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Impeach Bush

Bush the inept diplomat
San Francisco Chronicle
John Wildermuth, Carla Marinucci
Chronicle Political Writers

Friday, March 14, 2003

With Iraq war jitters increasing, Democratic presidential hopefuls John Kerry and Howard Dean ramped up their criticism of President Bush during campaign stops Thursday in California, calling the president an inept diplomat who has bungled the nation's foreign policy.

In recent weeks, "the United States of America . . . has had some of the weakest diplomacy that we've ever seen in the history of the nation," said Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, in response to a question before more than 500 people at the Commonwealth Club of California. The biggest challenge facing the nation now, he said, is "how you get out of the mess the president has created."

Dean, a former Vermont governor on a four-day fund-raising trip through California, was equally dismissive of Bush's policies on Iraq, saying the administration has "got its priorities backward in terms of national security."

"They're doing the wrong thing," Dean said Thursday in an interview with The Chronicle. "Going in unilaterally to a country that is not a threat to us, and is a third-rate military power" is not the answer, he added, "especially when there's a first-rate military power (North Korea) that is a threat -- and they're refusing to talk to them."

Talk about Bush's policy toward Iraq has dominated the early Democratic presidential campaign and is likely to be a prime topic this weekend when most of the party's candidates are scheduled to address the state Democratic convention in Sacramento.

But Republican Party spokesman Rob Stutzman said Kerry and Dean are far apart from the majority of Americans who support Bush's policy toward Iraq.

Noting that Kerry defended Gov. Gray Davis as being unfairly criticized for the state's troubles, Stutzman said, "If John Kerry thinks he can win California by defending the most unpopular governor in modern history, and by attacking one of the most popular presidents in history, he may never see the snows of New Hampshire."

AVOIDING IRAQ ISSUE

Indeed, in his 40-minute speech to the Commonwealth Club at the Fairmont Hotel, Kerry avoided almost all mention of Iraq, instead bashing Bush's economic and energy policies.

But he received loud applause when he talked about the country's need for energy independence, arguing that "in decades to come, we should not have to send young people into battle to defend and die for America's gluttony for fossil fuel."

However, Kerry's mixed record on Iraq was an instant target when the senator answered written questions from the audience.

In October, Kerry voted to allow Bush to send U.S. troops into Iraq "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate," a resolution that antiwar activists say gave the president a free hand to attack with or without support from the United Nations.

Kerry, who admitted that "my position is complicated," tried to explain how he squared that vote with his continuing opposition to unilateral U.S. intervention in Iraq.

"I don't regret my vote," he said. "I regret the way this country has conducted its foreign policy and given the back of its hand to virtually every country from the day of that vote."

Kerry said he believes Saddam Hussein is "a long-term threat to the United States and the region." Still, he added, "the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to go to war. We should go to war because we have to go to war."

In addition to his speech, Kerry addressed a fund-raiser at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco Thursday night, where he was expected to raise as much as $1 million for his campaign.

Even Kerry supporters admitted his vote on Iraq worried them.

"I'm very much opposed to the war and I would have felt better if (Kerry) had been more strongly against it," said Jean Hanchett of Castro Valley at the Commonwealth Club. "The vote concerned me more before I heard Kerry today, but I think we have to listen to the totality of what he had to say."

Dean appeared confident that Democratic voters, particularly in an antiwar stronghold like the Bay Area, won't be so anxious to forgive Kerry and other candidates, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, who also supported Bush's war resolution.

"No matter how they dress it up, they voted for unilateral intervention in Iraq," Dean said.

Dean said his Democratic competitors, except Lieberman, now seem to be back- tracking from their votes.

'BEING BUSH LITE'

"The others (are saying), well I didn't really want to (vote in favor), or I did it for a different reason," said Dean. "You can't get elected like that. . . . The reason the Democrats haven't done well is that we're so busy being Bush Lite. You have to take strong stands and defend them."

Dean also said the president's efforts at diplomacy have been a disaster.

"It's the United Nations' job to deal with Iraq," he said.

Despite his opposition to a U.S. war in Iraq, Dean said he would back a United Nations-sponsored intervention that included U.S. troops.

"The U.N. has every right to go in to disarm Saddam," he said.

E-mail the writers at jwildermuth@sfchronicle.com and cmarinucci@sfchronicle.com.

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©2003 San Francisco Chronicle

Commentary:
Dean has a nice position and answer. He's definitely someone worth watching. Kerry on the otherhand should get some better handlers, or at least get a brain. All he has to say is the president asked for my vote so he could have a stronger hand at the UN. I gave him my vote and he squandered it.

