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Impeach Bush

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 Bush Fears War Crimes
 Bush Loses Battle To Stop Investigation
 Tax cuts bite back
 Domestic Spy Agency
 For Bush, Facts Are Malleable
 Bush Sends Second Oil Tanker to North Korea
 Republicans kill funding for SEC Accounting Board *
 Bush gives aid to Pakistan after Pakistan aids our enemy *
 Treasury Backs More Tax Cuts
Bush Fears War Crimes
Reuters.com
November 15, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official said a principal motive for U.S. opposition to the newly created International Criminal Court was fear that the court might prosecute the president or other civilian or military leaders.

"Our concern goes beyond the possibility that the prosecutor will target for indictment the isolated U.S. soldier. ... Our principal concern is for our country's top civilian and military leaders, those responsible for our defense and foreign policy," Under Secretary of State John Bolton said in a speech released on Friday.

"A fair reading of the treaty (setting up the court) leaves one unable to answer with confidence whether the United States would now be accused of war crimes for legitimate but controversial uses of force to protect world peace," Bolton told the Federalist Society in Washington on Thursday.

"No U.S. presidents or their advisors could be assured that they would be unequivocally safe from politicized charges of criminal liability," he added.

That fear, which U.S. officials have rarely if ever articulated in public, explains why the United States opposed a compromise offered in September by the European Union, which is strongly in favor of the new court.

When Washington lobbied European governments this year for immunity for U.S. personnel, the Europeans suggested limiting liability to U.S. soldiers and officials sent overseas.

'RESTRAIN AMERICAN DISCRETION'

"There are many Americans that are not diplomats and troops," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, explaining why Washington thought the offer inadequate.

Bolton, a hawk who opposes international obligations which tie Washington's hands, said top U.S. civilian and military leaders ran the risk of prosecution in the international court "as part of an agenda to restrain American discretion."

He likened the international prosecutor to the U.S. independent counsels who have harassed U.S. presidents.

The most famous of those was Ken Starr, who led the investigation into the financial and sexual affairs of former President Bill Clinton, which led to his impeachment.

"That history argues overwhelmingly against international repetition. Simply launching massive criminal investigations has an enormous political impact.

"Although subsequent indictments and convictions are unquestionably more serious, a zealous independent prosecutor can make dramatic news just by calling witnesses and gathering documents, without ever bringing formal charges," Bolton said.

The international court came into being on July 1, with a mandate to prosecute genocide and crimes against humanity.

The United States has refused to cooperate with the court and is trying to persuade other countries to sign bilateral agreements giving U.S. personnel immunity from prosecution.

So far 13 countries have signed such agreements and Bolton said the United States would soon have negotiations on agreements with countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

Commentary:
I'm reminded of the "hate crime" debate. If you don't plan on killing someone hate crime legislation won't harm you. Same for Bush. If he doesn't commit a war crime he has nothing to worry about. Since he is worried about his war crimes, maybe we should too.


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Bush Loses Battle To Stop Investigation
Reuters.com
November 15, 2002
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress voted on Friday to create an independent commission to investigate why the United States was unable to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, sending the measure to President Bush, who plans to sign it.

The Senate unanimously approved the long-sought measure several hours after it overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives.

The White House had initially opposed the idea, but struck a deal with congressional leaders late on Thursday. The measure was attached to a spending bill for intelligence agencies.

"We're pleased that the Congress has passed a strong bipartisan commission to look at a broad range of issues, and the president looks forward to signing it," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The bipartisan commission would be charged with providing the most comprehensive look yet into why the hijacking attacks were able to occur, by examining any and all fronts -- from intelligence agencies to airport security to immigration controls.

The bill passed the Senate without debate. In the House, Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican who cast one of the three "no" votes, denounced it as a "blame-game commission."

House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi of California disagreed, saying, "The purpose ... isn't to assign blame. It is to find out why .... We have to get to the bottom of this."

The administration had long argued that Congress was better equipped than a commission to conduct such a probe and preserve national security secrets. Even after it accepted the idea of a commission in September, the White House argued with lawmakers over the group's composition.

Families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks led a public campaign for its creation, putting pressure on the White House and congressional leaders to finally agree.

