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Impeach Bush


Majority in Poll Critical of Bush's Record on Economy

Germany rules out Iraq war support

Iraq: The disputed evidence

War fears push oil to record high

FCC's Nancy Victory Violates Law

Education Department Stung by GAO Sting

France Vows to Block Resolution on Iraq War

House GOP Relaxes Ethics Rules

Draft Articles of Impeachment

Majority in Poll Critical of Bush's Record on Economy
By Dana Milbank and Richard Morin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 22, 2003; Page A01

Seven in 10 Americans would give U.N. weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that found growing doubts about an attack on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In addition to the public's skepticism about military action against Iraq, the poll found that a majority of Americans disapproved of President Bush's handling of the economy for the first time in his presidency. The number of Americans who regard the economy as healthy has not been lower in the past nine years, and fewer than half supported the tax cut plan Bush has proposed as a remedy.

The findings underscore twin challenges for Bush as he hits the midpoint of his term. In next week's State of the Union address, Bush will try to rally flagging support for a confrontation with Iraq and convince Americans that he can restore prosperity at home.

Overall, support for Bush has dropped to levels not seen since before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with 59 percent of Americans approving of his work. That is still a comfortable level of popularity, and Bush advisers and analysts expect Americans will rally to his side if hostilities begin in Iraq. Still, Bush's overall standing, buoyed by the 71 percent who approve of his work against terrorism, masks deepening concerns about Bush's economic and foreign policies.

On the economy, Americans disapproved of the job Bush has done by 53 percent to 43 percent; that represents a 7-percentage point shift from December. Only a quarter of Americans described the economy as excellent or good, down 10 points from December.

Support for Bush's remedy for the economy, a $670 billion tax cut unveiled earlier this month, has drawn lukewarm support. Most Americans -- 61 percent -- perceive that it benefits the wealthy, compared with 9 percent who think it helps the middle class or the poor and 23 percent who said it treats all equally.

By a margin of 7 percentage points, Americans opposed the cornerstone of Bush's proposal, the elimination of the tax on stock dividends. By more than 2 to 1, respondents said they would rather have more spending on education, health care and Social Security than a tax cut, and a sizable majority said they would rather the money be used to balance the federal budget.

Americans exhibited similar ambivalence about the tax cut Bush proposed in 2001, and he prevailed in enacting most of his plan.

On Iraq, which is likely to dominate political discourse in the coming months, the president has slipped but still has relatively high support. Fifty-seven percent of Americans back military action, down from 62 percent in mid-December; similarly, 50 percent of Americans said they approved of Bush's handling of the Iraqi situation, down from 58 percent a month ago.

Such levels of support are far below the near-unanimous support for an attack against Afghanistan; support for that operation exceeded 90 percent in the weeks before military action began. Eric Larson, who studies national security and public opinion at the Rand research group, said that was a "unique case" because of the direct link to an attack on U.S. soil. A better comparison, Larson said, was the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when support for war was 45 percent before the attack began but quickly rallied. "In comparison to other historical incidents, this seems to be extraordinarily high support for a military option," Larson said.

The survey found Americans evenly split on whether Bush has presented enough evidence against Hussein. Fifty-eight percent said they would like to see more evidence, and 71 percent said the United States should make public its own evidence if the U.N. inspectors can't find hard evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

In one clear sign of public caution on Iraq, 43 percent of respondents said the U.N. inspectors should have as much time as they like to scour Iraq. A quarter said the inspectors should have "a few months" or more. Another quarter supported a deadline of a few weeks or less for the inspections.

The findings, coming a day after France suggested it might block a U.N. resolution authorizing force against Iraq, put the public at odds with Bush. The president yesterday voiced frustration with inspections, asking, "How much time do we need to see clearly that he is not disarming?"

Matthew Dowd, who coordinates White House polling, said the slipping support is temporary. "For every president, when the action is close, the public rallies to the commander in chief," he said. He attributed the slippage to "a lot of back and forth in the media" before Bush explains the rationale for war. "As soon as they hear the explanation from him, public opinion will move," Dowd said.

Still, the doubts about Bush's Iraq policy are broad and deep. In barely a month, Bush's performance rating on Iraq has dropped 16 percentage points, to 42 percent, among young people 18 to 30 years old. Bush also lost support among middle-aged Americans but held his ground among seniors.

Democrats express growing opposition to Bush's Iraq policies. In December, slightly more than half of all Democrats disapproved of his handling of Iraq; today nearly three in four don't like the job he is doing, the Post-ABC poll found.

Overall opposition to the war also increased among virtually every demographic group. In the past five weeks, the proportion who rejected using military force in Iraq has increased by 19 percentage points among African Americans, 13 percentage points among those 31 to 44 years old, and 12 percentage points among those earning $50,000 to $75,000.

