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Impeach Bush

Leaked US report scorns Bush policy
The Independent (UK)
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
15 March 2003

A classified State Department report has poured scorn on George Bush's much-touted policy that a military invasion of Iraq will lead to a flowering of democracy across the Middle East.

The report, leaked to the Los Angeles Times, is the latest indication of divisions within the Bush administration on the goals and even the wisdom of the war it is itching to start. And it offers a rebuke to neo-conservatives whose grandiose theories about refashioning the world in America's image have been central to the Iraq enterprise from the start.

"Political changes conducive to broader and enduring stability throughout the region will be difficult to achieve for a very long time," the report says. It cites corruption, serious infrastructure degradation and overpopulation as reasons to doubt whether any kind of stability, much less fully functioning democratic government, will be possible in the foreseeable future, in Iraq or in many of its neighbours. "Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve," the report goes on. And it warns that any electoral democracy would be subject to exploitation by "anti- American elements" – a reference to the Islamist parties that American foreign policy has been at pains to exclude from government across the Middle East, even if that means supporting autocratic and repressive regimes. The intelligence source who leaked the document concluded: "This idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible."

The date on the report, 26 February, was the very day the President laid out his vision of a domino effect, in which a US invasion of Iraq would be the beginning of a democratic revolution throughout the Middle East. "A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," Mr Bush said.

The State Department report, by contrast, dismisses the domino theory in its title: Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes.
  
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Commentary:
Who do we believe? The State Department or Bush? We know Bush is a pathological liar right? So, why does anyone think Bush would tell the truth about anything? Did Bush listen to budget experts before he began bankrupting us with his tax cut? Nah! So why should we listen to him now?


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Russia to ask UN to rule on legality of war
The Age (AU)
March 22 2003

Russia and other countries will ask the United Nations to rule whether the US-led war on Iraq is legal, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said today.

"With other states, we will put this question before the UN's legal department. It is very important that these arguments (about the legality of US actions) are confirmed," he told the State Duma lower house of parliament.

"This is the only way that we can use them as a strong weapon," Ivanov added.

"If the UN Security Council describes the US actions as an aggression, the appropriate measures will be taken. But if you or I describe them as aggression it won't achieve anything," the foreign minister said.

"The action has no legal basis and the attempts to justify it by resolution 1441 are not serious," he said.

The United States abandoned its efforts to have the UN Security Council approve military action against Baghdad after apparently failing to gather enough support in the 15-member Council.

The US administration argues that resolution 1441, which passed unanimously in November and threatened Iraq with "serious consequences" if it failed to show it had disarmed its weapons of mass destruction, provides sufficient authority for the war.

US-led forces launched the attacks against Iraq yesterday.

Commentary:
The UN Sec. General is very much against a vote against the US. Now we see if Russia has the allies to push their vote. Now we wait and see. Recall how the US said they'd have a moral victory if they got a majority of the Security Council to support their war? They didn't get their moral victory. Should they get a majority vote against the US, it'll be another diplomatic failure and a moral loss.


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US Steps Up Secret Surveillance *
An Impeachable Offense
Washington Post
By Dan Eggen and Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, March 24, 2003; Page A01

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department and FBI have dramatically increased the use of two little-known powers that allow authorities to tap telephones, seize bank and telephone records and obtain other information in counterterrorism investigations with no immediate court oversight, according to officials and newly disclosed documents.

The FBI, for example, has issued scores of "national security letters" that require businesses to turn over electronic records about finances, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information, according to officials and documents. The letters, a type of administrative subpoena, may be issued independently by FBI field offices and are not subject to judicial review unless a case comes to court, officials said.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has also personally signed more than 170 "emergency foreign intelligence warrants," three times the number authorized in the preceding 23 years, according to recent congressional testimony.

Federal law allows the attorney general to issue unilaterally these classified warrants for wiretaps and physical searches of suspected terrorists and other national security threats under certain circumstances. They can be enforced for 72 hours before they are subject to review and approval by the ultra-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Government officials describe both measures as crucial tools in the war on terrorism that allow authorities to act rapidly in the pursuit of potential threats without the delays that can result from seeking a judge's signature. Authorities also stress that the tactics are perfectly legal.

But some civil liberties and privacy advocates say they are troubled by the increasing use of the tactics, primarily because there is little or no oversight by courts or other outside parties. In both cases, the target of the investigation never has to be informed that the government has obtained his personal records or put him under surveillance.