'DECISIVE VICTORY FOR THE FAMILIES'

"This is a decisive victory for the families of September 11th victims and the nation as a whole," said Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who has pushed for creation of the commission since shortly after the attacks.

"Finally we will get a clear picture of what government agencies failed, how they failed and why," Lieberman said.

The agreement was reached after a new round of talks between the White House and Lieberman and Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, who had taken a lead role in the drive for a commission.

The commission probe would be broader than one conducted jointly by the House and Senate Intelligence committees, which focused on the failures of U.S. spy agencies.

The 10-member commission would be equally divided with five Republican appointees and five Democratic appointees. Bush would name the chairman and the Democratic congressional leadership would pick the vice chairman.

Subpoenas could be issued by agreement of chair and vice chair or a vote of six of the 10 commission members.

The Senate Republican leader, Senate Democratic leader, House speaker and House Democratic leader would each name two commissioners. Bush would name one and the Democratic congressional leaders would jointly pick one.

A key to the accord was that one of the two commissioners named by the Senate Republican leader would be named with the concurrence of McCain, who often bucks fellow Republicans and the White House.

"If it wasn't for this provision we would not support this proposal," said Steve Push of The Families of Sept. 11. "He (McCain) is independent minded and we're confident if he makes one of the Republican picks we can count on that person."

Commentary:
For over a year Bush fought against an investigation into 9/11. What is he trying to hide? The reason the Congress can't be trusted with this type of investigation is because a lot of powerful congressmen and senators were warned about an "imminent attack" on the US too. While Bush is ultimately responsible for not acting, he'll blame congress too. In 18 months we'll see Bush starting the blame game all over again. Maybe he can blame Bill Clinton too.

One further note. The last sentence of this article is very telling; the families don't trust the republican party or Bush.


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Tax cuts bite back
Reuters.com
By Kristin Roberts
November 16, 2002

MIAMI (Reuters) - Not even halfway through the fiscal year, U.S. governors have already slashed spending, laid off workers and tapped emergency funds -- setting the stage for fierce legislative sessions in the spring.

While last June's state budget battles proved politically charged and fiscally painful, economists and policy analysts say the upcoming sessions will be worse because lawmakers used up all the relatively easy one-time maneuvers to find revenue.

"It will be bloody and the sessions will be hugely contentious," said Nicholas Johnson, director of state fiscal research at the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"With the elections in most states, a lot of the pressing budget issues were put to the side because no one wanted to talk about them and because the things that need to be done are not politically palatable," he said.

So far, 24 states have indicated they anticipate a fairly significant budget shortfall for the current year, ranging from $2.8 billion in Wisconsin to $414 million in Maryland and $200 million in Kentucky, according to data from the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Another nine expect deficits in fiscal 2004 and beyond.

What's more, 39 states have had to cut their budgets after their legislatures passed them, 15 states have cut government workers to reduce expenses and 22 states have used rainy day funds for immediate cash needs, according to national studies.

"This isn't happening in just a few pockets. It's happening across the country," said Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. "Unfortunately, there's no question that state revenues have fallen much more dramatically than the economy."

The slumping economy and the stock market's slide have sliced income and sales tax revenue in many states for the second fiscal year in a row.

Economists say they do not expect state revenue collections to meet earlier projections until the summer of 2003, at the earliest.

ONE-TIME OPTIONS DRY UP

Many state legislatures used up nearly all their one-time options to balance budgets last year, analysts said.

A dozen states have sold bonds linked to future payments from the tobacco settlement fund. Wisconsin, for example, has tapped out its settlement fund by selling bonds to balance its current two-year $23 billion general fund budget.

Among other maneuvers no longer available, lawmakers in North Carolina withheld $209 million in fiscal 2002 and $333 million in 2003 from municipalities in shared revenue and fees. But the legislature has since passed a law prohibiting the governor from keeping those funds in the future.

Governors in states with remaining funds in reserve have already begun seeking access to the cash for immediate needs.

Most recently, Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster asked the legislature for authorization to withdraw up to a third of the state's rainy day fund to fill an immediate budget deficit of $86 million created by declining tax collections and the costs of a hurricane, a tropical storm and cases of West Nile virus.

