Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Impeach Bush

Menu
  Bush uses White House email to solicit money from federal workers *
 White House spin doctor works at SEC *
  Triple amputee Vietnam War veteran attacked
  Bush Seeks Cut Back on SEC's Corporate Cleanup
  Judge Orders Release of Cheney Energy Papers
 Al Qaeda Set to Attack US
 North Korea Has Nukes
 Bush Suffers Defeat at the UN
 CIA WARNINGS before attack
Bush uses White House email to solicit money from federal workers *
An Impeachable offense
washingtonpost.com
October 22, 2002

President Bush and his aides called the congressional vote on Iraq a matter of conscience. Apparently not everybody in the White House shares that view.

A day after Congress voted to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq, a mass e-mail was distributed by the executive office of the president. It referred to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who led the opposition to the resolution, as "doddering old Bob Byrd, the senile senator from West Virginia." It called Hispanic Democrats in the House who opposed the resolution "self-centered, do-nothing, $150,000/year plus perks yo-yo's."

"If they have a defense for their actions," the memo said, "they should deliver it to the kids in uniform that could one day have their ass shot off to protect these ninnies!"

Democrats demanded an apology and an explanation for the e-mail, written by a California Republican but distributed through White House e-mail by a White House official without identifying an author. The e-mail offered a view at odds with the official White House line that the Iraq vote was not about politics.

The author of this missive was Fernando Oaxaca, 75, a former Ford administration official and former chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. Oaxaca e-mailed the memo to GOP faithful across the country, including a few Bush White House officials. A White House aide then distributed the memo, without Oaxaca's name, to more than 100 Latino activists -- among them some staffers for the Hispanic Democrats Oaxaca had skewered.

"As far as I know it was an error, or a mispunching of a button in their e-mail system," Oaxaca said yesterday. He said he wrote the memo as a private citizen and the White House "is entitled to do what they want."

Sources said a relatively senior Bush aide liked the memo and directed a young aide to forward it to Hispanic Republican activists; the memo was accidentally sent instead, without explanation, to a mostly Hispanic Democratic group. Still, that does not explain why the White House would distribute such an e-mail, even to its allies.

On Oct. 11, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer described the previous day's Iraq votes as "matters of conscience, and the president thinks it is entirely appropriate for elected officials in both parties to exercise their good conscience on behalf of their constituents."

Fleischer's briefing ended at 12:57 p.m. At 2:49 p.m., the White House sent out the memo. Titled "Can you believe this?" the e-mail proclaimed the "sad results" that "every Latino Democrat in the Congress voted against supporting the president." It suggested the lawmakers "lack something our brave young volunteers in our armed forces have plenty of" and declared them "out of touch with their constituency and out of touch with America."

Referring to Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), David E. Bonior (D-Mich.) and Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), the memo said of the Hispanic lawmakers: "Except for Bonior and McDermott, the congressional Baghdad Boys and Gary Condit, who else are they following? The other anti-Bush bloc voters, the Black Caucus?"

The memo closed with a series of phrases connected by ellipses: "Let's tell all these Washington folks how we feel . . . let's stay on their case . . . time is going by . . . the next anthrax or nerve gas delivery might come across our borders or dumped on our Embassies or Armed Forces facilities overseas . . . while we wait for the political circus to end!"

The e-mail ended with "Que verguenza!" -- Spanish for "how shameful."

That's what Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) thought -- for opposite reasons. On Friday, the combat veteran and chairman of the Hispanic Caucus fired off an angry letter to Bush requesting a "formal apology" and information about "what is being done to address this shocking misuse of government resources."

"Less than 24 hours after this serious issue was discussed on the floor of the people's House, one of your aides forwarded a mean-spirited, misguided and offensive message to dozens of individuals, including members of my staff," he wrote. Reyes expressed hope that "dissemination of such a mean-spirited message will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be appropriately disciplined."

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the memo "was written by an outside activist and it does not reflect the president's views. We regret that it was mistakenly forwarded. The White House respects those who differ with us on this."

In another White House e-mail controversy, the president himself sent a solicitation for campaign funds that apparently went to some federal employees' government addresses. "Your donation . . . will make a big difference to my agenda to make America safer, stronger, and better," said the e-mail, from "President George W. Bush" at the address "georgewbush@rnc.org."

The mass e-mail was intended for GOP faithful everywhere and likely was not targeting federal workers. But a government worker who received the solicitation at his ".gov" e-mail address complained to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, about a possible Hatch Act violation. "Obviously inappropriate, obviously illegal, and obviously a reflection that the administration will do anything to raise campaign dollars," said an obviously irritated Waxman.