"When this kind of power is used in the regular criminal justice system, there are some built-in checks and balances," said David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which is suing the Justice Department for information about its secretive anti-terrorism strategies. "The intelligence context provides no such protection. That's the main problem with these kinds of secretive procedures."

The use of national security letters has been accelerated in part because Congress made it easier to use and apply them. The USA Patriot Act, a package of sweeping anti-terrorism legislation passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, loosened the standard for targeting individuals by national security letters and allowed FBI field offices, rather than a senior official at headquarters, to issue them, officials said.

The records that can be obtained through the letters include telephone logs, e-mail logs, certain financial and bank records and credit reports, a Justice official said.

The Patriot Act also significantly increased the amount of intelligence information that can be shared with criminal prosecutors and federal grand juries, giving authorities new powers in the war on terrorism. National security letters can be used as part of criminal investigations and preliminary inquiries involving terrorism and espionage, according to officials and internal FBI guidelines on the letters.

According to documents given to EPIC and the American Civil Liberties Union as part of their lawsuit, the FBI has issued enough national security letters since October 2001 to fill more than five pages of logs. There is no way to determine exactly how many times the documents have been employed because the logs were almost entirely blacked out, according to a copy provided to The Washington Post by the ACLU.

The Justice Department and FBI refuse to provide summary data about how often the letters are used. Several lawmakers have proposed legislation that would require the department to provide that kind of data.

"In our view, the public is entitled to these statistics," said Jameel Jaffer, staff attorney for the ACLU's national legal department. "We have no idea how those are being used."

FBI spokesman John Iannarelli said "it's safe to say that anybody who is going to conduct a terrorism investigation is probably going to use them at some point. . . . It's a way to expedite information, and there's nothing that needs expediting more than a terrorism investigation."

But a November 2001 memorandum prepared by FBI attorneys warned that the letters "must be used judiciously" to avoid angering Congress, which will reconsider Patriot provisions in 2005. "The greater availability of NSLs does not mean they should be used in every case," the memo says.

Beryl A. Howell, former general counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and a specialist in surveillance law, described national security letters as "an unchecked, secret power that makes it invisible to public scrutiny and difficult even for congressional oversight." Howell now is a managing director and general counsel at Stroz Friedberg LLC, a computer forensic firm in the District.

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the government has the power to obtain secret warrants for telephone wiretaps, electronic monitoring and physical searches in counterterrorism and espionage cases. The Justice Department has expanded its use of such warrants since a favorable FISA court ruling last year, which determined that the Patriot Act gave federal officials broad new authority to obtain them.

The warrants, cloaked in secrecy and largely ignored by the public for years, have become a central issue in the ongoing debate over missteps before the Sept. 11 attacks. The FBI has come under sharp criticism from lawmakers who say FBI officials misread the FISA statute in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged terror conspirator who was in custody before the attacks. No warrant was sought in the Moussaoui case, and his computer and other belongings were not searched until after the attacks.

Even less well known are provisions that allow the attorney general to authorize these secret warrants on his own in emergency situations. The department then has 72 hours from the time a search or wiretap is launched to obtain approval from the FISA court, whose proceedings and findings are closed to the public.

Officials said that Ashcroft can use his emergency power when he believes there is no time to wait for the FISA court to approve a warrant. There are no additional restrictions on emergency warrants, other than the rules that apply to all FISA applications, officials said.

Ashcroft told lawmakers earlier this month that Justice made more than 1,000 applications for warrants to the secret court in 2002, including more than 170 in the emergency category. In the previous 23 years, only 47 emergency FISA warrants were issued.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, in similar testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, "We can often establish electronic surveillance within hours of establishing probable cause that an individual is an appropriate FISA subject."

"We have made full and very productive use of the emergency FISA process," Mueller said.

Sobel and other civil liberties advocates say they are troubled by the aggressive use of emergency FISAs because it leaves the initial decision up to the attorney general and allows clandestine searches and surveillance for up to three days before any court review.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Whatever happened to unreasonable search and seizures or the need for warrants as required by the Fourth Amendment? Today we have secret courts, secret evidence, prosecutions without lawyers, questioning without a lawyer present, the government listing in on lawyer-client conversations, wiretaps without warrants etc. The Constitution has been shredder, not by bin Laden but by Bush and his cronies. This president and his supporters have destroyed the American ideal.

