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GDP Grew 1.6% in First Quarter 2003
Washington Post/Reuters
By Caren Bohan
Friday, April 25, 2003; 8:48 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy hobbled along at a weaker-than-expected pace in the first quarter as the war in Iraq and severe winter weather took a toll on spending and investment, a government report showed on Friday.

U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy's health, grew by an anemic 1.6 percent in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said. That was a bit faster than the 1.4 percent growth rate recorded in the fourth quarter of last year, but it fell well short of the revival in growth some economists had been hoping to see in this report.

Bond prices jumped after the report while the dollar pared its gains and stock futures prices slipped.

"It was a lackluster, disappointing number, below expectations," said Alan Ackerman, strategist at Fahnestock and Co. in New York. "The economy of late has given us mixed signals, and this number will take some steam out of recent optimism (in the stock market)."

U.S. economists in a Reuters survey had expected a 2.3 percent rise in GDP.

Consumers, who were nervous in the run-up to the March 20 start of the war against Iraq, spent cautiously. Their spending increased a mere 1.4 percent in the first quarter, the weakest gain since the second quarter of 2001 -- in the middle of the 2001 recession. Spending decelerated from a 1.7 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2002.

A pullback in car sales accounted for much of the weakness. Also, anecdotal reports have suggested that harsh winter weather kept consumers from the shopping malls in some parts of the country during February and early March.

Net exports -- the gap between what Americans consumed from abroad and what they exported -- made a contribution to GDP.

Business investment in new plants and equipment proved to be surprisingly weak, contracting by 4.2 percent in the first quarter following a 2.3 percent rise in the fourth quarter. Spending on equipment and software fell by 4.4 percent, the steepest drop since the third quarter of 2001.

One surprise in the report was a 1.5 percent decline in defense spending that came even as the Pentagon was sending thousands of troops and loads of equipment to the Middle East to gear up for the war. Commerce said it could not isolate the exact impact of war spending within the GDP accounts. However, it did point out that weaponry used in the war would have been counted as defense spending only at the time of production and delivery, not when used. Weapons drawn from existing inventories would not necessarily add to spending.

It was the first quarterly decline in defense spending since that component fell 6.1 percent in the third quarter of 2000.

Underlying inflation in the U.S. economy was extremely muted. The closely watched inflation gauge, the PCE price index, rose 2.8 percent in the first quarter. But stripping out volatile food and energy costs, it inched up only 0.9 percent.

© 2003 Reuters

Commentary:
Surprise, surprise, the US economy can't withstand endless war talk and rising deficits. In time the war nonsense will end (unless Bush thinks he can take on N. Korea) I'm still amazed the US could be so consumed with war against a nearly defenseless country. Yet, the powers that be, said we needed to spend over a year preparing for this war and a couple weeks watching it unfold. The war networks probably made a lot of money. So did most of the others news outlets. The rest of the economy tanked. Nothing new here.



Uranium Looted from Iraqi Power Center?
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 25, 2003; Page A14

KUWAIT CITY, April 24 -- Nearly three weeks after U.S. forces reached Iraq's most important nuclear facility, the Bush administration has yet to begin an assessment of whether tons of radioactive material there remain intact, according to military officials here and in Washington.

Before the war began last month, the vast Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center held 3,896 pounds of partially enriched uranium, more than 94 tons of natural uranium and smaller quantities of cesium, cobalt and strontium, according to reports compiled through the 1990s by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Immensely valuable on the international black market, the uranium was in a form suitable for further enrichment to "weapons grade," the core of a nuclear device. The other substances, products of medical and industrial waste, emit intense radiation. They have been sought, officials said, by terrorists seeking to build a so-called dirty bomb, which uses conventional explosives to scatter dangerous radioactive particles.

Defense officials acknowledge that the U.S. government has no idea whether any of Tuwaitha's potentially deadly contents have been stolen, because it has not dispatched investigators to appraise the site. What it does know, according to officials at the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command, is that the sprawling campus, 11 miles south of Baghdad, lay unguarded for days and that looters made their way inside.

Tuwaitha is headquarters of Iraq's Atomic Energy Agency, with hundreds of structures covering some 120 acres. At the height of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program, which nearly succeeded in building a bomb in 1991, Tuwaitha incorporated research reactors, uranium mining and enrichment facilities, chemical engineering plants and an explosives fabrication center to build the device that detonates a nuclear core.

The facility was inspected more often than any other site by U.N. inspectors, who began disarming Iraq under U.N. Security Council mandate in 1991.

Disputes inside the U.S. Defense Department and with other government agencies have slowed the preparation of orders for a team of nuclear experts to assess Tuwaitha, officials said. Though it anticipated for months that war would leave it with responsibility for Iraq's nuclear infrastructure, the Bush administration did not reach consensus on the role it would seek at those facilities.

