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Impeach Bush

U.S. Backs Off Combat Role in Philippines
Washington Post
By PAULINE JELINEK
The Associated Press
Friday, February 28, 2003; 6:16 PM

Faced with political turmoil in the Philippines, the Pentagon Friday backed away from a plan to launch a joint combat offensive against Muslim rebels there.

A week after defense officials announced they had an agreement to deploy more than 1,000 U.S. troops in March in an effort to rout Abu Sayyaf forces from the island of Jolo, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he didn't know how many would go, or when, or exactly what they would do.

The Pentagon's initial announcement of planned joint operations - which could draw Americans into combat - had stirred controversy in the Philippines.

The former U.S. possession prohibits foreign groups from engaging in combat unless allowed by a treaty.

"We have to find an approach that will help them without violating their constitution," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference. He said the two governments were working on details of an undetermined kind of joint counter-terror effort.

Rumsfeld said it was likely the end agreement "will have an intelligence component, a command and control component, a training component, some exercises, and whatever it ends up being, it will clearly be consistent with their constitution, and it will be consistent with what we tell you we are doing."

Rumsfeld's comments followed a weeklong diplomatic row that played out in the press in both nations with Manila repeatedly denying there would be a U.S. combat role and saying Americans were coming for a "training exercise."

Washington stuck to its version all week, calling it a plan for "joint operations" until Rumsfeld's news conference, which followed a Pentagon luncheon with Philippine Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Officials had hoped the two could have a joint news conference, but Rumsfeld came instead with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, his usual partner for briefing reporters.

Reyes met with reporters earlier in the day, saying the two countries were "groping for the exact term" to describe the joint operation.

He said that under the Philippine definition of training, people train and then there is a test mission - trainees can't graduate until they've gone on an actual operation that includes "an encounter in a hostile area."

"Some students die, and the others graduate. That's our definition," he said.

Apparently attempting to avoid the words "combat," "joint operations" and "exercise" on Friday, Rumsfeld referred to the next effort on Jolo as an "activity" and once started to say exercise but ended up saying "exer-activity."

Last February, some 1,200 Americans, including 160 special forces, were sent to the country in what officials said was a mission to "train, advise and assist" Filipino forces battling the radical Muslim rebels on the island of Basilan.

Manila called that effort "an exercise" as well, and the Pentagon didn't object, at least publicly.

Months of negotiations went into trying to come up with a plan for a new effort - this time on Jolo.

One official said Friday that the problem began Feb. 17, when Manila announced President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had approved a new joint exercise, which the Pentagon viewed as a misrepresentation of what had been agreed to.

The Pentagon, in turn, announced a few days later that it was really "joint operations."

Three officials said that because the operations presented more risk of combat and casualties for Americans, Rumsfeld said he didn't want to "dance around the words," as one official put it.

Rumsfeld said that whatever is decided "will be known, and it will be known to the Congress, and it will be known to you.

Pressed on whether there would still be joint combat operations, Rumsfeld said:

"The fact is that the way you phrased it would be perfectly comfortable from our standpoint. From their standpoint, it would be inconsistent with their constitution Therefore, what we have to do is find an approach where we can provide the maximum benefit to them and do it in a way that is not inconsistent with their circumstance."

The Feb. 20 Pentagon announcement on joint operations was made to a number of news organizations by a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity and confirmed by several others.

When pressed on that, Rumsfeld said: "You weren't told by me," then complained that the press often prints "leaked" information.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
I like this article....Rumsfeld has a priceless quote; ""We have to find an approach that will help them without violating their constitution..." So why didn't they know they needed a treaty before committing forces? Will some call the adults and tell them it's time to go to work. These children are making the US look like idiots.

I suppose another foreign policy failure shouldn't surprise us, but we have to start wondering if they can't do something this simple, what else aren't they doing right?

I have a suggestion. Follow our constitution for a change by asking congress to authorize another silly war. Maybe one member of congress would know enough about the "rule of law" to stop this silly war before Bush started it.


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Pentagon Releases Tribunal Crime List *
An Impeachable Offense Washington Post/AP
By PAULINE JELINEK
The Associated Press
Friday, February 28, 2003; 6:47 PM

Terror suspects prosecuted by U.S. military tribunals could be charged with any of two dozen crimes, including hijacking, poisoning and rape, under a draft list of offenses the Pentagon released Friday.

The Defense Department hopes to have the list finished by mid-March, after getting public comment, Pentagon lawyers said. Completing the list of crimes moves the Pentagon a step closer to possible tribunal prosecutions, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

"It does not necessarily mean there's a person who is ready to be put into that process," Rumsfeld said. "If you're asking me, `Do I have someone in mind that I'm going to tee up?' the answer is no."

President Bush approved the use of special military commissions after the Sept. 11 attacks with the aim of putting alleged terrorists on trial faster and in greater secrecy than possible in ordinary criminal courts. The president has the final say on who would be brought to such trials.

