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Impeach Bush

Pentagon Refuses Democrat Requests for Post War Information
Washington Post/AP
By KEN GUGGENHEIM
The Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2003; 2:41 PM

Under a little pressure from a senior senator, the Army's top general got into hot water when he took a shot at responding to a question his bosses insist can't be answered.

There's no way to estimate the size of the military force that might be needed to maintain order until a civil government can function in the aftermath of any war against Iraq, Pentagon planners say.

Would U.S. forces be welcomed as liberators or fought as a hostile army? Would Iraq's infrastructure survive largely intact, or would oil fields be in flames and highways, bridges and rail lines need rebuilding? Would other countries provide peacekeepers, or would American troops be largely on their own?

The Pentagon has resisted requests from Democratic lawmakers to provide at least a range. When Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki told a Senate committee last week that several hundred thousand troops might be needed, his comments were rejected two days later as "wildly off the mark" by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Some lawmakers aren't sure that Shinseki was wrong. A report last fall by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Central Command had discussed a plan for postwar Iraq that predicted up to 200,000 troops could be needed.

Shinseki wasn't backing off his estimate "because to him it was his best military judgment, an educated military guess, based on what is deploying now," said Army spokesman Col. Joe Curtin.

Also, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wasn't as blunt as his deputy had been, telling reporters he believes Shinseki's estimate was high, but "If he's right, it's helpful."

The question of the size of the postwar U.S. force affects two major issues for Democrats. One is their criticism that Iraq is diverting attention and resources from potentially greater threats, such as North Korea and al-Qaida.

The other is the overall cost of the war, which the Pentagon also has refused to state publicly but has been estimated at more than $60 billion. Democrats say that considering war costs and rising deficits, the country can't afford President Bush's proposed second round of tax cuts.

"This is not a trivial number, not a trivial item," said Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "We need to know it. It may temper a few attitudes about how big the additional tax cuts should be."

Shinseki gave his estimate at the Senate Armed Services Committee, under questioning from the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. "We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems," Shinseki said.

Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., said he discussed the remarks with Shinseki the next day. He said Shinseki had tried to provide "a top end figure, figuring it was better to err on the side of caution," McHugh said. He said Shinseki indicated the figure included not just soldiers in Iraq, but support troops elsewhere.

Shinseki was right in offering a high figure "when you're dealing with politicians like us, because we tend to hold it over your head if you come in low," said McHugh. He chairs the House Armed Services total force subcommittee, which deals with personnel issues.

In his unusual public repudiation of Shinseki's comments, Wolfowitz told the House Budget Committee that a lower figure should be expected. He said it's unlikely more troops would be needed for peacekeeping than to fight the war and that other nations are likely to help. He also said the relative stability of northern Iraq, which has remained outside of Saddam Hussein's control since the 1991 war, bodes well for the country.

The "most fundamental point," he said, is "we simply cannot predict" because it is unknown how the war and its aftermath will be conducted. Among the uncertainties are how long the war might last, whether chemical or biological weapons would be used and how occupying U.S. forces would be viewed by Iraqis. Levin, in an interview, said that if the Pentagon knows that Shinseki's figures are off, they should provide Congress with a better estimate.

"Either the Pentagon doesn't have a judgment, an estimate, a range, and that would be irresponsible, or they won't share what they have concluded, which is totally unacceptable," he said.

"They're quick to criticize their senior military officers who give us their best judgment, but they won't share their own best judgment," he said. "They're just in disarray on this one."

But the House Armed Services committee's top Democrat, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, said the Pentagon has cooperated with him, providing private briefings on post-Saddam Iraq. He said he never received troop estimates and never asked for them, recognizing it is impossible to make such predictions. "I think they are making plans as well as they can," he said.

He said, however, that Shinseki's estimate was "probably a very accurate judgment from his part," assuming a worst-case scenario.

"Plan for the worst and hope for the best," Skelton said.

On the Net: House Armed Services Committee: http://armedservices.house.gov/

Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Yes, it's gotten this bad. The military thinks we have only one political party and they can disregard requests for information from Democrats. Our democracy has seldom been so imperiled. Our military leaders should be ashamed of themselves.

If the military doesn't answer Democrat questions we need to rid ourselves of them when Bush loses power. No one can force the military to disregard the Congress, so they can't use Rumsfeld or Bush as an excuse. We can only hope our military leaders will know their place and answer questions from all our representatives and senators.

Shinseki appears to be a man of character. The others in this article are not.


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Aide on U.S. Image in Muslim World Quits
Washington Post/AP
By GEORGE GEDDA
The Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2003; 11:23 AM

Charlotte Beers, the Bush administration's point person for improving the U.S. image in the Muslim world, is resigning because of health reasons, a State Department official said Monday.

The official, asking not be identified, said Beers' resignation will become effective in about two weeks.

Her interim replacement will be Patricia Harrison, who heads the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

A former advertising executive, Beers spent 17 months as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, attempting to reverse the anti-American tide in Muslim countries.

Beers acknowledged last week that the task is daunting.

"The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen and how we are in fact seen, is frighteningly wide," Beers told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last Thursday.

She cited her efforts under way to boost the U.S. image, including cultural exchanges and television broadcasts. Her office promoted a documentary on Muslim life in the United States that was widely aired in the Islamic nations.

Her overall strategy was to try to reach as many ordinary Muslims overseas as possible while generally ignoring policy issues.

She has found that changing hearts and minds in Islamic countries is a long-term challenge. One example is the continuing hostility in these countries to U.S. military action against Iraq.

Beers' State Department biography says she was the only executive in the advertising industry to have served as chairman of two of the top 10 worldwide advertising agencies: J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather.