President Bush's senior advisers have accused the IAEA, under Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, of being hostile to U.S. objectives in Iraq. Civilian policy officials in the Pentagon, according to people with first-hand knowledge, initially proposed to make a complete inspection of Tuwaitha without the IAEA -- an exercise that apparently would have required U.S. government experts to break seals the agency's inspectors placed on safeguarded nuclear materials. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which the United States is a signatory, gives the IAEA exclusive authority over those seals.

Strong objections came from other parts of the Pentagon policy apparatus and from the State Department offices responsible for treaty compliance, international organizations and nonproliferation.

The unresolved dispute has prevented Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld from issuing guidance to U.S. Central Command that would define the objectives and limits of a site survey.

Lt. Col. Michael W. Slifka, a senior leader at Central Command's Sensitive Site Exploitation Planning Team, said U.S. forces had not broken any IAEA seals. But he said in an interview here that he did not know whether seals had been broken by others, because he had not been authorized to dispatch a team with nuclear experts from the Energy Department's national laboratories.

"For force protection reasons, because of the folks we've got there," Slifka said, "we aren't in a position to go inside."

"The site is now secured by coalition forces," he said. "They're safeguarded." Slifa said technicians had taken readings and "established safe zones" to protect U.S. forces and civilians, "but we've left it at that."

A defense official made available to describe the policy tonight said there are "tentative plans" for "a U.S. assessment team to enter the site once a team can be organized and properly equipped." The official emphasized that the team would not break IAEA seals and added: "The issue of the IAEA's role in this process will be addressed once we have a better idea from the assessment team on the actual status of the buildings, containers and materials at the site."

A second official said that formula only deferred the harder questions. "The intent is to inventory the site and to make a determination what if anything is missing," he said, and that cannot be done without a full inspection.

Outside experts expressed astonishment today that the government had not treated the possibility of missing nuclear materials with greater urgency.

"It's extremely surprising," said Corey Hinderstein, deputy director of the Institute for Science and International Security, when told that U.S. nuclear experts had not yet been to Tuwaitha. "I would have hoped that they would try to assess as quickly as possible whether the site had been breached. If there is radiological material on the loose in Iraq, with the chance that it may be transferred across borders, it would be extremely important to know that [in order] to prevent it from crossing a border or being transferred to a terrorist or another state."

Working through the late 1990s against what it then called "Iraq's prevarication" and an "endeavor to conceal the [nuclear weapons] program in its entirety," the IAEA seized more than 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium -- sufficient to build a nuclear bomb -- and supervised the destruction of a weapons infrastructure encompassing 10 major centers around Iraq.

The agency eventually concluded that the weapons program had been expunged, an assessment disputed by the Bush White House. The IAEA turned to "ongoing monitoring and verification" of sites it had already disarmed. As part of that effort, it placed tamper-proof seals on many rooms at Tuwaitha and on at least 409 barrels of radioactive material.

Until fighting began on March 19, those seals were believed to have remained intact and Tuwaitha's three major storage structures were secured by Iraq's Special Republican Guard. But when a U.S. Marine engineers reached the site on April 6, the Marines found it abandoned.

Iraqi locals told the Marines, according to situation reports sent through Central Command, that the last of the guards had departed four days earlier. The Marines reported that some of the buildings showed evident signs of looting. Until receiving reinforcements, the small unit was unable to prevent further intrusions by Iraqis who cut through barbed wire fencing and stole inside.

The IAEA's ElBaradei has said publicly that his agency holds the only lawful authority over Tuwaitha's safeguarded materials. Officials in the U.S. government and the IAEA said there have been no substantive discussions between them on the terms of a postwar survey there.

"It's worrisome," said an expert with long experience at Tuwaitha who is familiar with ElBaradei's views. The IAEA, he said, "would like to quickly understand if there has been any diversion, any disappearance, because the sooner we know, the sooner we can do something about it."

Staff researcher Robert Thomason contributed to this report.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Recall what the US military protected. They protected the oil fields but let radioactive uranium go unprotected. They allowed libraries and museums to be gutted and looted but had plenty of man power and equipment to bring down statues.

If you still think this war was about making the world a safer place, ask yourself why we didn't have troops protecting this material. The war was a joke. One of the biggest political jokes perpetrated by a president. Are you still laughing?



Bush: Iraq May Have Destroyed Weapons
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 25, 2003; Page A10

LIMA, Ohio, April 24 -- President Bush today raised the possibility that Saddam Hussein's government destroyed the prohibited chemical and biological weapons that were the justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The president made the suggestion at a celebratory event at the plant here that makes Abrams tanks, 900 of which have been used in the Iraq war. Addressing concerns about anarchy in Iraq and the absence so far of forbidden weapons, he urged patience on both counts while U.S. troops try to disarm and stabilize the country of 23 million.

"It's going to take time to find them," Bush said of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Speaking before hundreds of cheering workers, an enormous U.S. flag and five tanks with guns pointed skyward, he added: "But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth."

