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Impeach Bush


US Ambassador to UN Opposes Regime Change

Blair fails to win war of persuasion

Frist Uses the Race Card

U.S. Speaks of N.Korea Aid

U.N. Experts Want Up to a Year for Iraq Inspections

Justice Hires Mostly Conservative Republicans

Money--why no Democrat can beat Bush

Bush--The Big Government President

Bush Blames Clinton For N. Korea Debacle

US Ambassador to UN Opposes Regime Change
Washington Post
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 2003; Page A17

UNITED NATIONS -- John D. Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, knows a thing or two about regime change. As a young Foreign Service officer during the Vietnam War and later as ambassador to Honduras, he was at the center of troubled American efforts to overthrow communist governments in North Vietnam and Nicaragua.

But today, as the Bush administration weighs whether to forcibly disarm and topple Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, Negroponte is emerging as a voice of caution.

"It's not for me to decide. It's the president's decision; he's our commander in chief," Negroponte said. "Obviously, we must be prepared to use force if necessary. But if you're asking me my view based on the most important experience I have had with regard to the use of force, which was Vietnam, it is one of caution."

Since he was sworn in as the top U.S. envoy to the United Nations on Sept. 18, _01, just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the United States, the 63-year-old career diplomat has found himself on the front lines of the war on terrorism and a key player in Washington's diplomatic effort to avert a war with Iraq. His chief priority is to maintain international pressure on Iraq to disarm under U.N. supervision while tightening import restrictions that would deny Baghdad the tools to battle a U.S.-led coalition.

"Regime change is really not something that's ever been dealt with in Security Council resolutions," he said. "It's not part of the purview of our U.N. policies."

Negroponte has prosecuted his task with an old-world civility that contrasts starkly with such Bush administration hawks as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney, who have derided the United Nations for its inability to uncover secret Iraqi arms caches. He defended the U.N. inspectors against charges emanating from Washington that they are not up to the task of disarming Iraq. He credited Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, with getting the "inspections started quicker than anybody expected." Even his dealings with Iraq have been polite. One of his first major assignments at the United Nations was to deliver a stern warning to Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Douri, to advise his government to desist from any hostile acts against the United States or its allies while their troops were preoccupied with a war in Afghanistan or face military retaliation.

Negroponte cringed at media portrayals of himself at the time barging unannounced into the Iraqi mission on Oct. 7, the opening night of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan, to deliver the ultimatum.

"I didn't show up unannounced. I made an appointment," Negroponte said. "I am a rather correct and fairly old-fashioned diplomat and I don't think I would ever show up in anybody's mission without an appointment."

Diplomats here say Negroponte's cordial demeanor, while appreciated, masks a U.S. policy that is often anything but cordial. The United States threatened in June to shut down peacekeeping missions around the world to shield American soldiers from the reach of the International Criminal Court. In August, it warned the Security Council that the council would be condemned to irrelevance if it failed to back a tough resolution requiring Iraq's disarmament. And just last month, the United States broke with its closest allies when Negroponte cast the lone veto to block a Syrian-sponsored resolution condemning Israel for killing three U.N. aid workers.

The son of a Greek shipping magnate, Negroponte was born in London and raised at his family's Park Avenue home. Negroponte and his wife, Diana, adopted five children from Honduras.

A graduate of Yale University, he joined the Foreign Service in 1960 and rose quickly, advising Henry Kissinger during the Paris peace talks that ended the Vietnam War and later receiving senior posts at the State Department and White House. His former boss, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who was then national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, persuaded him to leave the private sector at McGraw-Hill Cos. to take on the U.N. post.

It was Negroponte's stint in the early 1980s as ambassador to Honduras, where the Reagan administration was running a covert war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, that has attracted the most public scrutiny and contributed to delaying his Senate confirmation by more than six months.

At his confirmation hearing, Negroponte defended himself against charges that he had suppressed reports of human rights abuses by the Honduran military during his tenure. Citing the political turmoil plaguing Central America at the time, he appealed to the Senate not to judge his performance or the broader events in Honduras "through the exclusive prism of human rights considerations."

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the Senate agreed, swiftly confirming him as President Bush's point man at the United Nations. Negroponte said his "plate has been full" since he arrived in New York, citing the struggle to manage crises involving al Qaeda, Iraq and the Middle East while paying courtesy calls to more than 150 foreign delegates. His only extended break came Sept. 21, when he checked into the hospital for prostate cancer surgery in the middle of the U.S. effort to pass the resolution on Iraq's disarmament. He was back at work within 10 days.

"Secretary Powell had actually asked me if I could postpone the operation. I talked to my surgeon and he recommended against it," Negroponte said. Less than two months after his operation, Negroponte helped negotiate a deal that united the Security Council behind a tough U.S.-sponsored resolution that provided Iraq a "final opportunity" to disarm under U.N. supervision or face a possible military attack. He credited Bush and Powell with providing the political muscle required to close the deal.

"This was very much of a collective effort from the president on down," Negroponte said. "That led me to conclude that the prospects for a successful outcome had to be pretty good. But it doesn't mean to say it was easy."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Even in corrupt administrations one or two men of character and integrity show up. Negroponte appears to be that man. Shame on his actions during the Reagan years, but perhaps he's learned he doesn't have to be as corrupt as the president.


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Blair fails to win war of persuasion
bbc.co.uk
Monday, 13 January, 2003, 12:25 GMT
By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent

Tony Blair knew he faced an uphill struggle when he set himself the task of winning around opinion in favour of military action against Iraq. And, this time, it appears the great persuader's charms have failed - even with his own ministers.

Not only are the majority of the British people against war, a substantial number of his backbenchers and even his cabinet - possibly the majority - are opposed to unilateral action.

Those concerns will dominate this week's political agenda and the prime minister is under massive pressure to clarify his position.

He will face questions over his stand during his first televised press conference of the year this afternoon.

And on Wednesday he will be in the Commons for question time.

No answers

While Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith broadly backs his stand, there are many opposition MPs opposed to unilateral action, and support from that quarter is far from guaranteed.

The same day, the prime minister will also face his own backbenchers at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour party. Of course, if evidence is found, then it is quite possible the UN will be persuaded to back military action.

He already knows what message he will hear at all these events.

The key questions he faces are whether he is prepared to back President Bush in a war against Saddam Hussein without UN backing or if the inspectors continue to find no weapons of mass destruction.