Commentary:
Bush knows his party can't win on the issues and he knows he has to buy votes from the congress, the press and the American people, so he violates US election law which forbids using government resources to solicit money. The rule of law died when Bush became president.


top

White House spin doctor works at SEC *
An Impeachable offense.
washingtonpost.com
October 14, 2002

When a White House press aide went to work for Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey L. Pitt last week, the immediate interpretation was that Pitt is in big trouble.

The White House, the pundits proclaimed, wants to manage the media for Pitt so he doesn't do something obtuse and let the Wall Street financial scandals become a Washington political issue.

I would argue that the arrival of the White House operative doesn't mean Harvey Pitt is in trouble. It means all the investors who count on the SEC to oversee the securities markets are.

When a White House spin doctor joins the staff of a supposedly independent regulatory agency, you can bet she's not there to help the watchdogs do a better job.

Sending Anne Womack to the SEC is a clear signal that politics is the top priority for the Bush administration and Harvey Pitt.

Womack has no known expertise in financial markets, no background in business. She's a young Texan who came to Washington from the presidential campaign, White House reporters tell me. What she brings to the SEC is politics, not policy.

Since when does the chairman of a supposedly independent regulatory agency let the White House plant a political operative in his office?

The SEC is not a branch of the White House. Pitt is not a cabinet member who serves at the whim of the president. The president appoints the SEC chairman but does not have the power to fire him.

But apparently the president does have the power to assign someone to shadow the head of an independent regulatory agency. That can happen, however, only when that agency head is too weak to fend off the White House functionaries or all too willing to let them interfere with the agency.

Pitt says Womack was not foisted on him by the White House; he recruited her. "The fact that her background includes time at the White House, where she has seen high-pressured communications issues arise, is helpful," he said, but was not the reason she was hired.

Whatever the circumstances, "this is the worst possible sign of confidence that you could give to an agency," said Paul C. Light, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution and an expert on the workings of the Washington bureaucracy.

"It's like the Minnesota Twins calling up El Duque to come over and save the game for them because nobody in their own bullpen can do it," he said.

To Light, moving a White House staffer into the SEC public relations staff means either that the Bush administration has given up on Pitt or that Pitt has given up on maintaining his independence from the White House.

Several SEC employees and alumni said privately that they were shocked Pitt had gone directly to the White House for help.

The independence of regulatory agencies such as the SEC used to be considered sacrosanct. During the savings-and-loan crisis, for example, there was a huge flap over a White House phone call to the thrift regulators. That alone was considered inappropriate.

Yet here is the SEC chairman adding a White House political operative to his staff as if it were a routine appointment.

Pitt has been his own worst enemy from the day he was nominated. He was one of Washington's best-known, most-quoted securities lawyers and long considered a candidate for the top job at the SEC. But he was also known as the Washington lawyer for the accounting industry, a group legendary for its political influence.

Since his appointment Pitt has been fighting a rear-guard action to protect the SEC's reputation as an effective regulator, and his own job. He is doing so badly on the employment-security front that even the Wall Street Journal editorial page is calling for his scalp.

Democrats in Congress want him out as well. Caught in crossfire from left and right, Pitt barely knows enough to duck. Again and again he has been criticized for repeating the same sin: meeting privately with executives of companies that are involved in SEC policy and enforcement cases. His most recent "chat" was with Henry M. Paulson Jr., chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is up to its eyeballs in the issue of analysts touting stocks of their firms' favored clients.

Disclosure of that meeting was one of the factors that prompted last week's call for Pitt's head by Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.)

They also accused Pitt of selling out to the accounting industry over who will head the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, an organization Congress created in response to the accounting scandals.

Until a week ago, it looked like the job would go to John H. Biggs, who has served as chairman of TIAA-CREF, a pension fund for teachers and college professors. While most pension funds worry only about managing their money, TIAA-CREF has long been activist, pushing corporations on issues including accounting, executive pay and corporate responsibility.

Biggs appeared to have a mortal lock on the appointment. He was a straight arrow whose appointment would show Pitt was committed to doing the right thing, not serving his old clients.

The Biggs bandwagon was rolling so smoothly that some reporters wrote stories saying he had the job. Biggs himself was so confident that he arranged to take early retirement from his fund.

But on the day that stories broke saying Biggs was in, Biggs was out.

Biggs was unacceptable to Rep. Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the legislation that created the accounting oversight board.

That law does not give Oxley veto power over appointments, but his name is on the legislation and his influence over the SEC's budget and legislative agenda means he cannot be ignored.

The tawdry influence of congressional committees on the regulatory process is one of the reasons why accountants became unaccountable. Their friends in Congress enabled the industry to head off, hijack or water down every accounting reform proposal from Washington in the past decade.