Not long after taking office, Beers became resentful about media profiles of her that seemed to equate her role in trying to sell America abroad with her prior role of selling Uncle Ben's Rice, among other products.

She was said to feel that such accounts trivialized her efforts at the State Department to erase stereotypes about America in Islamic countries.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell used the same analogy in Senate testimony in November 2001, a month after Beers was sworn in.

"Well, guess what? She got me to buy Uncle Ben's rice and so there is nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something," Powell said.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Another one bites the dust.


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GOP Says $300B Deficit Wouldn't Be Record
Washington Post/AP
By ALAN FRAM
The Associated Press
Monday, March 3, 2003; 4:10 PM

The government is on track to amass annual federal deficits this year and next exceeding $300 billion for the first time. Republicans insist the red ink would not be a record, a contention Democrats reject in a linguistic duel less about economics than politics.

"They're not always engaged in an academic search for truth," Indiana University economics professor Willard Witte said of both parties.

Economists agree the most meaningful way to compare historic budget figures is to factor in changes in the dollar's value or the size of the economy. Republicans say that when inflation is considered, there have been nine shortfalls since World War II worse than the projected deficits for 2003 and 2004.

Even so, that argument is part of a weeks-long GOP campaign to downplay their deficit forecasts in hopes of aiding congressional passage of President Bush's proposed $1.46 trillion in fresh tax cuts over the next decade.

"They're engaged in trying to carry the day in some policy argument, " Witte said of the two parties, "so they're bound to interpret the truth in the light that makes their case most strongly."

Republicans and Democrats always compete for words and numbers that help them define an issue most favorably. Republicans eager to abolish the tax on large estates call it the "death" tax, while Democrats trying to taint Bush's proposed new tax cuts label them the "leave-no-millionaire-behind" plan, a play on his "no-child-left-behind" education initiative.

In the budget Bush sent Congress last month, he projected shortfalls of $304 billion this year and $307 billion next - numbers that war and other factors are expected to make worse.

Until now, the $290 billion deficit of 1992 under the first President Bush has never been surpassed.

"How can they say it's not a record? You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know $304 billion is more than $290 billion," said Tom Kahn, Democratic staff director of the House Budget Committee.

But when Democrats and journalists began referring to the forecast deficits as a "record," Republicans adamantly insisted that the word was meaningless because the label ignored the erosion that inflation has caused in the dollar.

When converted to the value the dollar had in 1996, Bush's budget documents say, the projected $307 billion deficit of 2004 would be just $265 billion.

And, using those same 1996 dollars, the $290 billion shortfall of 1992 becomes $318 billion; the $55 billion deficit of 1943 is $425 billion; and there were bigger deficits in 1944, 1945, 1983, 1985, 1986,1991 and 1993.

"Many headlines erroneously proclaimed the president's proposals would produce 'record' deficits," chided a newsletter by the Senate Budget Committee, run by Chairman Don Nickles, R-Okla., which cited "a deficit of understanding."

The battle over how best to characterize multiyear budget figures was also waged in 1995 - when Republicans took the opposite view from their position today and Democrats accused them of trying to "cut" Medicare and Medicaid.

Those two huge, popular health insurance programs for the elderly, poor and disabled grow automatically each year to cover medical inflation and growing pools of beneficiaries. In 1995, Republicans' budget-balancing plans culled savings from both by slowing their growth.

GOP Chairman Haley Barbour even took out newspaper ads offering $1 million to anyone who could prove Republicans would "cut" Medicare. Republicans said those programs were not being cut because spending for both would still rise every year - the opposite of their view today that inflation and other factors must be considered.

In the current battle, Republicans say the huge forecast deficits are manageable when compared to the size of the U.S. economy.

Next year's projected $307 billion shortfall would be 2.7 percent of the $10.5 trillion economy - a proportion many economists don't find alarming by itself.

That would be far less than the 6 percent of the economy the $208 billion deficit of 1983 ate up, the biggest percentage since World War II. Since 1980, budget deficits have exceeded 2.7 percent of the economy 12 other years.

Yet the deficit's magnitude concerns analysts who say there should be surpluses now to prepare for the costly retirement of the huge baby boom generation. They also worry that if the shortfalls don't fade when the economy recovers, companies will compete for borrowing with the government and push interest rates upward.

"Then it becomes an issue," said J.P. Morgan and Co. senior economist Jim Glassman.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
These guys can't even lie well. Let's take a simple everyday example and see if their version of reality works. Let's assume groceries cost us $1000 last month, and this month they cost us $3000, the most we've ever spent. Do we say grocery costs are actually lower because our income went up? Of course not. Do we then try to persuade ourselves that if we adjust for inflation, it's not really our highest grocery bill? Not a chance.

Not even the most die-hard conservative believes this kind of rhetoric anymore. We all know the deficit this year will exceed $400 billion. This will be the highest deficit in US history. This is the exact opposite of what republicans said would happen when they passed their tax cut. They lied and we know it. Readers of this site are not the saps they take us for.


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'Virtual March' Floods Senate With Calls Against an Iraq War
Washington Post
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 27, 2003; Page A22

Hundreds of thousands of antiwar activists flooded Senate phone lines yesterday as part of a "Virtual March" on Washington aimed at heading off a U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Protesters called and faxed senators in an innovative action, billed as a way to influence policy "without leaving your living room." Senators enlisted extra staffers to answer calls and to tally the number of constituents registering their opinions.

The calls tied up the lines of war opponents, such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), as well as supporters of President Bush's policies, such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the senator's office received about 1,800 phone calls and 4,000 e-mails. "We've resorted to using cell phones because nobody can get through," she said. An aide to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) estimated his office received two or three calls a minute.