They are questions that have been posed on many previous occasions but have not been answered.

But, with the military build-up continuing, they are now being asked with new urgency.

On the question of UN backing, the prime minister has repeated his mantra that the body must be a way of dealing with the issue of Saddam, not avoiding it.

To most people that sounds like a slippery way of saying the UN had better come up with the right answer, and back military action, or Tony and George will go it alone.

Stand down

On the question of the inspectors' findings, the prime minister has also previously insisted that there is already evidence of Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction.

That is what the government's much-criticised dossier was supposed to show last year.

Of course, if evidence is found, then it is quite possible the UN will be persuaded to back military action.

It it also just possible that Saddam can be persuaded to stand down by some of his Arab friends.

Either of those outcomes would take the pressure off the prime minister.

But for now, Mr Blair will be asked these crunch questions again this week. Once again, however, he is expected not to answer them.

That will serve only to heighten fears and suspicions over the future.

Clare Short's comments, combined with the latest opinion polls, have underlined the seriousness of the situation facing the prime minister.

Leadership threat?

If he goes to war without UN backing and/or no concrete evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction he will not only face a public backlash in Britain, he will be isolated in the global community and probably spark a major cabinet split.

It would be hard for Ms. Short to remain in the cabinet if he took that route and, if she resigned, others might feel obliged to follow suit.

Many ordinary Labour party members may also quit the party and it is almost certain the government's popularity would slump.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that such a course of action could even see a challenge to the prime minister's leadership.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been careful not to be seen backing the prime minister's hard line.

And Chancellor Gordon Brown has done one of his traditional disappearing tricks.

So it is no surprise that the government currently appears to be talking with two different voices on the affair.

Doing the right thing?

Last week, much store was placed on the prime minister's insistence that the weapons inspectors must be given time to do their job.

That was seen as a softening of the line. In fact it has been the constant message from Downing Street ever since the UN agreed the strategy.

But it suited the prime minister's purposes to stress it at this particular time to suggest he is not as gung ho as many fear.

But from day one - that is from 12 September _01 - the prime minister's body language has been pretty clear on this.

He genuinely believes Saddam is a real threat and that he is doing the right thing by preparing to finish him off.

So far, nothing appears to have changed that belief.

Commentary:
The Brits don't have an obsession with 24-hour news (commentary). Instead, they want the facts. Facts that clearly don't exist. If Saddam has WMD, where are they? How is it that the worlds two leaders were so prepared to take us to war without absolute proof? The inspectors should have been able to show that evidence within a few days of arriving in Iraq. But here we are months later and still no weapons. Blair's days appear to be numbered because he lied to the world and to his country. Such men are not worthy of leadership.


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Frist Uses the Race Card
Washington Post
By Sharon Theimer
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, January 12, 2003; 1:29 PM

WASHINGTON –– Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday he supports President Bush's renomination to a federal appeals court of a Mississippi judge whom Democrats rejected last year when they controlled the Senate.

One of U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering's patrons is Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who lost his job as Senate GOP leader after making what critics said were racially insensitive remarks.

Frist, Lott's successor, said Democrats who are threatening to filibuster Pickering's nomination are "playing politics" with racial issues.

"Judge Pickering is a well-qualified judge. The American Bar Association used those words, 'is well qualified,'" Frist, R-Tenn., told "Fox News Sunday."

"There are many people who think he did not get a fair hearing before. So I receive his nomination gladly. ... I plan on supporting Pickering."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., renewed Democrats' pledge to try to block Pickering's nomination.

"I think this really lays bare the administration's real position on civil rights. This exposes the Southern strategy clearly," Daschle said on ABC's "This Week."

"We're going to do everything we can, everything we can, to stop that nomination, on the floor and in the committee."

Pickering was defeated 10-9 in the Senate Judiciary Committee last March, when Democrats held a Senate majority. Civil rights groups said he supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi. Pickering's opponents also pointed to his conservative voting record as a Mississippi state lawmaker and decisions as a judge.

Bush's announcement last week that he will again nominate Pickering for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew immediate filibuster threats from Senate Democrats, including some on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to send the nomination to the full Senate.

While Republicans have an edge in the Senate, they lack the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster without Democratic help.

"It'd be hard to get 60 votes," Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said on CNN's "Late Edition." He thinks the full Senate should have the chance to vote on the nomination.

One Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has said Pickering showed "glaring racial insensitivity" in his handling of a 1994 cross-burning case. Pickering sought a lighter sentence for a defendant in a case in which a cross was burned on the lawn of an interracial couple.

Frist rejected Democrats' criticism.

"I think this unfortunately is trying to use race and racial issues to play politics," Frist.

Frist also said that Democrats were ignoring other actions by Pickering, including his 1967 testimony against the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Commentary:
There are so many flaws in logic in this article it seems obvious it's only fluff, but in case you missed it, here goes. Beginning with the last line, Frist says Pickering opposed the imperical wizard of the KKK. Therefore, we're to conclude he's not a racist. Can a person be a racist and oppose killing black people as the KKK did? Of course. That statement is irrelevant.

Frist says Democrats are playing the race card. Yet in reality, there isn't a chance in hell the senate will give Pickering their consent. Bush is pandering to the racists once again by saying, hey, I'm one of you...see, I'm renominating someone they call a racist. Bush, also known for speaking at Bob Jones University, a known racist school panders to those who believe in such ideas. It is Bush and Frist who once again use the race card.

Frist also says the ABA says Pickering is "well qualified." This is probably true, but can a person be qualified and still a racist? Of course he can. Besides, since when does the republican party care what the ABA says. They hate these guys. In fact, in the early days, Bush said he'd ignore the ABA recommendations. It is nice to see the republican party grow up a little on the ABA but they still act like children on most other issues.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company


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U.S. Speaks of N.Korea Aid
ABCNews/Reuters
.January 13, 2003
— By Paul Eckert

SEOUL (Reuters) - The top U.S. envoy for Asia said Monday that Washington was willing to consider helping communist North Korea resolve its energy crisis if the current standoff over its nuclear plans could be resolved.

Although Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly was restating a previous offer, he appeared to strike a concessionary tone by at least holding out the prospect of help down the line if Pyongyang meets Washington's unflinching demand that it unconditionally scrap its suspected weapons program.

"We are of course willing to talk to North Korea about their response to the international community," he told a news conference in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

"Once we get beyond nuclear weapons, there may be opportunities with the U.S., with private investors, with other countries to help North Korea in the energy area," he said.