Bipartisan support for military action that Bush had maintained for more than a year after Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished, the survey found.

For the first time in Post polls conducted since the terrorist attacks, a majority of Democrats -- 57 percent -- rejected taking military action to topple Hussein, up 8 percentage points from mid-December.

Among those political independents and those only loosely aligned with either party, 55 percent favored military action, down from 61 percent last month. Support for the war dipped slightly among Republicans, from 81 percent to 78 percent.

The Post-ABC poll is based on telephone interviews with 1,133 randomly selected adults conducted from Jan. 16 to Jan. 20. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Assistant director of polling Claudia Deane contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
With poll numbers dropping like a bomb Bush knows the ONLY way he can get them back up is by dropping bombs. Americans will support a president during war, but even that illusion won't last forever. I'm now comfortable is predicting Bush has almost no chance of winning re-election because his polices are opposed by most Americans. Now we begin the long process of looking for a new leader.


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Germany rules out Iraq war support
BBC News
Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 02:52 GMT

Germany has declared that it will not back war against Iraq, adding its concerns to the mounting reservations about military action within the United Nations Security Council. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made his remarks at a public meeting of his SPD party, shortly after US President George Bush told Iraq that time was running out.

There has been rising resistance to war from France - a permanent member of the UN Security Council - and other allies, many of whom want UN inspectors to have more time to do their work.

Germany, which does not wield a veto in the Security Council, has left itself the option of abstaining from a future vote.

But, as the BBC's UN correspondent Greg Barrow points out, it still works out as one vote less in favour of war.

The US may conclude that it does not have enough support within the Security Council to guarantee the nine votes needed to pass a resolution authorising military action, he says.

Earlier, Turkey - a key Nato partner - expressed its own fresh reservations, and announced that representatives of Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordan will meet in Istanbul on Thursday to try to find a way to prevent war in the region.

The remarks were made as two more US aircraft carriers were ordered to the Gulf region for a possible attack on Iraq.

More time

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Bush's closest ally on the issue of Iraq, has told a parliamentary committee in London that intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had grown, and that it was necessary to keep up the pressure on Baghdad.

Speaking after both the UK and US announced new troop deployments to the Gulf, Mr Blair said he reserved the right to join in military action, even if a UN Security Council member vetoed such a move.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin - whose country is one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council - has already said that nothing so far justified military action and he did not rule out a French veto.

China and Russia, also permanent members, say the inspectors should be given more time.

One of the leaders of the UN inspection teams for Iraq, Mohamad ElBaradei, says the teams are only half way through their work.

Speaking in Athens, Mr ElBaradei said that both he and chief inspector Hans Blix would make this clear to the Security Council next week.

Military build-up

The announcement that the US is sending another two aircraft carriers - the USS Abraham Lincoln and another thought to be the USS Theodore Roosevelt, each with about 75 aircraft on board - will bring to four the number of US carriers within striking distance of Iraq.

As well as their aircraft, the carriers usually operate with a battle group of escorting ships and submarines that also carry Cruise missiles.

The BBC's Nick Childs, at the Pentagon, says the ships could operate in the Gulf, the Mediterranean, or the Red Sea, and thus be able to attack Iraqi targets from a wide variety of directions.

The US had already announced it was to send nearly 37,000 personnel to the Gulf in addition to the 62,000 troops ordered to mobilise earlier this month.

© MMIII

Commentary:
Bush once said, "You're either with us or against us." If that's true do we invade Germany tomorrow? Stand-by. Foolish men should learn to keep their mouths shut.


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Iraq: The disputed evidence
BBC News
By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent
Monday, 20 January, 2003, 15:50 GMT

What is the nature of the evidence against Iraq? US Secretary of State Colin Powell says it is "persuasive". Iraq says it is non-existent.

Before going into the detail, the general point has to be made that the case against Iraq does not depend on weapons of mass destruction, or a "smoking gun", being found.

What is required under Security Council Resolution 1441 is simply a finding that Iraq has not "fully co-operated" with the weapons inspectors.

Warheads uncovered by inspectors were never listed by Iraq This may not be regarded as adequate by opponents of any war but it is the line strongly pursued by the United States and Britain.

The case that Iraq is not fully "co-operating" was laid out by the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, to the Security Council on 9 January.

News Online has seen copies of their written statements.

They followed this up with a visit to Baghdad to raise the specific points of complaint and will report back to the Council on 27 January.

As they left Baghdad they reported that Iraq had agreed to be more helpful. Mr Blix said that "a number of practical issues" had been resolved but "not all".