The protest also jammed the phone lines to such offices as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

While an official count was unavailable, a Washington Post survey of several Senate offices suggested that perhaps 100,000 people had their calls answered. Tens of thousands of other protesters were unable to get through. Many thousands faxed and e-mailed lawmakers' offices.

Tom Andrews, national director of the group Win Without War, which organized the effort, said the outpouring "exceeded our expectations." He estimated that a million Americans called or faxed senators yesterday, and said that 500,000 had pledged to do so on the group's Web site.

"We wanted to make it clear to the political community in Washington there are large numbers of Americans who feel very strongly about this, and we are organized and politically active," Andrews said. "We think the Senate is in the best position to do something about this very serious mistake the United States is poised to be making."

But the massive phone drive apparently did little to change the positions of lawmakers. Chris Matthews, a spokesman for Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), said many of the calls came from out of state, and said Smith continued to back Bush's apparent decision to launch a preemptive strike against Iraq.

"Obviously he takes people's views into account," Matthews said. "He also has come to his own conclusions regarding this."

Nor did Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) reverse his support for a military strike, although he issued a statement praising the protesters. "I know what it's like to be an activist trying to get the public's attention and capture the attention of the government in Washington," said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who later led protests against that conflict.

Staff writer Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company


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Last Economic Adviser Resigns--Hubbard
Washington Post
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 27, 2003; Page A09 .

R. Glenn Hubbard, the architect of President Bush's plan to slash taxes on corporate dividends and the last remaining member of the administration's original economic team, announced his resignation yesterday as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Bush nominated Harvard University economist N. Gregory Mankiw to replace Hubbard, whose resignation is effective tomorrow. Mankiw must be confirmed by the Senate.

Hubbard's announcement and Mankiw's nomination have been expected since last month. Hubbard's wife and two young sons had never left New York City, where he was a professor at Columbia University before joining the Bush administration.

Hubbard, 44, had told administration colleagues several months ago that the strain on his family had grown too difficult, a factor he cited in his resignation letter to Bush.

"As I discussed last fall, this decision is a difficult one, as serving you in the campaign and in this post has been the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life, but family needs are my most significant concern," he wrote.

Upheaval in the Bush economic team kept him in Washington longer than he intended, friends say. In December, Bush forced out his first Treasury secretary, Paul H. O'Neill, and his National Economic Council director, Lawrence B. Lindsey. Hubbard was the only architect of the president's 10-year, $637 billion economic growth plan left to help sell it as the new economic team was coming on board.

Friends say Hubbard also held out hope that he might be named deputy treasury secretary under the newly named Treasury chief, John W. Snow. That job did not come through, although Hubbard seemed to indicate that he would still like such a post.

"I hope that I may serve again in this or a future administration," he wrote to the president.

According to administration economists, Mankiw was Hubbard's handpicked successor. A bigger name in academic circles than Hubbard, Mankiw is the author of two highly regarded economic textbooks that have sold more than a million copies, been translated into 17 languages and made Mankiw a millionaire.

Mankiw and Federal Reserve Board economist Douglas Elmendorf also devised a statistical formula that is widely used to calculate the federal budget deficit's impact on long-term interest rates.

Opponents of Bush's tax policies have used the Mankiw-Elmendorf formula to charge that deficits that have appeared over the past two years will harm the economy over the long run, and that further tax cutting will make the situation worse.

But Hubbard has contended that the model proves the White House's position that the deficits are small, relative to the size of the economy.

The position of Council of Economic Advisers chairman became less visible under President Clinton, who created the National Economic Council to help formulate policy. During the Clinton administration, the CEA chair played more of an advisory role.

Hubbard significantly raised the position's profile, putting his stamp on policy and publicly selling it.

In contrast, Mankiw, who turns 45 this month, will take a deliberately low profile as the "inside man" on the economic team, according to a Republican source. That will let Snow and National Economic Council Director Stephen Friedman become the salesmen-in-chief for an economic growth plan that has run into stiff opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Two points; First, press reports have consistently said Bush is loyal to those who work for him. That was a pile of crap from day one. Hubbard is the last economic advisors and if you think family was the problem guess again.

This line is a blatant lie; "But Hubbard has contended that the model proves the White House's position that the deficits are small, relative to the size of the economy." We don't need a model to see that interest rates as a % of gdp are low relative to gdp. All we have to do is look at the raw numbers. Good grief. We spent $200 billion on interest costs for the first four months of this fiscal year, which is more than we spent on the military. But of course to conservative idiot's $200 billion is nothing to worry about because our economy is huge. Don't forget, Bush has set himself up to give us the largest debt in US history. Debt is future taxes plus interest. So if you like high taxes, support GW, and his deficits, cough, tax cut, cough, tax increase.


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Busting Budgetary Illusions
Washington Post
By David S. Broder Sunday, March 2, 2003; Page B07

Under the shadow of a continuing threat of terrorism and a rapidly approaching military showdown with Iraq, a largely unforeseen test of domestic policy is coming before the American people.

When President Bush took office 26 months ago, few could have foreseen that his tenure would produce a serious debate on the proper size and shape of government. His rhetoric contained the usual flourishes of anti-bureaucratic sentiment, but he qualified his conservative message by emphasizing "compassion" as a proper goal. On one memorable occasion, he rebuked congressional Republicans for what seemed to him an effort to "balance the budget on the backs of the poor."

Even if one viewed those statements with skepticism, the prospect of giant budget surpluses -- $5.6 trillion over the next 10 years -- made it seem unlikely that hard choices would be forced on Congress or the president. With the two parties evenly balanced, the betting was that Republicans and Democrats alike would be able to finance their favorite programs and still cut taxes.