If Kerry goes prissy on us and lets the press walk all over him, he's not fit to be our next president.

Btw, is Congress going to demand San Franciso remover France from its name too. To be on the safe side maybe the Chronicle needs to look into changing their name also.


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US Resolution Appears Doomed
Washington Post
By Glenn Kessler and Karen DeYoungbr
Washington Post Staff Writersbr
Friday, March 14, 2003; Page A01

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- A U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war against Iraq appears doomed to fail, senior U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said today, though the Bush administration agreed to a British request to continue negotiations until Monday before calling for a vote or withdrawing the measure.

U.S. officials in recent days have claimed, without providing evidence, that they were within striking distance of reaching the necessary nine votes on the deeply divided Security Council. But officials were noticeably gloomy today after a British compromise offered Wednesday was largely rejected by the six countries that are officially undecided.

In addition to an almost certain French veto, and the possibility of a Russian veto, officials said they were convinced they would not even achieve what they call the "moral victory" of nine votes among the council's 15 member nations.

"It looks pretty grim," one senior administration official said. Another senior U.S. official said: "There is no reason to believe positions will change today or tomorrow."

The apparent defeat of the resolution would be a stunning diplomatic setback for President Bush and his closest partner, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. U.S. officials have made it clear that they only agreed to pursue a second resolution at the request of Blair, who needed the imprimatur of the Security Council for a war against Iraq to shore up political support at home. But the failure to win all but a handful of votes for military action is an unusually public rebuff of the United States.

Diplomatic tension ran high today, as U.S. and British officials assailed what they considered high-handed intransigence on the part of France, which rejected the British proposal even before Iraqi officials did so in Baghdad. Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, appeared wan and haggard as he attempted to gather support for a compromise that would lay out conditions for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to meet to avoid a war.

But diplomats said the U.S. insistence that Hussein be given only until next week to disarm was too much and too fast for the other countries on the council. "A lot of us feel bad about doing Saddam's bidding but that appears no worse than carrying out a war for the Americans," said a diplomat from one of the undecided nations.

Though administration officials rejected proposals from the undecided nations to let weapons inspectors continue for a few more weeks, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military experts at the Pentagon today that a delay of a month or more in invading Iraq could easily be dealt with by the military and would not increase American casualties.

White House officials said they are proceeding with plans for Bush to address the nation once the diplomatic process is over. The speech would include a final "ultimatum to avoid war" to Hussein, and would serve as the signal for international officials, foreign diplomats and journalists who might choose to evacuate Iraq that war is imminent.

U.S. officials also began laying the groundwork today for Bush to reverse his pledge to call for a Security Council vote, no matter how bad the vote count looked, because "it's time for people to show their cards." Under one scenario, the administration could say the resolution was being withdrawn at the request of the co-sponsors, Britain and Spain.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today: "The options remain go for a vote and see what members say, or not go for a vote. But all the options that you can imagine are before us and we will be examining that today, tomorrow and over the weekend."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer sidestepped questions about whether Bush would still call for a vote. "Your premise is suggesting that in the conducting of diplomacy there can be no room for flexibility," he told reporters. "And as the president travels the last bit of this road, he is going to work to consult with our allies and friends."

Bush did not attend a St. Patrick's Day luncheon on Capitol Hill so he could take an urgent phone call from Blair, who asked for several more days to make the case to Security Council members after defeat appeared certain in a vote that had been scheduled for Friday, a senior administration official said.

Due to face Parliament on the Iraq question Tuesday, Blair hopes that delaying what appears to be inevitable defeat until Monday will enable him to tell the House of Commons that he made the maximum negotiating effort. "He's got a big day in Parliament on Tuesday," the U.S. official said. "He didn't want either a vote or a withdrawal of the resolution to happen today or tomorrow."

Unlike the Bush administration, British officials said that they are not resigned to defeat and that Bush and Blair will continue intensive telephone diplomacy this weekend as they try to persuade at least five of six publicly uncommitted council members to vote for the measure. "We wouldn't waste the president and the prime minister's time this weekend if we didn't think it was worth it," a British official said.

Still, another British official conceded, "We aren't there yet, and I can't say we will get there. We are asking people to take a hard decision, and quite a lot of people want to have clean hands and leave hard decisions to others."

In a rare moment of levity at a tense closed-door Security Council session Wednesday night to discuss the British compromise, one participant said the Guinean ambassador, who is council president this month, remarked about the British compromise: "It was better to have a bad document than no document at all."

