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Impeach Bush

France Says It Is Target of Untruths
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 15, 2003; Page A01

The French government believes it is the victim of an "organized campaign of disinformation" from within the Bush administration, designed to discredit it with allegations of complicity with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.

In a letter prepared for delivery today to administration officials and members of Congress, France details what it says are false news stories, with anonymous administration officials as sources, that appeared in the U.S. media over the past nine months. A two-page list attached to the letter includes reports of alleged French weapons sales to Iraq and culminates in a report last week that French officials in Syria issued French passports to escaping Iraqis being sought by the U.S. military.

The stories, all of which Paris has heatedly denied, are part of an "ugly campaign to destroy the image of France," a French official said. Officials said they have no doubt that the stories were spread by factions in the administration itself -- hard-line civilians within and close to the Pentagon are their primary suspects -- and that there was no visible effort by the White House or other departments to discipline those involved or even find out who they are.

The unprecedented letter, signed by French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, is an indication of the depth and bitterness of the breach between the two historic allies and NATO partners over the issue of Iraq. Although French officials maintain they have tried to overcome the differences and renew the partnership, they say the administration has expressed little interest in rapprochement.

U.S. officials say they are still angry over France's leading role in opposing U.N. authorization of the war, and attempts to prevent NATO from giving Iraq-related security assistance to Turkey, and are contemplating the future U.S. relationship with France.

But a senior administration official last night dismissed the French charge of organized disinformation as "utter nonsense."

Administration complaints about a lack of French cooperation on Iraq have led to public and congressional expressions of anger in recent months. Campaigns calling for a boycott of French wine and cheese, and restaurants that have replaced "French fries" with "freedom fries" on their menus, have amused and worried the French. But French officials said they have grown increasingly irritated, and are now downright mad, over the more substantive calumnies alleged in Levitte's letter.

The list begins with a New York Times report in September alleging that, in 1998, France and Germany had supplied Iraq with high-precision switches used in detonating nuclear weapons. A denial issued at the time said that Iraq had indeed ordered the switches as "spare parts" for medical equipment, but that French authorities barred the sale and alerted the Germans.

In November, The Washington Post quoted an "American intelligence source" saying that France possessed prohibited strains of the human smallpox virus. The French Embassy issued a sharp denial and said it strictly complied with World Health Organization and its own national restrictions on such substances. In March, the Washington Times quoted a "U.S. intelligence source" as saying that two French companies had sold Iraq spare parts for airplanes and helicopters. The next day, the two companies named in the story, and the embassy, formally denied it.

Stories citing sales of chemical components for long-range missiles, armored vehicles, radar equipment and spare parts for fighter planes were reported, and denied, in April.

The most damaging story, however, came on May 6, when the Washington Times said that France had helped Iraqi leaders wanted by the United States escape to Europe by providing them with French passports, according to an anonymous "American intelligence source." The story said that officials at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House were angered by the alleged French action.

Levitte immediately called the White House, which assured him that the story was not true, a French official said. Washington Post inquiries at the White House, the State Department and the CIA elicited similar assurances that they were aware of no such intelligence information. The French Embassy issued a categorical denial.

Asked that day about the report, White House and State Department spokesmen offered lukewarm statements saying that they had no information and suggesting that reporters ask the French. Two days later, House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) called for the Homeland Security Department to investigate French actions.

Strong French complaints to the administration brought a May 9 statement by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher saying, "We don't have any information that would indicate the French issued passports or visas to Iraqi officials. . . .We don't have anything that would substantiate the premise."

But the next day, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was again asked about the report, he replied: "France has historically had a very close relationship with Iraq. My understanding is that it continued right up until the outbreak of the war. What took place thereafter, we'll find out."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
It appears the fascists in the White House have the media figured out. All you have to do is lie to them and they'll print it (as an exclusive no less). The problem is millions of Americans will believe that lie and by the time the truth comes out, opinions are formed and it's nearly impossible to tell someone they were lied to.

The solution is reasonably simple. All the press has to do is verify what Bush and his cronies say, but that requires a media that is both informed and not chronically lazy.

So, when you listen to the evening new (I don't suggest you insult your intelligence with TV news propaganda) understand you're most likely hearing what Bush wants you to hear and not the truth.


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Bush Spends Two Hours on Ground on Plane
The Associated Press
Monday, May 12, 2003; 8:00 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M - President Bush climbed the steps of Air Force One Monday and waved at cameras after a visit here to promote his economic plan.

The doors closed behind him, the stairway was removed, and the plane sat there - and sat there. For two hours.

The long delay on the ground had been built into the president's schedule so he wouldn't get to his next stop, Omaha, Neb., too early.

During the two hours, the president "worked out," said press secretary Ari Fleischer. There is a treadmill and other exercise equipment on the plane, as modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

He also called Texas Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro to congratulate him on hitting his career 500th home run on Sunday, only the 19th player in major league history to do so.

Bush told Palmeiro, "Your name is among the greats and it deserves to be," Fleischer said.

It is unusual, but not unprecedented, for a president to spend so much time on the plane on the ground, aides said. Former President Clinton once got a celebrated haircut while his plane was on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
When President Clinton was accused of holding up air traffic when he got his hair cut on a runway, it was headline news for days. Newsday later reported the truth and as usual the entire press corps lied to us about what really happened. Most Americans probably still think President Clinton's haircut held up air traffic.

"It was a week of news," Stephanopoulos said, "but when Newsday reported some time later that there was absolutely no disruption of regular airport traffic, only the 55,000 people who read that paper got the story."

