Saturday, July 12, 2003
Bush Considers Iraq Uranium Issue Closed by John Solomon
President Bush said Saturday he had confidence in CIA Director George Tenet despite his agency's failure to warn Bush against making allegations about Iraq's nuclear weapons program later found false.
"Yes I do, absolutely," Bush said. "I've got confidence in George Tenet. I've got confidence in the men and women who work at the CIA and I look forward to working with them as we win this war on terror."
The president spoke in Abuja, Nigeria, at the end of a five-country trip through Africa.
Bush asserted in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought nuclear materials from Africa. Nearly six months later, the White House acknowledged the charge was false, and the tempest that followed has shadowed Bush on his five-country trip through Africa.
Bush considers the matter closed, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The president has moved on," he said.
Get back here, George.
Ex-Officials Dispute Iraq Tie to al-Qaida by Matt Kelley
As President Bush works to quiet a controversy over his discredited claim of Iraqi uranium shopping in Africa, another of his prewar assertions is coming under fire: the alleged link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida.
Before the war, Bush and members of his cabinet said Saddam was harboring top al-Qaida operatives and suggested Iraq could slip the terrorist network chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Now, two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam to the group responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was never more than sketchy at best.
"There was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist operation," former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann said this week.
Intelligence agencies agreed on the "lack of a meaningful connection to al-Qaida" and said so to the White House and Congress, said Thielmann, who left State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research last September.
Another former Bush administration intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed there was no clear link between Saddam and al-Qaida.
"The relationships that were plotted were episodic, not continuous," the former official said.
A prolonged occupation by Fred Kaplan
Each day brings fresh evidence that the Bush administration is planning to keep American soldiers in Iraq for a long time — lots of soldiers, for several years — and that it’s doing stunningly little to get other countries, from our supposedly vast "coalition," to chip in.
Whichever countries are involved, it also remains a mystery just what they will be doing. The example of Australia may provide some clues. The Bush and Blair administrations always cited Australia as a strong coalition partner during the war. However, on May 15, Australian Prime Minister John Howard told his country’s Parliament, "Now that the major combat phase is over … we have begun to bring home our defence personnel. … The government has made clear all along that Australia would not be in a position to provide peacekeeping forces in Iraq. Our coalition partners clearly understood and accepted our position."
Even so, Howard noted that Australia would keep in the Iraqi theater a naval task group, an Army commando element (“for a brief period”), two PC-3 patrol planes, two C-130 transport planes, some air-traffic controllers, security for the Australian mission in Baghdad, and a team of experts hunting for weapons of mass destruction. Together, these elements add up to 1,200 personnel. Even though they are not for peacekeeping as the term is commonly understood — even though Howard has explicitly bowed out of the coalition — we can be sure that Bush and Rumsfeld will count them among the faceless total of those still in.
Why we were sold only one reason to go to war in Iraq by Martin Woolacott
So we had the spectacle of the arguments being conducted on two distinct levels. One involved disputable claims about the extent of Saddam's weapons holdings, probably wholly specious claims about his connections with al-Qaida, and questions to do with the role of inspectors and the UN.
The other involved forecasts of the threat that Saddam might present if left alone, and, even more difficult to assess, calculations that his removal from power would change the Middle East in ways which would weaken the forces of Islamic extremism in the region and therefore the terrorist threat to the US and Europe. Present on both levels of argument was the humanitarian case for military action, but that was not the primary focus of either discussion.
Neither the British nor the American peoples, let alone the French or the Germans, would go to war on the basis of this second set of arguments. They were too vague, too intuitive, too liable to be proved spectacularly mistaken, and too unlike the normal arguments for war. But they would, or they might, on the first.
A degree of fraudulence was thus involved from the start in keeping, in public, mainly to one level of the argument when the real issues were perceived by many in our governments and by most of their opponents to be on the other. That would be so even if the 45-minute claim had never made it into a British dossier or the quest for Niger uranium had never been included in the state of the union address.
Bush's Data Dump by Russ Baker
Of course every administration likes to trumpet its good news and hide its bad, but what's remarkable about the Bush team is its willingness to stifle data that had been widely released and to politicize data that used to be nonpartisan.