Missing items

The first area in dispute concerns Iraq's explanation about what happened to unaccounted-for material:

  • Anthrax: Mr Blix told the Security Council that Iraq's declaration did not account for missing amounts (some 26,000 litres) of anthrax and that "Iraq's account of its production and unilateral destruction of anthrax... may not be accurate." After the talks in Baghdad, Mr Blix said this issue remained unaddressed.
  • VX nerve agent: Mr Blix said to the Council that "we have found no additional information in the declaration that would help resolve this issue". The UN says that 1.5 tonnes are missing. This is also unresolved after the Baghdad talks.
  • Biological growth media: Iraq imported more than it declared. Mr Blix told the Council no explanation had been given.
    Iraq has argued that it destroyed the VX, and that the anthrax and growth media were either destroyed or are no longer of any use. Mr Blix says that documents, witnesses and other evidence should be produced to support that.
  • Ballistic missiles: Mr Blix said after the talks in Baghdad that a question about unaccounted-for Scud missiles (believed to number about 12) had not been resolved.

Suspicious finds

Other issues in dispute relate to unlisted materials actually found, such as missile engines and empty warheads, as well as the question of access to Iraqi scientists:

  • Missiles: the Council was told that Iraq had admitted that its new al-Samoud rocket had reached 183 kilometres in a test firing - beyond the 150km limit imposed by the UN. Mr Blix also said that "inspections have confirmed the presence of a relatively large number of missile engines, some imported as late as 2002". These were "illegal imports". Their significance was being examined.
  • 16 chemical warfare warheads: Twelve were found by the inspectors, Iraq volunteered four more. Had they been forgotten or was it evidence of deception?
  • Nuclear papers: Inspectors found some technical papers in the house of a leading nuclear scientist. He says they were notes for a previously declared programme for enriching uranium. The inspectors' verdict is awaited.

On interviews with Iraqi scientists, which are regarded as potentially the only way to get a clear picture of Iraqi operations, Mr Blix told the Security Council: "We do not feel that the Iraqi side has made a serious effort to respond to the request [for names] we made."

This issue came up again in the Baghdad talks and Iraq promised to be more forthcoming. This will be a key test.

Mr ElBaradei of the IAEA reported to the Council that while Iraq had produced two nuclear scientists asked for, they had both "requested the presence of an Iraqi Government inspector" which was not "optimum".

Proving a negative

There was better news for Iraq on the mystery of its attempted import of thousands of aluminium tubes.

The suspicion was that it wanted these for centrifuges to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb but Mr ElBaradei's report to the Council said that the IAEA analysis "indicated that the... tubes sought by Iraq... appear to be consistent with reverse engineering of rockets" as Iraq had asserted.

The UN inspectors formally report their findings on 27 January However, Mr ElBaradei added that the importing of such tubes was banned anyway.

It can be seen that the United States and Britain could make much of the missing material.

They could argue that Iraq has shown a pattern of limited co-operation which is designed to deceive.

Iraq, on the other hand, complains that it is being asked to prove a negative and that in the circumstances, this is an impossible task.

The assessment of the UN teams will be given to the Security Council on 27 January.

© MMIII

Commentary:
Bush, Cheney, Powell and Rice lied to us about the "aluminium tubes." What else did they lie to us about? Saddam lied a few times too. Are we to damn him but not our leaders?


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War fears push oil to record high
BBC News
Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 16:13 GMT

The price of oil touched two-year highs on Tuesday, as the build-up of troops in the Gulf tested the nerves of oil traders.

With the prospect of a war in Iraq becoming ever more likely, trading remained volatile as fears of an oil shortage pushed up prices.

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the United Nations Security Council that it should not be scared into "impotence" when it came to dealing with Iraq.

However, signs of division in Venezuela's seven-week general strike to strangle oil exports provided some relief.

In London, Brent crude had edged up 37 cents to $31.02 a barrel in early trading, but fell back to $30.82 later in the day.

US light crude rose 49 cents to $34.40, its highest level since December 2000.

"The markets are still very edgy with both Venezuela and Iraq remaining the key issues," said independent oil analyst Simon Games-Thomas.

"Prices appear destined to trade higher given the current set of drivers and $35 beckons inexorably in the short term," Mr Games-Thomas added.

Relief in Venezuela

Venezuelan oil tanker pilots in Lake Maracaibo, a strategic export route, have ended their part in the nationwide strike, according to shipping agents.

However, a spokeswoman for striking oil workers said a senior representative would meet with the pilots to persuade them not to abandon their action.

"We still have 90% of oil workers on strike," she said of the action designed to force the resignation of President Hugo Chavez.

As the world's fifth-largest exporter, Venezuela accounts for 13% of US petroleum imports.

A shortfall in supplies has cut US commercial crude stockpiles to 26-year lows.

Shredded nerves

The shooting of contractors working for the US military in Kuwait, resulting in one fatality, also added to the pressure.

Oil traders are concerned that any war in Iraq would limit supplies, despite the resolve of the oil cartel, Opec, to maintain the flow.

Just over a week ago, Opec agreed to increase official production after an emergency meeting in Vienna.