It was the first hint by Bush that U.S. troops and others hunting for weapons might fail to find chemical and biological arms. The administration had laid out in detail what it called an irrefutable case that Iraq possessed such weapons. Failure to find significant quantities of the weapons could be an embarrassment for the U.S. position.

Bush also said it will take time to rebuild the country. "Iraq is recovering not just from weeks of conflict, but from decades of totalitarian rule," he said. "Statues of the man have been pulled down, but the fear and suspicion he instilled in the people will take longer to pass away."

Bush noted that retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, who is overseeing Iraqi reconstruction, "arrived in Baghdad just this week. You see, it wasn't all that long ago that our tanks were in Baghdad. It may seem like a lot of time -- there's a lot on our TV screens -- but it wasn't all that long ago that the people got the first whiff of freedom."

Bush's call for patience came as other senior administration officials spoke of U.S. plans for Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an interview with the Associated Press that the administration will not tolerate "an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything."

On the subject of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, administration officials have regularly expressed confidence that Hussein's weapons would be found, and found quickly. Bush's remarks today were more pessimistic. He noted that Iraqis with knowledge of the programs "have come forward recently, some voluntarily, others not," to "let us know what the facts were on the ground." While expressing no certainty about Iraq's weapons, Bush said that "one thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction."

In an interview today with NBC's Tom Brokaw, Bush acknowledged "there's going to be skepticism until people find out there was, in fact, a weapons of mass destruction program," but he repeated his belief that Hussein "destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some." Bush said there are "literally hundreds" of suspect sites and only 90 have been examined so far.

Bush was more upbeat on the possible demise of Hussein, citing "some evidence" Hussein is dead. "The person who helped direct the attacks believes that Saddam at the very minimum was severely wounded," he said in the interview, though adding that there was no certainty.

Launching the war, Bush said that "the people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." In the months before the war, the administration said that Iraq had not accounted for 25,000 liters of anthrax; 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent; and 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.

The administration was also highly critical of U.N. inspectors for failing to find the evidence. But in the war and its aftermath, U.S. troops and weapons hunters have failed to make a confirmed finding of forbidden weapons, even as they have uncovered tantalizing clues.

The official purpose of Bush's visit to Ohio today was to build support for a tax cut of at least $550 billion and to put pressure on Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a Republican holdout. In a speech at a manufacturing facility in Canton this morning, he taunted the Senate for supporting a "little-bitty tax cut" of $350 billion instead of the "robust package" he proposed.

But Bush's afternoon event here in western Ohio became something of a celebration of the yet-undeclared victory in Iraq. He boasted that the "deck of cards," on which the Pentagon featured Iraq's most-wanted former leaders, "seems to be getting complete over time." Bush at one point stood on two of the tanks in the factory.

"We're witnessing historic days in the cause of freedom," Bush almost shouted. Describing Hussein's swift ouster, he said: "The tanks built right here in Lima, Ohio, charged through elements of the dictator's Republican Guards, led the forces of a liberation into the heart of Iraq, and rolled all the way into downtown Baghdad."

Bush said that "our forces still face danger in Iraq," but he put the anti-U.S. protests there in a favorable light. "Today, in Iraq, there's discussion, debate, protest, all the hallmarks of liberty," he said to chuckles. "The path to freedom may not always be neat and orderly, but it is the right of every person and every nation." Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, he said America "will help that nation build a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
This weeks version of our new evolving truth is that Saddam may have destroyed his weapons. But wait, Bush said we were going to war because he didn't destroy his weapons. Did Bush lie to get us into war or is he lying now? You decide.

.

Bush also suggests the weapons were moved. This is a categorical lie and a free press would call it so. The US had satellites watching every move Saddam was making. If he moved even one of these disappearing weapons, Bush would have the pictures showing they were on the move and exactly where they went.

Have Americans become this ignorant, this foolish? It appears so. But are Americans so forgetful that we forget that Powell said there were mobile chemical labs and four other labs—absolute proof? Clearly Americans with even the smallest amount of free thought have to know Bush and Powell lied to us and the UN.

When did being dumb become fashionable?



Reporter arrested protesting war is fired
Boston Globe
By Chris Gaither, Globe Staff
April 24, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Chronicle fired Henry Norr, one of its technology reporters, one month after suspending him for taking a day off from work to protest the war in Iraq.

Norr, 57, was one of about 1,400 protesters arrested here on March 20, the day after American bombs began falling on Baghdad. The four-year veteran of the Chronicle spent the day in jail, along with his wife and 25-year-old daughter. Each was charged with being a pedestrian in the road, for blocking traffic.

Though the paper dismissed Norr for improperly claiming sick leave that day, his situation also illustrates the difficulty in balancing journalists' desire to express their political views and news organizations' desire to appear objective to their audiences.

Aly Colon, an ethics professor with the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in St. Petersburg, Fla., said he found it ''ironic'' that newspapers, often watchdogs for the right to free speech, sometimes act against employees for expressing their views outside of work. He questioned whether terminating Norr was the best solution, but said the Chronicle must protect its credibility.