The administration muzzles routine economic information that's unfavorable. Last year, for example, the administration stopped issuing a monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics report, known as the Mass Layoff Statistics program, that tracked factory closings throughout the country. The cancellation was made known on Christmas Eve in a footnote to the department's final report—a document that revealed 2,150 mass layoffs in November, cashiering nearly a quarter-million workers. The administration claimed the report was a victim of budget cuts. After the Washington Post happened to catch this bit of data suppression, the BLS report was reinstated. (Interestingly, President George H.W. Bush buried these same statistics in '92, also during a period of job losses. They were revived by President Clinton.)
It's amazing how dishonest all these Bush men are.
Like father, like son? by Clyde Prestowitz
The future of the Bush administration could well be at stake. Having criticised President Clinton severely for moral lapses and dishonesty and played the card of born-again Christianity, Bush must be seen to be absolutely honest with the American public. Indeed, much of his political appeal derives from his black-and-white, good-guy, bad-guy Texas rhetoric. If that turns out to be false, he is likely to be hoist with his own petard.
The first signs of Bush’s potential vulnerability are becoming apparent. If the situation in Iraq continues, with a steady stream of US casualties, no apparent end in sight and no good explanation of why we are there, and if the US economy remains sluggish with rising unemployment, Bush could be in deep trouble. Indeed, the parallels with his father’s situation in 1992 are striking. Then the senior Bush appeared unbeatable, so much so that the major Democratic candidates stayed out of the race. But a little known Arkansas governor sensed the feet of clay and went for the gold. This time a little-known Vermont governor, Howard Dean, also sees possible feet of clay and is running for the gold. He has charisma on the stump and a powerful fundraising machine. More importantly, unlike the other Democratic candidates who have supported Bush on the war or kept silent, he has clearly defined himself as the anti-unilateralist and the anti-pre-emptive war candidate. Few give him a chance at the moment. But then, no one thought Bill Clinton could win either.
Bush team united Iraq front unravels by Michael Moran
The failure to turn up chemical or biological weapons in Iraq — initially dismissed as a "sour grapes" issue by Bush insiders — is growing into a genuine political problem, dogging the British and U.S. leaders at every public appearance and sparking various agencies that had a hand in Iraq policy to begin plotting a course through the gathering storm.
Throughout the president’s Africa trip this week, for instance, Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell were peppered with questions on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and particularly on the president’s Jan. 28 claim that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from African countries that mine it.
The image of African leaders standing mutely by as their news conferences were transformed into debates on Iraq could not fail to recall similarly uncomfortable moments during Bill Clinton’s scandal-plagued administration.
But the comparisons end there. Clinton’s troubles were domestic, in the strictest sense, and largely dismissed as unimportant in the rest of the world. Today, with U.S. troops dying in Iraq at a rate even the White House sees as politically unsustainable, there is a palpable desire to lay to rest any questions about the war’s real motives and stem any further damage to U.S. and British credibility.
Dean: Bush's 'intelligence-handling a disaster'
CNN congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl talked to Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean about the dispute Friday before Tenet's statement was released:
KARL: The president and his national security adviser are saying that the CIA, and George Tenet specifically, cleared this speech and signed off on it. Does that get the president off the hook?
DEAN: We don't know that. The fact is that [former U.S.] Ambassador [to Niger Joseph] Wilson, in a public statement in The New York Times, has indicated that his report showing that there was no involvement between Niger and Iraq in terms of the uranium deal went to the office of the vice president, the secretary of state and the CIA. So I don't know what the president knew and when the president knew it, but I know that this intelligence-handling is a disaster for the administration at best, and either no one got to the secretary of defense or the president, or his own senior advisors withheld information.
So this is a serious credibility problem, and it's a lot deeper than just the Iraq-Niger deal, it has to do with assertions by the secretary of defense that he knew where weapons were that turned out not to be there, it has to do with assertions by the vice president there was a nuclear program that turned out not to exist, and assertions made by the president himself, not just about the acquisition of uranium, but also about the ability of [deposed Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] to use chemical weapons on the United States. We need a full-blown public investigation not held in Congress but by an outside bipartisan commission.
Trading on fear by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber
And fear can make people do other things they would not do if they were thinking rationally. During the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, psychologist Gustave Gilbert visited Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering in his prison cell. "We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction," Gilbert wrote in his journal, Nuremberg Diary.