"Opec is trying to send a very strong message that it will do its utmost to stabilise demand and supply," said the cartel's president Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

Tension builds

The release of a major report by Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix next Monday will provide further direction for the oil price.

The evaluation of the report on 29 January could provide more clues as to the likelihood of a war.

Both the US and the UK are planning a major deployment of forces in the Gulf.

On Tuesday, the US announced it would send nearly 37,000 more personnel to the area in preparation for possible military action.

© MMIII

Commentary:
For every day oil stays above $30 a barrel the economy is hurt. High oil prices drive corporate profits down and slow the economy. The damage is cumulative. Bush is determined to destroy the US economy so he can have his damned war.


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FCC's Nancy Victory Violates Law
AP/Washington Post
By Pete Yost
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, January 21, 2003; 1:47 AM

WASHINGTON –– Just days before going to bat for the wireless industry, the Bush administration's top policy expert on telecommunications, Nancy Victory, allowed wireless phone company lobbyists to help pay for a private reception at her home.

Three lobbyists from Cingular Wireless, SBC Telecommunications and Motorola threw the party on Oct. 14, 2001, along with an attorney from Victory's old law firm where her husband is a partner specializing in communications law. Telecom industry representatives were among the dozens of party guests.

Victory said she regards the lobbyists as personal friends, and cleared the private reception in advance with her department's ethics office.

"My friends paid for this party out of their personal money," Victory said in an interview last week with The Associated Press.

Ten days after the catered reception at Victory's million-dollar home in Great Falls, Va., she asked the Federal Communication Commission to immediately repeal restrictions that Cingular, SBC and other major cellular companies had long complained about.

In today's market, "rules such as these that draw arbitrary lines in the name of ensuring competition are simply not needed," Victory wrote the FCC on Oct. 24, 2001.

The FCC voted two weeks later to phase out by Jan. 1, 2003 restrictions on how much of the spectrum individual carriers could own in a geographic area.

The carriers argued that more airwaves would give them the space to provide advanced mobile services, but critics said the change would squeeze out smaller competitors and drive up rates.

Casting the single vote against the change, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said that the agency had not done enough to study the shortage of airwaves.

"This is, for some, more about corporate mergers than it is about anything else," Copps said at the time.

Victory did not report the October 2001 party as a gift on her government ethics disclosure form, and said it was "ridiculous" to draw a connection between the party and her letter to the FCC.

"Many of the attendees had nothing to do with that issue," she said, declining to further identify the guests.

Ethics experts said the arrangement at the very least heightens public concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest, and may have run afoul of federal ethics standards.

"Accepting this gift seems to be insensitive in light of public concern about whether this Bush administration is in the pocket of corporations and lobbyists. It doesn't look good for her or the administration," said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who teaches legal and government ethics.

In a statement, Victory said "the Commerce Department ethics office has confirmed that, under the ethics rules, the benefit to me did not qualify as a reportable gift." But Clark questioned that conclusion and Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University's law school, stated flatly that Victory had a legal obligation to disclose the lobbyists' largesse on her financial disclosure form.

"Victory's industry friends could pay for the party out of their own pocket, but she had a duty to reveal their contribution to the public," Gillers said.

Clark called the Commerce Department's advice "a very strange interpretation" and "a bizarre legalistic search for loopholes where there are none."

If the outside legal experts are correct, Victory can correct the omission by revising her financial disclosure form.

As an assistant secretary of commerce, Victory is administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and is the administration's policy representative before the independent FCC.

A copy of the party's invitation, obtained by AP, clearly names at the top lobbyists Brian Fontes of Cingular Wireless, Priscilla Hill-Ardoin of SBC Telecommunications and Rich Barth of wireless phone manufacturer Motorola.

At least one company whose lobbyist helped pick up the tab, SBC, is checking to see if the approximately $480 Hill-Ardoin spent came from corporate funds. Fontes and Barth said they don't remember how much they paid or whether the money came from corporate funds.

"A group of folks who either worked with Nancy or have known her for many years just got together to toast her," said Fontes, the Cingular lobbyist. Victory had been confirmed by the Senate for her new government post two months earlier.

Cingular and SBC both had formally urged the FCC to end the restrictions. Motorola did not weigh in on the issue, but it's largest commercial cellular customers, including Cingular, advocated repeal.

Commentary:
These Bush nuts need a new motto. Something along the lines of; "Make a law and we'll break it."

Quid Pro Quo is a crime. Violating ethic rules is a crime. What more do we need?


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Education Department Stung by GAO Sting
AP/Washington Post
By Larry Margasak
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, January 21, 2003; 3:18 AM

WASHINGTON –– Congressional investigators wanted to learn whether Education Department officials were scrutinizing a loan program for students at foreign post-secondary schools.

They found their answer by inventing the Y'Hica Institute for the Visual Arts in London. Much to the investigators' dismay, the school was a smashing success.