Well, the combination of a persistently weak economy, the effects of the 9/11 attacks and the costs of preventing terrorism and challenging rogue regimes from Iraq to Afghanistan to North Korea has shattered those comfortable illusions. The Bush budgets still strive to preserve the pretense that all good things can be had at once. The budget message the president delivered last month claimed to "address the many challenges our society faces: bridging the gap for low-income families, so they can buy affordable homes; helping communities of faith pull the addicted from the grip of drugs; lifting children out of poverty and hopelessness by creating good schools and offering them caring adult mentors; and easing the pain and hardship of the global epidemic of AIDS." All this, plus another large tax cut.

It did not take long, nor was it difficult, for opposition Democrats and the interest groups involved in those programs to refute most of those boasts with figures from Bush's own budget. Housing advocates, for example, pointed out that funds for public housing, elderly housing, community development and several other major programs are budgeted by Bush to be lower in fiscal 2004 than they were a year ago -- without even reckoning the need for additional spending to keep up with inflation and population growth.

Such disputes are almost routine in Washington, a standard part of the bargaining process when Congress is weighing the next year's spending plans.

But this year is not routine in terms of the belt-tightening needed in Washington to accommodate the president's big increases in military and homeland defense spending and still stay within his overall target of a 4 percent increase in discretionary spending.

And when you factor in what is happening in states and cities, it becomes clear that hard choices are being made about programs that directly affect people's lives.

One day last week, I had a visit from Philip Ennen, the vice president of Community Hospitals of Williams County, Ohio. He was in Washington to add his voice to those of other rural hospital administrators who complain that Medicare reimbursement payments -- set lower for them than for big-city hospitals -- have become a crippling problem.

The shortfalls in federal Medicare payments mean that costs are "shifted onto local businesses, industries, commercial payers and the working poor, who are mostly self-insured," Ennen told me. Local firms in Bryan, Ohio, often are owned by conglomerate headquartered in distant cities, he said, and when the green-eyeshade executives at headquarters see how disproportionately high the health care costs are in cities such as Bryan, those plants and their jobs become vulnerable.

Thus, budgetary economies affect whole communities, not just hospitals.

My next visitors were leaders of child advocacy groups from Arizona, Illinois and Missouri, in town for a meeting of their national association, Voices for America's Children. They described in measured but dead-serious tones what the combination of state budget crunches and Bush's recommended spending restrictions are doing.

"I have been doing this for 25 years," said Carol Kamin of Arizona, "and I have never seen the situation as dire." She and her counterparts talked about the reductions that are looming in health insurance for children, in day-care services for those whose mothers have moved off welfare, and in preschool programs.

The message from all of them: The gains that have been made, slowly and painfully in the past decade, may well be reversed now.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
One of the things I miss about Bill Clinton is when he said he was going to do something, he did his best to do it. Bush simply lies. In his State of the Union Bush said we'd take care of Afghanistan. His budget has a grand total of $0. AIDS for Africa was touted as being "bold," bold as in a 'bold lie.' Bush doesn't have the money he promised for AIDS in his budget either.

Like so many republican presidents before him, he's mastered the art of saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. So much for character and integrity.

But nothing can top his claim that he wouldn't pass the bill to the next generation. The simple reality is Bush will pass more taxes on to the next generation than any president in US history. Moral of the story; "Never believe him, watch what he does instead."


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U.S. Iraq Mission Riskier Without Turkey
Washington Post
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Sunday, March 2, 2003; 2:41 PM

Without Turkish bases to open a northern front against Iraq, the U.S. military still could take Baghdad, but with more difficulty and risk, officials and analysts said Sunday.

The U.S. war plan calls for attacks on Iraq from two directions, Kuwait in the south and Turkey in the north. That approach would complicate Iraq's defense planning and ease U.S. logistical problems.

In a weekend move that surprised U.S. officials, however, the Turkish Parliament rejected a motion that would have granted a U.S. request to position tens of thousands of ground forces for the assault into northern Iraq and to station about 200 additional strike aircraft at two other bases.

Defense officials, speaking Sunday on condition of anonymity, said Gen. Tommy Franks, who would command a U.S. war in Iraq, had not yet decided to give up on Turkey. Franks said in an Associated Press interview last week that his war plans are flexible and take into account such problems.

If Turkish bases were not available to U.S. ground forces, Franks could opt to airlift a force into northern Iraq from Kuwait or elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. Instead of having the Army's 4th Infantry Division - a heavily armored force - roll into northern Iraq from Turkey, Franks might choose to use the 101st Airborne Division, a lighter, air mobile force.

It was not clear whether that was Turkey's last word on the matter. Reconsideration could come as early as Tuesday, but the head of Turkey's ruling party said Sunday there are no plans in the "foreseeable future" to seek another parliamentary vote.

Still, a senior U.S. official said the administration was evaluating the situation but did not regard the vote as necessarily final. Another official said the Turkish vote was a disappointment and that the U.S. ambassador to Turkey was seeking clarification from Ankara.

Several senators were less sanguine on the Sunday television talk shows.

"It's a huge setback for our purposes. It stunned me," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We spent the last 50 years defending them in NATO. And along comes this opportunity, and by three votes they decline the opportunity to allow us to come in through the north."

Securing the peace once President Saddam Hussein's government had fallen also would be more problematic without Turkey, depending on the extent of the Turkish military's move into Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, said analyst Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We can work around it, but it does increase risk" before, during and after the fighting, Cordesman said.

Likewise, the Kuwait option for northern Iraq is not without risks.