''When individuals stand for something that causes people to question whether they can be fair in what they do, something has to be done to address that,'' Colon said.

Norr said he never hid his arrest from his bosses. He said he sent e-mail to his editors, late on the eve of the protests, telling them of his intention to be arrested. He also asked for a month's leave earlier in March to devote all his time to protesting - a request that he said went unanswered.

Yet when he filled out his timecard on March 21, he marked the missed time as a sick day. He said he regrets having done that, rather than putting in for a vacation day. But he said he never hid his reasons for missing work, and that his manager signed the card the following Monday, two days before his suspension.

''If they had a column on the timecard for `jail day,' I would have put that,'' he said in an interview yesterday.

The Chronicle pulled Norr's next column, about technology that prevents unwanted e-mail, before publication, then suspended him on March 26. The paper fired him this week.

Representatives of the Chronicle, owned by Hearst Corp., declined to comment, saying they do not discuss personnel issues.

In a termination letter sent to Norr late Monday, Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein cited the ''falsification'' of Norr's timecard and ''an improper claim for paid sick leave'' as sufficient grounds for dismissal. ''Your personal political activities are no excuse to permit a false claim,'' Bronstein wrote.

But he suggested that Norr's political activities played a role in the decision to fire him. While on unpaid leave, Norr was arrested and hit with wooden pellets fired by police in other protests around the Bay Area, actions that Bronstein called ''persistent violations'' of the newspaper's ethics policies.

''Even if you had not claimed a paid workday, we would not permit you to return to work in the Chronicle newsroom,'' Bronstein wrote. ''To do so would irreparably compromise our journalistic standards and the expectations we have for everyone in the newsroom.''

Norr, however, said his protests violated none of the Chronicle's ethics policies at the time. Since his suspension, the newspaper has amended its policies to explicitly prohibit antiwar protests by its staff members.

The local newspaper union, the Northern California Media Workers Guild, has filed grievances against the newspaper for the suspension, the termination, and the changes to the Chronicle's ethics policy.

Norr is due in court today. He has not yet entered a plea. The charge against his daughter has been dismissed; his wife is awaiting a court appearance.

Chris Gaither can be reached at gaither@globe.com.

This story ran on page E4 of the Boston Globe on 4/24/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Commentary:
I like this story because an anti-war reporter gets fired because of his beliefs but the pro-war reporters not only believes in war but voiced(es) them daily in their columns and on TV.

The concept of a free press is dying very fast. Large corporations are buying up the remaining news sources and one-thought news is becoming our new standard. One of the nice things about all the news coming from the same source is we don't have to think for ourselves anymore.



BBC Chief Attacks U.S. Media War Coverage
Yahoo News/Entertainment - Reuters
By Merissa Marr
Thu Apr 24, 8:06 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. broadcasters' coverage of the Iraq (news - web sites) war was so unquestioningly patriotic and so lacking in impartiality that it threatened the credibility of America's electronic media, the head of the BBC said on Thursday.

BBC Director General Greg Dyke singled out for criticism the fast growing News Corp. Ltd.'s Fox News Channel, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, and Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest operator of radio stations in the United States, with over 1,200 stations, for special criticism.

"Personally, I was shocked while in the United States by how unquestioning the broadcast news media was during this war," Dyke said in a speech at a University of London conference.

"If Iraq proved anything, it was that the BBC cannot afford to mix patriotism and journalism. This is happening in the United States and if it continues, will undermine the credibility of the U.S. electronic news media."

Dyke singled out Fox News, the most popular U.S. cable news network during the conflict, for its "gung-ho patriotism," saying: "We are still surprised when we see Fox News with such a committed political position."

A spokesman for Fox News declined comment.

The British media veteran also attacked U.S. radio broadcaster Clear Channel and warned against British media becoming "Americanized."

'SHOCKED' BROADCASTER INVOLVED IN RALLIES

"We are genuinely shocked when we discover that the largest radio group in the United States was using its airwaves to organize pro-war rallies. We are even more shocked to discover that the same group wants to become a big player in radio in the United Kingdom when it is deregulated later this year," Dyke said.

Officials for Clear Channel said that any pro-war rallies linked to the company have been organized by individuals, such as popular disc jockey Glenn Beck, or individual stations, rather than as a result of overall corporate policy.

"The idea for Glenn Beck Rallies for America actually started with a DJ at a Susquehanna Media radio station in Dallas trying to show his son -- due to ship overseas -- that there was indeed support for U.S. troops in this country," the company said in a statement.

John Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Clear Channel's radio division, told Reuters: "to categorize this as a Clear Channel policy is just laughable."

"Clear Channel Radio stations are operated locally. Local managers make their own decisions about programming and community events -- including rallies to thank and support the men and women in their communities who are serving in the armed forces," he said.