U.S. diplomats and South Korean analysts said Kelly's hint of energy aid to Pyongyang was not a fresh inducement. Such an offer would break with the U.S. refusal to reward North Korean provocations.

But Kelly's restatement of Bush administration offers of humanitarian help for North Korea came after talks with President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who told the U.S. envoy that Seoul was concerned about hard-line U.S. rhetoric without dialogue.

Some analysts say North Korea's recent upsurge of belligerent rhetoric against the United States may foreshadow its readiness to explore a way out of the crisis.

"The U.S. says it will not make war with North Korea, but North Korea-U.S dialogue has not occurred and that has worried South Koreans," Roh told Kelly.

Kelly's task is complicated by rising anti-U.S. sentiment in the South, where increasing numbers of people are taking a critical look at the half-century-old bilateral relationship and want more of a say in policy on the Korean peninsula.

In Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was unlikely to convene an emergency board meeting on North Korea this week, deferring critical discussions on whether to pass the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

"Diplomacy is being given a chance to work," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said about the timing for the meeting.

Russia said it had agreed with other major powers on outlines of a plan to defuse the crisis and Japan's Kyodo news agency said Moscow was considering sending officials to Pyongyang soon.

SEOUL STRESSES DIALOGUE

Roh's spokesman said he had told Kelly that Seoul was worried about reported U.S. plans for sanctions. The spokesman quoted Kelly as telling Roh that Washington had no sanction or attack plans for the North.

President Kim Dae-jung said U.S.-North Korea talks were key.

"I believe there is no problem that can't be solved through dialogue," he told former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, stressing Seoul's opposition to communism and weapons of mass destruction.

Stalinist North Korea's latest brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to the negotiating table began last month when Pyongyang threw out U.N. nuclear inspectors.

North Korea, which the Bush administration suspects of developing nuclear arms and has branded part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran, last week pulled out of a global treaty aimed at preventing the spread of atomic weapons and said it was free to resume missile-firing tests.

After heaping abuse on the United States over the weekend, saying its people could disappear in "a sea of fire," North Korea blamed U.S. hostility Monday for its failing communist economy and issued fresh threats against Washington.

"There is no limit to the strike of our army full of the spirit of devotedly defending the leader, the spirit of becoming human bombs and there is no place on Earth to avoid the strike," state media quoted North Korean General Pang Kwan-bok as saying.

Kelly called the hard-line anti-U.S. rhetoric and threats to restart missile tests "a little mystifying" and repeated U.S. statements that Pyongyang's diplomats had covered no new ground in weekend talks in New Mexico with the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson.

"It was a little disappointing because we really hadn't heard anything from the North Koreans...that we hadn't heard in their public pronouncements before," he said.

Richardson urged the Bush administration Sunday to open talks with Pyongyang to defuse the nuclear crisis.

Kelly arrived in Seoul Sunday for his first visit to the region since October, when he visited Pyongyang and said after meetings with senior officials that the North had admitted enriching uranium in a covert nuclear arms program.

The revelations prompted the United States and its allies to halt shipments of fuel oil sent to North Korea under the Agreed Framework, a 1994 deal that froze Pyongyang's nuclear program.

ROH BACKS U.S. ALLIANCE

In exchange for North Korea's mothballing of a reactor suspected of producing plutonium for weapons, Washington and its allies had promised to build two safer reactors in the North and provide heavy oil until the reactors were completed.

Roh explained to Kelly that his incoming government would not accept a nuclear North Korea and wanted to play a leading role in crafting a peaceful solution to the crisis, his aides said.

Roh, who takes office on Feb. 25, underscored his support for the bilateral military alliance with the U.S.

North Korea's moves have triggered worldwide condemnation, calls for an emergency session of the IAEA, which had been monitoring the North's nuclear facilities, and for action by the U.N. Security Council.

"North Korea's nuclear blackmail is nothing new," wrote Dominique Dwor-Frecaut, economist at Barclays Capital in Singapore.

"What is new is the harder line initially taken by the U.S administration, which suspended shipments of oil (and) initially refused to hold direct talks with North Korea," she added.

The North has thousands of loaded artillery pieces aimed at Seoul and half of its army is deployed within 65 km (40 miles) of the demilitarized zone dividing the peninsula, the world's most heavily fortified border.

But Koreans in the South have lived with the threat for 50 years and appear sanguine about the current standoff.

North Korea has said it would address Washington's concerns if the U.S. signed a non-aggression treaty and guaranteed Pyongyang's sovereignty.

Commentary:
Bush calls the North "evil," threatens to go to war with Iraq another country he calls evil, the North responds by saying it has nukes, Bush is forced to say we won't attack and the North gets what it always wanted--a promise not to attack. Bush is so far behind the ball on this one, one wonders if there's anyone in his administration who realizes they manufactured this crisis with their rhetoric.

After condemning and blaming Clinton, they now realize he was right. Better late than never. The biggest problem with Bush is he doesn't believe in anything. His cronies say one thing one day and another the next. Which is US policy? Your guess is as good as mine. We can never accuse Bush of being consistent, other than saying he's consistently inconsistent.

Bush (ie: Rove) knows he has to pander to talk radio and talk TV. Rove knows Rush Limbaugh turned against Daddy Bush after his tax increase. It wasn't until Bush let Limbaugh sleep in the Lincoln bedroom that Rush began supporting Bush Sr. US policy therefore is based on getting Bush reelected by pander to talk show hosts, not on doing what is right for America.


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U.N. Experts Want Up to a Year for Iraq Inspections.
AbcNews/Reuters
January 13, 2003
— By Hassan Hafidh and Louis Charbonneau

BAGHDAD/VIENNA (Reuters) - U.N. arms experts said on Monday they wanted up to a year to complete their inspections in Iraq, as Washington massed a force in the Gulf that will be ready to wage war within weeks.

The U.N. inspectors' comments were likely to further fuel an anti-war camp that includes much of the public in Europe and the Middle East, many of their governments and the Pope, who declared Monday war would be a "defeat for humanity."

Top U.N. inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei go to Baghdad next weekend to demand Iraq account for missing stocks of such items as chemical bombs, nerve gas and missile engines.

But they appeared anxious Monday to slow the timetable of the attack the United States threatens to launch if Iraq's answers fail to satisfy.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told Reuters U.N. resolutions provided timelines of "somewhere between six and 12 months" for inspections.