Bush let's Air Force One sit on a runway for TWO hours and I bet almost no one in the country thought it was a story worth reporting. It sure wasn't the SCANDAL the press made it out to be during the Clinton years (when the press was lying). Never forget, the press can not tell you the truth. It's almost like they love Bush because he's a lot like them---pathological liars.


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CBO projects largest deficit ever
By ALAN FRAM
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 13, 2003; 5:17 PM

WASHINGTON - This year's federal deficit should exceed $300 billion - the largest ever - as the government's fiscal outlook grew grimmer thanks to surging defense spending and declining revenue, the Congressional Budget Office said.

The new estimate by Congress' nonpartisan fiscal analyst comes as Republicans try to enact a fresh round of tax cuts they say will stimulate economic activity and generate increased federal revenue. Democrats say the tax reductions will be a boon to the wealthy and make the worsening budget picture even bleaker.

According to the budget analysis, the federal deficit has reached an estimated $202 billion for the first seven months of the government's budget year, which began last Oct. 1. For the same six months last year, the deficit was $65 billion.

"CBO now expects that the government will end 2003 with a deficit of over $300 billion," said the report, which was dated last Friday.

The budget office's figures do not reflect the tax bills Congress is debating. The House version, which would cost $550 billion through 2013, is expected to add $60 billion to this year's shortfall. The Senate's smaller $350 billion measure would deepen this year's deficit by an estimated $44 billion.

Some private analysts have an even bleaker view of the budget, with some envisioning red ink this year totaling $425 billion. The budget office forecast a $246 billion deficit for this year in March, before added defense spending was approved by Congress.

President Bush's budget forecast a $304 billion deficit this year, assuming that all his tax and spending plans were enacted. That number seems virtually certain to be surpassed.

For more than two years, the frail economy and tax cuts have caused revenue collections to decline. The recession is the major short-term cause, while tax cuts - which are scheduled to get deeper in the next few years - are the dominant long-term factor.

Underlining the government's revenue problems, the budget office's analysis estimated that the April surplus was only about $50 billion, the smallest for the month since 1995. April is the government's strongest month for revenue collecting because of the April 15 filing deadline for individual income taxes.

Overall, revenue collections through April were an estimated $1.055 trillion, or $62 billion lower than a year earlier.

The government has spent $1.257 trillion through April, or $76 billion more than in 2002, with defense, Social Security and Medicare expenditures leading the way. The budget office said it expects defense spending to grow by 20 percent over last year's levels.

The highest deficit ever was $290 billion in 1992. But because the U.S. economy is much larger today than it was then, Republicans argue that today's projected shortfall will have less of an impact.

The budget office projection precedes a week in which Republicans will try pushing legislation through the Senate raising the government's borrowing limit by an enormous $984 billion to $7.38 trillion. The House has already approved such an increase.

Democrats plan to use that debate to argue that Bush's tax cuts - including a major one in 2001 - have caused the government's red ink problems. Republicans blame the weak economy and the costs of war and battling terrorism.

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
This is another story that tries to tell you the truth but instead wraps it in political crap. CBO is bipartisan and by law Congress must follow the projections of CBO. What democrats and republicans say is irrelevant, but never let that get in the way of a press corps bent on misinforming you.

Also take special note that whenever democrats go on the attack, they ALWAYS give a republican explanation (or excuse). When republicans attack, the attack is allowed to go unanswered in press reports no matter what the democrat argument is. Keep this in mind every time you read 'democrats says xxx and republicans say yyy." There is truth out there and you can bet your bottom dollar republicans will not be saying it.


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GAO Chief Paints Bleak Budget Picture
By JONATHAN D. SALANT
The Associated Press/Washington Post
Tuesday, May 13, 2003; 5:53 PM

WASHINGTON - The federal budget picture is bad and getting worse, the head of the General Accounting Office said Tuesday, and he urged Congress to take a longer-term look at its tax-cut and spending decisions.

"We're not going to grow our way out of this problem," Comptroller General David Walker said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Walker, 51, named by President Clinton in 1998 to a 15-year term as comptroller general and head of the GAO, is a certified public accountant who formerly worked for three of the old Big Five accounting firms: Arthur Andersen LLP, Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand. He also is a former assistant labor secretary.

The GAO is the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress. Its 3,200 employees handle 25 to 50 requests a week from lawmakers, including reports required by law. The GAO also conducts its own independent investigations of major issues. The agency issues around 1,000 reports and testimonies a year, many in trademark GAO blue covers.

With a return to deficits under the Bush administration, the Congressional Budget Office predicts this year's red ink will exceed $300 billion for the first time ever. The GAO is Congress' investigative arm, while the CBO analyzes spending and tax proposals and makes economic forecasts.

President Bush says tax cuts are needed to spur the stumbling economy. He favors the $550 billion, 10-year tax cut plan passed by the House. The Senate is debating a $350 billion plan over the decade.

In 2001, Congress enacted a 10-year, $1.35 trillion cut.

"Not all spending is prudent, and not all tax cuts stimulate the economy," Walker said.

CBO is required by law to project the impact of spending and tax cut proposals for only 10 years. But Walker said Congress has to look at beyond that period to get the full impact of legislation. For example, while Bush's 2001 tax cuts are scheduled to expire in 2010, congressional forecasters should also look at what would happen if those tax cuts were to continue, Walker said. Bush and some congressional Republicans are pushing to make the tax cuts permanent.

Spending is going up as well, Walker said. As the baby boom generation ages, more people will draw Social Security and receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Health care costs for everyone continue to rise; employers get tax breaks for providing health insurance, and their workers don't have to pay taxes on the benefit they receive.