Thousands of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters have been captured by Afghan and U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan, and other terrorism suspects have been captured around the world.

The U.S. military holds about 650 men at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, although officials have said many were just foot soldiers and not of the stature of those who will be tried.

The most important terror suspects are being held in secret locations.

In addition to the detainees in Cuba and elsewhere, the administration may consider sending the case of Zacarias Moussaoui to a military tribunal.

Moussaoui, a French citizen, is the lone U.S. defendant charged with conspiring with the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. His trial judge in Alexandria, Va., has ruled he should have access to Ramzi Binalshibh, a captured lieutenant of accused terrorist kingpin Osama bin Laden. The government opposed the decision and is appealing.

If the decision is not overturned, the administration could decide to transfer the case, preferring secret testimony before a tribunal to public testimony in a civilian courtroom.

One detainee unaffected by the tribunals is Jose Padilla, 31, a former Chicago gang member held as an enemy combatant associated with bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Bush's executive order establishing the courts denied them jurisdiction over U.S. citizens like Padilla.

The 24 crimes mentioned Friday are violations long recognized as war crimes by the international community, said lawyers involved in drafting the list. Offenses left off the list include genocide and crimes against humanity, the kinds of crimes that Pentagon lawyers said were not a good fit for the terrorism tribunals.

The crimes on the draft list include:

-Terrorism, defined as killing or hurting people or attacking property in an attempt "to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government."

-Rape during the course of an armed conflict.

-"Employing poison or analogous weapons," which would cover the use of chemical weapons or biological toxins.

-Using civilians or civilian property to shield a military objective from attack.

-Killing or attacking civilians.

-Taking hostages.

-Hijacking.

The Pentagon lawyers said they and other government and outside experts studied international laws and treaties governing war crimes, which number in the dozens, to identify crimes for which the suspects could be tried.

"Membership crimes" - making joining al-Qaida a crime in itself - are not on the list. But the list includes another seven "related offenses" that allow prosecution of people not directly involved in a crime. Those related offenses include conspiracy, aiding or abetting, attempting, soliciting or ordering any of the 24 direct crimes on the list.

More than a year ago, the Pentagon announced rules under which the tribunals would operate. They are to offer defendants many of the same rights as in regular U.S. trials - they would be presumed innocent, given attorneys and convicted only if the evidence were beyond a reasonable doubt.

The rules also limit many rights. To keep cases out of federal courts, for example, defendants would have a very restricted right of appeal to a special review panel made up of one military officer and two outside experts deputized by Bush. Defendants could not appeal to a lower federal court or directly to the Supreme Court.

Defendants also might not be allowed to hear the evidence against them if it were classified, although their military-appointed defense attorney could. The tribunals also could be closed to the public if the presiding officer should decide that evidence was classified or sensitive, or to prevent threats to the safety of trial participants.

On the Net: Proposed regulations: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2003/d20030228dmci.pdf

Bush's executive order: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/11/20011113-27.html

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
As stated in other sections of the website, the Constitution says only the Congress has create tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court. Bush created these tribunals without the consent of congress. This is continuation of a previous impeachable offense.


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Forest Policy Benefits Timber Industry *
An Impeachable Offense
Washington Post/AP
By JOHN HEILPRIN
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 1, 2003; 8:13 AM

In just six months President Bush has succeeded in redirecting the nation's forest policy toward the liking of the timber industry.

Endangered species are getting less priority while environmental reviews and public appeals are being reduced and in some cases eliminated, all part of the "Healthy Forests" initiative Bush outlined last August for thinning overgrown woodlands prone to wildfires.

When Congress balked, Bush went around it with new regulations that could be implemented without changing law. After the November election, when his fellow Republicans took control of the Senate and increased their majority in the House, Congress checked off two more items on the administration's wish list.

All but one of five regulatory changes Bush sought are approaching the finish line. Two shorten or skip environmental reviews, one limits public appeals and another requires various agencies to coordinate their endangered species studies. A fifth, still in the works, would reduce time spent on endangered species reviews.

On Friday, the administration recommended that Congress create no more wilderness areas in the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the nation's largest. Ninety-two percent of Tongass already is off limits to timber production.

Earlier in February, Congress precluded environmentalists from going to court to challenge that recommendation. Lawmakers also tucked into a giant spending bill language allowing logging companies and other contractors to keep trees they harvest in exchange for reducing undergrowth, which helps start wildfires.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, which together manage more than 450 million acres of government land, can now issue 10-year contracts for that work with no limits on the size of trees that can be cut.

Bush and his aides seized on several years of drought and massive wildfires in the West to make their case for the changes. Last year, more than 7 million acres burned and the government spent more than $1.5 billion fighting wildfires - triple the amount originally budgeted.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton said 2003 "is shaping up to be a difficult year" and could be the worst fire season ever; the governors of Nebraska and Kansas each told her it is the driest year in their states since the 1930s Dust Bowl.