Congress intervened on behalf of the accountants and their clients on two of today's top accounting issues: treating the cost of stock options as an expense and preventing accounting firms from doing consulting work for firms whose books they are auditing.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) did the bidding of big business on the stock-options issue. The interference by Lieberman and so many others in his party is the reason why Democrats dare not make too much of an issue of Wall Street reform.

On the auditing-consulting issue, Oxley weighed in on behalf of the accountants, who also counted Pitt in their camp.

Under the circumstances, it is hard to understand how Oxley and Pitt got into a public debate over the Biggs appointment. The way the game is usually played is that when someone like Biggs is floated for an appointment, the opponents quietly sink him. Even when it is known that someone is a candidate for a top job, they can still disappear without a trace.

But Pitt apparently let the Biggs situation get out of control. Biggs's appointment wasn't killed off in the back room where such dirty work is usually done; it was done in public, embarrassing everyone involved.

Oxley ended up as the bad guy, but Pitt comes off as a bumbler. The Democrats used the incident to bash Pitt and to repeat their call for his resignation.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was forced to respond, calling the Democrats' demand "an old, tired cry" and "a political charge that has no merit."

When Pitt has come under fire in the past, it was Womack, one of Fleischer's assistants, who got the job of defending him.

Pitt says he met and liked Womack and heard she might want to move on, so he went after her.

"I pursued her because I had been impressed with her performance," he said in a statement issued by another spokesman. "Any time I can find a talented, smart and articulate individual to assist in making sure our various constituencies understand my views, I would jump at the chance."

He said Womack is "to advise me on making sure the messages I want to communicate to our constituencies are in fact articulated as well as I can do so."

If that's what Pitt wants to do, and if his new media maven is any good, they ought to start by articulating the message that Pitt no longer does the bidding of the accounting industry.

All they would have to do is call a news conference tomorrow and announce that Pitt has chosen John Biggs to be chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

That would be the one move that could rescue Pitt's reputation as SEC chairman.

The question is whether his new handler is smart enough to do it or whether her mission is to send the message that politics still takes precedence at the SEC.

Commentary:
The SEC is independent. What part of independent doesn't Bush understand? A WH spin doctor working at the SEC destroys the SEC independence and is a violation of US law.


top

Triple amputee Vietnam War veteran attacked
cnn.com
Monday, October 14, 2002

Comment: This article is included because Bush campaigned and raised money for this jerk.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As a triple amputee Vietnam War veteran, Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland might seem immune to political attacks on national security and fighting terrorism.

But his Republican rival, Rep. Saxby Chambliss, is challenging conventional wisdom with a new television ad that features cameo appearances by Osama bin Laden, the fugitive terrorist leader, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Cleland "says he supports President Bush at every opportunity," says the ad, which began running Friday on stations across Georgia. "But that's not the truth. Since July, Max Cleland has voted against the president's vital Homeland Security efforts 11 times."

Cleland issued an angry statement of denial. "Accusing me of being soft on homeland defense and Osama bin Laden is the most vicious exploitation of a national tragedy and attempt at character assassination I have ever witnessed," he said.

"Protecting Americans is not political, and using Osama bin Laden in pursuit of a short-term political goal is an insult to every man and woman from every Georgia military installation now risking his or her life searching for bin Laden and his terrorist cadre."

Georgia's other Democratic senator, Zell Miller, said he was offended by the ad.

"Max Cleland is a courageous man who has given his own blood and so much more fighting for the right of all of us to live in freedom," Miller said in a statement issued Sunday night. "My friend Max deserves better than to be slandered like this."

Cleland backed creation of a Department of Homeland Security before the president did and voted for Democratic-drafted legislation to establish the new agency when it cleared committee this year.

He was on the opposite side from the administration on several amendment votes in committee as well as on the Senate floor, where the legislation is stalled. Most of the amendments related to civil service rules and labor protections for employees of the new department, the disagreement that has blocked passage of the measure thus far.

The issue pits the administration and its allies in Congress against labor unions, which generally are strong supporters of Cleland and other members of the Senate's Democratic majority.

Cleland has led consistently in the polls, but Republicans say Chambliss has recently narrowed the gap.

The ad has been replaced with a commercial promoting Janklow's credential.

Commentary:
This is simple. If you're a veteran and think your sacrifice has any meaning to this president, guess again. This isn't a matter of simple politics, it's using terrorism to advance a political agenda. Bush should demand he stop these ads and should demand he apologize. He won't though. Men who lack character don't do what's right, they do only what works for them.

The money Bush raised and the money the republican party is spending is helping to pay for these ads. They should be stopped.


top

Bush Seeks Cut Back on SEC's Corporate Cleanup
newyorktimes.com
October 19, 2002

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — Less than three months ago, President Bush signed with great fanfare sweeping corporate antifraud legislation that called for a huge increase in the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission to police corporate America and clean up Wall Street.