For example, when Congress in 2000 expanded TRICARE, the health care program for military veterans and dependents, the added costs were projected at $50 billion to $60 billion over 10 years. The real cost of the program was closer to $297 billion since many veterans and their families would live longer than a decade, Walker said.

Walker said spending must be matched with 21st-century needs. For example, now that the government has brought electricity to rural areas, perhaps the job of operating the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service could be turned over to the private sector, he said.

In addition, in an era of e-mail, cell phones and Palm Pilots, Walker questioned whether the Postal Service needs as many branches and other facilities as it did when stamped letters were the only way to send written messages from place to place.

It all adds up to this: Without changes, U.S. taxpayers in 2050 will be spending more money to pay interest on the national debt than on everything else the government does - from defense to transportation - except for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, according to GAO projections.

"I don't think we can allow this to happen. For it not to happen, tough choices will be required," Walker said.

In the AP interview, Walker also said:

-The agency will look at the costs of the Iraq war and its aftermath, as well as rebuilding contracts awarded to private companies. Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton Co., has a no-bid contract in Iraq worth at least $77 million.

-U.S. District Judge John Bates, a Bush appointee, was "clearly wrong" in ruling against the GAO's lawsuit for the people who met with the Cheney energy task force. The GAO went to court when the White House refused to release the names, saying the public had a right to know whom the Bush administration consulted in drafting its energy plan and whether Congress needed to talk to other interested parties. Walker said he didn't challenge Bates' decision because the ruling would not stop the agency from seeking other White House records, but a failed appeal could hinder future investigations.

-GAO's name should be changed to the Government Accountability Office. Walker said traditional financial management accounted for just 15 percent of the GAO's work. "We're really in the performance and accountability business," he said.

On the Net: General Accounting Office: http://www.gao.gov

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
CBO is very flawed, but it's far better than the presidents office of budget (OMB). CBO has to forecast the budget deficit using rules made by congress and congress won't let CBO do its job correctly.

Reread this very important part: ‘For example, when Congress in 2000 expanded TRICARE, the health care program for military veterans and dependents, the added costs were projected at $50 billion to $60 billion over 10 years. The real cost of the program was closer to $297 billion since many veterans and their families would live longer than a decade, Walker said.'

CBO can only forecast for 10 years so most of their long projections aren't worth the paper they're written on—what we do know for sure is all long term projections will be short, that is, they'll be less than the real cost.


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GAO won't investigate carrier landing--(Fleischer lie)
By JONATHAN D. SALANT
The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 14, 2003; 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON - Congress' investigative agency won't look at the costs of President Bush's "Top Gun" flight to an aircraft carrier to declare an end to major fighting in Iraq.

Comptroller General David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office, said Tuesday it would cost too much and take too long to do the study.

He also would have to look at similar actions by other presidents and possibly federal lawmakers "in order to do this kind of work in a professional, objective, nonpartisan, fair and balanced manner," Walker said.

"In my view, it does not pass a cost-benefit test," he said.

The requests were submitted by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, and Mark Souder, R-Ind., chairman of a Government Reform subcommittee. Waxman said the trip had "clear political overtones."

Bush, who was an officer with the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War, landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, at sea off San Diego, in an S-3B jet piloted by a Navy flier. Wearing a flight suit, with his flight helmet under his arm, Bush hopped onto the flight deck and walked among the gathered sailors, welcoming them home from the Iraq war.

Some Democrats, like Waxman, called the trip political rather than presidential.

"To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech," said the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer initially said Bush had to use a plane rather than his helicopter because the aircraft carrier was going to be hundreds of miles offshore. It turned out the ship was just 39 miles from shore at the time of Bush's visit, an easy flight for a helicopter.

Fleischer then said Bush wanted "to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing. He wanted to see it as realistically as possible."

A day after Bush's visit, Fleischer dismissed any suggestion the trip was designed to boost Bush's re-election.

"This is not about the president," he said. "This is about thanking the men and women who won a war."

---

On the Net: General Accounting Office: http://www.gao.gov

Rep. Henry Waxman: http://www.house.gov/waxman

White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov

© 2003 The Associated Press

Commentary:
Good grief, do you really believe the GAO? They say it'll cost too much to do the report. How much can it cost? You figure out how much it would have cost to fly to the aircraft carrier by helicopter, calculate how much it cost to fly by jet, subtract the two and you see how much Bush screwed the taxpayer for campaign photo op.

During and just after the Clinton years the standard the GAO used was simple; if a member of congress requested it, the GAO would do it. Now that Bush is in power, democrats (and some republicans) have asked and asked and asked, and at every turn they are turned down. It's time to force the GAO to have rules that stay the same regardless of who's in power.


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GOP Lets Semiautomatic Weapons Ban Expire
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2003; Page A01

The Republican-controlled House will not renew the federal ban on Uzis and other semiautomatic weapons, a key leader said yesterday, dealing a significant blow to the campaign to clamp down on gun sales nationwide.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said most House members are willing to let the ban expire next year. "The votes in the House are not there" to continue the ban, he told reporters.

His spokesman, Stuart Roy, said, "We have no intention of bringing it up" for a vote.

As majority leader, DeLay decides which bills are voted on in the House. Because the 1994 assault weapons ban expires next year, the House and Senate must pass legislation to renew it by Sept. 13, 2004. If Congress does not act, the AK-47 and 18 other types of semiautomatic weapons that were outlawed a decade ago by President Clinton and a Democratic-controlled Congress would be legal again, handing a major victory to the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups.