"We think we'll get the time we need since no one has explicitly said that they disagreed with our assessment of the time it would take," he said in Vienna.

ElBaradei himself told reporters in Paris: "We need to take a few months... How long depends on the cooperation of Iraq."

Asked if the timeframe of a year quoted by the IAEA spokesman was conservatively lengthy, ElBaradei replied, "Yes."

Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have already been massed in the Gulf and analysts say military chiefs want any attack on Iraq to be launched within the next two or three winter months, before temperatures in the desert region rise.

"It is a far better option to wait a little bit longer than to have to resort to war," Gwozdecky told CNN separately.

He stressed that January 27, when inspectors are scheduled to report to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's compliance with disarmament demands, was not a final deadline.

"There's a little bit of misunderstanding about this January 27 reporting date. The Security Council is asking us to report but not to have all the answers at that point," Gwozdecky said.

Inspectors briefed the Security Council last week on the Iraq inspections. "We heard unanimous support from the council members that they were four-square behind us, and we believe that they're willing to give us the time that we need," he said.

POPE OPPOSES WAR

The newspaper USA Today said Monday the U.S. force in the Gulf would not be ready for full-scale war until late February or early March because of logistical complications.

It said the delayed timetable had contributed to the willingness of President Bush's administration to accept extending arms inspections beyond the January 27 report.

Blix and ElBaradei told the U.N. Security Council last week that while searches in Iraq so far had not uncovered "smoking guns," Baghdad had left a "great many questions" unanswered.

Washington has signaled that if Iraq does not provide satisfactory answers, this could be deemed non-cooperation under U.N. resolutions and therefore a trigger for war.

The United States announced new troop deployments over the weekend amid signs most governments in Europe and the Middle East are nervous about war and want all other options explored.

"No to war!" Pope John Paul said in an address Monday.

"What are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than 12 years of embargo?" he said.

Germany, a new Security Council member, is strongly opposed.

A German official was quoted as saying France and Germany must vote together on any new Council resolution on Iraq if they are to realize their goal of a common European foreign policy.

Saudi Arabia is mounting a diplomatic drive to ask fellow Arab states to unanimously oppose an attack on one of their own.

Saudi officials said Monday Riyadh would officially make the request at an Arab summit in Bahrain in March.

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are chief persecutors of the case against Iraq, and say they have intelligence it has weapons of mass destruction.

But even in Britain, a poll showed only 13 percent of people would support a war waged without U.N. approval.

Bush and Blair will meet soon after the January 27 report to discuss what to do next on Iraq. British newspapers said Blair would go to Washington to underline his belief that the inspectors should be given time to deal with Iraq.

n Washington there is deep skepticism that inspection teams are capable of uncovering the truth about Iraq's weaponry.

Critics express dismay that Iraqi minders have accompanied all Iraqi scientists interviewed by inspectors so far. Iraq said Sunday two scientists interviewed by inspectors last month had refused to leave the country for further interviews.

Commentary:
The US used to believe in war only as a last resort. Has it occurred to the world yet that Bush is a war-monger and he needs war to distract us from his failures? I think everyone is starting to get it. Bush was prepared to take the US to war without showing us any proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. If Bush had this evidence he would have shown it to us and to the UN inspectors on day one. His failure proves he lied to us and the world. He should be impeached.


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Justice Hires Mostly Conservative Republicans
Washington Post
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 12, 2003; Page A08

A special Justice Department recruitment program long overseen by career employees has been moved firmly under the control of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and his senior aides, prompting complaints that the effort is being politicized, according to current and former department officials.

Ashcroft decided last year that the Attorney General's Honors Program, which offers new law school graduates full-time positions within Justice and its component agencies, would benefit from more direct participation by him and other political appointees, officials said.

The administrative changes have alarmed some current and former Justice employees, especially those who identify themselves as Democrats, who said the previous version of the program was highly regarded and had the crucial benefit of being separated from any hint of politics. Many of these officials said they fear that the Bush administration, which has made clear its intention to place political conservatives on the federal bench, is aiming to do much the same within the career ranks at Justice.

The shift has also exacerbated the sometimes chilly relationship between the Ashcroft regime and career employees, who have been effectively cut out of many policymaking decisions. Over the past two years, some Bush administration officials have frequently characterized career Justice attorneys as underqualified or too liberal.

"Historically, the honors program is something that has been run by the career people," said Eric H. Holder, a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration who began his legal career as an honors program hire at Justice in 1976. "No one ever thought about the possibility of politicizing the process as far as I can remember. This is something that has remained the same through Democratic and Republican administrations, and for good reason."

Philip Heymann, who also was a deputy attorney general during the Clinton years, said that giving political appointees control of the honors program is likely to result in an ideologically slanted group of candidates.

"This would just eliminate everybody who's a Democrat or not a conservative Republican," said Heymann, a Harvard University law professor. "If they're seen as Democrats, they'll be out of the running."

But Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo and other Ashcroft aides dismiss such complaints, saying that the program's previous structure was tilted in favor of Ivy League schools and sometimes served as an exclusive buddy system. Corallo said the roster of law schools with candidates in the program has expanded dramatically, now including institutions such as Georgia State University, Temple University, the University of Kansas and other smaller schools.

Politics, they said, is not a consideration.

"We don't ask people what their party affiliation is," Corallo said. "The grumblings that are out there are from people who think we shouldn't bring in conservatives but should only bring in liberals. . . . We're doing both. What we're not doing is disqualifying people based on their politics."

Ashcroft aides also said the changes have resulted in a higher caliber of candidates during interviews that began in the fall. The prospective hires were able to interact with senior Justice attorneys, sometimes including Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson or Ashcroft himself, officials said.

"It was the attorney general's idea to implement changes that make the program more accountable," Corallo said. "He decided that if it's the Attorney General's Honors Program, it ought to actually be the attorney general's program. . . . The quality of the candidates has by any standard risen significantly. It has been made a real priority as opposed to years past."

Justice officials said they were unable to provide final statistical details about the new program because the department was still making offers and hiring candidates, most of whom will begin in the fall.

A half-dozen school placement officers said they had noticed a marked shift to the right in the political makeup of students who were approached for interviews this year.