To environmentalists, the administration's approach to forest management is less about preventing wildfires than opening up more resource-rich federal land to timber and mining interests.

Jim Lyons, a Yale University forestry professor and former Agriculture Department undersecretary who supervised the Forest Service in the Clinton administration, said the White House appears intent on returning to the policy of the mid-1980s, when the Forest Service and the BLM had free rein to harvest timber.

"They're cutting the public out of the process, they're using trees to generate revenue to do this forest health and treatment work they want to do, and they're eliminating any substantive environmental review from the process," Lyons said.

In January, the Forest Service proposed excluding timber sales involving less than 250 acres and a half-mile of temporary roads from environmental reviews. Again, the government said it was motivated by the need to reduce wildfire risks by removing dead and dying trees.

Michael Klein, a spokesman for the American Forest and Paper Association, the timber industry's trade group, said the Bush administration's approach will help nudge the Forest Service toward better management of the nation's woodlands.

"It means just not sitting back and letting nature takes it course, but taking an active hand," he said.

The administration now wants Congress, in the name of fire prevention, to exempt up to 10 million more acres of national forests from environmental reviews and citizen appeals, eliminate administrative appeals for Forest Service decisions and direct courts to give more weight to the risks of inaction when thinning projects are challenged.

Separately, the administration is redrawing forest management plans to vest more power with local federal officials and rewriting a Clinton-era regulation that bars most logging on 58.5 million acres of non-wilderness land.

"We're making great progress getting the tools lined up ... but the real test lies ahead," said Agriculture Department undersecretary Mark Rey. "The proof ... will be what things look like 10 to 15 years from now."

On the Net:

Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us

Timber industry: http://www.afandpa.org

Earthjustice: http://www.earthjustice.org

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
"Earlier in February, Congress precluded environmentalists from going to court to challenge that recommendation." The congress can NOT preclude anyone from going to court. The court is independent and rights to access it can't be given or taken away by congress or anyone else. The law is unconstitutional and those who continue to support it must be impeached.


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Bush Backs off Medicare Plan (sic)
Washington Post
By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A02

President Bush has backed off a tentative proposal to force Medicare patients to join a managed-care plan in order to get prescription drug benefits, congressional sources said yesterday.

Capitol Hill leaders in both parties had said the administration's original plan, which was never officially released, had little chance of passing. White House officials, agonizing over how to recover from the public relations debacle, have scrambled to refine it.

Administration officials told congressional leaders yesterday that Bush now supports a modest drug benefit for senior citizens who stay in traditional Medicare coverage. The benefit would consist of a pharmacy discount card, with additional coverage for those who incur very high drug expenses, sources said.

The latest thinking from the White House attempts to offer a little help to all seniors, but more help to those who are willing to choose private insurance. The plan would provide more generous coverage to those who voluntarily enroll in private health plans -- including health maintenance organizations or other managed-care plans, or preferred-provider organizations or other private fee-for-service providers.

"The White House recognizes that they have a better chance of getting congressional support for the reforms they want to pass by taking care of seniors who want to stay in the current plan," a Republican official said.

The administration insists that the new plan would cost the same as its earlier incarnation -- $400 billion over 10 years. Officials hope to sell it as being analogous to the options available to federal employees, including members of Congress.

The new plan revives an approach the administration explored in the fall. That plan would have relied on drug discount cards for people who remained in traditional Medicare, with catastrophic coverage for high drug expenses and additional subsidies for those with low incomes.

The new proposal softens Bush's politically risky plan to require senior citizens to accept managed-care coverage to be eligible for the drug benefit. Bush's aides saw that as a way to curb spiraling Medicare costs.

A Democratic Senate aide said the new plan, which was first reported by Reuters, "falls far short" of what Democrats will demand.

The new proposal is expected to be released as soon as next week.

Staff writer Amy Goldstein contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
I don't know what category to put this one under. The media for reporting on a plan that never existed? A major Bush defeat? Democrats winning another one? All three are correct. In reality, there was no plan, but instead, a kinda idea, not really, maybe, could be, not sure about kinda thingy. The press touted the Bush Plan as "bold." In reality, not one person in the media read the plan because it didn't exist. Billions of words were written about Bush's bold Medicare plan. Words that are as worthless as Bush's (read also: the media's) disinformation on Iraq.


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Terror Index Lowered to Yellow
By Christopher Lee and Sara kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A01

The government lowered the terrorism threat index by one notch yesterday, saying the risk of an attack has abated somewhat, but warned Americans that al Qaeda is still poised to strike U.S. targets at home and abroad.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and other officials decided to drop the alert to yellow after 20 days at orange following a review of new intelligence information and because the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, had ended Feb. 13.

