against us and so far Bush continues to kiss his butt.


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Russia Snubs Bush
Washingtom Times.com

Editor's comment----I placed this article here to show that Russia gets aid from the US in exchange for helping us with the war on terror, but in the previous and next article Russia plans on giving Iraq $40 billion in foreign aid (trade agreement).

Russia's uneasy place among the world's great powers was on sharp display at the just-concluded Group of Eight summit in Canada, simultaneously playing the roles of coequal and charity case with the leading industrial democracies.

Domestic opinion in Russia was divided over President Vladimir Putin's decision to accept a $20 billion U.S.-sponsored program to protect or dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons stockpile dating to the Soviet era.

Under the 10-year program, the United States would contribute up to $10 billion in grants and debt relief, and Canada, Japan and four European countries would match that in an effort to prevent terrorists from obtaining materials for weapons of mass destruction in Russia and other former Soviet states.

Previous efforts to safeguard the Russian arsenal had bogged down over Moscow's suspicions of outside interference and fears, especially in Europe and Japan, there would be no monitoring of the funds spent. President Bush and Mr. Putin apparently reached the accord in a one-on-one meeting at the summit, but officials said many implementation details have yet to be worked out.

An ebullient Mr. Putin said the agreement "will make a decisive contribution to the eradication of global terrorism."

But critics inside Russia said the agreement highlighted Moscow's weakness at the G-8 table.

"This is to a large extent the payment for concessions made by Russia" on NATO, on missile defense and other security issues, said Alexei Arbatov, vice chairman of the State Duma's committee on defense. "But the motives of the West are, above all, the motives of its own security."

The Russian daily Izvestia yesterday predicted "difficult" implementation talks ahead, as the West presses for tight controls on the money and Russian military officials worry about revealing security secrets. Some of the money will go to decommission weapons stocks in other ex-Soviet states, in particular Kazakhstan.

The agreement represents a personal triumph for Mr. Bush, who pushed hard for the accord despite skepticism both from the Russians and from other G-8 nations. Many analysts predicted there would not be enough time to nail down the agreement.

According to the G-8 summit statement, the funds from the program will be used to decommission weapons, secure nuclear and biological weapons stockpiles and secure nuclear reactors. Priorities include destroying chemical weapons, safeguarding mothballed nuclear submarines and finding jobs for former Soviet weapons experts who might be tempted to work for hostile elements.

U.S. officials said Mr. Putin had agreed to provide the other G-8 countries with access to disposal sites, such as facilities where nuclear submarines are dismantled, and promised to give donors some auditing and oversight rights.


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Lies, Lies and More Lies
YahooNews/AP

As he weighs the pieces of what could become a new White House economic plan, President Bush emphasizes a new priority — reining in budget deficits and their political liability.

Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to promote the no-deficits theme that emerged from the economic summit he convened this week near his ranch. That forum also yielded ideas for new tax cuts for small investors that he admitted had caught his eye.

Comment: So the deficit is a NEW problem? Where has Bush been? He's been pushing for more spending left and right, asking congress for tax cuts and borrowing money to pay for it all.Now he thinks it's time to do deficit reduction again. Where was he during the hard working Clinton years when we had massive surpluses? Asleep?

"We cannot go down the path of soaring budget deficits. We must meet our defense and homeland security needs, and hold the line on other spending," Bush said in his broadcast.

Drawing parallels between the Vietnam era and today, he recalled how war spending in the 1960s was not balanced by cuts in the rest of government spending and, as a result, the 1970s saw deep unemployment, growing deficits and spiraling inflation.

Comment: Bush is attempting to rewrite history or talk to people who are too dumb to know the truth. Deficits during the 60's and 70's were minor compare to those in the 80's and early 90's under Reagan and Bush Sr. Reagan created more debt than all previous presidents in history combined and Bush Sr. had the largest deficits in US history. The oil embargoes caused high inflation and inflation during the 70's not deficits.

"We must remember the lessons of the past," he said.

Comment: Lession #1, Tax cuts made with borrowed money are bad. Learn it, know it, remember it, then stop doing it.