Now the White House is backing off the budget provision and urging Congress to provide the agency with 27 percent less money than the new law authorized.

Administration officials say their proposed increase is enough and that other budgetary needs, like the military and security against terrorism, make it impossible to afford more.

The decision has angered commission officials and Democratic lawmakers, who say that it reflects the administration's calculation that corporate scandals have begun to recede as a political issue. They say that the administration's more modest increase will not be able to pay for the expanded role of the agency, bring salaries up to levels at other financial regulatory agencies, finance the start-up costs of an accounting oversight board and significantly expand a staff that is already overwhelmed.

Under the corporate clean-up legislation, the commission's budget — which for years has barely kept up with inflation, let alone the steep rise in stock ownership — was authorized to increase by 77 percent, to $776 million. But as Congress wrestles with the spending measures that actually appropriate money to federal agencies, the White House is requesting $568 million for the S.E.C., officials said, or an increase of about 30 percent over last year's budget of $438 million.

Harvey L. Pitt, the commission's chairman, has acknowledged through a spokesman that the administration's level of financing will not allow it to undertake important initiatives.

The White House has put Mr. Pitt in the awkward position of having to choose between Congressional Democrats who want a larger budget and administration officials who want less. Brian Gross, the commission's director of communications, said that Mr. Pitt was concerned that the agency would not be able to do many of the technology and enforcement projects that he would like if the commission received only what the White House has recommended.

"It doesn't allow for a lot of new initiatives," Mr. Gross said. On the other hand, he said, Mr. Pitt appreciates that the White House has to juggle other budget issues that would prompt the administration to support the lower figure.

The commission's budget became a major political issue as the wave of corporate scandals illustrated the agency's difficulties in policing major public companies and Wall Street. Through most of the year, the administration opposed calls by Democrats for bigger increases in the agency's spending allocation. But after the collapse of WorldCom this summer, the president cited the larger spending increase when he signed the corporate overhaul, known for its prime sponsors as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, at a ceremony in the East Room on July 30.

"Corporate misdeeds will be found and will be punished," Mr. Bush said then. "This law authorizes new funding for investigators and technology at the Securities and Exchange Commission to uncover wrongdoing."

The commission's finances have become a casualty of political gridlock between Congress and the administration over the budget for the entire government. Congress has passed temporary spending measures set at last year's budget levels to keep the government operating at least through the end of November.

Two months ago, the commission received an increase of $30 million over its $438 million budget from last year, which was widely considered inadequate, to begin hiring another 100 staff members to join its 3,100 current employees. As a result, nearly a year after those corporate scandals began with the collapse of Enron, commission officials say that they have struggled to keep up with their growing number of responsibilities and cases.

Senior agency officials say that they are still unable to open many of the investigations that they want and that, as cases near trial, they will be stretched thin. The agency's computer systems have not been updated in many years. The agency is unable to review the vast majority of corporate documents filed every day. And one investment house alone, Merrill Lynch, has more professionals in its legal and compliance departments than the commission's entire enforcement staff.

The problems were supposed to be fixed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which set a $776 million authorized budget. But now, administration officials say Mr. Bush supports a more modest increase, of $130 million, to $568 million.

"The president does believe the S.E.C. has a substantial mission and we think $568 million is sufficient to carry that out," said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Administration officials say that the budget figure in the law is too high considering the other needs of the budget. They say that the agency would be able to carry out more investigations, increase staff and raise pay levels with the more modest budget proposed by the White House.

Briefing reporters aboard Air Force One, Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, said it was a major accomplishment that Congress recessed without increasing any spending.

"Typically, when Congress leaves, they pay an exit fee, where spending is increased above and beyond what the Congressional budget authorized, and the taxpayers are always the victims," Mr. Fleischer said. "This year, the chain was broken."

Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who was the principal author of the legislation, called the White House position "disheartening" and said that its proposed budget would fall far short of what is necessary for the agency to be effective.

"I can't understand why they are taking this position," he said. "We didn't pull the $776 million out of a hat. The costs of increasing pay, hiring new staff and increasing the volume of their business presents a case for a higher budget that is overwhelming."

The law calls for $102 million for raises and $108 million for better computer systems and financing for restoring the agency after the Sept. 11 attacks that destroyed its New York offices. It also proposed $98 million to pay for 200 additional auditors, investigators and persecutors. Budget officials estimate that the new accounting board will need from $25 million to $50 million to start. That money is to come from the commission's budget and be repaid later by the accounting profession.

In July, shortly before the measure was adopted, a Senate committee led by Ernest F. Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina, passed a $750.5 million appropriations measure for the commission. The measure has since languished as Democrats and Republicans have been unable to reach agreement in the House and the Senate on the federal budget.