CORPORATE OFFICES NOT INVOLVED

"At the urging of their listeners, a few, about one percent, of these local managers chose to have their stations participate in pro-troop rallies. The corporate offices of Clear Channel Communications are not directly involved in the Rallies for America," he said.

In terms of plans for investments in the U.K., Clear Channel said it has no investments in U.K. radio stations and has no immediate plans to change that. "The company is not currently in talks with anyone to purchase U.K. radio assets," it said in a statement.

Dyke said, "For the health of our democracy, it's vital we don't follow the path of many American networks."

U.S. broadcasters came under attack for "cheerleading" during the Iraq conflict, with what some critics saw as gung-ho reporting and flag-waving patriotism. In one example, a U.S. network described U.S. soldiers as "heroes" and "liberators."

Dyke suggested the problem stemmed from the recent fragmentation of media, with no single network having the clout to stand up to the U.S. government.

"This is particularly so since Sept. 11 when many U.S. networks wrapped themselves in the American flag and swapped impartiality for patriotism," Dyke said.

Dyke defended the BBC in the face of accusations -- some from the British government -- that the broadcaster had been soft on Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s government.

"In times of war, British governments of every persuasion have sought to use the media to manage public opinion ... it's only a problem if the BBC caves in," Dyke said.

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Copyright © 2003 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

Commentary:
A few quick notes. This article on news coverage is listed at Reuters under Entertainment. Reuters is becoming very skilled at hiding anti-Bush and anti-media stories. The second point is the US media is obviously pathetic. This president lied to us about WMD, lied about taxes, budgets, surpluses, up or down votes on UN resolutions etc. and the press still treats him as if he's a god.

I suppose going to war with a nearly defenseless country and winning is considered a major accomplishments when a country is on its waning days as a superpower. On almost a daily basis now we see how fast the world has turned away from the US as a leader of democracy. It probably began with the US support of the military coup in Venezuela. Bush's regime supported a military coup instead of a democratically elected government and the US press went along with him.

When the coup leaders who overthrown 24-hours later the press and Bush backtracked and said they really supported democracy...but the long-term damage was done. Later, when Bush wanted South American support for his UN resolution they went against him.

Never forget that this corrupt president has the support of an equally corrupt press. Try to remember how the US used to before this regime took power. How we believed in freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Remember so you can tell your children what America used to be like.



Secretary General Kofi Annan demands US follow Geneva Convention
BBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK

The United States has reacted angrily to comments made by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in which he reminded US forces in Iraq of their duties as an "occupying power" in the country.

Making his annual address to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva Mr Annan said he hoped coalition troops would adhere to the Geneva Conventions and accept their responsibility for the safety of the Iraqi people.

Only minutes after the secretary-general had finished speaking, Kevin Moley, the US ambassador to the UN in Geneva, made his irritation clear.

He said that the US had repeatedly spelled out to Mr Annan and the world that its troops were "in conformance and wanting to be in conformance in every way with the Geneva Conventions".

"Quite frankly, we find it odd at best that the secretary-general would feel that he had to bring this to our attention," Mr Moley said.

Neglect accusations

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says Washington is angered by the use of the term "occupying power", which it says may not be correct under international law.

The US does not like being called an occupying power

And it is extremely sensitive to charges that it neglected its responsibilities in Iraq by failing to prevent the looting of Baghdad's hospitals and museums after its forces had taken control.

Mr Annan, acknowledging the scenes of jubilation witnessed in many Iraqi cities following the fall of Saddam Hussein, said he hoped the end of the conflict would usher in a "new era of human rights in Iraq".

But he also said that going to war without specific authorisation from the UN Security Council had created deep divisions.

Although Mr Annan has made similar appeals before our correspondent says this time was obviously once too often for the US.

Mr Annan left Geneva for UN headquarters in New York immediately after his speech, cutting short his visit to Europe.

A UN spokeswoman cited concern over recent developments in Iraq and in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the secretary general's unexpected departure.

© BBC News 2003

Commentary:
Once again the US needs to get a grip on reality. The looting that took place in Iraq was a violation of the Geneva Convention by the US. As an occupying country the US is required to keep peace and enforce all laws. It failed to do so. After failing so miserably, it was denoucned by the UN Sec. Gen. Then the US throws a tissy fit.

John D. Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN during Iraqi Resolution 1441 said there was "no hidden trigger for war." He lied to the world. What the US says to the UN these days has little value because no one trusts the US.



Can we trust the intelligence services?
BBC News (UK)
By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK

The accusation by the chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix that the case against Iraq was "shaky" raises the question as to whether the US and British intelligence services can be trusted over one of the major issues of our day - the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Both the United States and UK issued dossiers last autumn making a series of accusations against Iraq.

Not only have no mass weapons systems been found (one has to add a "yet" here), but there were major flaws in the documents which will put in doubt any assessment of programmes elsewhere - in North Korea, Iran and Syria, for example.

Although many intelligence professionals prefer to keep any review of what went wrong (and right) private and in-house, some experts are speaking out.