The move back to the mid-point on the five-tier system "is not a signal to government, law enforcement or citizens that the danger of a terrorist attack has passed," Ashcroft said in a statement with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "Returning to the elevated risk level is only an indication that some of the extra protective measures enacted by government and the private sector may be reduced at this time."

In the Washington region, some precautions were relaxed, but many others were left in place. New York officials, however, said they would stay at orange, maintaining the more extensive anti-terrorism measures that have been in place in the city since terrorists slammed aircraft into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

District police turned off a network of 14 surveillance cameras posted around the capital, but security around the Pentagon and other government buildings, as well as scrutiny of trucks and boats approaching the area, remained the same.

The military said it would maintain its air defense system of patrols and antiaircraft missiles around the city. U.S. Customs Service helicopters, which can be heard over many District neighborhoods, will continue their flights.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Homeland Security, however, were discussing whether to scale back a no-fly zone with a radius of 30 miles for private aircraft around the District to a 15-mile zone. And fewer police officers and vehicles may be seen patrolling local airports.

Area residents, frustrated by the continued prospect of preparing for a terror attack of unknown nature while going about normal routines, focused instead on preparing for the latest in a series of snowstorms. Many said the change from high risk to elevated risk seemed arbitrary, especially given the looming possibility of a U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"I don't understand why . . . today is any different from yesterday, especially since we're much closer to war today," said Debra Scott, who was stocking up on groceries at a Giant supermarket in Upper Marlboro in preparation for a snowbound weekend at her home in Anne Arundel County.

Paul C. Light, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution, said the threat index has produced little more than confusion for most Americans, who instead tend to gauge the threat level from media coverage of the conflict in Iraq and the war on terrorism.

"The Department of Homeland Security needs desperately to explain to Americans what the threat level means, what the significance is of a movement up or down," Light said. "Basically, I think Americans right now are on high alert and this particular indicator isn't having much of an effect one way or the other."

President Bush raised the 11-month-old threat index to the second-highest level, orange, on Feb. 7, triggering tighter security at borders, airports and hotels, enhanced identification checks at government buildings and increased protection of power grids, dams, financial networks and transportation systems.

Federal officials said they were especially concerned about "dirty bombs," biological and chemical attacks against civilians, particularly toward the end of the hajj. On Feb. 10, Homeland Security officials warned that every home should be stocked with three days' worth of water and food and recommended that families designate a room in which to gather in the event of an attack and that they have materials to seal it.

In some places, nervous Americans cleared store shelves of water, plastic sheeting and duct tape, but the warning also became fodder for jokes on late-night television and drew ridicule from experts who said some measures would provide only psychological benefits.

But intelligence and law enforcement officials say the danger is real. Despite the shift from orange to yellow alert, the CIA believes the chance of an attack remains fairly high, a senior administration official said yesterday. Another official familiar with the situation said he believes the color change has more to do with "the need to be able to boost it back up to orange when the war comes, because otherwise at that point you would have to go to red."

An official with the Homeland Security Department disputed that. "It wasn't brought down simply so it could get brought back up again. That's just not how it works. It's based on more substance than that," the official said.

FBI officials said that regardless of what color the alert index is, agents must investigate every threat, no matter how improbable, and the public must know as much as possible to harden security against an attack.

"We are operating in a world where we have got to get that information out there no matter what it is," a senior FBI official said.

In the past week, the FBI has alerted its field offices to the possibility of suicide bombings similar to ones Palestinian extremists have conducted against Israel. Osama bin Laden and leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, which is known as Hamas, in Gaza have called for such attacks against U.S. interests if the United States invades Iraq.

FBI agents have gone to Israel to learn ways to identify potential suicide bombers, officials said, and have been interviewing Iraqis in this country. They plan to talk to more of them in the event of war with Iraq.

The FBI also warned local law enforcement agencies to watch for sophisticated surveillance techniques that al Qaeda operatives planning attacks are known to employ, methods that range from using hidden cameras to posing as beggars or tourists.

At home, the higher threat level has translated into increased security costs for state and local governments and businesses, a factor federal officials say they consider when determining whether to raise the threat index.

"Lowering the threat level is based on the intelligence and the analysis of the intelligence and a realization that being at a heightened level of alert is difficult to maintain for personnel, asset and resource reasons," said an official with the Homeland Security Department.

State and local officials voiced their concerns about costs associated with the threat index to Ridge at a two-day gathering of state homeland security officials in Washington this week. One said that the recommendations to the private sector were "cost intensive" and affected some companies' bottom lines.

Several said they expect the level to rise, and remain, as war nears. The increasing concern is that homeland security needs will divert resources from other priorities at the state and local level, increasing calls for federal money.

In New York, officials said that despite the costs, they would continue measures such as bomb-sniffing dogs in Grand Central Station and police sweeps of subway trains and public squares.

"Whenever there are either threats, speculations or rumors [of attacks], New York is always in them," said Bill Cunningham, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Because of the U.N., because of the landmarks, because of the population, because of what New York symbolizes to the world, we have to maintain the orange alert status."