At Columbia University Law School, for example, the head of the campus Federalist Society chapter set a school record by winning interviews at five separate Justice Department divisions, according to public interest law dean Ellen Chapnick. The Federalist Society is a conservative legal group whose membership includes some of the Justice Department's top officials.

Chapnick said the trend was sharpened by a lack of interest among many of her school's decidedly liberal students, who were reluctant to apply for jobs in a Republican administration.

"It used to be seen by many of our students who were interested in civil rights or the environment as a good place to go; I think it's safe to say that's no longer generally true," Chapnick said. "The pool has shifted somewhat, and Justice is acting differently, which combines to produce a different outcome in the overall group of people hired."

Nevertheless, Columbia law student Ben Longstreth, a self-described "progressive," has accepted one of the honors jobs in the environmental crimes division. Longstreth said he felt the process was "efficient and fair."

"There were questions about how comfortable I might be taking actions where I might not believe in the side I have to take," said Longstreth, currently a clerk in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "But I believe they were wise to ask that question. It's something any lawyer has to ask himself."

Nearly 5,000 graduating law students from around the country applied for approximately 150 slots in the Justice Department program, officials said. About 500 candidates were flown here for interviews in the fall, and about 180 offers have been made. Some candidates receive offers from more than one division of Justice.

In the past, a phalanx of career Justice attorneys would conduct interviews at law schools. The new approach cost about $125,000 more than the old system, Corallo said.

The honors program was founded under the late Herbert Brownell, a Republican who was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first attorney general, and hiring was initially overseen by Brownell, department officials said. But over the years, the program became the province of career attorneys.

Despite relatively low pay and long hours, the promise of a full-time job at Justice or one of its components -- such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service or the Drug Enforcement Administration -- has long been viewed as a premiere opportunity for ambitious rookie lawyers. The honors program is the only way new graduates can be hired at Justice, which otherwise requires its attorneys to acquire basic experience elsewhere, officials said.

"It's typically looked at as one of the plum assignments," said Alexa Shabecoff, director of public interest advising at Harvard Law School. "It's highly prestigious, highly competitive, and many students view it as their dream job. The private sector also looks very favorably on a stint at the Justice Department."

Ashcroft is credited by law school administrators and career Justice officials with modernizing an antiquated process. Until last fall, for example, applications had to be typewritten, but now they are submitted online. Applicants are also allowed to rank as many preferences for assignments as they wish, rather than submitting only two.

Justice implemented a computerized system for winnowing the list of 5,000 applicants by rankings based on grades, clerkships, law review work and other "objective criteria," officials said. A committee that included Ashcroft's top deputies identified candidates to be interviewed, officials said.

Holder said that when he was deputy to former attorney general Janet Reno, the interviews and selections were left to career attorneys who ran the honors program. "The political people, like the deputy AG and the AG, would just get reports," he said.

Some law school administrators said they had not noticed any dramatic changes this year in the types of students sought for interviews. Susan Robinson, associate dean for career services at Stanford University Law School, also said she has not had complaints from students about the changes.

"If there is a big change in the philosophy or ideology behind their hiring, it would be impossible to detect this early in the process," she said. "It's something that schools should be concerned about, and we'll keep an eye on it. But I think it's too soon to tell."

But other career advisers, most of whom requested anonymity because they said they did not want to undermine their students' prospects, said there has been a noticeable political shift in the types of candidates who interviewed with Justice. Several also said they received less information from Justice than in years past.

"It is much, much more politicized than last year," said one adviser at a prominent East Coast law school. "They have gotten the front office people involved, and that has resulted in a different type of student. . . . There were several students taken this year who would not be considered under objective standards, and all of them were politically conservative."

But Corallo, the Justice spokesman, said the department's overarching goal is to attract the best new lawyers from a wide constellation of law schools, without regard to politics.

"Essentially, we are setting out to create a world-class law firm without the six-figure salaries and prestige," he said. "We're offering them low pay and long hours, but we are also offering them the chance to serve their country, particularly now in the war on terrorism. This is an historic time for the Justice Department."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
What exactly is a conservative these days? He says he believes in less government, then gives us big government. He says he's for fewer taxes but then creates deficits, which are future taxes. He says he wants a balanced budget then blows the budget out of balance for as far as the eye can see. The conservative is a pathological liar. So, why would we want these people in our government?

If you're a liberal and you want one of these jobs, the answer seems reasonably simple. Lie! Say you believe in one thing, do the exact opposite and you'll be accepted hands-down.


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Money--why no Democrat can beat Bush
Washington Post
By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 12, 2003; Page A04

Democratic presidential candidates and party officials gearing up for the _04 election face two daunting facts:

First, the sustained two-year effort by the party's national, senatorial and congressional campaign committees to strengthen "hard money" fundraising did not succeed in lessening their dependence on "soft money," which no longer is legal. Instead, the Democratic committees in the _02 elections were even more dependent on soft money -- which national parties could raise in unlimited amounts until two months ago -- than in previous elections.

Second, President Bush's unprecedented fundraising success, a prowess that many Republicans expect Bush to far exceed next year. New calculations by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) provide stark evidence of Bush's golden touch in the _00 election cycle -- he received 59,279 donations of $1,000 each, more than triple the number of any other presidential candidate. Al Gore finished second, with 19,298 $1,000 donors.

"Bush changed the parameters of presidential campaigns," said CFI executive director Michael J. Malbin. The high probability that Bush in _04 will substantially improve on his success -- with the maximum hard-money contribution now raised to $2,000 -- "changes the calculus for any Democrat," Malbin said.

Meanwhile, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to suffer from the recent ban on soft-money fundraising by the national parties. The law will force the national Democratic and Republican organizations to raise hard money exclusively, a GOP strong suit and Democratic disappointment.

In the _02 election cycle, the Democratic Party's three main campaign committees invested in expanding their direct-mail base, a key source of hard money, with modest success.

The soft-money ban could prove particularly burdensome for the candidate who wins the party's _04 presidential nomination. Most candidates for the nomination appear likely to accept partial public financing, which will obligate them to limit their total spending before the late July nominating convention to about $44 million each. The eventual Democratic nominee may be forced to spend most, if not all, of the $44 million by mid-March, creating a four-month window with little or no cash to sustain the campaign. A new batch of federal funding becomes available after the party convention.

In the past, the national parties, armed with soft money, could help pick up the slack in the spring and the summer by buying television time and hiring much of the presidential campaign staff. Without soft money, that will be much tougher.