"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
The Uranium Fiction
We're glad that someone in Washington has finally taken responsibility for letting President Bush make a false accusation about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program in the State of the Union address last January, but the matter will not end there. George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, stepped up to the issue yesterday when he said the C.I.A. had approved Mr. Bush's speech and failed to advise him to drop the mistaken charge that Iraq had recently tried to import significant quantities of uranium from an African nation, later identified as Niger. Now the American people need to know how the accusation got into the speech in the first place, and whether it was put there with an intent to deceive the nation. The White House has a lot of explaining to do.
[New York Times editorial, 7/12/03]
Friday, July 11, 2003
No Mistakes Were Made by Eleanor Clift
How can Bush fix the mess in Iraq if he denies any missteps? This administration’s unwillingness to ever admit a mistake makes it unlikely it will expand the force size in Iraq, take responsibility for the phony intelligence Bush touted as a prelude to war or eat enough humble pie to get military and financial help from other nations. The White House won’t acknowledge anything that might chip away at Bush’s commander-in-chief image. That’s the nature of the reelection machine that Karl Rove has constructed in his role as Bush’s consigliere. To admit flaws risks losing the luster of the wartime president.
Bush’s insecurities are at the heart of it. Haunted by his father’s defeat and the accidental nature of his own presidency, Bush never wants to hand his enemies ammunition. He can’t let cracks appear or the whole edifice could crumble. The moment Bush landed on the USS Lincoln, he was caught in his own net of hubris. The juvenile taunt—"Bring ‘em on"—diminishes the seriousness of sending men and women into an urban guerilla battle that nobody prepared them for. American soldiers in Iraq are going on the record with reporters to say how unhappy they are, and how vulnerable they feel. You don’t do that in the military unless the conditions are dire.
I have a feeling we're about to find out.
Bush: CIA Cleared Iraq Uranium Claim by Tom Raum
President Bush and his national security adviser on Friday put responsibility squarely on the CIA for the president's erroneous claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq tried to acquire nuclear material from Africa.
"I gave a speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services," Bush told reporters in Uganda.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice was more direct, saying, "The CIA cleared the speech in its entirety."
If CIA Director George Tenet had concerns about the information, "these doubts were not communicated to the president," Rice said.
The deepening controversy has undermined administration efforts to quiet doubts about the president's justifications for going to war. The United States said military action was justified, in part, because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but no such weapons have been found.
And whose fault is that, pray tell? This joke of a man simply will not take responsibility for anything whatsoever.
Blame Bush in State Fiscal Crisis by Robert Scheer
When the younger Bush ran for president, he turned to [Enron CEO "Kenny Boy"] Lay, who became the single biggest contributor to his campaign. George W. returned the favor big-time by appointing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members who looked the other way when Enron and its fellow swindler companies were fleecing California. These appointees insisted that California's problems were of its own making and would have to be solved without the imposition of the wholesale energy price caps that would have saved taxpayers from a crushing burden.
Vice President Dick Cheney emerged from secret meetings with Enron executives and stated that the administration considered wholesale price caps a "mistake" because "there isn't anything that can be done short-term to produce more kilowatts this summer." Either Cheney was lying or his Enron buddies were lying to him because, at the time, Enron was routing electricity from California to sell at a higher price in Oregon. Federal price controls would have prevented Enron and the other companies from playing one state against another.
It is disingenuous for California Republicans to now blame Davis rather than their man Bush for the state's economic problems. Only last week, the Republican-dominated FERC banned Enron from selling electricity as punishment for having severely distorted Western energy markets. Enron and 60 other companies were ordered to show why they should not be forced to return their illegally gained profits.
George W. on the Defensive by E. J. Dionne Jr.
While President Bush tours Africa, the winds of change are blowing at home. They threaten his overwhelming political advantage on foreign policy and national security.
Despite the great pictures from that trip, it has not been a good week for Bush. The White House finally admitted that the president never should have claimed in this year's State of the Union address that Iraq sought to buy uranium in Africa to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. Reports to that effect had been debunked by a respected American diplomat even before Bush gave his speech.
An administration rarely on the defensive since 9/11 found itself forced to explain and explain. When the president was asked in South Africa whether he regretted using false information in his State of the Union speech, he evaded the question and criticized "attempts to rewrite history." A bizarre response, because it was the White House that rewrote history by admitting that the president's earlier statement was now inoperative.
Kerry Raps Bush Policy on Postwar Iraq by Dan Balz
On foreign policy, Kerry used the lunch and an earlier news conference on Capitol Hill to offer his toughest critique of Bush's handling of Iraq. He said the administration acted as if the United States had "stumbled into Baghdad" with no clue as to how to secure the country after President Saddam Hussein was driven from power. Since the fall of Baghdad, he said, the administration had shown an "arrogant absence of any international effort to build what's needed" to secure Iraq.