One of the fiercest critics is Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest.

He said: "The bottom line is that the intelligence services have not covered themselves with glory."

Where are the weapons?

Dr Blix mentioned technical flaws in the dossiers, especially a failure (in this case it was a failure by the British) to realise that documents alleging an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger were forgeries.

 There has been a dereliction of duty

Alex Standish
Jane's Intelligence Digest  

There has also been the non-appearance of 1.4 tons of VX nerve agent, 20,000 chemical capable artillery shells, 25,000 litres of anthrax, 12-20 Scud missiles, mobile biological warfare laboratories and chemical and biological weapons "deployable within 45 minutes", all of which Iraq was alleged to have had.

And perhaps more fundamentally there are allegations that the impetus for publishing the dossiers and interpreting the evidence in the most prejudicial way possible was not intelligence-led but political.

Mr Standish said the charges against Iraq were "politically driven."

"There were three planks in the argument," he said. "The first was to find links between Iraq and 11 September and when that failed, between Iraq and al-Qaeda.

"The second was to find weapons of mass destruction and the third was the human rights issue.

"Only the third plank remains and the details of those human rights abuses were well-known and cobbled together in a document which was a cut-and-paste job from other publications."

He concluded: "There has been a dereliction of duty."

He was especially critical of the uranium claim which appeared in the UK's dossier.

"The documents making the uranium link were faxes allegedly between Iraq and Niger," he said. "They should have been analysed more carefully.

"The result was they relied on documents which were fakes. If you put your heads above the parapet as they did and it all blows up in your face, then the situation is very serious."

What next?

Others question the decision to publish the dossier at all.

Lord Powell, who as Charles Powell was the former British prime minister Mrs Thatcher's private secretary for foreign affairs for many years said: "The whole point of intelligence is that it is secret. That was one of Mrs Thatcher's homely pieces of wisdom."

He said that "it sounds as if the publication of the dossier was politically driven and was not initiated by the intelligence community. "

He accepted, though, that Iraq was a "hard target" and said that in his experience, intelligence had provided excellent material in conflicts such as the Falklands war and during the Cold War.

The Soviet defector Oleg Gordievsky, for example, had given the West "monumentally important" information about the Soivet leadership and had personally briefed Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan in advance of meetings.

There have been calls for an inquiry into the Iraq affair by the parliamentary body responsible for oversight of British intelligence, the Intelligence and Security Committee. This is a cross-party committee of nine members of parliament selected by the prime minister. No decision about any review has been taken.

The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw rejects the argument that if weapons of mass destruction are not found, then the war was not justified.

"Military action was justified on the day we took it," he told Talking Point on BBC News Online

"It was not conditional on finding ten thousand litres of anthrax. It was justified in terms of UN resolution 1441 and other resolutions."

Mr Straw also pointed out that it was the UN itself which said that there was material unaccounted for in Iraq.

The problem for the US and British services now is one of credibility.

Even if weapons systems are found in the extensive searches now going on, the weaknesses already revealed will reflect badly on the next assessments.

Already other analyses are being made. North Korea has an active nuclear power programme but the key question is whether it is trying to make nuclear weapons.

Unlike North Korea, Iran is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency which has some questions which have to be answered. But at some stage the US might want to make its own assessment.

Syria is already accused by Washington of having a chemical weapons programme. But will American accusations be believed now?

The history of intelligence is littered with false information as well as with triumphs.

The difficulty is often in telling which is which.

Commentary:
I think the problem is simpler. The CIA under Reagan didn't see the fall of the USSR coming, or at least Reagan didn't let them say it. In Reagan's world the USSR was growing 3x faster than the US so we had to catch up with them with more military spending. Reagan's CIA was run by one of Reagan's closest friends and he simply manufactured anti-USSR propaganda for the president..

Bush's CIA is a bit different. Bush said Saddam has WMD's but the CIA had no evidence this was true. Bush said Saddam had nukes, the CIA said it was many years away from nukes. Bush said Saddam had other WMD, the CIA then did a flip-flop and said Saddam would use WMD only if we attacked him.

Bush of course, never one to worry about being right or telling the truth, simply rewrites history or simply makes things up.

The CIA has all but called Bush a liar on many occasions. At first I assumed it was because of the failure of Bush to deal with terrorism before 9/11. He blamed the CIA. The CIA said he was informed of the threat but did nothing it etc. So, in Bush's case, truth is and always will be a moving variable. He assigns blame to others with ease, while excusing his own misjudgements and out and out lies.

This may be the only time I'll defend the CIA, but in this case, it was the president who lied to us about WMD, not the CIA.



N Korea blames US
BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 25 April, 2003, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK

North Korea says it put forward a "bold proposal" at talks on its nuclear programme, but heard nothing new from the United States.
The foreign ministry in Pyongyang accused the Americans of avoiding essential issues - but gave no details of its own offer.

The talks in Beijing ended amid mutual recriminations on Friday, after US officials said Pyongyang had admitted having nuclear weapons.