Why no court has struck down these secret courts is beyond comprehension. The Seventh Amendment says; "In ALL criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury...and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense." What part of "PUBLIC TRIAL" don't these moron's understand?


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Top White House anti-terror boss resigns
Washington Times/UPI
By P. Mitchell Prothero UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL March 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism. Top Stories

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."

A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer familiar with the resignation agreed that it was not a protest against the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but confirmed that frustration is widespread in the anti-terror establishment and played a part in Beers' decision.

"Randy said that he was 'just tired' and did not have an interest in adding the stress that would come with a war with Iraq," the source said.

The source said that the concern by the administration about low morale in the intelligence community led national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to ask Beers twice during an exit interview whether the resignation was a protest against the war with Iraq. The source said that although Beers insisted it was not, the tone of the interview concerned Rice enough that she felt she had to ask the question twice.

"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

Bamford cited a recent address by President Bush that cited documents, which allegedly proved Iraq was continuing to pursue a nuclear program, that were later shown to be forgeries.

"It is absurd that the president of the United States mentioned in a speech before the world information from phony documents and no one got fired," Bamford said. "That alone has offended intelligence professionals throughout the services."

But some involved in the fight on terror said that it was dangerous to look too far into one resignation -- particularly from an official who has not blamed the war on Iraq.

"I found his resignation shocking," said one official closely involved in the domestic fight on terror. "And it might reflect a certain frustration over the allocation of resources. But I'm not positive that there's a consensus (among intelligence services) that deposing Saddam's regime is a bad idea for fighting terror. I think that there are serious concerns about resources and alienating allies, but some of us see an upside."

But others point out that the CIA warned Congress last year that an invasion might lead to a rise in terrorism. This, they say, is evidence there's more than just ambivalence about the war among the spy community.

"If it was your job to prevent terror attacks, would you be happy about an action that many see as unnecessary, that is almost guaranteed to cause more terror in the short-term?" said one official. "I know I'm not (happy)."

Beers joined the NSC in August after heading the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement branch, where he ran the Plan Colombia program to fight narco-traffickers in that country. Beers served both Bush administrations as well as serving in similar capacities with both the Clinton and Reagan administrations.


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Third Diplomat--Mary (Ann) Wright Resigns
Government Executive
By Mary (Ann) Wright
March 21, 2003

The following is a copy of Mary (Ann) Wright's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wright was most recently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She helped open the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2002.

U.S. Embassy
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
March 19, 2003

Secretary of State Colin Powell
US Department of State
Washington, DC 20521

Dear Secretary Powell:

When I last saw you in Kabul in January, 2002 you arrived to officially open the US Embassy that I had helped reestablish in December, 2001 as the first political officer. At that time I could not have imagined that I would be writing a year later to resign from the Foreign Service because of US policies. All my adult life I have been in service to the United States. I have been a diplomat for fifteen years and the Deputy Chief of Mission in our Embassies in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan (briefly) and Mongolia. I have also had assignments in Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. I received the State Department's Award for Heroism as Charge d'Affaires during the evacuation of Sierra Leone in 1997. I was 26 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and participated in civil reconstruction projects after military operations in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. I attained the rank of Colonel during my military service.

This is the only time in my many years serving America that I have felt I cannot represent the policies of an Administration of the United States. I disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea and curtailment of civil liberties in the U.S. itself. I believe the Administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them.

I hope you will bear with my explanation of why I must resign. After thirty years of service to my country, my decision to resign is a huge step and I want to be clear in my reasons why I must do so.

I disagree with the Administration's policies on Iraq

I wrote this letter five weeks ago and held it hoping that the Administration would not go to war against Iraq at this time without United Nations Security Council agreement. I strongly believe that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not safer.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator and has done incredible damage to the Iraqi people and others of the region. I totally support the international community's demand that Saddam's regime destroy weapons of mass destruction.

However, I believe we should not use US military force without UNSC agreement to ensure compliance. In our press for military action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community and in important international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the world.

Countries of the world supported America's action in Afghanistan as a response to the September 11 Al Qaida attacks on America. Since then, America has lost the incredible sympathy of most of the world because of our policy toward Iraq. Much of the world considers our statements about Iraq as arrogant, untruthful and masking a hidden agenda. Leaders of moderate Moslem/Arab countries warn us about predictable outrage and anger of the youth of their countries if America enters an Arab country with the purpose of attacking Moslems/Arabs, not defending them. Attacking the Saddam regime in Iraq now is very different than expelling the same regime from Kuwait, as we did ten years ago.