Past votes and an NRA survey of lawmakers before the 2002 elections suggest that a majority of House members oppose renewing the ban, GOP officials said. But several Republicans, who requested anonymity, said some pro-gun GOP leaders worry that if members are forced to into a roll call vote, they might switch under pressure from gun control advocates.

President Bush, whose support of the assault weapons ban dates to his 2000 campaign, has drawn rebukes from NRA members and some GOP lawmakers. But several Republicans close to the White House said Bush has no plans to lobby lawmakers aggressively to extend the ban. That would allow him to officially oppose the NRA without completely turning against the powerful gun lobby by fighting to maintain a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

"The White House seems to think that the bill will never reach the President's desk," said a recent alert sent to members of the Gun Owners of America, a gun rights group with close ties to Republicans. "At least that is what top officials are counting on. In pursuing this strategy, they are trying to please both sides and are playing a very dangerous game."

Congressional Republicans said Congress will renew the ban only if Bush publicly and firmly insists. "If the president demands we pass it, that would change the dynamics considerably," a House GOP leadership aide said. "The White House does not want us" to vote.

In a letter to Bush, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) said: "It is now time for us to stand up against the unconstitutional gun-grabbing and help our nation in this time of great need by allowing law-abiding citizens to use the weapon of their choice."

It is unclear how much pressure Bush and congressional Republicans will be under to bring up the volatile gun issue, especially in the 2004 election year. While many leading Senate and House Democrats are pushing legislation to renew the ban, the issue is not sharply partisan.

Many rural and southern Democrats, including a few who voted for the ban in 1994, oppose its renewal and reflect a notable shift in the politics of guns over the past decade. An aide to a Senate Democrat who voted for the ban in 1994 and faces reelection next year said many Democrats "hope it never comes up."

The reason for the turnabout is rooted, in part, in the fallout of the 1994 vote and Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign loss.

In 1994, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate narrowly passed the ban on the sale and possession of 19 semiautomatic rapid-fire guns and ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds. Proponents of the ban said those weapons and copycat versions that do not fall under the ban are frequently used in violent crimes, including the deaths of scores of law enforcement officials. Opponents said the ban violates the constitutional right to bear arms.

In May 1994, the Democratic-controlled House passed the Clinton-backed gun ban by two votes. A few months later, House Speaker Thomas Foley (Wash.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (Tex.) and several other Democrats who supported the ban were voted out of office after the NRA and other gun activists targeted them in a political campaign.

The NRA's power ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of the 1990s, hitting a high-water mark after Gore's narrow loss in 2000. Gore lost gun rights bastions such as Arkansas, West Virginia and his home state of Tennessee, in part, some Democratic analysts believe, because he was seen as hostile to gun owners. In this year's first debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls, only Al Sharpton vigorously endorsed the registration and licensing of handguns.

Most congressional Democratic leaders and presidential candidates strongly support the assault weapons ban and appear ready to wage a public fight over an issue they believe may pack a political punch with independents and women, in particular. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently introduced legislation that would extend the Clinton gun ban with only minor modifications. If the House rejects the renewal, however, Senate action will not matter.

In the House, Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced a tougher bill last week that would ban a larger number of guns. "I don't want to put my members in any trouble. But if we actually face this, the American people [will support] keeping assault weapons from going back on the street," McCarthy said.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
A few days ago a radio talk show host by the name of Michael Graham was on Hardball on MSNBC (also known as the home of low life) and he said he wanted to bludgeon Senator Clinton with a tire iron. So I was thinking, since morality is dead and Uzi's are alive and well, maybe someone should do some target practice on Tom Delay's head. I'm sure you can find a picture on the net and print it out.

Oh, and don't start writing me letters about that last line. For decades republicans have said the most god awful things about democrats and the press stays silent. But, when an anti-Bush patriot says she's ashamed Bush comes from Texas (the Dixie Chicks) the press goes ballistic.

Unlike conservatives I don't support harming others who disagree with me.


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Ministers Asked to Curb Remarks About Islam
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2003; Page A03>

Evangelical Christian leaders from across the country called yesterday for fellow ministers such as Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson to stop making broad, inflammatory remarks about Islam.

"Since we are in a global community, no doubt about it, we must temper our speech," said the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which organized the gathering of about 40 pastors, missionaries and heads of religious charities that are active in Muslim countries.

The conference at a Washington hotel represented the first organized effort by fundamentalist Christian groups to rein in their rhetoric and agree on guidelines about what -- and what not -- to say about Islam. The primary motivation, speakers made clear, is concern that remarks intended for a domestic constituency have reverberated through the Islamic world, inflamed Muslim governments, sparked riots, endangered Christian aid workers and made missionary efforts harder.

A consistent message at the four-hour session was that evangelical Christians should not sugarcoat their theological differences with Islam, but must make their dialogue more respectful.

"We're not compromising the truth here, we're not whitewashing another religion, but we need to learn to speak the truth in love and friendship," said Susan M. Michael, U.S. director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, who called for building "compassionate evangelicalism."

While no one at the meeting defended Graham and the other preachers who have made incendiary remarks about Islam, several speakers criticized what they called "wishful thinking" and "oversimplifications" about Muslims from mainline Protestant leaders and President Bush, who have described Islam as a religion of peace.

"What we have to do as evangelical leaders is offer a constructive critique of these sweeping generalizations about Islam that are either fawning on one end, or hostile on the other," said Richard Cizik, vice president of the NAE.