"Remember, we haven't just had a spring shower. We've had a national recession, a tropical storm and a hurricane," Foster said when asking the legislature to approve the rainy day fund withdrawal last week.

The governor warned he had 30 days to fill the gap under the state's constitution. His request follows a $75 million spending freeze imposed in Louisiana in September.

"They've taken the one-time only actions that they can take so you're back to the tough choices," Pattison said. "Do you cut spending or raise taxes?"

Commentary:
As the Federal Government grows, states are forced to cut back. Bush could learn a lot from the States. After eight years of peace and prosperity states don't have the cash they need to run daily operations. Why is that? Did they forget to save? Did they give tax cuts? Of course they did.

Americans put republicans in charge of governor hips and legislators. Republicans didn't save but instead spent the record revenue then gave away the rest with silly tax cut schemes. Today, after a very mild recession states are hurting.

It will take democrats governors a decade to fix the mess these republicans left behind. Also, don't forget how republican governors credited themselves for the tax cuts, but now blame the nation's economy for falling revenue. Could it be the Clinton super boom had more to do their good luck? You betcha.


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Domestic Spy Agency
Reuters.com
November 16, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's top national security advisers are thinking about creating a new, domestic spy agency, perhaps modeled on Britain's MI5, the Washington Post newspaper reported on Saturday.

The new agency would take over responsibility for counterterrorism spying and analysis from the FBI, the newspaper said, citing U.S. government officials and intelligence experts.

It said the idea reflected concern that the FBI, under fire for not having prevented the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against New York and Washington, has been unable to transform itself into an intelligence-gathering unit that can prevent terrorist actions in the United States.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, who, while admitting the bureau has not yet made the huge changes needed, believes it can eventually do so, the newspaper said.

The Post said that on Nov. 11, top national security officials including national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Mueller met for two hours to discuss the issue.

It said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge was sent to London for a briefing on MI5, which has the power to collect and analyze intelligence within Britain while leaving law enforcement to the police.

Some members of Congress have said they favor the idea and may offer a bill during the next Congress, which convenes in January. "We're either going to create a working, effective, substantial domestic intelligence unit in the FBI or create a new agency," Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told the newspaper.

"The results are dismal to this point."

Commentary:
I haven't seen this much government since the era of Reagan. How exactly is Bush going to pay for all these new agencies? With his tax cut? At some point we have to start asking if Bush and the people he put in charge are up to the job. Even die-hard republicans say Bush's results are "dismal."

Then we have a second question that needs to be asked; is the US really at war? I don't think so. For the past year The Commander-in-Chief spent every waking minute raising money for republicans and campaigning against democrats. When did he have time to command the military (or is it on auto-pilot). Has the CIC become a symbolic title? It appears so.

I also find is unseemly that a president could spend so much time attacking other Americans (democrats) when we're at war. Can you imagine Truman or FDR campaigning around the clock during a "real war?"


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For Bush, Facts Are Malleable
globalexchange.org/Washington Post
by Dana Milbank
Tuesday, October 22, 2002

The following Commentary first appeared in the Washington Post on October 22, 2002. Since the article is very long I'd suggest reading the last paragraph if time is short.

President Bush, speaking to the nation this month about the need to challenge Saddam Hussein, warned that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used "for missions targeting the United States." Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were "six months away from developing a weapon." And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy "for a long period of time."

All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago.

As Bush leads the nation toward a confrontation with Iraq and his party into battle in midterm elections, his rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy in recent weeks. Statements on subjects ranging from the economy to Iraq suggest that a president who won election underscoring Al Gore's knack for distortions and exaggerations has been guilty of a few himself.

Presidential embroidery is, of course, a hoary tradition. Ronald Reagan was known for his apocryphal story about liberating a concentration camp. Bill Clinton fibbed famously and under oath about his personal indiscretions to keep a step ahead of Whitewater prosecutors. Richard M. Nixon had his Watergate denials, and Lyndon B. Johnson was often accused of stretching the truth to put the best face on the Vietnam War. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, too, played with the truth during the Gary Powers and Bay of Pigs episodes.