"With relative ease, we created ... a fictitious graduate-level foreign school purportedly located in London England," Congress' General Accounting Office said. "After creating Y'Hica, we obtained certification from Education for the school to participate in the (loan) program.

"Finally, we sought and obtained approval for student loans totaling $55,000 on behalf of three fictitious students purportedly attending Y'Hica."

To Education Department officials, the school seemed to have all the right credentials for certification into the program: a web site, a school president, a catalogue and students who needed financial help.

The undercover agents even tried to leave a clue to unravel the scheme, identifying one of the "students" as Susan M. Collins.

Sen. Susan M. Collins, R-Maine, was the lawmaker who asked for the investigation. She is now chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and was its ranking minority member when the inquiry began.

Terri Shaw, chief operating officer for the Education Department's Federal Student Aid Office, acknowledged that officials should have verified the school's existence. In this case, the officials "did not completely follow every step of the procedure which resulted in Y'Hica obtaining preliminary approval for one year."

Shaw maintained that officials would have caught the scheme before loan money actually was dispersed because one lender noticed irregularities in the student applications and notified the department.

The department now is conducting onsite visits of all foreign schools applying for eligibility in loan programs, and also is working with the State Department to verify a school's existence.

Nearly 14,000 U.S. students receive federal aid to pursue studies at more than 500 colleges and universities in 41 countries, Shaw said, adding that the department believes study abroad prepares Americans for leadership roles.

The fictitious Susan Collins and the two other "students" each were approved for an $18,500 loan by two lending institutions under the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The investigators had the payments stopped before any money was sent.

The investigators went through a series of steps to create the school, including submission of counterfeit documents.

Certified financial statements were created for fiscal years 1998 and 1999, signed by a nonexistent accountant residing at a phony London address. A fake letter indicated a real university in the United Kingdom validated Y'Hica's academic program. And a fictitious letter from educational authorities in England stated the school was a nonprofit institution with degree-granting authority.

After the school was certified, the investigators created identities, addresses and telephone numbers for the applicants. They logged on to the Education Department's web site to obtain Personal Identification Numbers and online applications were completed.

The loan applications then were submitted to Nellie Mae Student Lending Inc., the Sallie Mae Servicing Corp. and Bank of America. Only Bank of America became suspicious and rejected the application.

Congress in the past has criticized the Education Department as doing a poor job of managing its multibillion-dollar budget, including student loans. In 2001, the department began using a government database of people who recently found jobs to go after those who had defaulted on student loans.

The department's internal watchdog, the inspector general, reported last fall that investigators spend considerable time tracking down student loan fraud.

In one case, the leader of one fraud scheme and six associates created a fictitious school in New York City to collect federal grants and other assistance. When the scheme was uncovered, the leader was given a six-year prison term and ordered to pay more than $11 million in restitution.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Republicans have controlled the oversite committee's since 1995. So, what have they been doing? It appears they spent far too much time looking down Bill Clinton's pants and far too little time doing their real jobs. When do we get to blame republicans for a government that doesn't work? I'm ready, how about you?


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France Vows to Block Resolution on Iraq War
Washington Post
By Glenn Kessler and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 21, 2003; Page A01

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 20 -- France suggested today it would wage a major diplomatic fight, including possible use of its veto power, to prevent the U.N. Security Council from passing a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

France's opposition to a war, emphatically delivered here by Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, is a major blow for the Bush administration, which has begun pouring tens of thousands of troops into the Persian Gulf in preparation for a military conflict this spring. The administration had hoped to mark the final phase in its confrontation with Iraq when U.N. weapons inspectors deliver a progress report Monday.

But in a diplomatic version of an ambush, France and other countries used a high-level Security Council meeting on terrorism to lay down their markers for the debate that will commence next week on the inspectors' report. Russia and China, which have veto power, and Germany, which will chair the Security Council in February, also signaled today they were willing to let the inspections continue for months.

Only Britain appeared to openly support the U.S. position that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has thwarted effective inspections.

"If war is the only way to resolve this problem, we are going down a dead end," de Villepin told reporters. "Already we know for a fact that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs are being largely blocked, even frozen. We must do everything possible to strengthen this process."

The United Nations, he said, should stay "on the path of cooperation. The other choice is to move forward out of impatience over a situation in Iraq to move towards military intervention. We believe that today nothing justifies envisaging military action."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in the face of such comments, departed from his prepared text on terrorism and implored his colleagues to remember that the Security Council resolution passed unanimously Nov. 8 gave Iraq "a last chance" to meet its obligations. "We must not shrink from our duties and our responsibilities when the material comes before us next week," Powell said. He used a variation of the phrase "must not shrink" three more times as he addressed the council.