I strongly believe the probable response of many Arabs of the region and Moslems of the world if the US enters Iraq without UNSC agreement will result in actions extraordinarily dangerous to America and Americans. Military action now without UNSC agreement is much more dangerous for America and the world than allowing the UN weapons inspections to proceed and subsequently taking UNSC authorized action if warranted.

I firmly believe the probability of Saddam using weapons of mass destruction is low, as he knows that using those weapons will trigger an immediate, strong and justified international response. There will be no question of action against Saddam in that case. I strongly disagree with the use of a "preemptive attack' against Iraq and believe that this preemptive attack policy will be used against us and provide justification for individuals and groups to "preemptively attack' America and American citizens.

The international military build-up is providing pressure on the regime that is resulting in a slow, but steady disclosure of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). We should give the weapons inspectors time to do their job. We should not give extremist Moslems/ Arabs a further cause to hate America, or give moderate Moslems a reason to join the extremists. Additionally, we must reevaluate keeping our military forces in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Their presence on the Islamic "holy soil' of Saudi Arabia will be an anti-American rally cry for Moslems as long as the US military remains and a strong reason, in their opinion, for actions against the US government and American citizens.

Although I strongly believe the time in not yet right for military action in Iraq, as a soldier who has been in several military operations, I hope General Franks, US and coalition forces can accomplish the missions they will be ordered do without loss of civilian or military life and without destruction of the Iraqi peoples' homes and livelihood.

I strongly urge the Department of State to attempt again to stop the policy that is leading us to military action in Iraq without UNSC agreement. Timing is everything and this is not yet the time for military action.

I disagree with the Administration's lack of effort in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Likewise, I cannot support the lack of effort by the Administration to use its influence to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. As Palestinian suicide bombers kill Israelis and Israeli military operations kill Palestinians and destroy Palestinian towns and cities, the Administration has done little to end the violence. We must exert our considerable financial influence on the Israelis to stop destroying cities and on the Palestinians to curb its youth suicide bombers. I hope the Administration's long-needed "Roadmap for Peace' will have the human resources and political capital needed to finally make some progress toward peace.

I disagree with the Administration's lack of policy on North Korea

Additionally, I cannot support the Administration's position on North Korea. With weapons, bombs and missiles, the risks that North Korea poses are too great to ignore. I strongly believe the Administration's lack of substantive discussion, dialogue and engagement over the last two years has jeopardized security on the peninsula and the region. The situation with North Korea is dangerous for us to continue to neglect.

I disagree with the Administration's policies on Unnecessary Curtailment of Rights in America

Further, I cannot support the Administration's unnecessary curtailment of civil rights following September 11. The investigation of those suspected of ties with terrorist organizations is critical but the legal system of America for 200 years has been based on standards that provide protections for persons during the investigation period. Solitary confinement without access to legal counsel cuts the heart out of the legal foundation on which our country stands. Additionally, I believe the Administration's secrecy in the judicial process has created an atmosphere of fear to speak out against the gutting of the protections on which America was built and the protections we encourage other countries to provide to their citizens.

Resignation

I have served my country for almost thirty years in the some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world. I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of this Administration and cannot defend or implement them. It is with heavy heart that I must end my service to America and therefore resign due to the Administration's policies.

Mr. Secretary, to end on a personal note, under your leadership, we have made great progress in improving the organization and administration of the Foreign Service and the Department of State. I want to thank you for your extraordinary efforts to that end. I hate to leave the Foreign Service, and I wish you and our colleagues well.

Very Respectfully,

Mary A. Wright, FO-01

Deputy Chief of Mission
US Embassy
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Commentary:


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Jim McDermott Calls War Resolution Dishonest
Yahoo News/AP
By MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press Writer Sat Mar 22,10:49 AM ET

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - He was one of only 11 members of Congress to oppose a resolution aimed at showing support for U.S. troops in Iraq but Rep. Jim McDermott said it had nothing to do with his feelings for the men and women of the military.

"I wish it to be clearly understood that I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the courage, tenacity and dedication of those currently serving in Iraq and elsewhere," the Seattle Democrat said Friday.

McDermott, an outspoken opponent of the war, said his vote was aimed at Republican leaders in Congress, who insisted on including support for President Bush in the resolution honoring the troops.