The British resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Spain and also supported by Bulgaria, needs nine of the 15 council votes for passage, and no veto by any of the five permanent members. Two permanent members, France and Russia, have indicated they would veto the measure, and France repeated that even a revised version was "unacceptable."

In the face of likely vetoes, Britain and the United States have been struggling to secure the nine votes. To get there, they need at least five of the six uncommitted members -- Guinea, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico and Pakistan -- to add to the four original supporters.

In addition to France and Russia, Germany, Syria and China, which also is a permanent council member, have indicated they will not vote for the resolution. Although final decisions are now likely to be put off until Monday, Chile and Mexico were expected to tell Britain that they will not support the measure.

U.S. and British officials believe that the French veto promise has made it easier for uncommitted governments to turn against the resolution since it has no chance of passage. All of them, particularly the Latin American nations and Pakistan, face widespread antiwar pressure at home.

In Baghdad, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri rejected the British compromise outright. "It is a dressing up of a rejected proposal, an aggressive plan for war," he said.

DeYoung reported from Washington.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
"When in despair I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won; there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall."--Mahatma Gandhi


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Terrorism Analyst Expects Threat to Stay
The Washington Post
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 13, 2003; 7:10 PM

Terrorism will remain a threat to the United States for years to come, the chief of a new terrorism analysis center said Thursday.

John O. Brennan, the CIA executive tapped to head the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, told a small group of reporters at agency headquarters that he expects the federal counterterrorism effort to be permanent.

"Terrorism is not going to go away," said Brennan, who was once a CIA station chief in the Middle East. "I've seen what is simmering out there."

The center, first announced by President Bush in his State of the Union address, is designed to streamline analysis and disseminate intelligence that points to possible terrorist attacks.

It would bring together information gathered by the CIA, FBI and other agencies that were criticized for not sharing intelligence before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Many of its specific functions have yet to be worked out, Brennan acknowledged. But he said he hopes the center's experts will be able to examine the deeper causes of terrorism as well as address immediate threats.

"Terrorism is a way to lash out," he said. "It's a manifestation of economic ills."

CIA Director George J. Tenet named Brennan as director of the center earlier this week. Brennan previously served as the CIA's deputy executive director and was Tenet's chief of staff before that.

Brennan, 47, has been with the agency for 23 years in a variety of operational and analytical roles, both at agency headquarters and overseas, the CIA said.

The center is to begin work on May 1, and will initially be housed on the CIA campus in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. The center will report to Tenet in his role as chief of U.S. intelligence, but it will not be part of the CIA.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
GOOD GRIEF. This is the stupidest thing I've ever read. " [terrorism is] a manifestation of economic ills." Before the US invaded Iraq in 1991, there were poor countries. Did they attack the US? Nope. But, because of poverty, or economic ills, people become terrorists? In reality, bin Laden and his top people are very, very rich. How does this moron explain that? Brennan is an idiot, disregard him.

Terrorism is here to stay because the US goes around the world, killing innocent people---in Somalia, in Iraq, every place. I have a theory. Maybe if we stop killing their children, they'll stop killing ours. I know it's simplistic, but I bet it'll work.

This president is bent on making terrorism a permanent fixture in American life. That way future presidents can use terrorism as an excuse to avoid real problems, much like Israel does. Have you noticed Israel's recession began at almost the exact moment of the Palestinian uprising (around 29 months ago)? Did the uprising cause the recession or did Israel provoke the Palestinians as a smokescreen for the recession? Wiser minds will have to figure that one out.


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Powell supports war because of forces on ground
New York Times
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN
March 13, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 13 — On one side, the United States' most important allies, as well as the nations whose votes are needed on Iraq, are pleading with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell for just another month or two for inspections to proceed so that a war can be waged with international backing.

On the other, American military forces are reaching a decisive phase in the Persian Gulf, and Mr. Powell — who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the last Persian Gulf war, in 1991 — understands better than most that these troops cannot wait a couple of more months without losing some of their fighting edge.

With the Bush administration's diplomatic efforts on Iraq seemingly on the verge of collapse, this is an excruciating moment for Mr. Powell, another turning point in his evolution from skeptic to advocate of a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Powell told friends that he would not be stampeded by the administration's hawks into a war against Iraq, and certainly not a war that did not have international support.