For years, evangelical Christians have denounced restrictions on religious freedom and proselytizing in Islamic countries. But after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prominent preachers began calling Islam a religion of violence and describing its 7th-century founder, Muhammad, in terms that Muslims found insulting.

Graham, who gave the invocation at Bush's inauguration, has called Islam an "evil" and "wicked" religion. Robertson portrayed Muhammad as "an absolute wild-eyed fanatic . . . a robber and brigand." Falwell called the Muslim prophet "a terrorist."

None of those ministers attended yesterday's conference. Nor did any Muslims.

"We felt that we weren't ready, that we had to have a conversation among ourselves first," said one of the organizers, Diane L. Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Christian think tank.

Knippers said that Graham was invited because his humanitarian relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, which unites 50 denominations with a total of 43,000 churches. But a spokesman for Graham said he could not attend because he was helping his father, the Rev. Billy Graham, preach at a revival "mission" -- formerly known as a "crusade" -- in San Diego this week.

The other ministers whose remarks have stirred controversy were not invited, Knippers said, because "we didn't think it was likely they could make it on short notice."

Haggard said he will invite Graham, Falwell, Robertson and other major television ministers, pastors of mega-churches and heads of evangelical denominations to a follow-up meeting within six months to refine a three-page set of proposed guidelines on Christian-Muslim dialogue. One calls for addressing "the deep differences between Islam and Christianity" without making "negative judgments about Islamic beliefs and practices" the "principal theme of the Christian participants in the dialogue."

A spokeswoman for Robertson said he was not available to comment yesterday.

Falwell, in a telephone interview, expressed irritation that he had not been told about yesterday's session. But he said the NAE was "trying to do something noble, and we will participate" in the future.

"Almost suddenly, the world has become very tiny, and every comment from any portion of the planet that is important will be heard in every other part of the planet the same day," he said. "So, yes, we do need to be more careful, and I hope we have all learned from what we say and do."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Have you noticed that as the country becomes more conservative, our churches have become more corrupt? I don't know if there's a correlation but it just seems odd to me that both are occurring at the same time.

Obviously you can donate to anyone you want, but I'd strongly suggest you don't donate to Billy Graham or his hate mongering son, Franklin. These people say the sickest things and people still don't get it. I'm thinking if there is a god, and I don't know this is, but if there is...it's the other side that has control of these men. The Word wasn't written to used against others.


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Enron-Like Unreality--Bush war lies
Washington Post
By Harold Meyerson
Tuesday, May 13, 2003; Page A19

So whose books were more cooked -- Enron's accounts of its financial doings or the administration's prewar reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?

Enron's books didn't lack for detail. They were simply and deliberately fictitious. They documented all manner of energy sales and swaps that in fact never transpired but that had to be conjured up retrospectively to explain how Enron's apparent assets and profits were so dazzling.

The administration's accounts of the Iraqi arsenal were also detailed. Descriptions of Saddam Hussein's weapons caches were the centerpiece of the president's State of the Union address and the sum and substance of Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council. The secretary told the council there was convincing evidence that Iraq had hundreds of tons of chemical and biological agents and that it had been buying uranium from Niger to put its nuclear program on fast-forward.

But yesterday's certitude is today's confusion. Task Force 75 -- the armed services unit charged with locating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- is packing up in frustration after repeated efforts to turn up any evidence of Hussein's weapons programs yielded nothing.

Indeed, the administration's antebellum accounts of the Iraqi weapons hoard are looking every bit as dubious as Enron's electricity transactions, and they increasingly seem as phony a casus belli as the destruction of the Maine in Havana Harbor.

This is not to say that the liberation of Iraq from Hussein's Stalinoidal tyranny isn't a blessing for the Iraqi people. But that was never a sufficient reason for the United States to go to war, as Bush and his aides clearly understood. Even under the theory of preemption as they propounded it, the preemptee can't simply be a totalitarian thug; he has to pose a threat to us as well.

And so a threat was found -- though finding it required the creation of a new intelligence office devoted entirely to finding that threat. As reported by Robert Dreyfuss in the American Prospect last December and by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker last week, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the administration's foremost war hawk, established a small operation in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans last year that was eventually to provide most of the "facts" the administration cited as the reason to go to war.

The impetus for starting the new operation was the neoconservatives' frustration with both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for their inability to document Iraq's illegal weapons and its ties to al Qaeda.

The neos knew with existential certitude that the weapons were there. "Does Saddam now have weapons of mass destruction?" Richard Perle, then the incoming chairman of the Defense Policy Board, testified before Congress in March 2001. "Sure he does. How far he's gone on the nuclear-weapon side I don't think we really know. My guess is it's further than we think. It's always further than we think, because we limit ourselves, as we think about this, to what we're able to prove and demonstrate."

And that was the problem with the CIA and DIA: They were a bunch of vulgar empiricists. What the Bush administration wanted, it turns out, was faith-based intelligence. Thus the operation in the Office of Special Plans, headed by neocon Abram Shulsky, was born. Shulsky's shop didn't have agents in the field; indeed, it had just a handful of analysts. But what set them apart from the intelligence agencies was that they relied heavily on information from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) -- an organization of Iraqi exiles whose raison d'etre was to promote the overthrow of Hussein. As both Hersh and Dreyfuss document, a lot of the INC's information on weapons programs and other matters was considered patently absurd by veteran intelligence analysts. But that was the information that served as the basis of the administration's case for war.

Additionally, the New York Times now reports that the administration was told many months before Powell's Security Council speech that the documents purportedly demonstrating Iraq's purchase of uranium from Niger were forgeries.