Many New Yorkers remain unfazed by it all. Steve Clearman, a 52-year-old venture capitalist strolling through Columbus Circle, said, "I'm not a duct tape kind of guy. I don't spend a lot of energy worrying about it."

Gabriela Leigh, a writer, said she also spends little time worrying about the nation's color code status. "It's one of those things you could exhaust yourself thinking about," she said. "You never really know when something is going to happen."

Staff writers Spencer Hsu, John Mintz, Walter Pincus, Susan Schmidt and Debbi Wilgoren in Washington and Christine Haughney in New York contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Did you fall for this lie? Did you catch it? The alert went to orange because of "credible evidence of an attack" right? Wrong! The alert was based on fabricated information. So what took them so long to go back to yellow? Your guess is as good as mine but I think Bush gets off when he's terrorizing us. It makes him feel like a man or a war-time president


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Iraq Agrees to Destroy Missiles
Washington Post
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A01

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 -- Iraq agreed "in principle" today to begin destroying stocks of missiles that violate United Nations resolutions, but demanded that U.N. weapons inspectors first begin talks in Baghdad over how and when they will be dismantled.

The Iraqi statement, which was presented in a letter to chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, raised questions over whether Iraq is prepared to meet a Saturday deadline to begin destroying the Al Samoud-2 missiles and related components, or whether it is seeking to engage inspectors in drawn-out negotiations in an effort to delay a U.S.-led war.

Iraq sent the letter as Blix presented a lukewarm assessment of Baghdad's record of cooperation during more than three months of inspections. In a draft report that will be formally presented to the council on Saturday, Blix said Iraq "could have made greater efforts to finding remaining proscribed items or credible evidence showing the absence of such items. The results in terms of disarmament have been very limited so far."

Blix's decision to give Iraq until Saturday to begin destroying dozens of Al Samoud-2 missiles presented the Security Council with a potential turning point in its increasingly contentious debate over whether to agree to a U.S.-sponsored resolution that would declare Baghdad has failed to meet its obligations to dismantle its banned weapons systems. The resolution, which is co-sponsored by Britain and Spain, would effectively pave the way for a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The statement from Baghdad indicates that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is prepared to back away from his assertion, made in an interview with CBS News broadcast this week, that he saw no need to destroy any missiles because none violates U.N. restrictions.

If Hussein agrees to comply with Blix's order, it would further complicate the Bush administration's policy by providing ammunition to those council members, led by France and Germany, who contend that war is unjustified and that inspections should continue.

If Hussein refuses, or seeks to engage the inspectors in drawn-out talks, the United States would stand to gain support for its argument that the Iraqi leader is not cooperating and that war is justified.

The letter to Blix was sent by Amir Saadi, a senior adviser to Hussein. In the letter to Blix, Saadi said the Iraqis express their "acceptance in principle of your request despite our belief that the decision to destroy was unjust."

Saadi added that the timing of Blix's request "seems to us to be one with political aims," and asked the United Nations to send a team to Iraq to "establish a framework and timetable" for the missiles' destruction.

The U.N. weapons inspection agency said tonight that Blix's deputy, Dimitrius Perricos, "is currently in Baghdad to clarify this acceptance and to start destruction measures."

Iraq maintains that the Al Samoud missile, which exceeded a U.N.-imposed 93-mile range limit in 13 tests, would travel within the allowed range when weighed down with guidance systems.

Senior Bush administration officials reacted coolly to the Iraqi statement, saying that it would have no impact on Washington's effort to win adoption of a new resolution.

"With respect to the missiles, it doesn't change our view of the situation in the slightest," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said in Washington. "Those missiles were prohibited in the first place. They should have been destroyed long ago. They were told to destroy them some days ago, and they've been stringing it out till the very last minute."

Speaking before the release of the Iraqi letter, President Bush reiterated that destruction of the missiles would not be sufficient to meet U.S. demands.

"The rockets are just the tip of the iceberg," Bush said. "The only question at hand is total, complete disarmament, which he is refusing to do."

Bush continued efforts to win additional support in the Security Council, where up to now the United States has failed to garner a majority in the 15-nation chamber backing an immediate move to war. He spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking that Russia not veto the U.S. resolution.

The Security Council's divisions -- which have pitted the United States against two longstanding allies, France and Germany, as well as against Russia and China -- boiled over this afternoon during a heated three-hour exchange in chamber that one European diplomat described as "ugly."

France, Germany, Russia and China continued to press the council to back a proposal to reinforce inspections and establish a timetable that would guarantee the continuation of inspections at least into the middle of summer, when the intense desert heat in Iraq would complicate U.S. war plans. France maintained that the majority of council members oppose the American text.

"This is a resolution about war," said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere. "A majority of members [are] thinking that the time has not come to decide to go to war."