Bush, in contrast, is expected to have more than enough privately raised money to enable him to reject public financing -- and the limits that go with it -- during the preconvention campaign. That's what he did in _00, when he raised $101 million during the primaries. Now, with the higher hard-money contribution limits and the power of incumbency, he should be able to double that to $_0 million-plus, Democrats and Republicans agree.

Some Democrats, including possible candidate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), are considering rejection of public financing to try to compete with Bush in raising private donations with no spending limits.

But there are widespread doubts whether there are enough $2,000 contributors in the Democratic donor base to enable many of the possible contenders to surpass the $44 million that each could spend in the primaries under the public finance rules.

With the possible exception of Lieberman, who may be able to draw large numbers of new Jewish donors, "none of the rest of the field has a constituency with deep enough pockets to go the private route," one political operative said.

Hard money refers to the limited individual contributions for candidate-regulated money. "Soft money" was unlimited contributions to the parties by unions, businesses and wealthy individuals.

The importance of soft money to the Democrats is reflected in the _02 election fundraising figures for the key campaign committees of both parties. With soft money included, the Republican advantage over Democrats was 1.5 to 1. Without soft money, the GOP advantage would have been better than 2 to 1.

Bush demonstrated in _00 the ability to assemble a network of more than _0 "pioneers," men and women who raised at least $100,000 by gathering scores of checks for $1,000 or less. He was aided by his strong ties to corporate executives, trade association chiefs and others who have ready-made constituencies of executives and members able and willing to give $1,000 to $2,000.

Malbin noted the difficulty facing any Democrat considering such a move. If a candidate were to collect one $2,000 donation every hour of every day in 2003, the total would be $17.5 million, less than a fifth of what Bush raised in _00. To reach $44 million -- the maximum available from public financing -- a candidate would have to raise 2.5 contributions of $2,000 every hour for 365 days.

With the _04 election approaching, many Democrats who had been unwilling to speak critically about the partisan consequences of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law are now talking publicly.

"There is no doubt we have financially disadvantaged ourselves," said James Jordan, outgoing director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). "There is no doubt that, as a party committee, we will be at a significant disadvantage."

After the _02 elections, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the DSCC chairwoman, boasted that the committee broke all records raising "a remarkable $158.2 million." About two-thirds of this money, $104 million, was raised from soft money -- the large union, corporate and individual donations now prohibited.

Howard Wolfson, former director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, "we have a smaller pie and we are getting a larger chunk taken out of it" by the new law.

Michael Meehan, senior counselor to the Democratic National Committee and close adviser to Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), said: "The Republicans now control the three major political institutions [House, Senate and White House]. They will be able to cash in on the hard-money advantage they have traditionally enjoyed over the Democrats. The Republicans have 2.5 times the number of the maxed-out, $1,000 presidential donors. When the 2003 New Year's bell rings, they can double their contributions to $2,000."

"It's ironic," Meehan said, "that Democrats provided the bulk of the leadership and 90 percent of the votes" to pass the McCain-Feingold law last year. "And in the early stages of the new law, the Republican Party's fund-raising advantage will balloon."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The biggest untold story of the _02 election was the republican spending advantage. They spent around $186 million more than the democrats. No democrat presidential nominee can get enough donations to come close to what Bush can raise. This means it's up to you, the voter to decide the next election. Money talks, but only your vote can end the Bush presidency.


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Bush--The Big Government President
Washington Post
Columnist: David Broder
Sunday, January 12, 2003; Page B01

When George W. Bush was running for president, he did not campaign as an enemy of the federal government. But he claimed that he would limit its growth and power. And he derided his opponent, Al Gore, as an advocate of "big government."

In a speech to California Republicans, Bush said he shared former President Ronald Reagan's belief that "you can't be for big government and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy." He promised that if he won, Washington would "give options, not orders. At its best," he added, "government can help us live our lives, but it must never run our lives."

Bush didn't stop there. In placing himself squarely in the conservative tradition that holds that limited government is the best guarantee of freedom, he called for a return to a concept of federalism respectful of states' rights and local authority. When it comes to education, he said, he would fight any scheme that would transfer power from parents and teachers to "some distant central office." Asked about the economy, he said he would keep government modest, because "the surest way to make sure prosperity slows down is to expand the role and scope and size of the federal government."

That was then. Now that Bush is running the federal government, its size doesn't bother him so much. Two years after taking office, Bush is presiding over the biggest, most expensive federal government in history. He has created a mammoth Cabinet department, increased federal spending, imposed new federal rules on local and state governments, and injected federal requirements into every public school in America.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is expanding too, and not only because it is scouring the world for Sept. 11-style threats. It now seeks to fulfill a more expansive vision of America's role that mirrors Bush's more expansive vision of government in general. Gone is the Bush who spoke of "humility" in foreign affairs and warned against "nation-building" and overextending America's military. Now the administration talks about meeting America's "unparalleled responsibilities" as it maintains a quarter-million troops abroad, garrisons in more than two dozen countries and smaller detachments in 114 others. As it does so, the administration must reinforce the military and intelligence infrastructure here to help sustain missions abroad.

Money is one measure of the new era of big government. Federal spending, measured as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP), declined every year from fiscal 1991, when the Cold War ended, through fiscal _00, the final full year of the Clinton administration. It fell from 22.3 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent in that decade, but began edging back up in the first year of Bush's presidency and is projected to hit 19.6 percent this year. Some of the Bush increases are tied to legislation adopted under Clinton, but the Bush administration has not turned back the tide.

While the administration and Congress have fostered the impression that the war against terrorism is to blame for rising federal spending, Fortune magazine writer Jeff Birnbaum has observed that "only about a third of the additional spending this year can be attributed to the war on terror. The rest is testament to a fact that predates Sept. 11: The era of big government has returned."

The growth of the federal government's influence cannot be measured in terms of money alone. The promulgation of a sweeping set of standards for America's schools has triggered a widening protest from state and local officials, who complain that the Bush administration is interfering with their own education reform efforts and usurping what has traditionally been a jealously guarded realm of state and local initiative. And this from the party that once vowed to eliminate the Education Department.

The emerging blueprint for homeland security has also riled state officials. Its potential for commandeering local public health and safety agencies has prompted the conservative Republican governor of Utah to try to rally colleagues from both parties to turn back what he and others see as a genuine threat to the constitutional balance of authority within the federal system. "Because the call for protecting our people is so powerful," says Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), "we could be on the verge of remaking our whole system of government."