President George W Bush earlier accused North Korea of using "blackmail", after the new claims about its nuclear programme emerged in Washington.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said "strong views" were expressed - which the BBC's State Department correspondent Jon Leyne says is barely coded diplomatic parlance for a blazing row.

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said the US had "repeated its old assertion that the DPRK (North Korea) should 'scrap its nuclear programme before dialogue,' without advancing any new proposal".

The spokesman added that American officials had "persistently avoided the discussion on the essential issues to be discussed between both sides".

The DPRK set out a new proposal for the settlement of the nuclear issue, proceeding from its stand to avert a war on the Korean peninsula

North Korea did not comment on the alleged admission that it possesses nuclear weapons. In the past it has denied similar US reports, merely stating it has "the right" to have such weapons.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul says the talks may have only succeeded in emphasising the gulf in positions between Washington and Pyongyang rather than narrowing them.

However Chinese officials described the three-way discussions as "a good start" and said all sides had agreed to keep diplomatic channels open.

Russia, for its part, urged North Korea and the US to "continue the search for a negotiated settlement".

High stakes

The US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, James Kelly, has flown to Seoul to brief South Korean officials about the talks in Beijing. He is due to travel to Japan on Saturday.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan, speaking after meeting Mr Kelly, said: "If it is true that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, this would be a major breach of peace on the Korean peninsula".

On Thursday Mr Powell warned Pyongyang that the US would not give in to threats.

"The North Koreans should not leave the meetings... with the slightest impression that the United States or its partners will be intimidated by bellicose statements or threats," he said.

He added that the US was not taking "any options off the table" - a hint that Washington might use military force.

Wendy Sherman, a special adviser on North Korea to former US President Bill Clinton, warned that Pyongyang does not limit itself to making threats.

"North Korea turns threats into actions, so the stakes are very high," she told the BBC.

North Korea's alleged claim that it had nuclear weapons will send shock waves through the region, the BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo says.

The South Korean stock market and currency fell sharply following the statement. Japan will also be alarmed at the possible implications, our correspondent adds.

Suspicions

It is not clear exactly what the North Koreans said to the US delegation.

According to US media reports, the head of the North Korean delegation pulled aside his opposite number and said that the North possessed nuclear weapons and it was up to the US whether the North did a "physical demonstration" or transferred them.

US media also said that the North had claimed to have nearly finished reprocessing 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, which, if true, would allow the country to add to its nuclear arsenal.

Sources inside the Bush administration denied being surprised by North Korea's claim to have nuclear weapons as it merely confirmed US intelligence suspicions.

However, the claim about the fuel rods was surprising since Western and Asian intelligence services believed reprocessing was not yet underway.

Assurances wanted

The US wants to persuade North Korea to close down its nuclear programmes, while the North wants assurances the US will not attack.

The last time Mr Kelly held talks with a North Korean delegation, he accused them of pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, sparking the crisis in October.

President Bush later suspended oil aid shipments under a 1994 agreement designed to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons.

In December, North Korea restarted its nuclear facilities, expelled United Nations inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

© BBC 2003

Commentary:
The US remains in a undefendable moral position. We called N. Korea evil, then we said we'd use our new "first strike" option against any country we feel has WMD. These actions placed the US in a no win situation. With N Korea on the brink of getting nuclear wars, there's nothing the US can do now except give in (again) or allow it to happen.

After giving in on talks with the North, I thought it was possible (only if adults started running things again) to get past this crisis without North Korea going nuclear. IMO, there's a 99% chance North Korea will get nuclear weapons. Only one thing will stop them--Bush and his party being defeated in the next election. My guess is they'll hold out to see what happens, then decide for sure. However, if Bush keeps up with his moronic foreign policy, it'll happen sooner.



FBI unlawfully seized documents fom AP
New York Times
ERIC LICHTBLAU
April 23, 2003

WASHINGTON, April 23 — The F.B.I. has opened an internal ethics investigation to determine whether its agents abused their authority by secretly seizing from a news organization documents on international terrorism, officials said today.

An Associated Press reporter in the Philippines sent an unclassified F.B.I. document to another A.P. reporter in Washington last September as part of research for an article, but the package never arrived.

FedEx originally said the parcel might have fallen off its delivery van. But the F.B.I., in an April 3 letter released today, acknowledged that its agents had confiscated the package.

F.B.I. officials offered no explanation for the seizure. But the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility has opened a review "to ascertain the details relating to this incident and to take appropriate personnel action, as warranted," according to the letter, from Eleni P. Kalisch, acting assistant director for Congressional affairs, to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who had expressed concern about the case.

Ms. Kalisch told Mr. Grassley that she shared his concerns about the case and that the F.B.I. took "very seriously" possible violations of the First Amendment protecting freedom of the press and the Fourth Amendment ensuring the right to due process.