The United States, Britain and Spain sought to increase pressure on six undecided council members -- Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon and Angola -- whose votes will be crucial in obtaining passage of the U.S.-backed resolution.

Adoption of a Security Council resolution requires at least nine votes and no vetoes from the five permanent members -- France, Russia, China, the United States and Britain. At the moment, the United States is assured of only four votes -- its own plus those of Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. Most council diplomats said their governments would not decide until after Blix next reports personally to the council on March 7.

Chile's U.N. ambassador, Gabriel Valdes, complained that the five permanent members had failed to resolve their differences, and had thrown the decision of whether to go to war "on the back of the [10] elected members" of the council.

"We need a convergence of wills," he said. "There are five countries that are today permanent members of the council with right of veto, and we urge them to live up to their responsibilities to lay the groundwork for an agreement."

The two Latin American diplomats signaled their support for a compromise proposal, first floated by Canada, that would set a March 31 deadline for Iraq to cooperate. The Canadian proposal envisions the use of force if Iraq fails to disarm by that date.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
The war nuts (around 30% of Americans) won't accept anything short of war. Bush is playing to this minority because he needs really dumb people to vote for him in the next election. No matter what Iraq does, or doesn't do, to them war is the only answer. To smart people, war is necessary only when no other alternative is available.


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Catholic Bishops: Iraqi War is Immoral
Washington Post
Alan Cooperman

Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A18

Questioning the "moral legitimacy" of a war on Iraq, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on Roman Catholics across the United States to "speak out strongly in accord with their conscience" and to fast and pray for peace on March 5, Ash Wednesday.

The statement Wednesday by Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville, Ill., echoed strong opposition from the Vatican to a U.S.-led attack on Iraq, citing Pope John Paul II's remarks that military action is "not inevitable" and that "war is always a defeat for humanity."

"Our bishops' conference continues to question the moral legitimacy of any preemptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq. . . . With the Holy See and many religious leaders throughout the world, we believe that resort to war would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for the use of military force," Gregory said.

Gregory sent a letter to President Bush in September saying that a preemptive attack would be "difficult to justify," and the full body of U.S. bishops voted in November for a statement urging world leaders to "step back from the brink of war."
 

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Premptive attack is unjust and unjust is immoral. Those who support war with Iraq would be hard pressed to justify such action using any known moral system of beliefs. Iraq poses no threat to the US and has has never threatened the US. Our American Hitler has Americans so worked up over 9/11 that some are using emotion instead of their brains. It's time for Americans to start thinking again.


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Military Bill Gives Tax Cuts to Foreigners
Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A04

In a little-noticed House Ways and Means Committee session yesterday, Republican lawmakers packed a military bill with tax breaks for makers of bows and arrows, foreigners who bet on U.S. horse races and other special interests.

The four-hour session turned an innocuous measure providing tax relief for U.S. troops into a magnet for House members' pet provisions. Democrats loudly protested, and at least one prominent Republican asked his colleagues to refrain from inflating the bill's cost.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.), the panel's ranking Democrat, questioned why lawmakers would clutter a popular bill with hundreds of millions of dollars in parochial tax breaks.

"Never before have I seen members of Congress rush to put special interests before the interests of our men and women in uniform," Rangel said. "It's disgraceful."

Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) defended the measure, noting the bill had undergone several legislative incarnations. He questioned why his colleagues were so quick to attack a bill that passed unanimously at day's end.

"If they truly were upset by what occurred, why wouldn't they call for a roll call vote?" Thomas asked.

But Dan Maffei, spokesman for the committee's Democrats, said lawmakers had no choice but to approve the bill. "What are we going to do: Oppose tax relief for the military because Republicans loaded it up with tax provisions?" Maffei said.

Several Republicans interviewed yesterday said they simply seized an opportunity to remedy inequities in the tax code.

"It was a vehicle," said Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), whose measure would ensure that ranchers could defer paying taxes on livestock sold because of a drought's impact. McInnis noted that his amendment passed by voice vote.

Rep. Gerald C. Weller (R-Ill.) provided relief to fishing tackle-box producers with a provision repealing a 10 percent excise tax on tackle and utility boxes. Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.) inserted a provision cutting taxes for timber farmers who sell their land.

Other provisions included special tax treatment for a blend of diesel fuel and water offered by Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and a tax break that Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) wrote for foreigners betting outside the United States on American horse races.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R), whose home state of Wisconsin is a major archery manufacturer, moved to ensure that foreign bow and arrow companies would pay the same excise tax as do U.S. companies. His provision would also remove the taxes imposed on lighter, nonhunting bows.

"We're losing jobs right now because imports are not taxed and domestic arrows are taxed," Ryan said. "It's a big loophole we worked to correct quickly. . . . It's an urgent situation."