"Mr. Speaker, war is not a partisan matter," McDermott said during debate on the measure. "The (House) leadership should be ashamed for bringing this to the floor. Everyone here wants to support an honest and straightforward resolution to support our troops. Don't give us a dishonest resolution that confuses the issue by asking us to endorse the Bush Doctrine that sent our troops to war."

While lawmakers from both parties want to praise the troops, "I for one will not be forced to praise the president's decisions," McDermott said. "This war of choice undermines the international order and endangers our republic."

But Republican leaders called the resolution an appropriate — and important — declaration of support for the soldiers, sailors and Marines doing battle against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

They said the resolution showed bipartisan congressional support for U.S. troops in Iraq — in contrast to the lack of support some soldiers felt during the Vietnam War.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly early Friday, but angered some Democrats who said they felt pressured into backing Bush's decision to go to war. The resolution expressed "unequivocal support" of Bush "for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq."

The 392-11 House vote, with 22 members voting "present," came after a sometimes angry and emotional debate that contrasted with the Senate, which passed the measure unanimously after a relatively mild discussion.

McDermott was the only member of Congress from the Pacific Northwest to oppose the resolution.

Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2003 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
Those who support this war do so knowing it is a violation of International Law. How can the US expect others to follow UN resolutions when we don't? How can we expect Iraq the Geneva Convention when we don't?


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US Violates Demilitarized Zone: UN Res. 687 *
An Impeachable Offense
CNN News
Saturday, March 8, 2003 Posted: 0249 GMT (10:49 AM HKT)

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Kuwaiti workers have cut holes in the demilitarized zone fence between Iraq and Kuwait big enough to drive military vehicles through, United Nations officials said Friday.

The workers apparently are cutting areas marked by U.S. Marines who have been working inside the demilitarized zone for days, according to the United Nations.

Kuwaiti workers said they were told to make 35 holes in the fence by March 15, the United Nations said.

The development comes as U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reported Friday to the Security Council on Iraqi disarmament efforts.

About 100,000 U.S. and British troops are in Kuwait preparing for a possible air and ground attack aimed at dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. Iraq denies that it has any such weapons.

President George W. Bush said Thursday that he had not decided whether to invade Iraq, but he added that U.N. Security Council members would decide in a matter of days whether they would join the United States in forcibly disarming the country. (Full story)

The United Kingdom has presented a revised draft resolution to the Security Council that sets a March 17 deadline for Iraq to comply fully with previous Security Council disarmament resolutions. (Full story)

The United Nations said Kuwait has cut four holes in the fence along the demilitarized zone, revising an earlier report that the Kuwaitis had opened between 10 and 15 gaps -- some up to 330 yards [300 meters] wide -- in the electrified fence inside the DMZ, and that Kuwaitis and U.S. Marines had made marks for about 30 more.

In the latest report, a U.N. official said the workers told peacekeepers "they were employed by a commercial firm under a contract issued by the Kuwaiti Ministry of the Interior" and had been told to create holes "each 25 meters [82 feet] wide."

Security Council told of incursion
The United Nations sent a letter on the matter to the Security Council on Friday. It would be up to the Security Council to determine whether the activity violated the resolution that established the zone.

On Thursday, the Security Council was told that U.S. military had encroached into the zone.

By U.N. mandate, no military activity other than a police presence by Iraq and Kuwait can take place in the DMZ. Technically, if U.S. troops go through breaches in the demilitarized zone fence to enter Iraq from the south, they would be in violation of Security Council rules, and that would be reported to the United Nations

U.S. officials said that scenario was not a concern because any war with Iraq would be a justified attack because of Iraq's treatment of Kuwait in the past and possible mistreatment in the future.

CNN's Martin Savidge in Kuwait City said the U.S. military operations in the demilitarized zone could be scouting missions for possible military action against Iraq.

CNN's Gordon Robison reported from the edge of the DMZ on Friday that he saw two U.S. military Humvees pull several hundred meters into the zone and park. Robison said the occupants were upset that a CNN camera crew was videotaping them and soon left the area.

Diplomatic sources in Kuwait City said violations occur daily, and when observers tell members of the U.S. military that they are in violation of a U.N. mandate, they usually leave -- sometimes after saying they are lost.