During the weeks of debate on the Iraq resolution, French officials had indicated they were open to some sort of military intervention if Iraq did not comply. But now the French appear to have set much higher hurdles for support.

Rising opposition to war, particularly in France, appears to have played a role in the hardening positions on the Security Council. Foreign officials are also aware of polls in the United States suggesting that support for a war drops dramatically if the Bush administration does not have U.N. approval.

While the United Nations was debating today, U.S. military officials announced that the Army is sending a force of about 37,000 soldiers, spearheaded by the Texas-based 4th Infantry Division, to the Persian Gulf region. It is the largest ground force identified among an estimated 125,000 U.S. troops ordered to deploy since Christmas Eve, the Associated Press reported.

At the United Nations, several foreign ministers said a war in Iraq would spawn more terrorist acts around the globe and, in the words of Germany's Joschka Fischer, have "disastrous consequences for long-term regional stability."

"Terrorism is far from being crushed," said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. "We must be careful not to take unilateral steps that might threaten the unity of the entire [anti-]terrorism coalition. In this context we are strictly in favor of a political settlement of the situation revolving around Iraq."

Powell replied: "We cannot fail to take the action that may be necessary because we are afraid of what others might do. We cannot be shocked into impotence because we are afraid of the difficult choices that are ahead of us."

But when the foreign ministers emerged from the council debate and addressed reporters, it appeared that Powell's pleas had made little impact. Although President Bush said last week he was "sick and tired of games and deception," Fischer said the inspections were a success.

"Iraq has complied fully with all relevant resolutions and cooperated very closely with the U.N. team on the ground," Fischer said. "We think things are moving in the right direction, based on the efforts of the inspection team, and [they] should have all the time which is needed."

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said Monday's report should be regarded as a "new beginning" rather than an end to inspections. The chief weapons inspectors "have been talking about that there is more work to do in terms of the inspections and they need more time. I think we should respect their opinion and support their work."

De Villepin, in a lengthy and at times theatrical news conference, was asked whether France would use its veto power to thwart Washington's campaign for quick action. He said France "will shoulder its responsibilities, faithful to the principles it has."

France would never "associate ourselves with military intervention that is not supported by the international community," de Villepin added. "We think that military intervention would be the worst possible solution."

France, as chair of the Security Council this month, had organized today's meeting on terrorism in part to draw attention to its contention that the Iraq situation has detracted from the more pressing need to confront international terrorism.

De Villepin reacted coolly to suggestions, made by senior Bush administration officials Sunday, that Hussein and his top advisers be offered political asylum outside Iraq to avert a war. "The problem is something more difficult than a question of change of regime," he said. "Let us not be diverted from our objective. It is the disarmament of Iraq."

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan also indirectly criticized the prospect of war when he addressed the council on terrorism. "Any sacrifice of freedom or the rule of law within states -- or any generation of new disputes between states in the name of anti-terrorism -- is to hand the terrorists a victory that no act of theirs could possibly bring," he said, alluding to frequent U.S. assertions that the confrontation with Iraq is part of the larger war on terrorism.

The only sign of support for the U.S. position came from its closest ally, Britain. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said "time was running out" for Hussein and his "cat and mouse" game. But Straw added that Britain preferred a U.N. resolution authorizing force.

"Iraq has a responsibility now to avoid a conflict, to avoid a war," Powell told reporters. "There is no question that Iraq continues to misunderstand the seriousness of the position that it's in.

"If the United Nations is going to be relevant," he added, "it has to take a firm stand."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Bush needs war like the rest of us need air. Without war his presidency has no value, no meaning. All he has left is an economy in shatters, deficits going through the roof for years to come and one foreign policy disaster after another because he screwed up.

Bush told the world and the American people Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. So, where are they? The world wants proof. Bush and the American media want war (for different reasons). Bush needs war because his numbers are dropping like a bomb. On the otherhand the media needs a story. It doesn't care what the story is as long as it has something to report 24/7. Facts have become utterly meaningless. Real journalist wouldn't report on this silly war until Bush provides ABSOLUTE proof of WMD. The problem is there are no real journalist left.

Who, what, when, where, why? Answers those questions and you have a story. Don't answer them and you have propaganda.


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House GOP Relaxes Ethics Rules
Washington Post
By Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 21, 2003; Page A01

Congressional Republicans over the past eight years have systematically weakened their own landmark ban on gifts from lobbyists, making it easy for lawmakers and staffs to get free meals, sports tickets, golfing trips and other favors from people paid to influence their decision-making.

House Republicans -- who instituted a total ban on gifts in 1995 with great fanfare after capturing Congress -- have incrementally relaxed the ethics rules so that members and their staffs can accept $100 in meals each year from each lobbyist and watch Washington Wizards basketball games and rock concerts from luxury skyboxes valued to fit just under their $50-per-event limit on tickets.