"Everybody makes mistakes when they open their mouths and we forgive them," Brookings Institution scholar Stephen Hess said. Some of Bush's overstatements appear to be off-the-cuff mistakes. But, Hess said, "what worries me about some of these is they appear to be with foresight. This is about public policy in its grandest sense, about potential wars and who is our enemy, and a president has a special obligation to getting it right."

The White House, while acknowledging that on one occasion the president was "imprecise," said it stands by his words. "The president's statements are well documented and supported by the facts," Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "We reject any allegation to the contrary."

In stop after stop across the country, Bush has cited an impressive statistic in his bid to get Congress to approve terrorism insurance legislation. "There's over $15 billion of construction projects which are on hold, which aren't going forward -- which means there's over 300,000 jobs that would be in place, or soon to be in place, that aren't in place," is how he put it last week in Michigan.

But these are not government estimates. The $15 billion figure comes from the Real Estate Roundtable, a trade group that is leading the fight for the legislation and whose members have much to gain. After pleas earlier this year from the White House for "hard evidence" to make its case for terrorism insurance, the roundtable got the information from an unscientific survey of members, who were asked to provide figures with no documentation.

The 300,000 jobs number, the White House said, was supplied by the carpenters' union. But a union official said the White House apparently "extrapolated" the number from a Transportation Department study of federal highway aid -- not private real estate -- that the union had previously cited.

The president has also taken some liberties as he argues for his version of homeland security legislation. He often suggests in stump speeches that the union covering customs workers is blocking the wearing of radiation detectors. "The leadership of that particular group of people said, 'No way; we need to have a collective bargaining session over whether or not our people should be made to wear these devices,' " he said in Michigan last week. "And that could take a long period of time."

The National Treasury Employees Union did indeed argue in January that the radiation devices should be voluntary, and it called for negotiations. But five days later, the Customs Service said it saw no need to negotiate and would begin to implement the policy, which it did. After a subsequent exchange between the union president and Customs Service commissioner, the union wrote in April that it "does not object" to mandatory wearing of the devices.

The Customs Service said the delay had less to do with the dispute than the fact that customs lacks enough devices (about 4,000 are on order). The White House and Customs Service said the dispute was settled in part because Bush had the authority to waive collective bargaining, although he did not exercise it.

On Sept. 7, meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David, Bush told reporters: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied, finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA -- that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."

The IAEA did issue a report in 1998, around the time weapons inspectors were denied access to Iraq for the final time, but the report made no such assertion. It declared: "Based on all credible information to date, the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its program goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material." The report said Iraq had been six to 24 months away from nuclear capability before the 1991 Gulf War.

The White House said that Bush "was imprecise on this" and that the source was U.S. intelligence, not the IAEA.

In the president's Oct. 7 speech to the nation from Cincinnati, he introduced several rationales for taking action against Iraq. Describing contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq, Bush cited "one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year." He asserted that "we have discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet" of unmanned aircraft and expressed worry about them "targeting the United States."

Bush also stated that in 1998, "information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue." He added, "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," an alliance that "could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

In each of these charges, Bush omitted qualifiers that make the accusations seem less convincing. In the case of the al Qaeda leader receiving medical treatment, U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that the terrorist, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was no longer in Iraq and that there was no hard evidence Hussein's government knew he was there or had contact with him. On the matter of the aircraft, a CIA report this month suggested that the fleet was more of an "experiment" and "attempt" and labeled it a "serious threat to Iraq's neighbors and to international military forces in the region" -- but said nothing about it having sufficient range to threaten the United States.

Bush's statement about the Iraqi nuclear defector, implying such information was current in 1998, was a reference to Khidhir Hamza. But Hamza, though he spoke publicly about his information in 1998, retired from Iraq's nuclear program in 1991, fled to the Iraqi north in 1994 and left the country in 1995. Finally, Bush's statement that Iraq could attack "on any given day" with terrorist groups was at odds with congressional testimony by the CIA. The testimony, declassified after Bush's speech, rated the possibility as "low" that Hussein would initiate a chemical or biological weapons attack against the United States but might take the "extreme step" of assisting terrorists if provoked by a U.S. attack.

White House spokesmen said in response that it was "unrealistic" to assume Iraqi authorities did not know of Zarqawi's presence and that Iraq's unmanned aircraft could be launched from ships or trucks outside Iraq.