Marine helicopters reported inside DMZ
Observers have also reported seeing U.S. Marine helicopters inside the zone.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Thursday, "UNIKOM [the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission] has reported numerous violations of the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait since the 4th of March by personnel in civilian clothes in 4-by-4 vehicles, at least some of whom were armed and identified themselves as U.S. Marines."

U.S. military spokesmen in Kuwait had no immediate comment on the UNIKOM report, Reuters reported. The Kuwaiti mission to the U.N. said it was not aware of the story but played down its significance.

UNIKOM was established in 1991 after a U.S.-led coalition ejected Iraqi occupation troops from Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War. Its job is to monitor the demilitarized zone and to "deter border violations and report any hostile action," according to the United Nations.

Because of the activity, a U.N. official in Kuwait told CNN, UNIKOM forces inside the DMZ have requested permission to elevate their alert status from amber, or level 2, to red, level 3. At level 4, U.N. observers would be removed from the DMZ.

UNIKOM previously reported three breaches in the electric fence, Eckhard said.

Kuwaiti officials said construction under way on the Kuwaiti side of the demilitarized zone had encroached on the fence, Eckhard said.

A spokesman for the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry told CNN that though he had no comment on the reports of gaps in the fence, the structure is within Kuwaiti territory and was built by Kuwait, so any Kuwaiti modifications to it would be legal.

-- CNN's Richard Roth, Martin Savidge and Liz Neisloss contributed to this report.

Commentary:
The United States once again thumbs its nose at the UN and International Law. UN Resolution 687 forbids the US entering or crossing over into Iraq through this zone. Does the rule of law crowd still think the US is justified when our president violates one law after another?

And what about our military. They know this zone is demilitarized and yet they violate the law. The military CAN'T follow a law that is unlawful, so what are they doing? What are we to do with these law-breakers? Let them go because they were just 'following orders?'

I've never understood why it was wrong for Iraq to invade Kuwait, but it's ok for the US to invade Iraq. Both were done in violation of International Law. Both were invasions of sovereign nations, both attempted to occupy and/or overthrow the current government.

Those who follow this president will be damned by history. Those who support this president have to ask themselves how long a great nation can last when laws ARE arbitrary.


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Republican consultant shapes Bush war message--rank hypocrisy
Washington Post
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2003; Page A12

Former White House aide Karen P. Hughes, now a $15,000-a-month consultant to the Republican National Committee, has been playing a key role in advising President Bush and the administration on a communications strategy for the Iraq war.

Hughes flew with Bush on Air Force One to the Azores on Sunday and helped to draft his speech to the nation delivered Monday night. Hughes briefed reporters in the White House on Monday in advance of Bush's speech, saying he would offer exile as the only option to avoid an attack. And Hughes, who officials say has worked from the White House for the past week, has played a key role in developing the administration's plan for a coordinated communications strategy during the Iraq war.

The arrangement has prompted accusations from Democrats and government watchdog groups that the role of Hughes improperly blends politics and government business. Democrats complain that the presence of Hughes gives an inherently political tinge to the war effort. "George Bush should be focused on winning this war and making sure our troops are safe, not on how his partisan campaign hacks are going to score political points in the aftermath," said David Sirota, spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

Government watchdog groups said the arrangement essentially allows Hughes to serve as White House official without being subject to its ethics rules, such as disclosure of income sources. Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said that "in effect they're having the RNC paying her salary so she isn't paid by the White House and doesn't come under the ethics rules of the White House." Noble said the arrangement "is a way to avoid disclosing outside income."

Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, said the matter is an ethical "gray area" because Hughes is not under disclosure requirements.

A spokesman for the RNC, Jim Dyke, said Hughes's presence at the White House did not politicize the situation or present a conflict of interest. "She has been providing advice to the president since before he was president based on their relationship, and I don't think that would change regardless of who happens to be paying her," he said. He added that Hughes is "providing communications advice, not making policy decisions." Hughes, who has been receiving $15,000 monthly plus expenses since July, will have her pay cut to $5,000 monthly because of restrictions forced by campaign finance laws, Dyke said.

Hughes did not return messages left at the White House and at her office in Austin. A White House official said he was not aware whether Hughes has filed or would file disclosures.

Hughes is one of Bush's most trusted, longtime confidantes, serving as an aide while he was Texas governor and during the first 18 months of his presidency. She directed the White House communications apparatus, including the global message operation during the war in Afghanistan. Since she left in the middle of last year because of her family's desire to return to Texas, Hughes has continued to advise Bush and has campaigned for GOP candidates. She is writing a book about her White House experiences.