The focus on fiscal restraint comes as the president and his economic team weigh proposals for a new long-term plan to aid the struggling economy. He told reporters Friday that he was intrigued by several ideas that emerged during the forum he convened Tuesday at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Bush singled out four particularly "interesting ideas" — cutting taxes on dividends and capital gains, increasing the amount of stock-market losses that individuals can deduct from one year's taxable income (currently $3,000), and speeding up increases in the amounts people can contribute to their 401(k) retirement accounts.

Comment: Won't happen unless Bush wants to blow another hole in the budget.

"I am going to analyze and think about some of the suggestions so that when I announce them they'll be well thought out, they'll be a part of a long-term plan," he said.

White House advisers later cautioned that proposals arising out of the economic forum have yet to be sorted or summarized, so any decisions on a new economic plan are likely to be weeks away.

But Bush's top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, suggested on CNN's Saturday edition of "Novak, Hunt and Shields" some of what the White House has in mind: "We need tax simplification and we need lower taxation of capital on all fronts."

Democrats in recent weeks have focused their election-year criticism of the president on the return to federal budget deficits under his tenure and tax cuts. Bush had previously laughed off the resurrected deficit — projected to run $165 billion in the budget year ending Sept. 30, the first red ink in four years — by saying he had always maintained that deficit spending would be necessary only if there was a war, recession or national emergency.

His standard punchline then: "I didn't think we were going to get the trifecta."

Now, with Republicans headed into November balloting that will decide control of Congress and Democratic rivals positioning to challenge Bush in 2004, the message is entirely serious.

"For the good of our economy, for the good of the people who pay taxes, my administration will spend what is truly needed, and not a dollar more," Bush said in Saturday's broadcast.

On Tuesday, Bush scrapped $5.1 billion in emergency spending approved by Congress, saying much of it was unnecessary. That decision, too, carried a political price as veterans, firefighters, AIDS activists and Jewish groups accused him of abandoning their causes by depriving them of money.

Comment: Classic Bush lie. The Bush White House also says it'll spend all the money on veterans, firefighters, AIDS etc that congress passed, but they'll do it in the next budget. More smoke and mirrors.

"Every project sounds like it's needed, every proposal is one that's got to be funded, and my job is to set the priorities," the president replied Friday.

He also had fresh words of praise for Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, whose blunt off-the-cuff remarks have rattled markets and lawmakers. O'Neill is "doing a fine job," Bush said. "I find him to be refreshingly candid."

Bush also confronted, despite an accelerating debate outside his administration that includes some Republican lawmakers, the question of how to oust Iraq leader Saddam Hussein

.

"I am aware that, you know, some very intelligent people are expressing their opinions about Saddam Hussein and Iraq," Bush told reporters. "America needs to know, I'll be making up my mind based upon the latest intelligence, and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."

Comment: For months Bush has said Saddam has to go. Now he's changing his tune again, he's waiting for the latest intelligence. What was he using before the latest intelligence? Hyperbole?

Bush planned to meet this weekend with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and on Wednesday with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Aides said the Rumsfeld meeting would focus on plans for missile defense and the Pentagon budget.

Comment: Spend, spend, spend!

On another foreign policy matter, the president said he had spoken with Mexican President Vicente Fox , who canceled his scheduled Aug. 26 visit to Bush's ranch in protest after Texas executed Mexican Javier Suarez Medina for the murder of an undercover U.S. drug agent.

"I understand why (Fox) is not coming. He said that if the execution goes forward he's not going to come," Bush said. "And I said, 'Well, we have laws here in America. The state of Texas has got a law.'"

Bush said he had no doubt that relations between Mexico and the United States will remain strong.


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Europeans Not Needed for Iraq Attack - US Adviser
Reuters.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon adviser said on Sunday the United States would not need the support of European allies except Britain to launch an attack against Iraq, but a top Republican senator described international support as important.

Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said the Bush administration would rely on help from Britain and dissident groups within Iraq, but would not expect other NATO allies to participate if the United States were to launch an attack.