Now after months of diplomacy and inconclusive inspections in Iraq, aides say Mr. Powell is prepared to call for a cutoff in negotiations over a United Nations Security Council resolution, not simply because he understands the danger of troops sitting in the desert but also because he has lost patience with both Iraq and the French.

The hangup at the Security Council is over whether the inspections should be allowed to continue into the late spring or summer. Administration officials concede that if they let the process go on for that long, a solid majority of votes might well be lined up in the Council.

"But we don't have that much time," a State Department official said. "It's not because warmongers are ready to march. It's because it would be self-defeating to let Iraq off the hook by even two or three weeks, when you know they will just squirm out of their obligations again."

While Mr. Powell may be convinced now that war is the best option, he is nevertheless furious, associates say, at Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom he blames in private for making diplomacy difficult by hurling insults at France and Germany, whose good will he has been trying to win. Mr. Rumsfeld's recent comments that the war could be waged without Britain, though retracted, were another blow, in the secretary's view.

"Diplomacy is slipping away, and Rumsfeld needs some duct tape put over his mouth, but Powell is not coming unglued," a friend of the secretary said. "He's comfortable with the policy of using force as a last resort."

Mr. Powell indicated as much at a Congressional hearing today, when he said there might never be a vote on a second United Nations resolution authorizing war against Iraq.

In addition to accepting the possibility of a war, he was making public a point of view he had argued in private, according to administration officials, to the effect that not having a vote was preferable to losing one, perhaps by a lopsided vote.

"The options remain: go for a vote and see what members say, or not go for a vote," Mr. Powell told a House Appropriations subcommittee.

President Bush said last week that there should be a vote, but Mr. Powell has worried that the credibility of the United Nations, and perhaps his own prestige as a diplomat, would be severely hurt by a defeat.

Aides to Mr. Powell say his transformation from a cautious, largely antiwar figure to a hawk has been brought about by Iraqi behavior, not by any change on the part of the secretary himself.

But the perception among diplomats that the Bush administration has determined that the war must be fought in the spring of 2003 is embittering the allies. They charge that Mr. Powell has given up fighting Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and others who favored going to war against Iraq from the first days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A senior European diplomat said he was convinced that the choice of starting a war this spring was made for political as well as military reasons. Mr. Bush, this diplomat said, clearly does not want to have a war raging on the eve of his presumed re-election campaign.

Mr. Powell has said all along that American troops could fight in any weather. But everyone involved in the discussions knows that fighting in the desert heat increases the difficulties and presents risks that no president would want to accept.

Others say that for American troops to wait for weeks or months in the desert will sap their morale and dull their readiness.

But these arguments have only infuriated diplomats at Security Council.

"If the United States wants to proceed on this unilateral military timetable, they should fight this war alone," said a diplomat from a nation that has not decided how to vote in the Council, but who favors a delay of 45 days before cutting off the inspections.

"You can't convince the French or the Russians that the temperature is too high in the desert to fight after April 15," he added.

But many experts say Mr. Bush would be derelict not to order the war now.

"The French are just not credible on this," said Senator Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. "It's all well and good for the French to say that our troops should sit out there in the desert for a while, and what's the hurry? There aren't 200,000 French troops out there."

"It would be almost a form of physical torture to make our forces stay there and fight in the summer," Mr. Lugar continued. "Ultimately the president is not going to stand for that. Neither would I. When the French are willing to put some of their own troops on the line, then maybe we might listen to them."

Mr. Powell has gone through many phases on Iraq. According to an aide, discussions in the administration in early 2001 centered on three things.

The first was to fix the sanctions so that they did not leak, a task given to Mr. Powell. The second was to tighten the no-flight zone over Iraq, a task given to the Pentagon. The third was to think about the possibilities of "regime change," a task given to the intelligence services.

After Sept. 11, Mr. Powell has told associates, there were meetings with Mr. Bush in which it was decided that Afghanistan and Al Qaeda would be tackled first, after which Iraq would have to be dealt with as another potential mortal threat.

An aide said that when Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and others began pushing for Mr. Hussein's overthrow, Mr. Powell's attitude was, "Fine, but show me a plan that works." He argued that a military action without international support might backfire and inflame the Middle East, and that there was no realistic plan for who would run the country after it was conquered.

Once Mr. Bush decided to go to war, he also decided to get United Nations support, a task handed to Mr. Powell — and, to the embitterment of his supporters, to him alone. A friend said the secretary felt that his pursuit of a diplomatic resolution was constantly undercut by hawks in the administration.

Asked what it's like for the secretary to find himself in constant battle with others in the administration who want to pull the plug on diplomacy, an aide said, "The important thing is that the president has given his approval for more time."