At a time when the F.B.I. has assumed broader investigative powers to fight terrorism, the episode has provoked outrage from some members of Congress and from news media advocates, who say the federal agents appear to have crossed the line.

"The F.B.I. does not have the right to seize material without a warrant, without even notifying anyone, and just making it vanish," Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in an interview. "That, in our minds, is completely illegal."

Ms. Dalglish said her group was looking into another unconfirmed report suggesting that federal agents had recently intercepted a package that another major news organization sent from a Middle East bureau to the United States.

In the Associated Press incident, a customs inspector in Indianapolis appears to have opened the Washington-bound package in a periodic, routine inspection, officials said. Upon seeing that the package contained an F.B.I. report related to terrorism in the Philippines, the inspector notified the F.B.I., which seized the document without notifying FedEx or The Associated Press, officials said.

F.B.I. agents in Indianapolis appear to have determined that the document, an eight-year-old laboratory report detailing materials seized from the apartment of a man convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was too sensitive for public consumption, officials said.

But The Associated Press said last month after discovering that the package had been intercepted that the laboratory report was unclassified, did not contain information that it believed would compromise public safety or national security, and had twice been introduced in open court in New York.

Louis D. Boccardi, president of The Associated Press, said he looked forward to learning the results of the F.B.I.'s investigation. "That the package belonged to the press was apparent on its face," Mr. Boccardi said. "The interception was improper and clandestine."

Mr. Grassley said he was glad the F.B.I. appeared to be taking the case seriously enough to open the internal investigation, which could lead to disciplinary action against any agents found to have violated internal policies.

"It's highly unusual for the government to intercept communications of the media, and I want to make sure we don't have any attempts to censor or stymie the news," Mr. Grassley said in a statement.

If agents were in fact trying to censor the press, Mr. Grassley said, "the F.B.I. should own up, take responsibility, apologize and ensure it does not happen again."

While the Customs Service said its inspection of the package was random, press advocates said they were suspicious of that claim, in part because it was the second time federal agents had focused on John Solomon, the A.P. reporter in Washington to whom the package was addressed.

In 2001, the Justice Department subpoenaed Mr. Solomon's home phone records to try to determine the source of leaks in articles he had written about an investigation into Senator Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey.

Mr. Grassley said the Customs Service had not responded to his requests for an explanation in the case. "I don't know what the Customs Service has to hide," he said. "Maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Customs officials said today that they were still finalizing a response to the senator and could not comment on the the inquiry.

But one customs official said the agency believed its employees had handled the episode properly by turning the package over to the F.B.I.

"If I was an inspector and I opened something suspicious related to the F.B.I., I sure as heck would call somebody else in to look at it, especially in these times," the official said. "A.P. was not singled out here."

An F.B.I. official also defended the bureau's handling of the episode.

"This was an internal F.B.I. document," the official said. "It was not something that was supposed to be released publicly. It's like taking something from an F.B.I. file and handing it to someone."

The official added that investigators might want to determine how the document, which the F.B.I. originally sent to Philippine authorities as part of an investigation, wound up in the hands of The Associated Press.

"This document was not the property of The Associated Press," the official said. "That's the rub."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Commentary:
What's there to investigate? The FBI broke the law and they admit it. Those who violate the law usually go to jail. The current regime in Washington however still thinks laws are made to be broken, or they think they're above the law. The courts too have become worthless in the US. US Courts are as worthless as the Executive and Legislative Branches. Regime change is in order



US military holds Children at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba
An Impeachable Offense
ABC News Online (AU)
Last Update: Tuesday, April 22, 2003. 2:14pm (AEST)

The US military has revealed it is holding juveniles at its high-security prison for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, known as Camp Xray.

The commander of the joint task force at Guantanamo, Major General Geoffrey Miller, says more than one child under the age of 16 is at the detention centre.

However, Maj Gen Miller has revealed little more about their welfare.

Maj Gen Miller says the US is holding "juvenile enemy combatants" at the centre, confirming rumours of children being held.

He has refused to reveal how many there are, their exact ages or their countries of origin.

He says they are being well cared for and are kept in facilities separate to adult prisoners.

The children are still being interrogated and will continue to be held at Guantanamo.

About 660 prisoners are in the camp.

They have not been tried or convicted of any offence but are being held as part of what the US calls its war on terror

Commentary:
Bush doesn't have the integrity to put US prisoners of war in the US so US laws apply so he keeps them in Cuba where he thinks no laws apply. He's simply incorrect.

The US is required to by the Geneva Convention to return all POW's to their home country when a war ends. The war in Afghanistan has been over a long time (if you want to call that a war), yet Bush refuses to follow the law. Not much new here.

Did you ever think the US military would kidnap, arrest, detain (or whatever you want to call it), children and hold them without charges being filed or trial, or having access to an attorney, in a country not of their origin and not in the US? If any other country did this to children or any other group of people they'd be considered evil.

And the sorry excuses we have for judges these days say they can't do anything about it because the US isn't holding them on US soil. God help us.



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