Some of the disputed Bush assertions are matters of perspective.

Bush often says, as he did Friday in Missouri, that "because of a quirk in the rules in the United States Senate, after a 10-year period, the tax-relief plan we passed goes away." There is a Senate rule that required a 60-vote majority for the tax cut, but the decision to let the cuts expire was based on pragmatic considerations. Proponents of the cut from the House and Senate -- both under GOP control at the time -- decided to have the tax cut expire after nine years to keep its price tag within the $1.35 trillion over 10 years that had been agreed between lawmakers and Bush.

Other times, the president's assertions simply outpace the facts. In New Hampshire earlier this month, he said his education legislation made "the biggest increase in education spending in a long, long time."

In fact, the 15.8 percent increase in Department of Education discretionary spending for fiscal year 2002 (the figures the White House supplied when asked about Bush's statement) was below the 18.5 percent increase under Clinton the previous year -- and Bush had wanted a much smaller increase than Congress approved. Earlier this month, Republican moderates complained to Bush's budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., that the administration was not spending the full amount for education that Congress approved. Daniels said it was "nothing uncommon" and decried the "explosively larger education bill."


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Bush Sends Second Oil Tanker to North Korea
Reuters.com
November 13, 2002
By Carol Giacomo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States decided on Wednesday that fuel oil deliveries to North Korea under a 1994 agreement should end following Pyongyang's admission of a secret nuclear weapons program, a senior U.S. official said.

He told Reuters a delivery due in North Korea shortly was being allowed to go ahead, but that should be the last. "The November shipment is the last one...The one on the seas now will be allowed to go ahead. Then there is no more," he said.

The official said President Bush's National Security Council had decided in favor of ending the supplies at a White House meeting and that allies Japan, South Korea and the European Union were expected to concur.

Neither the White House nor the State Department had any immediate official comment. The issue of how to handle North Korea has been hotly debated within the administration as well as with South Korea, Japan and European states.

The current shipment left Singapore on Nov. 6 for the 10- to 12-day voyage to North Korea. Two more shipments -- in December and January -- have been contracted for.

The U.S. position was adopted ahead of a meeting on Thursday of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), which handles the oil deliveries and has the authority to determine the program's schedule.

Despite what the senior official described as the U.S. position, other sources said key KEDO board members -- the United States, South Korea, Japan and the EU -- were drafting a statement for approval on Thursday that could leave open the possibility of future fuel oil deliveries.

DEBATE CONTINUES

"If you take the position that this is it and there will be no more shipments, then what is supposed to bring North Korea into compliance if they are already getting the penalty?" one source said.

Frank Gaffney, a leading conservative Republican defense analyst, said letting the current oil shipment proceed "signals to North Korea that the rhetoric being employed against them, if not empty, doesn't have immediate material effect."

He predicted that there would be continuing pressure from South Korea, Japan and the State Department as well as threats from North Korea that could result in new fuel shipments and "further concessions" to Pyongyang in the months ahead.

North Korea had taken important steps to end its international isolation in recent months. But in October, confronted with U.S. intelligence data, it conceded it had a covert program to produce highly enriched uranium, a key ingredient of nuclear weapons.

It has threatened to withdraw from the 1994 Agreed Framework, signed with the United States, if the fuel oil shipments are halted.

The North's economy is in desperate shape and winter is approaching. Although KEDO's fuel oil shipments have been a major energy source, Russia and China are also providers.

In 1994 Pyongyang promised to freeze its nuclear weapons program in return for two light water nuclear power plants -- financed largely by South Korea and Japan -- and 500,000 tons of fuel oil a year, financed largely by the United States.

As part of this process, Pyongyang allowed hundreds of spent fuel rods to be securely canned so they could not be used in nuclear bombs. Experts are worried the North will reclaim these rods and revive its plutonium program.

FUTURE STEPS UNCERTAIN

Just how Washington would react if the North formally abandons the 1994 pact and takes these steps was unclear.

"If they do that, then they are declaring themselves even more of an outlaw state and we truly have a crisis," the senior U.S. official said.

But he said: "This will not end in a solution where we buy them off. There's not going to be an Agreed Framework Two."