A new rule passed by House Republicans this month on a party line vote might stretch the loophole considerably further. It allows lawmakers and their aides to once again accept free trips to golf courses and free meals catered to their offices from corporations and other special interests.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) believes the gift-ban rules needed to be "clarified" so members and staffers could accept low-cost meals and help charities by flying to fundraisers, said his spokesman, John Feehery. Hastert does not believe members and staff will be unduly influenced by special interests who pick up their dinner tab, Feehery said.

By relaxing the gift ban, Republicans have provided corporations, labor unions and other interest groups many new avenues -- which are closed to ordinary Americans -- to try to influence lawmakers and their staffs. Lobbyists footing the bill often get coveted face time with key lawmakers and their aides.

"As gifts are given, meals are paid for and vacations subsidized, these favors build up and it's just human nature members and staff will be responsive to those doing the favors," said Don Simon, acting president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that monitors congressional ethics. "It's not how government business is supposed to be conducted."

In 1995, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and most other House Republicans said they felt the same way. They ridiculed Democrats such as former Banking Committee chairman Fernand St. Germain (R.I.) for taking gifts from people paid to influence them, and instituted a complete ban on gifts to highlight their commitment to cleaning up government.

Since then, Republican leaders have chipped away at their reforms. First they replaced the absolute ban in 1999 with a $50 per gift limit and $100 cap on total gifts from one source in a year. Then taking a cue from Senate Republicans, the GOP-controlled House ethics committee allowed the MCI Center in downtown Washington to value seats in skyboxes just under $50.

Corporations lease skyboxes year-round for many thousands of dollars, and only their guests may use them. Therefore it's difficult to determine a fair-market price for one skybox seat for one event. The MCI Center says nearby club-level seats generally cost $90 for a ballgame.

Now even a key Republican worries that the party is going too far by allowing House members to take free trips to charity events and accept free, catered meals.

"I see my job as to keep people out of trouble," said Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), chairman of the House ethics committee. "We don't want to have the impression, nor the reality, that we're trying to weasel around ways to live high at someone else's expense."

Hefley said he was blindsided earlier this month when Hastert decided to weaken the gift ban without consulting him. At the behest of Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), Hastert drafted what Hefley and others worry might become the biggest loophole in the gift ban yet: allowing members to take all-expense-paid trips to charity fundraising events. The 1995 gift ban outlawed such trips because the practice was routinely abused.

Under the new rule, which passed 221-203, a corporation could anonymously underwrite a charity event on the greens of, say, Pebble Beach in Northern California and provide accommodations at a five-star resort. The corporation then could send its top executives and lobbyists to the event for a weekend of schmoozing with lawmakers.

"That is open to enormous abuse if we are not careful," said Hefley. "I don't want sham charities out there so congressmen have a nice vacation at a resort." Even before the rules changed, corporations and other special interests were allowed to finance fact-finding or educational trips. While the trips are ostensibly for educational purposes, members and staff are frequently treated to expensive meals and housed in posh resorts.

Under the new rule, companies, such as tobacco makers, that are reluctant to lobby openly could fund trips without the public knowing they paid for it by funneling money through a charity. Some lobbyists said they already have held private meetings to discuss ways to exploit the new loopholes.

A top GOP fundraiser said he and other Republicans would join other charities or create their own to sponsor golfing events, because the cost of such events is high. In the past, he said, fundraisers often paid for such events with "soft money" contributions, the unlimited donations that corporations, unions and individuals made to national parties before they were banned under the new campaign finance law.

"Charities are going to replace the soft-dollar events for fundraising, no question about it," said the fundraiser, who asked not to be identified.

This fundraiser, who emphasized that charities would still profit from the events, said the rule might also provide a new way of underwriting the lavish parties at presidential nominating conventions. "We're going to have an awful lot of charity events at this convention," he said. "It's the only way we can pay for it."

Republican leaders drafted the rule at DeLay's request so that he could fly colleagues to his annual golf tournament in Texas, which raises money for his foundation for foster children. Scores of corporate lobbyists attend the event. Their contributions will allow DeLay's foundation to fly in more members of Congress for the tournament, said DeLay spokesman Stuart Roy.

Roy said DeLay's staff tailored the rule's language narrowly so members could not use it to travel to Professional Golfers' Association events, even though the PGA has a charitable arm.

But a GOP lobbyist close to DeLay said the majority leader knows his charity won't be the biggest winner. "We will all drive a Mack truck through this loophole," the lobbyist said. He predicted younger lawmakers who don't have the big budgets that leaders like DeLay have will be most attracted to the free vacations that corporations plan to provide.

In truth, one of Washington's worst-kept secrets is that many House members and staff show little regard for ethics rules, since they're difficult to police and rarely enforced. Many legislators complain that ethics rules are confusing and unfairly restrictive. Hastert used this argument to push through a new rule that allows lobbyists to cater meals to members and staff even if they are working on legislation the lobbyist is trying to influence.