Democrats said that the White House position reflected the calculation that the corporate scandals have moved to the back burner, and therefore the White House does not need to honor the provision in the legislation that calls for the higher financing.

"My sense is this is a White House that is sensing some political relief that this is no longer the issue on the table so they can take a political pass on this," said Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who heads the Senate banking subcommittee on securities and investment. "They touched the critical issues last summer and now it's gone. Now the issue is Iraq all the time."

"I think they are politically mistaken and also dangerous substantively," Mr. Dodd said. "You have to have the resources and do the job. You need the right cops on the beat to get it done."

Commentary:
Another classic Bushism. He says one thing and then does the exact opposite. Never, never trust what this man says, watch what he does.


top

Judge Orders Release of Cheney Energy Papers
Reuters.com.
October 17, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Bush administration to produce documents from Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force by Nov. 5, rejecting arguments they should stay secret because they relate to top advisers.

Justice Department lawyers said they would seek a suspension of the order from U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, and failing that, would consider appealing the order to a higher court.

Sullivan's ruling came in a lawsuit brought over a year ago by government ethics watchdog group, Judicial Watch, that was later joined by the environmental group Sierra Club. They seek records of the Cheney task force in an effort to find out what influence energy companies, including the now-bankrupt Enron Corp., had on policy.

The Bush administration has released thousands of pages of papers under a pre-trial fact-finding plan, but is refusing to hand over documents that relate specifically to Cheney and several senior White House advisers.

The advisers are Andrew Lundquist, the former White House energy policy director; White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey and White House deputy chief of staff Josh Bolten.

The government argued last month that the documents involve communications between President Bush and his closest advisers, and that to turn them over would raise concerns about the separation of powers.

Sullivan rejected this argument. But he did say government lawyers could submit a "privilege log," giving them another chance to claim some of the papers are not subject to public disclosure, so long as a reason is given for each document that is withheld.

The judge brushed aside a statement by Justice Department attorney Shannen Coffin that government lawyers were not ready to produce the disputed documents, calling that a "startling revelation" after so many months of lawsuits seeking the papers by various groups.

Cheney's energy task force produced a policy paper in May 2001 that called for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program. Environmentalists say they were largely shut out of the policy-making.

The General Accounting Office also filed suit in February demanding that Cheney hand over a list of energy industry executives who were consulted as the energy policy was drafted last year. Arguments were heard in that case last month before U.S. District Court Judge John Bates, but he has not ruled.

Commentary:
I guess I'm from the old school. If a judge tells me to do something I'm inclined to do it. Bush and Cheney don't. I don't know what it is about the ruling class, but it seems they think the "rule of law" doesn't apply to them unless they agree with it.


top

Al Qaeda Set to Attack US
Reuters.com
October 17, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - CIA Director George Tenet said on Thursday al Qaeda has reorganized, is in an "execution phase" and intends to attack Americans overseas and on U.S. soil, amid a threat situation as serious as in the months leading up to last year's Sept. 11 attacks.

Tenet, at a joint hearing before the congressional intelligence committees, also said the CIA and the FBI could not be flawless all the time in fighting the terror threat.

"The threat environment we find ourselves in today is as bad as it was last summer, the summer before 9/11," Tenet told the committees. "It is serious, they've reconstituted, they are coming after us, they want to execute attacks."

He issued a dire assessment.

"When you see the multiple attacks that you've seen occur around the world, from Bali to Kuwait, the number of failed attacks that have been attempted, the various messages that have been issued by senior al Qaeda leaders, you must make the assumption that al Qaeda is in an execution phase and intends to strike us both here and overseas, that's unambiguous as far as I am concerned," Tenet said.

Earlier this month American troops were attacked in Kuwait and a bombing in Bali killed more than 180 people. Qatar's al Jazeera television recently broadcast tapes it says are of Osama bin Laden and his top aide Ayman al-Zawahri.

The United States launched a war on terrorism last year with a military campaign in Afghanistan to destroy bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which it blamed for the hijacked plane strikes that killed 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite routing al Qaeda forces and making some key arrests around the world, the United States has not found bin Laden.

CIA HITS BACK AT CRITICS

The CIA chief also hit back at critics of U.S. intelligence lapses, saying the spy agencies lacked precise details to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks even though they knew bin Laden was plotting to kill many Americans.

"In the months leading up to 9/11, we were convinced bin Laden meant to attack Americans, meant to kill large numbers, and that the attack could be at home, abroad or both," Tenet said at the hearing. "And we reported these threats urgently."

Indications were that "multiple spectacular attacks" were planned and some plots were in the final stages, Tenet said.

"And when we grew concerned that so much of the evidence pointed to attacks overseas, we noted that bin Laden's principal ambition had long been to strike the United States."