Administration officials dismiss these criticisms as exaggerated and say that Bush has simply responded to changing circumstances and urgent national needs. They note that the president has tried with considerable success to reduce the tax burden and ease regulation of the environment and industries such as communications.

Nonetheless, the government that Bush cedes to his eventual successor seems certain to be one that will be playing a more expansive, aggressive and intrusive role than the very big government he inherited.

Take education. The hallmark of Bush's domestic policy has been his drive to raise the standards and improve the performance of America's schools through a major piece of social legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). It sounds noble enough, but the law has produced a tug of war. On one side, there are those who want to set rigorous goals for reading and math, backed by stiff tests for every student. On the other, there are those who fear such a regimen would stifle teachers' creativity, infringe on local control of schools and threaten to label so many public schools as failures that support would build for private school vouchers.

That fight is raging more strongly than ever -- with many in the states saying that Big Brother in Washington is winning. "Everything is tipping toward [federal] preemption," says Paul Houston, executive director of the National Association of School Administrators, a major education group. "So you're getting a lot of friction and frustration and some outright resistance."

A letter from Education Secretary Rodney Paige to state school superintendents last October raised many hackles. While thanking those "who have accepted the challenge" of NCLB, he complained that "some states have lowered the bar of expectations to hide the low performance of their schools." In what was taken as a clear warning shot, Paige said, "Those who play semantic games or try to tinker with state numbers . . . stand in the way of progress and reform. They are the enemies of equal justice and equal opportunity. They are apologists for failure. And they will not succeed . . ."

A test case seems to be developing in Nebraska, an overwhelmingly Republican state whose education commissioner, Doug Christensen, says, "I hear the rhetoric about local control and flexibility, but I don't see that. What I see are regimentation and uniformity."

A recent meeting with Education Department officials left Christensen balking at the requirement for annual reading and math tests for every student in the third through eighth grades. "Our classes in those grades range from 15 to 18 students," he says. "Our teachers know how well every child is doing and every school has its own system for measuring that. We don't want to impose an outside standard that is not necessary. The responsibility for educating our kids is ours, and I am not going to defend some federal requirement unless we think it is good for our kids."

Asked what he has heard from the federal officials, Christensen replies: "They said, 'You have work to do.' "

There have been similar disputes in states ranging from Vermont to Louisiana and from Michigan to North Carolina. "This is a fundamental shift," Houston says. "It is a huge federal intrusion in an area that traditionally has been a matter of state and local responsibility. The American people haven't realized it yet, because it came out of a Republican administration, from a group of people that normally says, 'Hands off. Keep the bureaucrats out.' "

Administration officials say that most states are cooperating. Sandy Kress, a former White House education adviser who helped design NCLB, says, "this is designed to be hard. If there weren't gnashing of teeth at this point, we would have missed the mark."

But the fact remains that Washington is stepping further into the management of local schools than ever before. Ray Sheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, says, "What I see in education and in regulatory matters generally is continued preemption of state authority. It's kind of like Nixon goes to China. The Democrats could never have done this kind of thing."

Homeland security is the newest arena of big government growth. The anti-terrorism campaign spawned the largest bureaucracy Washington has seen since the birth of the Department of Defense -- the new Homeland Security Department. Moreover, anti-terrorism has been used to justify bold intrusions into the privacy of individuals and extraordinary security measures that tread upon some generally accepted rights.

Already, critics of the Justice Department have charged that expanded wiretaps and the detention and arrest of aliens have violated civil rights. The American Civil Liberties Union has been joined by such staunch conservatives as former House majority leader Dick Armey in expressing alarm at the breadth of authority that Attorney General John Ashcroft has claimed in what Ashcroft calls an "unrelenting" campaign against terrorism.

The Homeland Security Department also may threaten federal preemption of some of the most basic functions of local and state government, including those of the police, public safety and public health departments. "The further down you drill in this whole area of homeland security," says Utah's Leavitt, a political ally of Bush, "the more potential you see for it recasting the whole federal system."

Leavitt says he has been thinking about one of the most routine, ministerial functions of state government -- issuing driver's licenses. "Until now, all we've had to do is to give an exam that satisfies us that you are competent to operate a motor vehicle on the roads of Utah. But now a driver's license has become a national identity card. One of my aides went to the airport with an expired driver's license and was not allowed to board the plane.

"Now the federal government wants us to be able to certify that if we give you a driver's license, you really are who you say you are, you live where you say you live and your birth date is what you claim it is. Then the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] will get involved, and insist that we determine you are in the country legally. Pretty soon, our driver's license division has become a federal agency."

Tom Ridge, the White House homeland security chief (soon to be head of the new department), says he has sought to reassure Leavitt. "The executive order of the president assigned the Office of Homeland Security to develop a national strategy for safeguarding the country -- not a federal strategy," Ridge says, "and that means we have a strategic interest in developing and sustaining a working partnership with state and local governments."

Still, Ridge says that as far as driver's licenses are concerned, states should standardize the formats and procedures for issuing these documents. "There ought to be a minimum set of standards for what has become a standard form of identification."

Leavitt fears that "the need for coordination will almost inevitably result in centralization." Ridge concedes that if states do not comply voluntarily, a future Congress might threaten to withhold a portion of the highway funds from the naysayers. "That is Plan B," he says.

A larger concern for Leavitt and other governors is that the need for "inter-operability," the capacity of computer-driven information systems to share records, will end up with Washington dictating what equipment local sheriffs or police chiefs must install and what portion of the data they must share. "If the systems all lead to some computer in Washington, then local control is eroded," Leavitt says.

Ridge says there will be national standards for information systems -- "that is an important role for the department" -- but insists that states and local governments want guidance on what to buy. "They will still be doing the job. They are the first responders."

Leavitt says history argues otherwise. Welfare offices are local, he says, but for 60 years -- until the reform of 1996 -- "the federal government was really running them, because it set all the rules and it furnished some of the money. The same thing could happen with homeland security."

Already examples are cropping up of federal preemption of traditional roles. Last Sunday, the New York Times reported that many local health departments say they fear they will have to curtail services, such as cancer and tuberculosis screening and children's dental examinations, in order to meet the demands of Bush's federal smallpox vaccination program.

There is a long history of Washington imposing its wishes on state and local governments, through the rules it writes and the money it distributes. But Republicans generally have resisted that tendency as much as Democrats have embraced it.