Apparently, Bush administration intelligence is to intelligence as Fox news is to news. Facts are fine so long as they bolster the president's case. When they don't, they will be suppressed or forgotten, and other, more congenial facts will be found.

As at Enron, there are leading figures in this administration who think that when the real facts don't look so good, it's fine to substitute your own.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, of course, they simply may have been very credulous in the face of the INC's material (not a hugely comforting thought). And certainly, unlike the Enron gang, they weren't putting out these detailed accounts of unreality in an attempt to cover up crimes or enrich themselves.

They merely wanted to start a war. No big deal.

The writer is editor at large of the American Prospect.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
Bush said the Saddam was a threat to the US and we had to go to war NOW. He lied. If you have children and one of them lied to you as often as this president would you still believe them?

It's time to cut your losses and dumb Bush is you haven't done so already.


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A dissenting press is unpatriotic
Gregory Palast/The Observer
Saturday, March 8, 2003

On my BBC television show, Newsnight, an American journalist confessed that, since the 9/11 attacks, US reporters are simply too afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions that could kill careers: "It's an obscene comparison, but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck," Dan Rather said. Without his makeup, Rather looked drawn, old and defeated in confessing that he too had given in. "It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often."

Investigators were ordered to "back off" from any inquiries into Saudi Arabian financing of terror networks.

The reports I did based on this information won the Sonoma State University School of Journalism's Project Censored Award in 2002. It's not the kind of prize you want to win -- it's given to crucial stories that were effectively banned from US airwaves and papers. I don't want any misunderstanding here, so I must emphasize what we did not find: We uncovered no information, none whatsoever, that George W. Bush had any advance knowledge of the plan to attack the World Trade Center on 9/11, nor, heaven forbid, any involvement in the attack.

FBI Document 199I

What we did discover was serious enough. To begin with, from less-than-happy FBI agents we obtained an interesting document, some 30 pages long, marked "SECRET." I've reproduced a couple of pages in The Best Democracy Money Can Buy [recently reissued in a paperback US edition by Plume]. Note the designation "199I" -- that's FBI-speak for "national security matter." According to insiders, FBI agents had wanted to check into two members of the bin Laden family, Abdullah and Omar, but were told to stay away by superiors -- until September 13, 2001. By then, Abdullah and Omar were long gone from the United States.

Why no investigation of the brothers bin Laden? The Bush administration's line is the Binladdins (a more common spelling of the Arabic name) are good folk. Osama's the Black Sheep, supposedly cut off from his Saudi kin. But the official line notwithstanding, some FBI agents believed the family had some gray sheep worth questioning -- especially these two working with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), which the file labels "a suspected terrorist organization." ....

No matter how vile WAMY's indoctrination chats, they are none of the FBI's business. Recruitment for terror, however, is. Before 9/11, the governments of India and the Philippines tied WAMY to groups staging murderous attacks on civilians. Following our broadcast on BBC, the Dutch secret service stated that WAMY, "support(ed) violent activity." In 2002, The Wall Street Journal's Glenn Simpson made public a report by Bosnia's government that a charity with Abdullah bin Laden on its board had channeled money to Chechen guerrillas. Two of the 9/11 hijackers used an address on the same street as WAMY's office in Falls Church, Virginia.

"Back-Off" Directive and Islamic Bomb

Despite these tantalizing facts, Abdullah and his operations were A-OK with the FBI chiefs, if not their working agents. Just a dumb SNAFU? Not according to a top-level CIA operative who spoke with us on condition of strictest anonymity. After Bush took office, he said, "there was a major policy shift" at the National Security Agency. Investigators were ordered to "back off" from any inquiries into Saudi Arabian financing of terror networks, especially if they touched on Saudi royals and their retainers. That put the bin Ladens, a family worth a reported $12 billion and a virtual arm of the Saudi royal household, off-limits for investigation. Osama was the exception; he remained a wanted man, but agents could not look too closely at how he filled his piggy bank. The key rule of any investigation, "follow the money," was now violated, and investigations -- at least before 9/11 -- began to die.

And there was a lot to investigate -- or in the case of the CIA and FBI under Bush -- a lot to ignore. Through well-known international arms dealers (I'm sorry, but in this business, sinners are better sources than saints) our team was tipped off to a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris in May 1996 with the financial representative of Osama bin Laden's network. The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, met to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This was not so much an act of support but of protection -- a payoff to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia....

Clinton Closed an Eye

True-blue Democrats may want to skip the next paragraphs. If President Bush put the kibosh on investigations of Saudi funding of terror and nuclear bomb programs, this was merely taking a policy of Bill Clinton one step further.

Following the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, Clinton hunted Osama with a passion -- but a passion circumscribed by the desire to protect the sheikdom sitting atop our oil lifeline. In 1994, a Saudi diplomat defected to the United States with 14,000 pages of documents from the kingdom's sealed file cabinets. This mother lode of intelligence included evidence of plans for the assassination of Saudi opponents living in the West and, tantalizingly, details of the $7 billion the Saudis gave to Saddam Hussein for his nuclear program -- the first attempt to build an Islamic Bomb. The Saudi government, according to the defector, Mohammed Al Khilewi, slipped Saddam the nuclear loot during the Reagan and Bush Sr. years when our own government still thought Saddam too marvelous for words. The thought was that he would only use the bomb to vaporize Iranians....