"Nevertheless with regard to the 9/11 plot, we never acquired the level of detail that allowed us to translate our strategic concerns into something we could act on," he said.

It was the last of a string of open hearings held by a joint inquiry of the House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees investigating Sept. 11 intelligence failures. The inquiry's final report is expected to recommend changes to the spy agencies.

Lawmakers say while no "smoking gun" has emerged in the inquiry, if missed clues had been pieced together, further investigation might have unraveled the plot.

Tenet, FBI Director Robert Mueller and National Security Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden responded to criticisms about their agencies.

They cited inadequate resources, and bureaucratic and legal strictures that impeded the flow of information.

But when some senators repeatedly pressed Tenet and Mueller on whether anyone had been held accountable for Sept. 11 lapses, both directors said nobody had been disciplined and responsibility lay on their own shoulders.

ULTIMATE ACCOUNTABILITY

"The ultimate accountability is me," said Mueller, who arrived on the job a week before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The two directors said employees had been working hard on fighting terrorism but some might not have been given all the tools and training they needed.

"I think there has to be accountability," Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby said. "I think you ought to go back and look at the real meaning of the word," the Alabama Republican told Tenet. His comments were greeted with clapping by families of Sept. 11 victims.

Tenet acknowledged the CIA made a mistake in not putting the names of two of the Sept. 11 hijackers on a State Department watchlist until just weeks before the attacks.

Inadequate information sharing by the CIA and FBI has been a major criticism, but both Tenet and Mueller said the two agencies had been working closely together on terrorism.

Commentary:
I don't know what to make of this mess. Bush says we need to take out Saddam, the CIA says al Qaeda is the problem, while Rumsfeld tells us N. Korea has nukes. Do we have a bunch of nuts running around saying the sky is falling or is this an attempt to keep the American people distracted from economic matters? Bush's record on terrorism and terrorist warnings is still zero. Tenet from the CIA is just as bad. Rumsfeld, like Bush is a pathological liar and can't be trusted. Janes Defense Weekly isn't buying the Chinese/Russia connection with N. Korea, so who's telling the truth? The sad fact is no one seems to care.

One ray of hope. Tenet has been blasting the Bush Administration for weeks now. Basically calling them liars on nukes in Iraq, not having the ability to have nukes for at least 10 years, saying Bush was aware of an "imminent attack" prior to 9/11, etc.

Considering all the conflicting information, I'm thinking the CIA and the Bush people are at war with each other. A short list:

  • Bush says 9/11 was intelligence failure, stops investigation.
  • CIA says Bush was aware of "imminent attack" prior to 9/11
  • Bush says Saddam has nukes
  • CIA says Saddam doesn't have nukes
  • Bush says Saddam will get nukes soon
  • CIA says Saddam is 10 years from getting nukes
  • Bush says Saddam will use WMD on US or US interests
  • CIA says Saddam will use WMD only if US attacks him first
  • Bush does a cover-up of N. Korea nuke program until Iraqi vote in over
  • CIA says al Qaeda is the threat
  • Rumsfeld says N. Korea has nukes
  • CIA can't confirm N. Korea has nukes

It's the blame game in overdrive. If you're confused about who is telling the truth, believe no one.

No matter how we cut it, Bush has lost control of foreign policy again.


top

North Korea Has Nukes
Reuters.com
October 18, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States believes Pakistan helped North Korea develop a nuclear weapons program, U.S. officials said on Friday, as a White House spokesman urged North Korea's trading partners not to help it build such weapons.

The officials, who asked not to be named, were commenting on a report in The New York Times which said U.S. intelligence officials had concluded Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, was a major supplier of equipment to Pyongyang's enriched uranium program.

North Korea admitted it had the secret nuclear weapons program at a session with U.S. officials in Pyongyang on Oct. 4.. That means the isolated state, which President Bush has said forms part of an axis of evil with Iran and Iraq, is in violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework under which it agreed to halt its nuclear efforts.

News of the Pyongyang's nuclear program upsets the delicate balance in the Korean Peninsula, one of the Cold War's last frontiers, where the United States has stationed some 37,000 troops to protect South Korea against attack from the North.

U.S. officials on Thursday also said they believed Russia and China helped the Communist government to develop the program and would urge both nations to stop the cooperation and condemn the violation of international accords.

One U.S. official on Friday said such programs typically have more than one supplier.

"In almost all cases, there are almost always more than one, and usually multiple, sources," said the official. "To the best of my knowledge, that is the case (here) as well."

Separately, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said it was not in the interests of North Korea's major trading partners to help Pyongyang develop nuclear weapons.

"These countries want good and improved relations with the United States and they have no interest in a nuclearized North Korea," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters as Bush flew to Springfield, Missouri, to help Republicans running in the Nov. 5 congressional election.