Hastert had a personal stake in this change: The ethics committee last fall cautioned members against taking meals from lobbyists after The Washington Post reported that Clark & Weinstock, a lobbying firm that represents pharmaceutical firms, delivered a meal to the speaker's office the night the House was voting on prescription drug legislation. Feehery calls it the "pizza rule," saying the beneficiaries will be low-paid staffers seeking a late-night snack.

But the change was written in a way that will allow lobbyists to send House members much fancier fare.

Under the old rule, members could accept up to $50 worth of food from a lobbyist for one meal, and no more than $100 for the year. Now members can add up all the people in the office who plan on eating and divide the cost among them. In other words, if there are 20 members and staffers in the room, lobbyists could send about $1,000 worth of lobster or other perishable foods.

Simon of Common Cause said members can use "Enron-type accounting" to "game" the meal limits.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Is there anything conservatives really, really believe in? They ridiculed democrats in 1994 only to turn around and act just like them. It took the democrats 40 to become corrupt and it took them only a few years. Now, it's time to give the other party power again--but only if they have the balls to fight for it.


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Draft Articles of Impeachment
Houston.indymedia.org
January 18, 2003

Draft Impeachment Resolution Against President George W. Bush
by FRANCIS A. BOYLE Saturday January 18, 2003 at 10:12 PM

Impeaching George Walker Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors.

January 17, 2003

by
professor of law, University of Illinois School of Law
108nd Congress H.Res.XX
1st Session

Impeaching George Walker Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors.
_______________________________________________

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January __, 2003

Mr./Ms. Y submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

________________________________________________

A RESOLUTION

Impeaching George Walker Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved, That George Walker Bush, President of the United States is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of all of the people of the United States of America, against George Walker Bush, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE I

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has attempted to impose a police state and a military dictatorship upon the people and Republic of the United States of America by means of "a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" against the Constitution since September 11, 2001. This subversive conduct includes but is not limited to trying to suspend the constitutional Writ of Habeas Corpus; ramming the totalitarian U.S.A. Patriot Act through Congress; the mass-round-up and incarceration of foreigners; kangaroo courts; depriving at least two United States citizens of their constitutional rights by means of military incarceration; interference with the constitutional right of defendants in criminal cases to lawyers; violating and subverting the Posse Comitatus Act; unlawful and unreasonable searches and seizures; violating the First Amendments rights of the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, peaceable assembly, and to petition the government for redress of grievances; packing the federal judiciary with hand-picked judges belonging to the totalitarian Federalist Society and undermining the judicial independence of the Constitution's Article III federal court system; violating the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions and the U.S. War Crimes Act; violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; reinstitution of the infamous "Cointelpro" Program; violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Convention against Torture, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; instituting the totalitarian Total Information Awareness Program; and establishing a totalitarian Northern Military Command for the United States of America itself. In all of this George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE II

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. U.S. soldiers in the Middle East are overwhelmingly poor White, Black, and Latino and their military service is based on the coercion of a system that has denied viable economic opportunities to these classes of citizens. Under the Constitution, all classes of citizens are guaranteed equal protection of the laws, and calling on the poor and minorities to fight a war for oil to preserve the lifestyles of the wealthy power elite of this country is a denial of the rights of these soldiers. In all of this George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE III

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has violated the U.S. Constitution, federal law, and the United Nations Charter by bribing, intimidating and threatening others, including the members of the United Nations Security Council, to support belligerent acts against Iraq. In all of this George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE IV

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prepared, planned, and conspired to engage in a massive war and catastrophic aggression against Iraq by employing methods of mass destruction that will result in the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom will be children. This planning includes the threatened use of nuclear weapons, and the use of such indiscriminate weapons and massive killings by aerial bombardment, or otherwise, of civilians, violates the Hague Regulations on land warfare, the rules of customary international law set forth in the Hague Rules of Air Warfare, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I thereto, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles, the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956). In all of this George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE V

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the United States to acts of war without congressional consent and contrary to the United Nations Charter and international law. From September, 2001 through January, 2003, the President embarked on a course of action that systematically eliminated every option for peaceful resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis. Once the President approached Congress for consent to war, tens of thousands of American soldiers' lives were in jeopardy - rendering any substantive debate by Congress meaningless. The President has not received a Declaration of War by Congress, and in contravention of the written word, the spirit, and the intent of the U.S. Constitution has declared that he will go to war regardless of the views of the American people. In failing to seek and obtain a Declaration of War, George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE VI

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has planned, prepared, and conspired to commit crimes against the peace by leading the United States into aggressive war against Iraq in violation of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment, and Principles, the Kellogg-Brand Pact, U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), numerous other international treaties and agreements, and the Constitution of the United States. In all of this George Walker Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Original Text

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