"Our European allies are just not relevant to this. And the one of some importance, the United Kingdom, is, I believe, going to be with us," Perle said on ABC's "This Week."

"The rest of the Europeans prefer to look the other way or cut deals with Saddam or buy him off in various ways," said Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, an advisory panel.

Bush and other top officials maintain that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should be removed because he is trying to build an arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Iraq denies the charges.

Many European countries agree that Saddam should be pressured to comply with U.N. weapons inspections, but fear that a war in the Middle East would destabilize the region and possibly damage the world economy.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said earlier this month that an attack on Iraq could destroy international support for the U.S.-led war on terror.

Russia said on Sunday that it was set to sign a $40 billion economic and trade cooperation agreement with Iraq despite opposition from Washington.

In contrast to Perle, Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar said it was important that the United States have the support of its NATO allies for any successful action in Iraq. Winning the support of those allies, Russia and key Middle Eastern countries, he said, was going to require some "heavy lifting."

Comment: "Heavy Lifting" is code for lots and lots of foreign aid.

"The fact is, some robust diplomacy is required now," Lugar, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "These coalitions don't happen by chance or by press release."

A Bush administration spokesman did not say whether international support was necessary for an attack, but pointed out that Bush did not attack Afghanistan last year until he had the backing of U.S. allies.

"If you look at President Bush's experience and how we've done this in the past, (you'll see) that if he decides to go forward with any sort of military action that he'll do so in a way that is very responsible and very judicious," Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said on "This Week."

Commentary:
How fast things change. Just a few months ago Bush said; "You're either with us or against us." Seems like Europe is against us and so is Bush's pal in Russia. Russia is giving Iraq $40 billion trade agreement. So our money is being sent to Russia who is sending it to Iraq.

Have you ever seen a WEAKER foreign policy team than this? Honestly?


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White House sleepovers include GOP supporters, entertainers
CNN.com

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican fund-raisers, relatives and golfer Ben Crenshaw are among dozens of White House overnight guests President Bush and first lady Laura Bush have played host to since moving in last year.

The issue of White House sleepovers first arose in the Clinton administration when it was learned that the Democratic Party was rewarding big donors with overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom.

The Bushes' roughly 160 guests include at least six of President Bush's biggest fund-raisers and their families. White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said she didn't know whether donors, or any other Bush guests, have slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.

"They sleep in a variety of guest rooms in the White House," Womack said. "The president and Mrs. Bush enjoy spending time with their friends and family and have invited friends and family to stay as guests in the White House."

A half dozen Bush donors and fund-raisers known as "pioneers" are among the guests on a list released late Friday by the White House. Each raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2000 campaign, helping him take in a record $100 million for the primary.

They include Roland Betts, a Yale classmate of Bush's and a former partner of his in the Texas Rangers baseball team; venture capitalist and Republican National Committee fund-raiser Brad Freeman; Texas rancher and state Sen. Teel Bivins; Boston businessman Joe O'Donnell; and Joe O'Neill of Midland, Texas, an oilman and childhood friend of Bush credited with introducing him to Laura Bush.

Womack said the Bush fund-raisers are also longtime friends of the Bushes.

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign-finance watchdog group, said whether the Bushes are letting contributors stay in the Lincoln Bedroom "matters symbolically," regardless of whether the donors are also family friends.

"The Republicans made a very big deal about it during the Clinton administration," Noble said. "In this whole business, the whole issue is perception."

The halting of White House tours for the general public since the Sept. 11 attacks may present a new issue for the Bushes, he said. Only children's groups, veterans and guests of members of Congress are currently allowed on tours.

"The American public's access to the White House has been severely restricted," Noble said. "So you may have an increased perception problem if in fact large contributors are getting access to the White House."

Bush has said he wouldn't use overnight invitations to the White House in any quid pro quo with donors.

"There's something sacred about the Lincoln Bedroom," Bush told The Associated Press in an interview last year.