But he acknowledged that with troops sitting in the desert and ready to fight, time has all but run out.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
This is one of the best articles on the war build-up I've read. It seems obvious that once Bush committed forces on the ground everything else at the UN was for show. Powell supported war only after it became inevitable, which makes him look like an idiot. The excuse for war now is that those troops have to be used, or they can't stay there forever. Well then, BRING THEM HOME.

Bush has already suffered the greatest defeat of any president in our history. The world has turned away from this president and from the US. Only time will tell if the US can regain superpower status.

Should Bush be reelected, the US will cease to be the world's only superpower because the world won't follow a country they can't trust. Without trust we can't lead. Remember this time, it is the beginning of the end of the American Century. It is also the beginning of the anti-American century.


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John Conyers Prepares Articles of Impeachment
World Daily News/Roll Call
By Sherrie Gossett
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
Posted: March 13, 2003 5:00 p.m. Eastern

Formal efforts are now underway to impeach President Bush over allegations that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors," Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, reported today.

A meeting Tuesday reportedly assembled more than two dozen prominent liberal attorneys and legal scholars who mulled over articles of impeachment drafted against President Bush by activists. The two-hour session was said to feature former attorney general-turned-activist Ramsey Clark and took place in the downtown office of a prominent Washington tort lawyer.

Participants said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who hosted the meeting, was the only member of Congress to attend.

"We had a pretty frank discussion about putting in a bill of impeachment against President Bush," said Francis Boyle, an Illinois law professor who has been working on the impeachment language with Clark.

In November of 2002, WND reported that former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark had been retained by Iraq to represent that regime's legal interests.

Clark first called for impeachment publicly at anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and later in San Francisco. He subsequently created the Vote To Impeach website, which warns, "Each of us must take a stand on impeachment now, or bear the burden of having failed to speak in this hour of maximum peril."

Ramsey Clark donning judicial robe to defend Rwadan Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana against charges of genocide.

On Jan. 18, WND was the only news organization to report that the groundwork was being laid to impeach the president. At that time, WND reported on statements made by Clark, former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter and lawyer-activists Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo.

Verheyden-Hilliard, who was the M.C. at the Washington, D.C., anti-war protest last year, and Messineo were the first to post legal arguments on the Internet, accusing Bush of high crimes and misdemeanors.

[edited from this point]

Sherrie Gossett is a Florida-based researcher and writer, formerly with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.

Commentary:
Roll Call's short article about Conyers reads as follows;

Conyers Joins Meeting To Mull Ousting Bush
By Ethan Wallison
Roll Call Staff
March 13, 2003

House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) assembled more than two-dozen prominent liberal attorneys and legal scholars on Tuesday to mull over articles of impeachment drafted against President Bush by activists seeking to block military action against Saddam Hussein.


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Bush threatens retreat from resolution
Canada.com
ROBERT RUSSO
Canadian Press
Thursday, March 13, 2003

WASHINGTON (CP) - Anglo-American frustration with France's intransigence on a new Iraqi war resolution boiled over Thursday into a co-ordinated rebuke of Paris and a Bush administration threat to abandon the UN process.

Diplomatic chaos reigned on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. president George W. Bush considered, then rejected, an overseas trip that might have been aimed at emboldening one of the few U.S. allies who favour an invasion of Iraq: Britain's Tony Blair. There was a similar on-again, off-again strain to the Bush administration's desire to force Iraq to disarm through a resolution in the United Nations.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said one option was to drop plans for a Security Council vote.

"We are still talking to members of the council to see what is possible," Powell told a congressional committee hearing. He said the options under consideration include "to go for a vote and not to go for a vote."

That represented an abrupt U.S. about-face. One week ago, Bush said during a nationally televised news conference: "No matter what the whip count, we're calling for a vote."

Bush and his top diplomat are facing a failure at the Security Council that could put the United States in the unprecedented position of waging a war deemed unjust by the United Nations.

Bush, desperate to cobble together some kind of face-saving consensus on an Iraqi war resolution, made it clear earlier Thursday he had abandoned what was thought to be a hard deadline for a UN vote. The White House said the president was open to briefly delaying a vote on the U.S.-British-backed war resolution until next week if the postponement would help gain support for the measure.

France's refusal to consider the latest British proposal that establishes a half-dozen benchmarks Iraq must meet to avert war lay behind the disorder.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said the new British proposal was just as unacceptable to his country as previous versions.