In 1997, the Canadians caught and extradited to America one of the Khobar Towers attackers. In 1999, Vernon Jordan's law firm stepped in and -- poof! -- the killer was shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he could reveal all he knew about al Qaeda (valuable) and the Saudis (embarrassing). I reviewed, but was not permitted to take notes on, the alleged terrorist's debriefing by the FBI. To my admittedly inexpert eyes, there was enough on al Qaeda to make him a source on terrorists worth holding on to. Not that he was set free -- he's in one of the kingdom's dungeons -- but his info is sealed up with him. The terrorist's extradition was "Clinton's." "Clinton's parting kiss to the Saudis," as one insider put it.

This make-a-sheik-happy policy of Clinton's may seem similar to Bush's, but the difference is significant. Where Clinton said, "Go slow," Bush policymakers said, "No go." The difference is between closing one eye and closing them both.

Blowback and Bush Sr.

Still, we are left with the question of why both Bush Jr. and Clinton would hold back disclosure of Saudi funding of terror. I got the first glimpse of an answer from Michael Springmann, who headed up the US State Department's visa bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the Reagan-Bush Sr. years. "In Saudi Arabia I was repeatedly ordered by high-level State Department officials to issue visas to unqualified applicants. These were, essentially, people who had no ties either to Saudi Arabia or to their own country. I complained bitterly at the time there." That was Springmann's mistake. He was one of those conscientious midlevel bureaucrats who did not realize that when he filed reports about rules violations he was jeopardizing the cover for a huge multicontinental intelligence operation aimed at the Soviets. Springmann assumed petty thievery: someone was taking bribes, selling visas; so he couldn't understand why his complaints about rule-breakers were "met with silence" at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Springmann complained himself right out of a job. Now a lawyer, he has obtained more information on the questionable "engineers" with no engineering knowledge whom he was ordered to permit into the United States. "What I was protesting was, in reality, an effort to bring recruits, rounded up by Osama bin Laden, to the United States for terrorist training by the CIA. They would then be returned to Afghanistan to fight against the then-Soviets."

But then they turned their talents against the post-Soviet power: us. In the parlance of spook-world, this is called "blowback." Bin Laden and his bloody brethren were created in America's own Frankenstein factory. It would not do for the current president nor agency officials to dig back to find that some of the terrorists we are hunting today were trained and armed by the Reagan-Bush administration. And that's one of the problems for agents seeking to investigate groups like WAMY, or Abdullah bin Laden. WAMY literature that talks about that "compassionate young man Osama bin Laden" is likely to have been disseminated, if not written, by our very own government. If Abdullah's Bosnian-operated "charity" was funding Chechen guerrillas, it is only possible because the Clinton CIA gave the wink and nod to WAMY and other groups who were aiding Bosnian guerrillas when they were fighting Serbia, a US-approved enemy. "What we're talking about," says national security expert Joe Trento, "is embarrassing, career-destroying blowback for intelligence officials." And, he could add, for the presidential father.

The Family Business

I still didn't have an answer to all my questions. We knew that Clinton and the Bushes were reluctant to discomfort the Saudis by unearthing their connections to terrorists -- but what made this new president take particular care to protect the Saudis, even to the point of stymying his own intelligence agencies?

The answers kept coming back: "Carlyle" and "Arbusto."

While some people have guardian angels, our president seems to have guardian sheiks. ...

Behind Carlyle is a private, invitation-only investment group whose holdings in the war industry make it effectively one of America's biggest defense contractors. For example, Carlyle owned United Technologies, the maker of our fighter jets. Carlyle has the distinction of claiming both of the presidents Bush as paid retainers. Dubya served on the board of Carlyle's Caterair airplane food company until it went bust. The senior Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia for Carlyle in 1999. The bin Ladens were among Carlyle's select backers until just after the 9/11 attacks, when the connection became impolitic. The company's chairman is Frank Carlucci, Bush Sr.'s former defense secretary. The average Carlyle partner has gained about $25 million in equity. Notably, Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz employed Carlyle as his advisor in buying up 10 percent of Citicorp's preferred stock. The choice of Carlyle for the high-fee work was odd, as the group is not an investment bank.

One would almost think the Saudi potentate wanted to enrich Carlyle's members. ...

Who Lost the War on Terror?

So who lost the War on Terror? Osama? From his point of view, he's made the celebrity cutthroats' Hall of Fame. Where is he? Don't ask Bush; our leader just changes the subject to Iraq. So we have the 82nd Airborne looking for Osama bin Laden among the camels in Afghanistan when, in all likelihood, the billionaire butcher -- now likely beardless -- is chillin' by the pool at the Ritz Carlton, knocking back a brewsky and laughing at us while two blonde Barbies massage his feet.

Bush failed to get Osama. But we did successfully eliminate the threat of Congresswoman McKinney -- you remember, the one who dared question ChoicePoint, the company that helped Katherine Harris eliminate Black voters.

Following our BBC broadcast and Guardian report in November 2001, McKinney cited our stories on the floor of Congress, calling for an investigation of the intelligence failures and policy prejudices you've just read here. She was labeled a traitor, a freak, a conspiracy nut and "a looney" -- the latter by her state's Democratic senator, who led the mob in the political lynching of the uppity Black woman. The New York Times wrote, "She angered some black voters by suggesting that President Bush might have known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks but had done nothing so his supporters could make money in war." The fact that she said no such thing doesn't matter; the Times is always more influential than the truth. Dan Rather had warned her, shut up, don't ask questions, and you can avoid the necklacing. She didn't and it cost her her seat in Congress.