"Our line of advance becomes more predictable" if the main ground assault is from Kuwait rather than being split between Kuwait and Turkey, Cordesman said. It also concentrates the bulk of U.S. ground forces in a relatively small area - northern Kuwait - and gives Saddam added incentive to attempt a pre-emptive strike with chemical or biological weapons, Cordesman said.

The United States has attempted in recent days to guard against such a strike by bombing Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems and artillery within range of Kuwait.

Another complication, if additional Turkish air bases are not available, is finding suitable basing for the 200 or more U.S. warplanes that Franks wanted at the Diyarbakir and Batman bases in southeastern Turkey. Cordesman said bases in the Gulf already are saturated with hundreds of American and allied fighters, bombers and support aircraft.

U.S. and British planes already fly patrols over northern Iraq from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. That presumably would remain available even if no other air or army bases are opened to U.S. forces.

The north of Iraq is important in Franks' war planning for several reasons. It features the anti-government Kurds, including factions that have been fighting with Turkey for years. It also contains major oil fields that Franks wants to secure and control at the earliest stages of an invasion.

"It will not fundamentally affect our ability to succeed militarily, but it will alter our ability to be, in effect, interspersed and be the interlocutors between the Kurds and the Turks," said Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

That, he said on "Fox News Sunday," "worries me a great deal in the north about the day after, the week after, the year after, the decade after" Saddam is gone.

Retired Gen. Joseph Ralston, a former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, told CBS' "Face the Nation" that "instability in the north is something that is very bad for Turkey, and I believe the best way to keep the instability from occurring is to have U.S. forces on the ground in northern Iraq."

The most pressing decision for Franks, in consultation with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other administration officials, is whether to abandon the plan to position the 4th Infantry Division in Turkey.

The Fort Hood, Texas-based division's tanks and other weaponry and supplies are aboard more than three dozen ships waiting off the coast of Turkey. The soldiers remain at Fort Hood. If they cannot go to Turkey, they most likely would be flown to Kuwait.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Since August of 2002, Richard Perle, a pentagon advisor, said we can do Iraq without Europe.

"Our European allies are just not relevant to this. And the one of some importance, the United Kingdom, is, I believe, going to be with us," Perle said on ABC's "This Week."

The Guardian, in November of 2002, reported another of his rants; "I think Europe has lost its moral compass. Many Europeans have become so obsessed by the prospect of violence they have failed to notice who we are dealing with," he said in an interview with the Guardian. "

"Germany has subsided into a moral numbing pacifism. For the German chancellor to say he will have nothing to do with action against Saddam Hussein, even if approved by the United Nations, is unilateralism," Mr Perle said."

"Did the French show more signs of moral fibre? "I have seen diplomatic manoeuvre, but not moral fibre," Mr. Perle said."

If this keeps up we'll be doing Iraq alone. No amount of money (the Voice of America says we promised to give Turkey $32 billion) could buy support from the Turks. The people of Turkey are against this war by 94% and their government would be suicidal to support the US with those numbers.

So if you're a moron and still wondering why the French, Germans and most of Europe are against the US, look no further. We have nuts in the White House. Nuts who have been attacking our allies since day one and now expect them to roll over and support us. It's not going to happen.

This last section is for the non-moron. The stated purpose of war with Iraq is to take out Saddam right? So instead of popping a few bullets into him, the US is going to spend around $100 billion to kill him, then spend tens of billions rebuilding Iraq. This is the logic of fools, but most of you know that. The answer is far simpler. Give Dan Rather a gun with a few bullets and have him find Saddam again. In a few seconds it's all over.

Now think of how much time, energy and money this president spent to create his made for TV war, and the money the networks have spent promoting it. Can we say "waste of money any louder?" The dumbing down of America is complete.


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Khalid Shaikh Mohammed-mastermind of 9/11 arrested
Washington Post
By JOHN J. LUMPKIN
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 1, 2003; 7:33 PM

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed turned Osama bin Laden's wish to kill Americans into a reality like no one else in al-Qaida, U.S. counterterrorism officials say. His capture could lead to a windfall of intelligence about terror attacks still in the works.

Mohammed, one of the most hunted men in the world and the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was captured early Saturday in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities and officers from the Central Intelligence Agency, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

The officials declined to say whether Mohammed had been taken into U.S. custody, where he was captured or where he was being held.

Since Sept. 11, Mohammed has at least twice attempted to smuggle operatives into the United States but has been thwarted, U.S. officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Officials believe he knows the locations of many of the remaining al-Qaida leaders, perhaps even where bin Laden himself is hiding.

Intelligence on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's activities was a key factor in the Bush administration's decision to go to orange alert through most of February, U.S. counterterrorism officials said, without providing details. The alert signaled a high risk of terrorist attacks; officials on Thursday lowered the alert level a notch to yellow.

Mohammed was also active in al-Qaida's attempts to acquire chemical and biological weapons, officials said.

"This is major. This is a dramatic capture of someone who is directly responsible for the Sept. 11 disaster," said Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief. "He should be aware of impending operations both in the United States and in other places."

American officials say Mohammed, who was born in Kuwait and holds Pakistani citizenship, worked under bin Laden's guidance to plan and coordinate key aspects of the Sept. 11 operation.

Mohammed has been connected financially to the al-Qaida operative who funded many of the hijackers' movements and training. His former aide, Ramzi Binalshibh, was a part of the Hamburg, Germany-based terror cell that included chief hijacker Mohammed Atta.

Binalshibh was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, in September.

Mohammed also visited Germany several times in the late 1990s, where officials suspect he contacted members of the Hamburg cell to coordinate the Sept. 11 attacks.