His comments reflected an antipathy many conservative Republicans have for the approach toward North Korea pursued by former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton's opted for a process whereby Pyongyang would gradually increase its interaction with the United States and have access to benefits as the North decreased tension on the Korean peninsula and curbed its weapons of mass destruction.

The disclosure that Pyongyang initiated a second nuclear weapons program soon after signing the 1994 agreement has severely undercut American officials who favor negotiating with the reclusive Stalinist state.

Since North Korea disclosed the new program in early October, the United States and its allies have been debating how to persuade the North to dismantle its program.

U.S. officials said that while Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Russia are exerting heavy pressure on North Korea to jettison the program, it is unclear what enforcement steps these U.S. allies would take.

Commentary:
It took some looking but this is the second shipment of oil the US sent to North Korea since they told us they have nuclear weapons. Asian Times confirms the US shipped oil to North Korea in October of 2002. At the time Bush cronies said the US would not give them any more oil, just as they say now. When do we start believing them? (I'll wait until it happens.)

Asian Times reported; "When the Bush administration briefed congressional staffers in the days after the news broke that North Korea had informed assistant secretary of state James Kelly about its uranium program, many Republicans were furious that the White House was doing nothing to stop the October shipment and threatened to move quickly to defund the program."

These two shipments of oil contradict public statements made by Bush and others in his administration. In otherwords, they lied.

A little more background. Earlier Bush waived a requirement that he certify to congress that North Korea was nuclear free. In otherwords, he knew, or had reason to know, that North Korea had nukes and he waived the requirement to tell congress. Why?

Since Bush has already ok'd two shipments of oil to North Korea and has agreed to sell dual use technology (military hardware) to Pakistan (a country that armed North Korea) and has agreed to resume trade with India after it violated International Law and went nuclear, it appears Bush has no real beliefs on arms control, weapons of mass destruction, trade with countries that have WMD or countries that break agreements with us.

If all of this doesn't make sense to you, then how about his? Bush says North Korea is evil. So, why is he still giving them oil? If Bush really believed North Korea was evil he would have stopped shipping oil to them on the day he called them part of his axis of evil. Logic-deprived conservatives still won't get it.


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Republicans kill funding for SEC Accounting Board *
An Impeachable offense
Reuters.com
November 13, 2002
by Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new board set up to police corporate accountants met for the first time on Wednesday, as the drive for corporate and accounting law reform bogged down amid a rash of top-level resignations.

After a six-hour meeting behind closed doors, the five members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board told reporters they had talked chiefly about getting organized. Plans are to hire about 50 people in the short term, find space for a headquarters in Washington and a New York office and set a first-year budget.

Most questions from the press were answered by William Webster, who resigned as chairman on Tuesday, but presided over the board's inaugural meeting in a private law office here.

While saying he expects to stay on as long as needed, Webster also said he assumed the board would name an interim chairman before another meeting to be held in early January.

Sources close to the board said board member Charles Niemeier, a Securities and Exchange Commission official, was front-runner to be named as interim chairman, but other members were also in contention.

Webster said the board was unsure how even an interim, let alone a permanent, chairman would be selected. "The board is waiting on the (SEC), which appointed them, to determine what to do" about an interim chairman, Webster said.

Asked at a separate SEC meeting across town whether the commission would appoint an acting chairman of the accounting board, departing SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt said, "We're going to consider that in light of the recent events."

Just over a year after the collapse of former energy trading giant Enron Corp. set in motion a rush to reform America's financial system, the drive has stalled.

"Everything is stalemated ... I don't think anything is going to happen until January," said Columbia University Law School Professor John Coffee, a noted securities law expert.

Congress ordered the creation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board as part of the sweeping Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed in July, with unprecedented powers to regulate corporate accountants.

EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSY

The board's members, including Webster, were named by a bitterly divided SEC vote on Oct. 25. Since then, the five-member panel has been embroiled in controversy.

It emerged days after the vote that Pitt had failed to tell fellow SEC commissioners and the White House of information brought to him by Webster before the vote as a "potential problem." The information dealt with Webster's former role as audit committee chairman of a small company accused of fraud.