"We cannot accept the British proposals, as they are based on a logic of war, on a logic of an automatic recourse to force," he said.

Iraq also requires more time to show it is prepared to comply with Security Council resolutions calling for it to disarm, de Villepin said.

France, which has veto power in the Security Council, has said repeatedly that it will reject any proposed resolution that would authorize military action against Iraq.

Vexation with France led to some relatively undiplomatic dumping on a traditional ally by the United States and Britain.

Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, did little to conceal his anger after France's automatic rejection of the latest British plan for a UN resolution.

"What I find extraordinary is that without even proper consideration, the French government have decided that they will reject these proposals," Straw said in London.

The British proposals are aimed at establishing if Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is serious about disarmament. The initiative is also aimed at enticing wavering Security Council members into supporting a resolution that would eventually allow the use of force to topple Saddam.

French President Jacques Chirac has said the proposed tests of Iraqi compliance should be conducted by UN weapons inspectors and not the Security Council.

Bush made a first, brief public appearance this week with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern before cancelling an appointment on Capitol Hill to concentrate on telephone diplomacy. He left the tough talk to his spokesman.

In unusually harsh language, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer took the French to task.

"France has said they reject the logic of ultimatums," Fleischer began. "France also looked at the British proposal, and they rejected it before Iraq rejected it. If that isn't an unreasonable veto, what is? So we look at what France is doing and we wish they were doing otherwise."

Asked whether the administration supports U.S boycotts of French products, Fleischer said: "You are seeing the American people speak spontaneously and that is their right. It is the right of people in Europe to demonstrate. It is (the right of) the people in Europe to speak their mind. So, too, it is the right of the American people to speak theirs."

Paris eventually responded to allegations of intransigence by saying it was interested in further examining proposals.

"We are prepared to move forward in the search for a solution, and we are in constant contact with all of our partners in the UN Security Council," de Villepin said.

He said the aim was "to try, within the logic of the inspectors' work, to determine both a work program with benchmarks, with criteria and a realistic and reasonable timeframe that will allow forward movement on the path of peaceful disarmament of Iraq."

But it remains highly unlikely that the French would accept any tests which, like the British proposal, involve the immediate threat of war.

© Copyright  2003 The Canadian Press

Commentary:
Bush promised to get UN approval for his silly war. Then he promised to get an up or down vote, regardless of what the UN says. Both appear to have been lies. Nothing new here. Never believe what a Bush says, watch what he does.


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Retail Sales Fall 1.6% in February
New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 13, 2003
Filed at 5:59 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Shoppers faced with snow storms, job cuts and war worries were tightfisted in February, driving down sales at retailers by the largest amount in 15 months.

The latest snapshot of retail activity released by the Commerce Department Thursday added to fears the economy could slide back into a new recession, economists said.

Retail sales fell 1.6 percent from the previous month, with weakness widespread. Building and garden supply stores posted a record drop.

``You have to be living in a cave not to feel spooked and anxious,'' said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock. ``Losing your job or having to pay twice as much for gas makes a dent in what people will spend on other things.''

February's performance was weaker than analysts expected and marked a big pullback by consumers from January, when sales rose by 0.3 percent.

But on Wall Street, investors shrugged off the report and rallied on the hope that a war against Iraq would be quick and successful. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 269.68 points to close at 7,821.75. It was the Dow's biggest one-day gain in five months.

Separately, the Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell by a seasonally adjusted 15,000 to 420,000. Even with the decline, the level of claims pointed to a stagnant job market.

The more stable, four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, rose last week to a two-month high of 419,750.

After sliding into a recession in 2001, the economy has struggled to return to full health. Any growth has come largely from consumers.

But an ailing job market, higher energy prices, anxiety about war and a turbulent stock market are making consumers more cautious.

Snow storms in the East dealt a blow to February's sales. The government's decision to elevate the terror alert during the month probably also contributed to keeping shoppers away from the malls.

``Consumers were downbeat,'' said Richard Yamarone, economist with Argus Research Corp. ``There was not much for the consumer to be happy about last month.''

Some economists believe the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates -- which are already at 41-year lows -- when it meets Tuesday. That view was spurred by last week's unsettling employment report that showed that the economy lost more than 300,000 jobs in February.

Other economists believe Fed policy-makers will leave rates unchanged, saving some of their ammunition in case a war breaks out.

President Bush, mindful of the political price his father paid in 1992 for a weak economy, has offered a plan made up mostly of tax cuts to help energize the economy.