Investigators believe Mohammed spent some time in the United States, attending Chowan College in northeastern North Carolina in the early 1980s before transferring to another American university, where he obtained an engineering degree.

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Mohammed has emerged as al-Qaida's top operations official, counterterrorism officials have said. Only bin Laden and perhaps his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, ranked higher on CIA target lists.

With Mohammed's capture, al-Qaida's stable of operational planners grows ever smaller. Other key figures still at large include Saif al-Adil, bin Laden's security and intelligence chief; Shaikh Saiid al-Masri, his financial chief; and operations chiefs Tawfiq Attash Khallad and Abu Musab Zarqawi.

Mohammed has been linked to the April 11, 2002, suicide truck bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia. The bombing, al-Qaida's first successful strike outside of South Asia since the Sept. 11 attacks, killed 19 people.

The suspected bomber, Nizar Naouar, spoke by phone with Mohammed about three hours before the attack, German officials said. Bin Laden's son Saad, seen as a rising leader in al-Qaida, is also suspected of ties to the plot.

Mohammed is also on the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list. Last year, a senior American counterterrorism official called him "the most significant operational player out there right now."

He has had a long association with al-Qaida, officials say.

Mohammed worked with his nephew Ramzi Yousef, now in prison for plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and two others in the Philippines on a number of operations.

One plan called for blowing up a dozen trans-Pacific airliners in flight. A second involved crashing an airplane into CIA headquarters outside of Washington.

The four plotters were linked to al-Qaida through a financial operative named Khalifa, who is bin Laden's brother-in-law, officials have said. Khalifa is believed to remain at large.

The plots were stopped in 1995 when Mohammed's associates were arrested, and in 1996 the U.S. government indicted Mohammed for his role. It has offered a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to his capture - the same reward offered for bin Laden.

In January 1996, the U.S. government tried to have Mohammed detained in Qatar and turned over to U.S. authorities, but was unsuccessful, U.S. officials have said. By the middle of the year, the Qatari government reported it had lost track of him, sparking concerns that someone in the government had tipped him off.

Mohammed has not been charged in the Sept. 11 attacks.

He was believed to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan when the attacks took place. Last year, Mohammed and Binalshibh gave an interview to the al-Jazeera television network in which they discussed the Sept. 11 attacks.

He has been known by many other names: Ashraf Refaat Nabith Henin, Khalid Adbul Wadood, Salem Ali, Fahd Bin Adballah Bin Khalid, Abdulrahman A.A. Alghamdi, and Mukhtar, according to various law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Abu Zubaydah - another senior operative now in U.S. custody - told his interrogators that Mohammed was the organizer of the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. counterterrorism officials believe Mohammed went to Afghanistan to join the mujahedeen fighters opposing the Soviet occupation in the late 1980s.

Mohammed is in his late 30s. Interpol describes him as 5-foot-5, weighing 160 pounds, sometimes wearing beard and glasses.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Two very important points. First, everyone knows the name Osama bin Laden. But by now must informed people know bin Laden didn't plan 9/11 and most likely had little or nothing to do with it. Instead this man who was also trained by the CIA to fight the USSR in Afghanistan in the 1980's is the real master-mind.

But it's worse. "Mohammed has not been charged in the Sept. 11 attacks." Why not? We can see by the dates above that President Clinton was after this man year after year. Bush, even after 9/11, did nothing. If you're really, really pissed you should be.

This line is a lie. "Intelligence on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's activities was a key factor in the Bush administration's decision to go to orange alert through most of February..." The orange alert was based on false information. There is no logic in suggesting Khalid's arrest would or could cause another terrorist attack. If that was the case, releasing that information to the public now would increase the risk also and we'd be back at orange alert. The orange alert was a joke--most likely needed to support Powell's presentation to the UN (which we know were lies also).

If you're still not convinced, then this should prove it. The alert ended on Thursday, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was arrested the following Saturday morning. In other words, it's impossible for the arrest to have caused the lower alert because the arrest came after the alert was lowered. He was free before the alert went to orange and free after it went back to yellow.

Can we have a more stupid press? or a government that thinks we're all morons?


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Bush breaks 'work with Democrats' promise
Washington Post
By Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 2, 2003; Page A04

Behind the Senate's long-running impasse over the judicial nomination of Miguel Estrada is a broader struggle over President Bush's aggressive exercise of power on Capitol Hill, which has emboldened Republicans, enraged Democrats and prompted a bitter confrontation between them.

This broader concern helps explain why the fight has been so fierce and why the test of wills is unlikely to end with the confirmation, rejection or indefinite delay of Estrada's nomination to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Since the Democrats' filibuster to block a vote on the nomination began nearly a month ago, attention has focused on Estrada, his Hispanic heritage, his conservative outlook, the adequacy of information about his views, and implications for Bush's efforts to appoint more conservative judges.

The key dispute has centered on Democrats' complaints that Estrada exemplifies an attempt by Bush to "pack" the federal courts with conservatives, which Republicans dismiss as a Democratic "litmus test" to bar judges who would rule against them on issues such as abortion rights. This argument is intertwined with -- and reinforced by -- a seething frustration among many Democrats over what they regard as Bush's cavalier treatment of the GOP-controlled Congress on issues ranging from Iraq to domestic spending priorities.

The net effect, they say, is to trample over the legislative branch's constitutional prerogatives and upset the delicate system of checks and balances that the nation's founders created to preclude abuses of power. In the end, some contend, this could lead to Bush dominating all three branches of government, with his impact on the judiciary lasting long after he leaves office.

As Democrats see it, Bush expects Congress simply to "rubber stamp" his policies and nominations now that Republicans control both houses.