McKinney's electoral corpse in the road silenced politicians, the media was mum, but some Americans still would not get in line. For them we have new laws to permit investigating citizens without warrants, and the label of terrorist fellow-traveler attached to groups from civil rights organizations to trade treaty protesters. Yet not one FBI or CIA agent told us, "If only we didn't have that pesky Bill of Rights, we would have nailed bin Laden." Not one said, "What we need is a new bureaucracy for Fatherland Security." Not one said we needed to jail everyone in the Midwest named "Ahmed." They had a single request: for George W. Bush's security henchmen to get their boot heels off agents' necks and remove the shield of immunity from the Saudis.

That leaves one final, impertinent question. Who won?

Commentary:
It still blows me away that most of the so-called terrorists came from Saudi Arabia but we go to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Since Bush lied to us about WMD in Iraq, we have to consider the possibility there is NO war on terrorism--that is Bush just is making it up. Both could be figments of his imagination, signs of his insanity or lies.

What do we know for sure? We know some planes hit three buildings. 19 people (or terrorists) were in that plot. Was it an act of war or a criminal act by a few deranged people. Bush says there's a grand conspiracy--a terrorist network. He's issued dozens of warnings and he's been wrong every time. The one time we were attacked (or a crime as committed depending on your point of view) Bush missed it completely. So, Bush's terrorist record of success remains stuck at zero. The guy is never right.

At some point we have to start thinking about this seriously. Are we spending hundreds of billions more because we have to or are we spending it to feed the military industrial complex and Bush's ego.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are nuts out there that hate the US. But if we consider 9/11 to be a criminal act instead of an act of war our whole world changes back to where it was before we got weird.


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The Say-Anything School
Washington Post
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003; Page A19

"Bill Clinton lies about big things and does it very well; Al Gore lies about little things and does it very badly. None of his fibs really amount to much, but they remind voters of what they don't like about Clinton. With Bush, voters see a decent, likable, and truthful candidate, but they're not sure he's up to the job."

-- Charlie Cook, National Journal

Oct. 28, 2000

As this quotation from one of America's best nonpartisan political analysts demonstrates, George W. Bush's 2000 campaign for the presidency was based in large part on the idea that Bush was honest while Clinton and Gore were liars. The phrase "little lies" stuck to Gore early, and he never shook it.

All of which makes it surprising that the media do not pay more attention to the ways in which Bush and his White House say whatever is necessary, even if they have to admit later that what they said the first time wasn't exactly true.

Consider this paragraph from the New York Times on May 7 about that already legendary Bush-in-a-flight-suit moment. "The White House said today that President Bush traveled to the carrier Abraham Lincoln last week on a small plane because he wanted to experience a landing the way carrier pilots do, not because the ship would be too far out to sea for Mr. Bush to arrive by helicopter, as his spokesman had originally maintained."

Now that's very interesting. You can be absolutely sure that if an Al Gore White House had comparably misled citizens about the reason for a presidential made-for-television visit to an aircraft carrier, Gore would have been pilloried for engaging in yet another "little lie."

Yet Bush's defenders have done a good job selling the idea that it's churlish and petty to raise any questions about the victorious president's moment of glory with our troops, even if the White House was not exactly honest about the circumstances of the flight.

What this suggests is one or all of the following: (a) The Bush spin machine is much better than Clinton's or Gore's, and it can brush off absolutely anything; (b) the mainstream media are petrified that they'll be accused of being unpatriotic or -- much worse -- French, so they report these things and then let them slip away without much comment or investigation; (c) Bush can get away with things few other politicians can because the view that he's "decent, likable and truthful" is now so deeply embedded in public opinion.

If a campaign-style visit to an aircraft carrier were the only issue, maybe you could write off all of the above as churlish. But the tendency of the administration to say anything that's convenient extends to the most important questions of policy.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, for example, the administration made us very afraid that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. In March, Vice President Cheney asserted that Hussein "has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." In the same appearance on "Meet the Press," Cheney later contradicted himself on Hussein by saying that it was "only a matter of time before he acquires nuclear weapons."

So did Hussein have the nukes or not? What was the threat? Shouldn't we want to know what the administration knew when it said these things?

Then there's the president's claim that his dividend tax cut is about creating jobs in a sluggish economy.

Even supporters of the dividend tax cut acknowledge it will do little in the short term to create jobs. As John Cassidy noted recently in the New Yorker, if you take the president's statements at face value, each new job created by his tax cut would cost the government $550,000 in lost revenue. That, Cassidy noted dryly, is "about 17 times the salary of the average American worker."

As there have to be cheaper ways to create jobs, should we really believe that the president really believes his latest tax cut is about employment? Isn't it clear by now that he'll say anything to win support for a new tax cut? That suspicion seems especially fair in light of the report by Dana Milbank and Dan Balz in The Post on Sunday that Bush plans to offer new tax cuts every year he's in office.

It's a documentable fact that Bill Clinton lied about his affair. It's now also documentable that President Bush and his lieutenants have a rather flexible definition of what it means to level with the American people. You can believe that and still acknowledge that the president looked great in his flight suit.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Commentary:
I have to take on the basic premise about Clinton. From my vantage the press is stuck in a lie-cycle and can't pull themselves free. Bill Clinton said, "I never had sex with that woman." I don't think a blow job is sex and I'm guessing most people don't either. If we consider the subject of virginity we can see more clearly that truth. If a virgin gives someone a blow job is she still a virgin? I'd say yes, therefore a bj is not sex and President Clinton didn't lie to our faces.

On the other hand, Bush lied about surpluses, tax cuts, budgets, national security, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, getting an up or down vote at the UN etc. The list is endless.

Even if you consider my Clinton argument lame, that's fine too because whatever he did had nothing to do with is powers as president. Bush's lies have everything to do the presidency and because he abused those powers he should be impeached and removed from office.


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