U.S. CONSIDERS RESPONSE

Fleischer did not single out China and Russia nor would he confirm the report Pakistan had helped North Korea as well.

U.S. officials said they were considering all options on how to respond to Pyongyang's disclosure of an enriched uranium program and suggested they and U.S. allies, particularly China, might pressure Pyongyang by limiting food or fuel aid.

But they made it clear that they would not treat North Korea the same as Iraq, which Bush has threatened with military action if President Saddam Hussein fails to end his alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

Citing current and former senior U.S. officials, the New York Times said Pakistan provided North Korea with equipment, which may include gas centrifuges used to create weapons-grade uranium, as part of a deal made in the late 1990s.

In return, North Korea supplied Pakistan with missiles it could use to counter India's nuclear arsenal, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

It quoted a spokesman for the Pakistan Embassy as saying it was "absolutely incorrect" to accuse Pakistan of providing nuclear weapons technology to North Korea. An embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

The newspaper did not explain how or why U.S. officials came to the conclusion Pakistan was supplying vital equipment to North Korea but it quoted American officials as saying the two countries had "a perfect meeting of interests."

It said U.S. officials now estimated the North Korea nuclear project began around 1997 or 1998, roughly the same time Pakistan tested missiles it received from North Korea.

Commentary:
A couple major questions have to be asked. First, why didn't Bush tell us about N.Korea until AFTER the vote in both Houses of congress giving him power to go to war? Did it slip his mind? would anyone have voted to go to war with Saddam knowing N.Korea had nukes?

The second question is if nukes are bad for Saddam to get in say 10 years, why is it ok for N. Korea to have them today? Why aren't we going to war with N. Korea.

Finally, it appears Russia and Pakistan have helped N. Korea get nukes. Russia's president is a buddy of Bush and he worked behind our backs to arm one of our enemies, while at the same time worked around the clock to insure defeat of Bush's UN resolution on Iraq (Bush's resolution was pulled because of certain defeat).

Pakistan, on the other hand, was able to get Bush to forgive their debt they owed us in exchange for some help with his silly war against terror, but behind our backs they were helping N. Korea gain nuclear techology.

I suppose we'll never accuse Bush of seeing the big picture. He's too busy buying off friends who then turn around and knife him in the back.


top

Bush Suffers Defeat at the UN
Reuters.com
October 16, 2002

United Nations (Reuters) - The United States, showing signs of impatience in seeking United Nations backing for action against Iraq, intends to submit a new U.N. draft resolution shortly, diplomats said late on Wednesday.

Facing opposition from most countries in the world, including key members of the U.N. Security Council, the Bush administration has softened some language in its original draft but still seeks authorization to use force, the envoys said.

U.S. officials intend to circulate their revised proposals among the other four permanent council members -- Britain, France, Russia and China -- on Thursday or Friday before showing it to other ambassadors in the 15-nation body.

No vote is expected until next week at the earliest.

"There's a belief that there should be one firm resolution with clear triggering language. Patience is not going to last forever on this," one U.S. official said.

France has been leading the resistance to the earlier U.S. draft which would give Washington the right to attack Iraq for the slightest failure to meet U.N. requirements.

Paris, pushing for two resolutions, does not want the council to authorize an attack unless arms inspectors report back that Iraq has not complied with U.N. demands. In contrast, Washington wants itself to make the decision about Iraq violations.

In a concession to France, the new U.S. draft will give more credence to reports from U.N. arms inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction. But the United States still insists on one resolution and hopes its new language is vague enough for most countries to support, the diplomats said.

The Bush administration also has shown willingness to drop provisions in its draft that would allow key council members to join U.N. inspections and have troops open any routes that may be barred to the arms experts.

Both demands are opposed by most Security Council members as well as chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix.

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the resolution with visiting French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie in Washington after a State Department official said Powell intended to "get tough" with the French.

Powell told reporters he and Alliot-Marie had "good consultations. ... We are hard at work," he added.

"Everything went well in the friendly manner that we always have," added the French minister.

ONE LAST SHOT

But one Bush administration official said the United States was giving France "one last shot" after the White House and the State Department were now agreed on a strategy.

"We will have one resolution that gives us the authority or we will not have any," the official added.

The State Department had shown some flexibility toward the French proposal for two separate U.N. resolutions but the White House has now dug in its heels on a single resolution which Washington could interpret as authorizing an attack.

Asked if the United States was moving closer to abandoning its attempt to work through the United Nations, an official said: "Not at this point, but at some point we will have to decide which red line we can't budge on. We'll have to draw the line and say 'Beyond that we cannot accept."'

President Bush told the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 12 that it must enforce old U.N. resolutions against Iraq or else the United Nations would be irrelevant.