"There is a kind of noblesse oblige, a sense that he knows best and we should all just fall into line," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, whose Democratic members voted unanimously against Estrada. "I do not believe he takes the United States Senate seriously at all."

"One of the reasons we [Democrats] have held together on Estrada is the feeling that there is such arrogance toward Congress" on many important issues before the White House and Congress, including anti-terrorism policies, said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y), also a member of the judiciary panel. "It's unified, strengthened and energized us."

Bush sometimes seems to employ the same kind of "unilateralist" approach in dealing with Congress that he uses in pursuing war plans against Iraq, Schumer said.

"He treats us like he treats France," grumbled a Democratic aide.

Republicans acknowledge that Democrats feel aggrieved over Bush and his relations with Congress. "They've worked themselves into a real frenzy over it," said one. But they dispute the validity of the Democrats' claims and suggest they are still suffering from post-election trauma.

"That's an excuse, not a reason," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), speaking of Democrats' complaints about Bush's style in dealing with Congress.

Bennett recalled that a colleague calmed him down when, shortly after arriving in the Senate, Bennett had a complaint about President Bill Clinton. "Popular presidents get what they want, and unpopular ones don't," the colleague told Bennett.

And now, Bennett said, "the thing that's really sticking in their craw is that they are dealing with a popular [Republican] president who gets what he wants."

If Bush is pushing hard for swift action on his nominees, it is because Democrats deferred action on a number of them, including Estrada, when they controlled the Senate, said Judiciary Committee member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). "Perhaps they're just responding to the demands of hard-left groups . . . who are taunting them," Sessions said.

On most issues involving presidential powers, Bush can count on support from Republicans even if they disagree. In some cases, such as the judicial squabbles, Bush's defiance appears to have increased GOP lawmakers' resolve.

Bush had major victories during the last Congress, even during the 18 months the Democrats controlled the Senate. While Democrats complained that his idea of bipartisanship was to pick up a Democratic vote or two, conservative Republicans often griped about deals he cut with Democrats on issues such as education policy. Some Democrats fumed that some anti-terrorism policies were imposed without congressional assent, and there were complaints about the lack of true consultation as the administration prepared for war.

Bush appeared to become even less collaborative after the GOP won control of the Senate as well as the House last November, Democrats said. He began by insisting on having his way on the huge domestic spending bill that moved through Congress in January. But it was the administration's handling of judicial nominations, especially Estrada's, that brought the Democrats into open rebellion.

While Republicans describe Estrada as an immigrant success story, Democrats say the 41-year-old Honduran-born and Harvard-educated lawyer was a blank slate, kept that way to hide an outside-the-mainstream approach to important legal issues. Democratic senators demanded more answers from Estrada and more documents from the Justice Department, including internal memos he wrote while working in the solicitor general's office in the 1990s. Without them, Democrats said, Estrada would face a filibuster, requiring 60 votes to break in the 100-member Senate.

The White House has made Estrada available to individual senators but not for another appearance before the Judiciary Committee, and it has refused to release the memos, calling them confidential working documents. The White House cites a letter from the seven living former solicitors general opposing public disclosure of such papers. Democrats cite several cases in which other administrations have handed them over.

Both sides are arming themselves with the weight of precedent that could tip the balance of power for future confirmation battles.

Democrats say that unless they hold the line on Estrada, the Bush administration will try to ram through other judges -- perhaps including a Supreme Court justice or two -- without giving the Senate enough information for the kind of informed consent envisioned by the Constitution.

Republicans, noting that no judicial nomination has been killed by filibuster in 30 years, say such a fate for the Estrada nomination would set a new 60-vote threshold for any seriously contested judicial nominees, slowing the process and depriving the federal bench of some interesting legal minds.

Debate on Estrada will resume Monday, with no end in sight. Republicans have talked about scheduling a vote to end the filibuster, but they remain five votes short of 60. Democrats say only two of these votes are in doubt.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Another broken promise. Hell, has the guy kept a single promise? or kept a promise that worked the way it was supposed to? I'd be hard pressed to think of a Bush success that worked as billed, how about you?

By my count Bush has borrowed tons of money, given it to the rich, created massive deficits, forced oil prices up to help his oil buddies, made the world hate us, spent over a year building support for war against a defenseless country and having a hard time doing it, promised to do nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan after promising in the campaign he wouldn't etc. I suppose if you like failure and a liar, Bush is your man. For the rest of us, we wonder what it is the rest of you see in this buffoon.


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Bush Backs Nation Building
Washington Post
By Terry M. Neal
washington post.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 26, 2003; 8:08 PM

Speaking to a cheering crowd in Chattanooga, Tenn., one day before the Nov. 7, 2000, election, George W. Bush repeated a line that had by then been a standard part of the stump speech for many, many months--and one that now seems, in the face of looming U.S. military action in Iraq, quite contradictory.

"Let me tell you what else I'm worried about: I'm worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence. See, our view of the military is for our military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place."

The line was an explicit condemnation of Clinton/Gore foreign policy--specifically that the White House had stretched the military too thin with peacekeeping mission in Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans. President Clinton and Vice President Gore, his Democratic opponent, had strayed from the central mission of the military: to fight and win wars, Bush said.

That line proved to be among the most popular in the stump speech, guaranteed to evoke an eruption of applause from the conservatives who packed Bush's campaign rallies.

Bush's campaign rhetoric already rankled allies in Europe by seeming to suggest that U.S. soldiers were doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in the region, and indicating that he would withdraw American forces if he became president. The Europeans noted that U.S. soldiers constituted less than one-fifth of the peacekeeping force, and argued that America, which led allied forces in Kosovo, had a significant strategic interest in the stability of the region.