Political analysts generally agree that voter concern about the economy contributed in large part to the first President Bush's loss to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The 1.6 percent decline in retail sales was the biggest since November 2001, when the economy was still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sales at automobile dealers dropped by 3.4 percent in February from January, the biggest decline in five months.

Bad weather contributed to ``sales on the East Coast essentially slowing to a crawl during the President's Day weekend,'' said Paul Taylor, chief economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Top automobile makers recently said they would pare production as a result of concerns that favorable financing deals and other incentives would not sufficiently motivate buyers.

Excluding sales of automobiles, which can swing widely from month to month, overall retail sales fell by 1 percent in February, a weaker showing than economists were forecasting.

At furniture stores, sales fell by 1.6 percent in February from the previous month. Building and garden supply stores saw sales plunge by a record 7.5 percent. Sales of electronics and home appliances went down by 0.5 percent.

At clothing stores, sales declined by 3.6 percent last month. Sales of sporting goods, music, books and crafts went down by 1.6 percent. Sales at bars and restaurants fell by 0.5 percent.

For people looking to buy a home or refinance the one they own, however, there was good news: Rates on 30-year mortgages dropped to a new low of 5.61 percent this week, the mortgage company Freddie Mac reported.

On the Net:

Retail sales: http://www.commerce.gov/
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:


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CIA believed to be holding children of terrorists *
An Impeachable Offense
Washington Times
By Olga Craig
LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
March 09, 2003

KUWAIT CITY — Two young sons of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, are being held by the CIA to force their father to talk, interrogators said yesterday.

Yousef al-Khalid, 9, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, 7, were taken into custody in Pakistan in September when intelligence officers raided an apartment in Karachi where their father had been hiding.

He fled just hours before the raid, but his two young sons, along with another senior al Qaeda member, were found cowering behind a clothes closet in the apartment.

The boys have been held by the Pakistani authorities, but this weekend they were flown to America, where they will be questioned about their father.

CIA interrogators confirmed last night that the boys were staying at a secret address where they were being encouraged to talk about their father's activities.

"We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children," said one official, "but we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times, and they are given the best of care."

Their father, Mohammed, 37, is being interrogated at the Bagram U.S. military base in Afghanistan. He is being held in solitary confinement and subjected to "stress and duress" interrogations.

He has been told that his sons are being held and is being encouraged to divulge future attacks against the West and talk about the location of Osama bin Laden, officials said.

"He has said very little so far," one CIA official said yesterday. "He sits in a trancelike state and recites verses from the Koran. But while he may claim to be a devout Muslim, we know he is fond of the Western-style fast life.

"His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him."

The Kuwaiti-born Mohammed named his older son after Ramzi Yousef, his nephew, who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center. After the attack, Yousef fled to the Philippines with his uncle.

When bomb-making chemicals set fire to their Manila apartment, Yousef fled to Pakistan, where he was captured in an Islamabad hotel room in 1995.

Mohammed was in the next room and, audaciously, gave an eyewitness account of the arrest to a reporter. By the time the Pakistani authorities found out his true identity, he had fled the country.

He was eventually arrested March 1 in a house in Rawalpindi, two miles from the home of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Among the items found in the house was a photograph of a smiling Mohammed with his arms around his two sons.

Known as "the Engineer," he is suspected of being the mastermind of the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings in Indonesia that killed more than 180 people, and the man who slashed the throat of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in January 2002.

Little is known of his sons' mother, who is thought to be Pakistani. "We have no evidence that suggests she has anything to do with al Qaeda," a Pakistani intelligence source said yesterday.

"All we know is that she is the sister of an al Qaeda member that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed met at a Pakistan college, the University of Dawa al Jihad, in the late 1980s."

The college, considered a premier Islamic military academy, is said to have been a breeding ground for terrorists where bomb making was among the subjects on its unofficial curriculum.

All site contents copyright © 1999-2003 News World Communications, Inc.

Commentary:
The US has kidnapped and is holding two children. We can only hope the world forgives and forgets the crimes against humanity this president is engaged in. We can also hope they know he DOES NOT represent America or her values.


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US Surveillance Operations at UN
The Observer (UK)
Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy in New York and Peter Beaumont
Sunday March 2, 2003

The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.

The leaked memorandum makes clear that the target of the heightened surveillance efforts are the delegations from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guinea and Pakistan at the UN headquarters in New York - the so-called 'Middle Six' delegations whose votes are being fought over by the pro-war party, led by the US and Britain, and the party arguing for more time for UN inspections, led by France, China and Russia.