In contrast to the star-studded guest list Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton compiled -- from Barbra Streisand to director Steven Spielberg and actors Jane Fonda and Tom Hanks -- no members of the Hollywood elite have stayed overnight in the Bush White House.

But there are some famous names in the crowd, including Crenshaw, a Bush family friend from Austin, Texas; country music performer Larry Gatlin; and Texas musician and author Kinky Friedman. Interior designer Ken Blasingame, who has decorated the Bushes' private quarters in the Texas governor's mansion and the White House and their ranch in Crawford, Texas, has also been a guest.

Several Bush relatives have also stayed over, including the president's parents, former President Bush and Barbara Bush; presidential siblings Jeb, Neil and Marvin Bush and Doro Koch; and Laura Bush's mother, Jenna Welch.

Republican governors, including Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge, now Bush's chief adviser on domestic security, Jane Hull of Arizona, George Pataki of New York and Michigan's John Engler are also among the guests.

Commentary:
Bush has raised over $100 million so far in his presidency compared to Clinton raising a little over $12 million and this ISN'T a scandal? Why not? If it was wrong for Bill to raise $12 million it's even more wrong for Bush to raise over $100 million. When will the press stop kissing Bush's ass? When will the press stop being inconsistent? When will we see character and integrity from Bush? Bush is a hypocrite and so is the press.

Sleepovers are good when Bush does it. Baaaad when Clinton did it. Has the entire country lost its cookies?


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Veterans Fault Bush on Spending
YahooNews/AP

WASHINGTON (AP) - The top official of the American Legion, which represents nearly 3 million wartime veterans, said Wednesday that President Bush let down all men and women who served in the Armed Forces when he canceled funds for their medical care.

Bush announced Wednesday that he would not release a $5.1 billion bundle in emergency spending because Congress, attaching an all-or-nothing condition, lumped in millions of dollars in programs that Bush did not request and that were unrelated to the bill's homeland security mission.

Included in the package that Bush rejected was $275 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce backlogs at the nation's VA medical centers.

More than 300,000 veterans new to the VA system are on waiting lists — some more than one year long — for the initial medical exams they need in order to qualify for prescription drug benefits, said Richard Santos, national commander of the American Legion.

"If that's not an emergency, then nothing is," Santos said Wednesday.

He recalled how Bush, as a presidential candidate, pledged to the Legion's 2000 national convention that he would, if elected, "work with Congress to raise the standard of service not just for veterans, but for our military retirees."

Now, said Santos, "we feel we've been let down. A verbal promise in front of 6,000 people is something you have to keep."

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the $275 million that was blocked would have provided less than five days of operating funds "and won't solve the problem of the backlog in the 46 days that we have left in this fiscal year."

For the budget year that begins Oct. 1, she noted, Bush asked for a $1.9 billion increase for veterans' medical care.

"The president believes that those who served our country deserve excellent health care and the president has a strong record on behalf of America's veterans," Buchan said.

Commentary:
Do Vets still believe anything this man says? Good grief, where have you guys been for the past two years? Bush's endless lies and broken promises make Clinton look like a Boy Scout.

In the end Bush will spend all this money and more in next years budget which begins October of 2002. The threat to not spend is for conservative idiots who think Bush stands for something other than war and big government. With this threat of not spending (which is a joke) Bush has made enemies with Firefighters and Veterans. As I said he will spend the money, but first he has to throw some raw meat to conservatives.


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Bush asks congress for more spending, then blames them
Reuters.com

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - President Bush said on Wednesday that Congress was contributing to the ailing U.S. economy by spending money that would impede growth and refusing to approve legislation that would clear the way for $8 billion in helpful construction projects.

Interrupting his four-week Texas vacation for a two-day Midwestern road trip, Bush tested some of the themes for the fall campaign for November mid-term elections. He was raising nearly $2 million for Republican gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Speaking to an audience at the University of Wisconsin on a cloudy day, Bush essentially absolved himself of blame for the U.S. economy's woes, saying the economy was in recession when he took power, then Sept. 11 hit, and then corporate scandals erupted that had "been in the making for a while."