Fast forward to the present. Details have begun emerging in recent days about the Bush administration's vision for postwar Iraq, and clearly the White House has abandoned its aversion to nation building, as it plans for what appears to be the biggest American-led, rebuilding project since the Marshall Plan in the early 1950s. Last week, Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung's byline topped an astonishing story with this headline Full U.S. Control Planned for Iraq.

"The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be named American civilian who would direct the reconstruction of the country and the creation of a 'representative' Iraqi government, according to a now-finalized blueprint described by U.S. officials and other sources," DeYoung reported.

Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night, the president alluded to his postwar vision of Iraq, declaring that America had a major interest in stabilizing the country and could help create the first democracy, outside of Israel, in the Middle East.

And for the first time, the president linked removal of Hussein, and the postwar reconstruction efforts to not only the greater stability of the region, but to the first stage of the resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

"Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own: We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before -- in the peace that followed a world war. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies, we left constitutions and parliaments. We established an atmosphere of safety, in which responsible, reform-minded local leaders could build lasting institutions of freedom. In societies that once bred fascism and militarism, liberty found a permanent home," Bush said.

Shifting Policy

The difference between Bush's rhetoric and policy goes to prove the old adage that talking about governing, and actually doing it, are two very different things.

Under grilling from reporters, administration officials, apparently not yet equipped with talking points, have struggled to maintain that Bush's views have not changed. Bush's critics have jumped on the apparent shift as proof that an inexperienced candidate had merely manufactured a foreign policy criticism that sounded good to his base of voters.

At a press briefing on Monday with deputy assistant secretary of Defense Joe Collins and National Security Council senior director Elliott Abrams, a reporter asked: "I remember a campaign pledge about nation building. Isn't that what this is. ... Isn't this nation-building?"

Collins took the question: "I've always been of the opinion that the indigenous people build their own nations. I'm not sure what the right phrase for what we are engaged in is. We speak about -- in two different phases, humanitarian relief and reconstruction. And I would prefer to leave it at that."

Abrams also took a stab at an answer: "I think that's right. The responsibility for turning Iraq into a stable, peaceful democracy falls to the people of Iraq. The most we can do is get--if this conflict occurs, is get this monstrous regime that is preventing them from doing that out of the way."

But is that all the administration is planning, getting a "monstrous regime" out of the way? DeYoung reported that "once security was established and weapons of mass destruction were located and disabled, a U.S. administrator would run the civilian government and direct reconstruction and humanitarian aid." In the event of an invasion, Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, would maintain military control, and the humanitarian effort would be led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner.

But how does that plan square with Bush's comment in a 2000 debate with Gore that "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say, 'This is the way it's got to be.'"

It doesn't, says Leon Fuerth, Gore's long-time foreign policy adviser.

"This just shows that in the campaign they hyped any issue they could, first of all because they had convinced themselves that they were right," said Fuerth, now a professor at George Washington University. "Back then, they felt that they had to tear down the Clinton/Gore policy to make up for the lack of experience that their own candidate had. That was then. This is now. This is the school of hard knocks."

Tucker Eskew, former director of the White House Office of Global Communications, said that times had changed. What makes Iraq different, he said, was that nation's ability to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction.

"9/11 did awaken the president to this threat, as it did everyone," Eskew said. "The president has said it himself. ... The point I think that was being made during the campaign about nation building concerned the idea that, in the context of those times, it had not always seen in our national interest."

Some Key Differences

The debate over nation building was a significant one in the 2000 campaign. Bush took the position that the Clinton administration had failed to prioritize strategic interests, acting as if U.S. interests in Haiti, Somalia and Kosovo were as great as in the Middle East, Western Europe or Asia. Gore responded that Bush's view of the world was overly simplistic and ignored the complexities of foreign entanglements.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, Ari Fleischer said, "The president will talk in the speech about what the future may hold, not only for the people of Iraq, once liberated and allowed to become on their own democratic, but also what it means for the security of the region, because the president believes that a free Iraq will lead to a more stable Mideast."

Clinton made similar arguments about stabilizing the Balkans and promoting democracy in Haiti -- our own backyard. Bush's critics will argue that the difference is oil -- Iraq has it. Haiti, Somalia and the Balkans do not. Bush's defenders angrily deride that notion.

The president, said Eskew, will explain that nation building in Iraq is necessary, "because [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass murder, because he has used them before, because he has attacked his own people and his neighbors and because he has ties to terror."

© 2003 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

Commentary:
Let's face it, Bush supporters aren't too swift. To them deficits are wrong if Bill Clinton has them, but perfectly fine if Bush or Reagan wrack them up. To them, nation building is horrible when Bill did it, but peachy when Bush does it. Is there anything these neo-liberals (oops, conservatives) really believe in? I suppose they like war a lot, and they think the US defines its greatness by bombing tiny little countries half way around the globe. (Granada was one of Reagan's great military victories--Lebanon kicked his butt.)

There is one good thing about bombing the hell out of Iraq. We can spend more of our Treasury rebuilding it and by now we know how neo-liberals (oops, conservatives) like to spend.

I think I have it figured out. Conservatives are throw-backs to a time when humans spent most of our time collecting fruits and berries. Kinda like a woman who power shops. It's instinctive to be a republican if you like to spend, especially if you're spending someone elses money. Real conservatives? Hell, there is no such thing.

Bush will borrow $400 billion (deficits) this year and that's one hell of a tax increase for the next president to pay off. Next year he'll borrow another $307 billion. The difference between the liberal and the neo-liberal is neo-liberals don't pay for what they spend. They borrow. Liberals tax and spend, which is the only moral way I can think of to pay our bills.


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