U.S. officials have repeatedly reserved the right to attack Iraq, with or without allies, if Bush decides that the Iraqi government is a threat to U.S. national security.

Even Britain, Washington's closest ally on the Security Council and a possible partner in a military campaign to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, would be willing to go along with the French position for the sake of consensus.

"The United States realizes it's good to have international support, but it's unclear whether they trust the council to deliver on what they want," one diplomat said. International opinion is digging in against Washington."

Bush said on Wednesday the only way Iraq could avoid war was to completely surrender its suspected weapons of mass destruction and allow inspectors access to any site in Iraq without delay.

Hopefully, we can do this without military action," he said. "Yet if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world's demands."

Bush spoke in the White House East Room as he signed a congressional resolution giving him authority to wage war against Iraq if needed. The congressional stand has had little impact on U.N. negotiations. (Additional reporting by Jonathan Wright in Washington)

Commentary:
Bush gave his speech to the UN on September 12, 2002. As of this writing it's been 35 days since that speech. During that time Bush has spent endless hours raising money for republicans and whining about the UN not acting. But the truth is, Bush has refused to formally give his resolution to the full UN or to the full Security Council because it would be easily defeated.

Facing imminent defeat, he pushed the Congress to give him authority telling them that this authority would give him more pull with the UN. He was obviously wrong.

After the vote in both houses of Congress and still facing defeat in the UN, Bush was forced to withdraw his resolution (a resolution that was "dead on arrival"). A thought. Maybe Bush should spend less time whining, less time campaigning, less time raising money and a little more time talking to UN members who disagree with him. In other words someone should tap him on the shoulder and tell him to be President for a couple days.


top

CIA WARNINGS before attack
Reuters.com
October 17, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA chief faced down critics of U.S. intelligence lapses before the Sept. 11 attacks, saying at a public hearing on Thursday agencies lacked precise details to prevent the strikes even though they knew Osama bin Laden was plotting to kill many Americans.

"In the months leading up to 9/11, we were convinced (Osama) bin Laden meant to attack Americans, meant to kill large numbers, and that the attack could be at home, abroad or both," said CIA Director George Tenet, appearing before a joint inquiry into Sept. 11 by the House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees.

"And we reported these threats urgently," Tenet told the hearing, the last of a string of open hearings at which congressional investigators have detailed intelligence shortcomings.

Lawmakers say while no "smoking gun" has emerged in the intelligence inquiry, if missed clues had been pieced together, further investigation might have unraveled the plot. The testimony of Tenet, who appeared with the heads of the FBI and National Security Agency, sought to address those criticisms.

Indications during what Tenet called a "tense period" were that "multiple spectacular attacks" were planned and some plots were in the final stages.

Intelligence reports suggested targets of bin Laden's widespread al Qaeda network were American, but some pointed to elsewhere in the West or in Israel, and they were "maddeningly short on actionable details," he said.

"The most ominous reporting, hinting at something large, was also the most vague," Tenet said. Geographic information pointed overseas, especially the Middle East.

Those reports warned of imminent attack and were distributed to policymakers and other agencies, he said.

TAKING AIM AT THE HOMELAND

"And when we grew concerned that so much of the evidence pointed to attacks overseas, we noted that bin Laden's principal ambition had long been to strike our homeland."

"Nevertheless with specific regard to the 9/11 plot, we never acquired the level of detail that allowed us to translate our strategic concerns into something we could act on."

Four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, killing about 3,000 people.

The United States has blamed bin Laden and al Qaeda for the attacks that shook the nation's sense of security and turned fighting terrorism into the government's top priority.

Tenet acknowledged the CIA made a mistake in not putting the names of two of the Sept. 11 hijackers on a State Department watchlist until just weeks before the attacks.

Congressional investigators say the CIA first became aware of Saudis Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in January 2000 but did not put them on government watchlists until they were already inside the United States.

Tenet also addressed the inquiry's accusations that intelligence reports had raised the possibility of hijacked aircraft being used as weapons but warnings were not issued.

"The documents we provided show some 12 reports, spread over seven years, which pertain to possible use of aircraft as weapons in terrorist attacks," he said. Those were distributed to transportation agencies and the FBI as they came in.

But he noted there were many more intelligence reports about car bombs and other threats.

Inadequate information sharing by the CIA and FBI has been a major criticism, but officials at both agencies say steps have been taken to address that issue.

The NSA, which eavesdrops on communications worldwide, has been blamed for its inability to sift through and analyze in a timely manner the vast amount of information it sweeps up.

All three agencies have been criticized for not having enough employees with the language skills needed to fight terrorism in the Middle East and Asia.

Commentary:
Bush and his supporters have maintained they had no idea there was going to be an attack on US soil. That was a lie. They've also said they had no idea airplanes could be used as weapons. That too was a lie.


top