A decade ago, a similar White House consulting arrangement caused an uproar among congressional Republicans, who were infuriated that Democratic National Committee consultants were given access to the 1993 deliberations on President Bill Clinton's first budget and economic plan. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) attempted to pass legislation requiring the consultants to file the same financial disclosure statements as White House aides did. The legislation failed, but the White House directed the four consultants -- James Carville, Paul Begala, Mandy Grunwald and Stan Greenberg -- to make the disclosures.

"This issue is not a partisan maneuver, but a responsible, good government action," Wolf wrote at the time. "We are trying to make public policy to ensure public accountability for this White House and any White House in the future, whether occupied by a Democrat or a Republican." Wolf argued that the four could be considered government employees under some readings of the law and therefore subject to conflict-of-interest restrictions.

A spokesman for Wolf, Dan Scandling, said the issue with the Clinton advisers was more about security clearances and White House passes. But on the disclosure matter, Scandling said: "That's where he is and what he believes."

Begala said Hughes's role at the White House is a vindication of his view. "I couldn't be happier," he said. "I think it's terrific the president has turned to people he's comfortable with who can tell him 'no.' You never have to worry with Karen Hughes about divided loyalty."

Begala said "it's not for me to say" whether Hughes should disclose her finances. He said that after Wolf demanded the disclosures a decade ago, Clinton told him: "You do have great access. Why not do it?"

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
I love this story. It shows once again that republicans don't really believe in anything. They attacked Clinton for the same things Bush is doing and all is quiet. At least President Clinton wasn't talking about war and peace with his political advisors, just the budget. This unethical man is using political RNC hacks to shape war into a political tool for the next election. Can you think of anything more disgusting?

Btw, Hughes was written about by the guy who created the "axis of evil" line in an esquire article found in Impeach 45. Ex-Speechwriter Recounts Axis of Evil Here's a nice quote about her... and perhaps the reason Bush likes her so much; Former presidential counselor Karen Hughes "rarely read books and distrusted people who did – anything she did not already know she saw no point in knowing," he wrote


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Democrats Win Alaska Drilling Battle
Washington Post
By H. JOSEF HEBERT
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 20, 2003; 2:16 AM

One senator called it "our best shot," but it was not enough. Republicans fell two votes short in their best chance yet at opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling.

By a 52-48 vote, the Senate on Wednesday stripped from a budget resolution a White House-backed provision that would have set the stage for Congress to lift the longtime ban on the development of millions of barrels of oil that lie beneath the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

While Alaska's senators vowed to fight on, other drilling advocates conceded the vote almost certainly marked the end of the Arctic refuge debate this year and probably next. While the House still may resurrect the issue as part of an energy bill, the Senate was making clear its resolve to protect the refuge, senators on both sides of the issue conceded.

"This was our best shot," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who favors developing the refuge's oil. He indicated he had little stomach for pursuing the issue as part of broad energy bill to be crafted by his Energy and Commerce Committee this summer.

While Domenici said "I will not turn my back" on the need to develop more oil, he said he plans to pursue a bill "that will expand oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and other designated energy production sites" and not the off-limits Alaska refuge.

Development of the millions of barrels of oil beneath the 100-mile coastal plain of the Arctic refuge in northeastern Alaska has been at the heart of President Bush's energy plans. While the administration views the oil as key to curtailing America's dependence on imports, environmentalists contend drilling there would jeopardize a pristine area valued for its wildlife while reducing U.S. demand for imports only slightly.

All but five Democrats as well as eight Republicans voted for the amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to kill the refuge provision.

"A federal budget resolution is not the place to be debating such an issue of compelling national interest," said Sen. Olympia Snow, R-Maine, one of the Republicans who voted with Boxer.

The Bush administration expressed its disappointment.

"It's unfortunate that the Senate missed an opportunity to increase America's energy independence at a critical time," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

With one or two senators holding the balance, both sides knew the vote would be close. Only hours before the vote, freshman Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., under intense pressure, signaled he might change his mind and vote in favor of drilling.

In the end, Coleman, who succeeded the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, an ardent drilling foe, sided with the Democrats after it became clear the pro-drilling side was short of victory. He said he did so "with mixed emotions."

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who led the pro-drilling forces, vowed not to give up the fight. "If we lose today there will be another vote on another day," he predicted at a news conference shortly before the Senate vote began. Stevens took the defeat personally.