But Rep. Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), a Ways and Means member who also is chairman of the Budget Committee, suggested that his colleagues were unwise to add to the bill's cost. Thomas said concerns can be addressed once the House and Senate pass their versions of the bill and start to reconcile them.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Republicans say they want more military spending, which is kinda true. The only problem is they don't want spending on the military to go to the military.


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George Will, Estrada and the Constitution
Washington Post
By George F. Will
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A23

The president, preoccupied with regime change elsewhere, will occupy a substantially diminished presidency unless he defeats the current attempt to alter the constitutional regime here. If at least 41 Senate Democrats succeed in blocking a vote on the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Constitution effectively will be amended.

If Senate rules, exploited by an anti-constitutional minority, are allowed to trump the Constitution's text and two centuries of practice, the Senate's power to consent to judicial nominations will have become a Senate right to require a 60-vote supermajority for confirmations. By thus nullifying the president's power to shape the judiciary, the Democratic Party will wield a presidential power without having won a presidential election.

Senate Democrats cite Estrada's lack of judicial experience. But 15 of the 18 nominees to the D.C. court since President Carter have lacked such experience, as did 26 Clinton circuit judge nominees who were confirmed. And 43 of the 108 Supreme Court justices (most recently Byron White, Thurgood Marshall and Lewis Powell), including eight of the 18 chief justices (most recently Earl Warren), had no prior judicial experience.

Sen. Charles Schumer opposes Estrada because his mind is, Schumer says, a mystery. And because the Justice Department refuses to release papers Estrada wrote during his five years (four of them in the Clinton administration) in the solicitor general's office. The department, emphatically supported by all seven living former solicitors general (four of them Democrats), says that violating the confidentiality of department deliberations would have a deleterious effect on those deliberations. Anyway, the papers Schumer seeks contain not Estrada's personal views but legal arguments supporting the litigation positions of the U.S. government.

Estrada, whose nomination has been pending for almost two years and who has met privately with any senator who has asked to meet with him, answered more than 100 questions from the Judiciary Committee, an unusually large number. Only two of 10 Judiciary Committee Democrats exercised their right to submit written questions to Estrada for written answers. Schumer did not.

Schumer says, "No judicial nominee that I'm aware of, for such a high court, has ever had so little of a record." Actually, he is aware of at least two nominees to a yet higher court -- Gov. Warren and Sen. Hugo Black -- who had no record comparable to Estrada's 15 briefs and oral arguments (10 of them victorious) in cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Schumer says Estrada would not cite "three Supreme Court cases in the past you disagree with." Actually, he was asked to cite three "from the last 40 years," a transparent attempt to force him to discuss Roe v. Wade. But because abortion-related cases still come before courts, Estrada could not discuss Roe without violating the American Bar Association's Code of Judicial Conduct, which says prospective judges "shall not . . . make statements that commit or appear to commit the nominee with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the courts." Which is why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, declining to answer certain questions at her confirmation hearing, said, "It would be wrong for me to say or preview in this legislative chamber how I would cast my vote on questions the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide" (emphasis added).

When Boyden Gray was White House counsel for the first President Bush, Sens. Edward Kennedy and Joseph Biden -- both now former chairmen of the Judiciary Committee, and both still on it -- warned him that any nominee would be rejected if the White House asked the nominee questions about specific cases. And a Judiciary Committee questionnaire, which every nominee must complete, sternly asks: "Has anyone involved in the process of selecting you as a judicial nominee discussed with you any specific case, legal issue, or question in a manner that could reasonably be interpreted as asking or seeking a commitment as to how you would rule on such a case, issue or question?" (emphasis added).

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper 76 that the Senate's role is to refuse nominations only for "special and strong reasons" having to do with "unfit characters." The American Bar Association unanimously gave Estrada its highest rating, and Estrada's supervisors in the solicitor general's office gave him the highest possible rating in every category, in every rating period.

Given the cynicism and intellectual poverty of the opposition to Estrada, if the Republican Senate leadership cannot bring his nomination to a vote, Republican "control" of the Senate will be risible. And if the president does not wage a fierce, protracted and very public fight for his nominee, he will display insufficient seriousness about the oath he swore to defend the Constitution.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
This commentary is ripe with tripe. Let's take it apart piece by piece. First, what else does the Constitution say? Article One (the most important) has the following line about Senate rules--rules that Will thinks are unconstitutional. "Section 5: Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings...."

How can a rule made under the Constitution be unconstitutional? It can't. But George Will doesn't tell you the whole truth because the real truth damns his entire argument.

Will is a conservative and that means he can't be intellectually consistent or honest. Republicans used the filibuster to kill Clinton's stimulus package, heathcare reform and of course many of his nominees. Did George Will say the GOP filibusters were unconstitutional as well? Not a chance.

One such well known Clinton nominee filibuster was against James Hormel. The GOP filibuster his nomination for three years. Where was Will's outrage then?