A day after an economic forum in Waco, Texas, that mostly endorsed his proposals for restoring robust growth to the economy, Bush said the citizens he heard from there convinced him of the underlying strength of the economy.

"I came to the conclusion having listened to a lot of our fellow Americans that the strength of the American people and the fundamental strength of our economy far outweigh the challenges we face," he said.

He added: "I came away form the meeting confident about our economic future but not content with the progress we are making."

Bush defended his refusal to release $5.1 billion in money approved by Congress for homeland security but which includes extraneous spending such as a "building for worms and bugs."

HOMELAND SECURITY

Democrats have accused Bush of undercutting the homeland security effort. But Bush said it was an example of the need for fiscal restraint by Congress.

"Excessive spending will serve as a drag on economic growth," Bush said.

The money includes funds for Israel and the Palestinians, to boost airport security and fight the spread of AIDS globally. The White House said it would be willing to allow about $1 billion of the $5.1 billion to be restored under supplemental legislation.

Bush said Congress should pass a terrorism insurance bill in order to free up $8 billion in construction projects that would provide a helpful boost to employment. He also said Congress should enact reforms to protect workers pensions.

Later, Bush was attending a luncheon to raise $600,000 in campaign money for Republican Gov. Scott McCallum who faces a re-election fight after causing a stir by proposing to close a budget gap by drastically cutting state aid to local governments.

Moving to Des Moines, Bush will attend the Iowa State Fair then attend a reception raising $1.3 million for Des Moines lawyer Doug Gross, who hopes to unseat Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Bush will be invading Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's home state of South Dakota on Thursday and this may well give him another chance to challenge Congress to show more fiscal responsibility.

On Thursday, Bush holds a homeland security event near Mount Rushmore, where the heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are carved into the stone.

Commentary:
Some more Bush-think for you. Bush claims congress is the problem because they want $5 billion in spending but on the same day he complains about spending he asks for $8 billion in more spending. Does this guy think everyone in the country is as dumb as him? Does he?


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Justice official in charge of corruption sued
Reuters.com

DALLAS (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department official in charge of cracking down on corporate corruption was sued on Wednesday for alleged securities fraud.

Legal watchdog group Judicial Watch said it filed a suit in federal court in San Francisco charging Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson of conducting misleading accounting practices and insider trading when he was on the board of Providian Financial Corp.

Other directors of the San Francisco-based credit card issuer were also named in the complaint.

"The Providian scandal points to the current Washington culture where politicians, business leaders, accounting firms and lawyers are all in bed with each other," Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch's chairman, told a press conference.

The suit said that Thompson was a board member and chairman of Providian's audit and compliance committee from 1997 until he was named to his new job in the Bush administration in May 2001.

The complaint alleges that Thompson and other directors knew that Providian's financial condition was deteriorating, and they adopted a fraudulent scheme to delay recognition of losses from the second quarter of 2001 into the third quarter of 2001.

The alleged scheme allowed Providian's stock prices to become artificially inflated. Before the financial problems became public, and the company's shares fell, the suit alleges that Thompson and other sold off the stock they had acquired by exercising stock options.

Klayman claims Thompson sold up to $5 million of stock.

An official with Thompson's office was not immediately available for comment.

Officials at Providian also were not immediately available for comment.

Klayman said the suit was filed on behalf of Robert Lake, a Texas resident and a shareholder of Providian, who is seeking unspecified compensatory damages and over $75,000 in punitive and exemplary damages.

Washington-based Judicial Watch is an eight-year-old legal foundation that has filed a number of highly publicized lawsuits against government officials.

Described by Klayman as "fiercely nonpartisan but conservative," the group's targets have included former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Janet Reno, the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, the FBI and the CIA.

Not all the suits have been successful, but they have earned Klayman a reputation for bringing sensitive documents to public view and for aggressive promotion in the media.

The group recently sued Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton Co.,the oil services company he once ran, alleging they defrauded shareholders by overstating company revenues.

Providian shares were off 1.28 percent, or 6 cents, to $4.63 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


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