"People who vote against this today are voting against me and I will not forget," declared Stevens, who as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee can often decide whether a senator's pet project will get federal money.

"When one of the most powerful senators says he takes it personally, and he's keeping a list ... well, my heart really started to beat faster," Boxer later remarked in an interview.

Stevens and other drilling supporters insisted that with government restrictions and modern technology the refuge's oil could be pumped without harming wildlife. But environmentalists countered that the oil industry's footprint would be scattered over 1.5 million acres of coastal tundra, disturbing polar bears in their dens, affecting calving grounds for caribou and interfering with millions of migratory birds that swoop down on the plain each summer.

The Interior Department estimates the refuge may have from 5.7 billion to as much as 16 billion barrels of oil, a field comparable to the adjacent Prudhoe Bay fields. But environmentalists argue that only about 3.2 billion barrels may be economically worth pumping, depending on the price of oil.

Boxer said the United States could save more oil than the refuge would produce "by just getting the SUVs to have the same fuel economy as autos."

The United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day, a little more than half of it imported

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Have you noticed it's almost impossible to find a news headline on the Internet with the word "democrat" in it? The original title of this article is "GOP Falls Short on Alaska Drilling Battle," not 'GOP loses another one,' or 'Democrats kill Centerpiece of Bush's Energy Plan.' The words "fall short" are ambiguous enough for a lot of readers to miss the story completely and fail to show the unity dems have shown in stopping the Bush agenda dead in its tracks.

My contempt for Bush is only surpassed by my contempt for the press. Third and fourth in my list are conservatives and then the democrat party.


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International lawyers dispute legality of Iraq war
Islamic Republic News Agency
March 18, 2003

London, March 18, IRNA -- International lawyers have joined members of the House of Lords in disputing the British government's claim that the legality of launching a war against Iraq can be based upon previous UN resolutions.

"It beggars belief that this government should try to persuade the public that an authorization from 12 years ago is still in force and that the word ceasefire no longer has a plain and common sense meaning," said the Coalition of International Lawyers.

The British government's top legal adviser on Monday paved the way for the UK to join a US-led war against Iraq by claiming there was no need for a fresh UN mandate to launch military action.

"Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of (UNSC) resolutions 678, 687 and 1441," Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith said in a written reply to parliament.

In response, Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said that the attorney-general's advice was "not a legal opinion."

There was no hint of an argument put by the consensus of international lawyers that the use of force without UN authorization would be illegal, he said.

"The view of the consensus of international lawyers is that this war will be illegal," he warned.

Several peers in the House of Lords also challenged the British government's claim during a debate limited to the legality of a war against Iraq.

"The Attorney-General's opinion reaches a highly questionable conclusion, which is based on a dubious interpretation of deliberately ambiguous wording," said the Liberal Democrat's shadow attorney-general Lord Goodhart.

In his legal advice to the government, Goldsmith argued that (UNSC) resolution 1441 did not require an express further decision to authorize force, but only "reporting to and discussion by the Security Council of Iraq's failures."

But Goodhart warned that the government should "face up to the fact that what we are about to do is not lawful" and will have to "bear the consequences of that."

Former Conservative attorney-general Lord Mayhew reminded the government that the body of opinion holds that the "use of force would be unlawful unless authorized by a further resolution."

Lord Thomas, Lib Dem spokesman on Home and Welsh Affairs, said that the attorney-general's claim that the 1991 ceasefire resolution 678 suspended but did not terminate the authority to use force "is in clear conflict with the expression of the Security Council's intention."

"Neither the United Kingdom nor the United States is entitled to enforce the decisions of the Security Council," he said, repeating the arguments put forward by the British government for not needing a fresh UN mandate.

The Bishop of Salisbury warned what pattern of relationships was being set before the international community by the UK and the US in ignoring world opinion.

"How will the nations of the Arab world view us and our use of the law? What kind of an example will we set? We are commending unilateral action by those who have the power to act," he rhetorically asked.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester, who studied international law at Harvard Law School in the US, said the British and US government must demonstrate that they are ruled by international law in war as well as in peace.

"We are not the Romans; nor are we barbarians; nor, if I may say so, cowboys enforcing gun law in the Wild West," he argued. "What we are about to do is in breach of fundamental international legal principles," he warned.

Commentary:
So much for the "rule of law" crowd."