Bush as a candidate gave few hints that he would be different or that he would extend the authority of the federal government both at home and overseas. But in all these areas -- from peacekeeping in Kabul to school testing in Nebraska to health screening in Arizona -- the length of his reach is overriding the conservative rhetoric of the Bush presidency.

Big government is back -- with a Republican label.

David Broder has covered national politics for The Post since 1966. Staff researcher Brian Faler contributed to this article.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
What part of Bush is conservative? If you know, drop me a note at zzpatrick@gmail.com Bush, like Reagan talks the talk but when it comes to spending, no one can out-spend a man who calls himself conservative. Look at the Reagan debt, or the spending by the republican congress in the 1990's.

The smallpox vaccine stuff is something I need to look into too. If Bush ordered states to do smalloox and isn't funding it (unfunded mandate), then that's an impeachable offense also. The republican congress in the 1990's passed the Unfunded Mandate Law, which requires the government to pay for all new federal mandates. "No Child Left Behind" is in violation of that law and is listed on this site as an impeachable offense. I'm beating smallpox vaccinee is too.


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Bush Blames Clinton For N. Korea Debacle
Washington Post
By Karen DeYoung and T.R. Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 12, 2003; Page A22

A senior Bush administration official suggested yesterday that the nuclear crisis with North Korea was the predictable result of a flawed 1994 agreement signed by the Clinton administration with Pyongyang that "frontloaded all the benefits and left the difficult things to the end" -- for the next president.

The comments marked a sharp change of direction from the administration's insistence in recent weeks that only North Korea was to blame for the crisis. As recently as last week, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said he gave "great credit" to the Clinton administration for freezing North Korea's plutonium enrichment program with the 1994 Agreed Framework.

The new formulation of blame coincides with a spate of accusations, some from strong administration supporters, that President Bush may have antagonized North Korea by labeling it part of the "axis of evil" and helped provoke the crisis.

That sentiment appeared to be echoed by North Korean officials meeting Friday and yesterday in Santa Fe with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D). Sources involved in those talks said North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Han Song Ryol, had said the Bush administration's tough policy toward North Korea was motivated primarily by Bush's desire to do the opposite of what his predecessor had done on foreign policy.

Han asserted that Pyongyang had been developing a working relationship with Washington toward the end of the Clinton era -- indeed, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Pyongyang just before President Bill Clinton left office -- but then faced a reversal of policy under Bush.

"They think the Bush people have closed the door on them just because Clinton had opened it," said someone involved in the Santa Fe talks.

But the senior Bush administration official said the "idea that the Agreed Framework was going along just fine" was a misperception. "We were getting to a crisis very quickly," the official said.

Under the accord, the United States agreed to move immediately toward a normalized political and economic relationship with North Korea. The Clinton administration agreed that within six months of the October 1994 accord, it would organize an international consortium and sign a contract to build light water nuclear reactors for North Korea. Until the construction was completed, the United States and its partners would supply North Korea with fuel oil shipments.

In exchange, North Korea agreed to freeze, within three months of signing, operations of its graphite-modulated nuclear reactor that the West believed it was using to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Pyongyang also agreed to submit the country to full International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards "when a significant portion of the LWR [light water reactor] project is completed, but before delivery of key nuclear components" for the facilities.

North Korea has admitted it was seeking weapons-grade material through another route, by secretly enriching uranium. With the foundation for the light water reactors poured last fall, the official said, "we were getting . . . to the end of the road. Maybe that is what caused the North Koreans to do what they did. . . . They weren't prepared to sign on to safeguards" that would uncover the secret program.

North Korea announced last week that it would put the frozen reactor at Yongbyon back into production, and said Friday it was withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty under which it had agreed not to produce nuclear weapons. Yesterday, Pyongyang said it would likely restart a suspended missile-testing program.

The administration official said yesterday's announcement, like the others, would bring no change in U.S. policy.

"The North Koreans are quite accustomed" to these tactics, the official said. "They threaten and blackmail, and people rush to deal with them. And then they keep their means of threatening and blackmailing. We will continue to consult with our allies in the region and demand that North Korea change its behavior before there are talks between the two governments."

The North Korean envoys meeting with Richardson in Santa Fe said they have tried for weeks to arrange talks with the administration but have been repeatedly rebuffed, people involved in the talks said.

Han, the deputy U.N. ambassador, asked Richardson to set up meetings with the administration to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear program. But he said no member of the U.S. mission to the United Nations would talk with them. U.S. officials have said they are willing to talk but will not enter into negotiations.

Richardson's aides said he had passed along the request for dialogue to Powell. In a statement issued after the Santa Fe talks, Richardson said, "Ambassador Han told me that North Korea has no intentions of building nuclear weapons."

The three days of talks that the New Mexico media dubbed the "Santa Fe Summit" came about because Han had come to know Richardson in the 1990s, when Richardson was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Three weeks ago, Han contacted his old acquaintance, who was elected in November to be New Mexico's governor. At a White House briefing for governors-elect in late December, Richardson mentioned Han's initiative to a White House official. Last week, Powell called Richardson and told him to set up a meeting.

Within hours, Han and another North Korean envoy, Mun Jong Chol, were on a plane bound for Santa Fe. Beginning with dinner Thursday night, the two spent nine hours in discussion with Richardson at the mauve adobe governor's mansion atop a red-stone bluff in the spare New Mexico desert.

Richardson, who said he repeatedly reported back to Powell on the talks, clearly savored the attention but took pains not to challenge the Bush administration's handling of the confrontation with North Korea. "I am not an official negotiator," he said. "I support the administration's policy."

But when the talks ended at midday Saturday, Richardson stepped out into a chilly snow storm to address reporters -- and seemed to challenge the White House.

"It is my hope we will see a direct dialogue soon," he said. "The ball is now in the Bush administration's court, and the North Koreans' court, to bring about a peaceful resolution through dialogue."

Reid reported from Santa Fe.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Richardson worked for President Clinton. Even today, the Clinton folks are running things. It seems obvious from this article that the Bush people still haven't figured out who's in charge, or if they have they fail to do their jobs. N. Korea was forced into action by Bush. Bush created this crisis. Bush cronies will blame President Clinton but anyone with a brain knows Bush's "evil of axis" rhetoric forced the North into action. Self-defense is a good motivator.


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