A flap ensued that led to Pitt's resignation under fire on Nov. 5, the resignation of SEC Chief Accountant Robert Herdman on Nov. 8 and Webster's resignation on Tuesday.

Coffee said the White House was unlikely to nominate a permanent successor for Pitt until Republicans have full control of the Senate, allowing them to preside over the Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing that would follow.

Until a permanent successor is named for Pitt, sources close to the commission said, it was unlikely the SEC would launch a full-scale search for a permanent Webster successor.

In the meantime, investigations are continuing into how the SEC chose Webster in the first place. Both the SEC inspector general and the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, are looking into the matter.

At the board meeting, NASD Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Glauber attended to talk about how NASD is structured as a stock market regulating organization, Webster said.

"We're not necessarily going to model ourselves after NASD. It's a model we're going to look at," said board member Kayla Gillan, who joined Webster and members Daniel Goelzer, Bill Gradison and Niemeier at the meeting in Goelzer's office.

Several staff members from the SEC also attended the board meeting, members said, including acting SEC Chief Accountant Jackson Day and SEC Chief of Staff Mark Radke.

Webster said the board has not made final decisions about whether its meetings will be open or closed. The board's next meeting will be on Dec. 2, he said.

Questions about funding for both the SEC and the accounting board also remained unanswered.

Rep. Barney Frank, expected to be ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee in the new Congress, said a stop-gap spending bill passed on Wednesday by the House of Representatives had no money for the accounting board.

Frank said the stop-gap bill, expected to clear the Senate soon, would fund the SEC at a level the Bush administration requested earlier this year of about $460 million, instead of the $776 million level provided by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Commentary:
Bush and the republican opposed the Sarbanes Bill up until the accounting scandals created panic and the stock market crash. Then they reluctantly supported Sarbanes, mostly because it was the only legislation out there. Sarbanes is a democrat. Now we learn Bush and republicans have killed the funding for the Accounting Board. The Sarbanes bill is law and it must be funded. By not funding it, the "rule of law" has once again been shredded.

Time for another article of impeachment.


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Bush gives aid to Pakistan after Pakistan aids our enemy *
An Impeachable Offense
Reuters.com
November 13, 2002
By Carol Giacomo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration's tough line on North Korea's nuclear weapons program differs sharply from its delicate approach toward Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the anti-terror war who some suspect has provided Pyongyang with key technology.

Despite Pakistan's reported role in Pyongyang's program, there is no indication President Bush or the Republican-led Congress plan to impose sanctions or any other punishment on the South Asian nation.

Quite the contrary.

Pakistan has received more than one billion dollars worth of direct and indirect U.S.-backed assistance since signing on as a pivotal player in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, war against al Qaeda and other extremist groups.

"Republicans will go along with the administration in trying to stay focused on the war on terrorism and Pakistan is important on this," said a Republican Senate source.

"I don't think people will want to take the administration on," he added, in explaining why no punitive action toward Pakistan is expected on Capitol Hill.

In contrast, the administration is pushing to have the international community suspend if not halt outright heavy fuel oil shipments to the North Korea and to inflict other economic and diplomatic pressures that would force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

U.S. concerns about Pakistan's nuclear arms capability and weapons-related exports to so-called rogue states were once a centerpiece of relations between Washington and Islamabad.

Such worries were muted after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with U.S. officials saying that if Pakistan had troubling entanglements before, it has changed.

CONCERNS REVIVED

But these concerns surfaced again after the stunning revelation last month that North Korea has a nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement with the United States.

Pyongyang's program involved producing highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

It was discovered when Washington learned the Stalinist regime was trying to acquire large amounts of high strength aluminum that could be used in gas-centrifuge facilities, one of several technologies for producing enriched uranium.

U.S. officials and experts say Pakistan is a likely source of technology and expertise for North Korea.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday the United States has evidence suggesting Pakistan assisted North Korea's nuclear program as recently as three months ago -- much later than previously disclosed.

If true, it could call into question Pakistan's commitment to the war on terrorism. Bush last January branded North Korea part of the "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran.

It could also confront the administration with a difficult choice. Under U.S. law, the president must suspend economic and military aid if a country transfers nuclear technology to nuclear programs without international safeguards.