Will then resorts to simple stupidity by pulling up a line from the Federalist's Papers. These Papers are not part of the Constitution and have absolutely nothing to do with any argument about the Constitution. Instead, they are the writings of mostly one man as editorials to New York newspapers trying the convince their legislature to ratify the new constitution. They are Federalist spin, not constitutional law..

Democrats need to filibuster everything Bush puts forward. The long term benefit will be overwhelming. Republicans in complete control and not able to do squat.


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Bush Blames GOP for Underfunded Homeland Security
Washington Post
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 28, 2003; Page A06

President Bush's campaign to enact his domestic agenda and win reelection next year is creating political problems for congressional Republicans.

Bush, accused by Democrats of shortchanging homeland security, is blaming the GOP-controlled Congress for underfunding programs to guard against terrorism. Mr. Bush told the National Governors Association this week that Congress "did not respond to the $3.5 billion we asked for -- they not only reduced the budget that we asked for, they earmarked a lot of the money" for other unrelated programs. "Tactically, that was a stupid thing for the [White House] to do," a senior House GOP aide said yesterday.

Democrats said the president's remarks likely will be fodder for political ads in 2004 accusing House and Senate Republicans of failing to protect the homeland. The president "is saying, in effect, Republicans shortchanged homeland security," said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). After reading the president's remarks, Hoyer said he told his staff, "let's develop this" for a campaign.

The president also is deploying Cabinet officials to drum up support for his $695 billion tax cut plan on the home turf of GOP lawmakers who have expressed reservations about the proposal, a senior White House official said. Some Republicans privately worry the White House will undercut congressional allies if it puts too much pressure on them. Sens. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), possible targets of the White House campaign, face reelection in 2004.

A top White House official said Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and other officials will travel to several states with Republican Senate and House members to promote the tax cut plan.

"There are probably places they can go and have more of an impact on persuading point of views," said Voinovich spokesman Scott Milburn. Voinovich has said he supports Bush's tax plan, in theory, but believes its centerpiece -- eliminating the tax on dividends -- should be considered later. Specter has been generally supportive of the plan, but has not shied from opposing Bush in the past.

Milburn said the White House has assured him any visits by Evans or Snow would be friendly and educational.

Some conservative Republicans worry Bush will demand more than $100 billion this year for a war in Iraq, driving deficits beyond $400 billion and providing Democrats a good campaign issue next year. But most Republicans believe the threat Iraq poses justifies big deficit spending.

Bush also is unintentionally pressuring congressional Republicans to spend more time raising money this winter. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who an aide said raised more than $1 million in January, and other top Republicans are trying to collect as much money as possible before Bush vacuums up huge sums from GOP donors. Bush is expected to raise upward of $250 million for his reelection and spend much less time than he did last year raising money and campaigning for fellow GOP candidates.

White House political adviser Karl Rove has privately assured top congressional officials the president will not purposely chide GOP lawmakers for his political gain. And most congressional Republicans are vocally backing Bush on going to war in Iraq, enacting his tax cut plan and approving his judicial nominees.

Still, the euphoria of controlling the White House, Senate and House for only the second time since 1954 is slowing giving way to reality. It was not until this week that congressional Republicans saw the first evidence Bush would undercut them if it served his best political interest. In his speech to the governors, Bush said he was "disappointed" that Congress did not provide the $3.5 billion he requested a year ago for counterterrorism programs.

A top GOP House official said the Bush administration was intimately involved in negotiating the details of the $397 billion omnibus spending bill the president signed into law earlier this month. White House officials and many budget experts said the measure provides $1.3 billion specifically to local governments to combat terrorism -- considerably less than the $3.5 billion that Bush said he wanted.

"If the president wanted the money, he should have asked for it. He never did," said a senior House GOP leadership aide. "Bush will say what he needs to say, and we understand that."

Democrats took advantage of the dust-up yesterday to slam Republicans for spending too little on homeland defense.

"Incredibly, the president is now blaming others for the budget he himself insisted on," said Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.).

Democrats said they were introducing a bill to provide $5 billion more for emergency response preparedness -- the same package that Republicans, at White House insistence, refused to add to the omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year. "No more blaming others, no more delay," Daschle said.

Staff writer Helen Dewar contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Bush hammered Democrats on Homeland Security after they proposed it (typical Bush). Then the polls showed Americans favored it and Bush embraced it as his own (typical Bush). Then he beat democrats over the head because they didn't give him dictatorial control of the new department. What a joke. Of course the press helps Bush get away with his utter hypocrisy.

Now, Bush is undercutting the GOP congress to save his sorry butt from the big bad democrats who will attack him for spending too much on tax cuts and not enough on Homeland Security. Don't fall for it.

In a few months Bush will be blaming the GOP for his record deficits. In effect he'll be telling us he really didn't want all the spending he signs into law (ala Reagan) but he really does want more spending (tax cuts and homeland security). You have to be brain dead if you still think Bush has credibility on any issue.



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