The memo is directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is 'mounting a surge' aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies' - the 'whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises'.

Dated 31 January 2003, the memo was circulated four days after the UN's chief weapons inspector Hans Blix produced his interim report on Iraqi compliance with UN resolution 1441.

It was sent by Frank Koza, chief of staff in the 'Regional Targets' section of the NSA, which spies on countries that are viewed as strategically important for United States interests.

Koza specifies that the information will be used for the US's 'QRC' - Quick Response Capability - 'against' the key delegations.

Suggesting the levels of surveillance of both the office and home phones of UN delegation members, Koza also asks regional managers to make sure that their staff also 'pay attention to existing non-UN Security Council Member UN-related and domestic comms [office and home telephones] for anything useful related to Security Council deliberations'.

Koza also addresses himself to the foreign agency, saying: 'We'd appreciate your support in getting the word to your analysts who might have similar more indirect access to valuable information from accesses in your product lines [ie, intelligence sources].' Koza makes clear it is an informal request at this juncture, but adds: 'I suspect that you'll be hearing more along these lines in formal channels.'

Disclosure of the US operation comes in the week that Blix will make what many expect to be his final report to the Security Council.

It also comes amid increasingly threatening noises from the US towards undecided countries on the Security Council who have been warned of the unpleasant economic consequences of standing up to the US.

Sources in Washington familiar with the operation said last week that there had been a division among Bush administration officials over whether to pursue such a high-intensity surveillance campaign with some warning of the serious consequences of discovery.

The existence of the surveillance operation, understood to have been requested by President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is deeply embarrassing to the Americans in the middle of their efforts to win over the undecided delegations.

The language and content of the memo were judged to be authentic by three former intelligence operatives shown it by The Observer. We were also able to establish that Frank Koza does work for the NSA and could confirm his senior post in the Regional Targets section of the organisation.

The NSA main switchboard put The Observer through to extension 6727 at the agency which was answered by an assistant, who confirmed it was Koza's office. However, when The Observer asked to talk to Koza about the surveillance of diplomatic missions at the United Nations, it was then told 'You have reached the wrong number'.

On protesting that the assistant had just said this was Koza's extension, the assistant repeated that it was an erroneous extension, and hung up.

While many diplomats at the UN assume they are being bugged, the memo reveals for the first time the scope and scale of US communications intercepts targeted against the New York-based missions.

The disclosure comes at a time when diplomats from the countries have been complaining about the outright 'hostility' of US tactics in recent days to persuade then to fall in line, including threats to economic and aid packages.

The operation appears to have been spotted by rival organisations in Europe. 'The Americans are being very purposeful about this,' said a source at a European intelligence agency when asked about the US surveillance efforts.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Commentary:
The United States of America intercepts communications of our allies, threatens and buys those who disagree with us. How far and fast the world's only superpower has fallen.


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Minister calls Bush a dictator
Times Online
From Roger Boyes in Berlin
March 10, 2003

GERMANY clashed with the United States again yesterday over the Iraq crisis after a Junior Defence Minister in Berlin described President Bush as a dictator.
The comments made by Walter Kolbow are sure to complicate further the troubled relationship between the Bush Administration and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor.

During the German election campaign last year, Mr Bush was furious after one minister compared him to Hitler and another leading Social Democrat politician accused him of behaving like a Roman Emperor.

Herr Kolbow told a political rally: “Bush is positioning himself economically and politically in an absolutely one- sided way, he is not paying regard to anybody else. That´s not a partner but a dictator.’

He said that his comments, reported by a local newspaper the Kitzinger Zeitung, had been taken out of context and that he had used the same speech to welcome the presence of US soldiers at the rally in southern Germany.

Observers present, however, said that the speech had been full of contempt for the Bush Administration.

"I have sat opposite Donald Rumsfeld and I can tell you it was no pleasure," Herr Kolbow told the applauding crowd. "It's time that he learnt the diplomatic niceties."

Although Mr Rumsfeld has pronounced the German-US relationship to be “unpoisoned’ after months of American cold-shouldering and snubs, relations are still very raw.

Commentary:
We can only hope our next president will once again restore integrity and character to the Oval Office. Has any other US president been hated by so many world leaders? I can't think of any. Has any US policy been opposed by the peoples of the worlds major democracies? I can't think of one. Opposition to the war is over 70% in Britain, over 90% in Turkey, over 80% in Spain and we all know France is against us almost 100%. While some governments will give in to Bush, great nations will not.


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