Pakistan was sanctioned for such behavior in the past but penalties were waived after the anti-terror war began. It denies making nuclear-related transfers to North Korea.

NO PROOF

On Wednesday, a senior U.S. official took pains to make a case that the administration had no conclusive proof of Pakistan's involvement with North Korea.

"There's no evidence that the government (in Islamabad) was helping (North Korea) within the last three months or before," he told Reuters.

"That's not to say they might not have...I'm not saying we are convinced there is no Pakistani government involvement," he said.

He said the implication of the Post story is "we know (Pakistan) is involved and we're not saying it publicly because it would upset the Pakistanis. But the fact is, while we know the technology North Korea is using is the same as Pakistan, that doesn't mean that is proof the government is involved."

North Korea could have acquired its expertise and materiel from other sources, said the official, who left open the possibility the culprit might be Pakistani individuals or entities rather than the government itself.

The lab operated by Abdula Qadir Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's bomb, was sanctioned by Washington in 1998. As head of the nation's nuclear program, he made the Ghauri as a carbon copy of North Korea's Nodong missile.

Khan is alleged to have established front companies and smuggling operations to gather and sell nuclear gear and blueprints. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf forced his resignation last year.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said last month he was assured by Musharraf "Pakistan is not doing anything" now to aid Pyongyang. But Powell would not discuss the past.

The Clinton administration sometimes drew what some argue are similar distinctions with China, contending the government was unaware of weapons-related transfers by various entities and individuals and could not control them all. This approach was harshly criticized by some Republicans now in power.

Frank Gaffney, an influential Republican defense analyst, said he generally believes "we should be demonstrating to people there are costs for doing these sorts of things."

But he said "it's tricky with Musharraf (because) he's one of the few reeds we're leaning on" in the anti-terror war.

One approach might be to punish only the Pakistani intelligence services "which I suspect is up to its eyeballs in this thing," Gaffney suggested.

Commentary:
This one is for the books. We're led to believe that Pakinstan hasn't given North Korea aid in the past three months therefore it's ok for us to give Pakistan aid again. Pakistan has armed our enemies with weapons of mass destruction. Aiding those who aid are enemies is treason.

Another article of impeachment.


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Treasury Backs More Tax Cuts
Reuters.com
November 14, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on Wednesday backed the Bush Administration's plans to pursue continued tax cuts, and said he was preparing an array of economic stimulus options for the president to consider.

O'Neill told The Charlie Rose Show on television he thought accelerated tax cuts, particularly those affecting married couples and families with children, could help free up capital and bolster job creation.

"I believe in using the tax cuts to help us achieve a real economic growth in the range of 3 to 3 1/2 percent because everything else in our society is more doable if we are running our economy at something close to the real rate of growth," he said.

He also said any U.S. economic weakness was due to overcapacity in telecommunications and residual problems with the airlines, still coping with the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He said strong housing starts were commensurate with the growth of families and did not reflect an unbalanced recovery.

"It doesn't look to me like we're running ahead of ourselves in terms of too many houses being created," O'Neill said. "I don't think we've got a problem there."

"The thing that we feel responsibility for now is that this economy stay on the positive side of the line, and that we begin to see rebuilding toward 3, 3-1/2 percent yield growth as we go into next year."

Commentary:
No matter how much failure this Administration endures it stays the course. The tax cut was supposed to come from surpluses. Surpluses that don't exist. Now tax cuts are coming from borrowed money and they have no problem with it. The American people too are to blame for allowing this tyrant to get away with lies. Where is the truth? character? and integrity?

Will Bush stop destroying the future of this country or will he continue? In the past 20 years (since the era of the Reagan tax cut), the US has created another $5.2 trillion of debt. That's five times more debt than all previous generations combined. The republican party has consigned future generations to massive tax increases (deficits are future taxes plus interest). CBO estimates that Bush will create more debt than any president in history. Does anyone care?

Remember Treasury under Bill Clinton. To Rubin and Clinton it was the economy. To Bush and O'Neil, it's politics. How far we've fallen in such a short time.

Also we should never forget success isn't measured by getting legislation passed, but instead by how well it works. Can any reader honestly say a single piece of legislation Bush has signed into law has worked? I've never seen a president fail so often and so miserably and be praised so often.


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