"I'm really disturbed that the administration is not being truthful in a sense with the American people about what's really at stake here," Kerry said. He added, "Winning the peace in Iraq is critical to us because it's going to have a profound impact on the war on terrorism. We literally cannot allow ourselves to fail."
Asked how Bush had been untruthful, he replied, "I don't think when you go to an aircraft carrier in a highly staged appearance and announce that the hostilities are over when they're not over, you're telling the truth."
CIA Asked Britain To Drop Iraq Claim by Walter Pincus
The latest disclosures further illustrate the lack of confidence expressed by the U.S. intelligence community in the months leading up to Bush's speech about allegations of Iraqi efforts to buy uranium in Africa. Even so, Bush used the charge -- citing British intelligence -- in the Jan. 28 address as part of his effort to convince Congress and the American people that Iraq had a program to build weapons of mass destruction and posed a serious threat.
The White House on Monday acknowledged that Bush's uranium claim was based on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech, further stoking a controversy over the administration's handling of prewar intelligence. Democratic lawmakers yesterday called for public hearings, while the Democratic National Committee opened an advertising campaign to encourage people to sign petitions calling for an independent commission.
After the endless investigations of everything Bill Clinton ever did, it's about time we subjected their guy to the same treatment.
Smoke and Mirrors on Head Start
he Bush administration has mastered the art of producing speeches and press releases that bear little resemblance to the legislative programs they purport to describe. This tactic was on display again earlier this week in Mr. Bush's speech on Head Start, the highly successful federal education program that embraces poor families and prepares underprivileged 3- and 4-year-olds for school.
The president spoke earnestly about improving Head Start's academic components while preventing the states from siphoning off its federal dollars for other, less crucial purposes. But the Head Start bill that is likely to be passed by the House would soon fall short of these goals on several fronts and would actually allow the states to weaken this valuable program, which serves about a million impoverished children.
Who cares? Impoverished children don't contribute to Republican campaigns.
Double Talk and Doubts
Gen. Tommy Franks appeared Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee with a large map showing the trouble spots in Iraq. He pointed to a small triangle and a few dots indicating where troops were coming under attack, with the vast rest of Iraq shaded safely green. A quick-witted Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Pleasanton) pointed out that the triangle and spots "represent 70% of the Iraqi population." And most of the green-colored area was unpopulated desert. Oh.
The murkiness surrounding the Bush administration's Iraq policy before and after the war continues. Traveling through Africa, President Bush has steadfastly rejected charges that the administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq as nothing more than critics attempting to "rewrite history." But it isn't the critics who are doing the rewriting. To justify a quick intervention, Bush asserted in his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech that Iraq had an active nuclear program and was seeking to buy uranium in the African state of Niger. If Iraq wasn't trying to buy uranium, then its nuclear program was merely theoretical.
AIDS funds fall short by Paul Zeitz and Jeffrey Sachs
Bush signed legislation authorizing $3 billion this year to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Yet his budget contains funds for only half of this goal. Moreover, there is little actual planning underway to implement a program that is already years late in being launched. There is still time for the president to make good on his promises so that the trip to Africa is not an empty ''victory lap'' with no real victories that count.
In January, Bush boldly proclaimed that ''in an age of miraculous medicine'' no person should be denied treatment for AIDS and announced that ''this nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature.'' Recently he set the standard by which America's efforts against AIDS should be judged: ''We care more about results than words. We're interested in lives saved.''
Since that speech, a million Africans have died of the disease while Bush has dithered on the emergency. In fact, since Bush has come into office, about 5 million Africans have died of AIDS while the US bilateral assistance programs under the president's watch have provided antiretroviral treatment for only a handful of people.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
A false remark
Now we learn that the very intelligence agencies Mr. Bush cited as the source of his information had serious doubts about it and were shocked to hear the president recite it as fact. And along comes one Joseph C. Wilson IV, the man the Central Intelligence Agency, at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney, sent to the central African nation of Niger to check out these Iraq-uranium reports, to say that he found no evidence to support them and that he told his handlers at the CIA so when he got back. He says he also told officials in the State Department and in the vice president's office.
The White House makes the incredible claim that Mr. Cheney never heard of Mr. Wilson's mission until he read of it in the papers. Presumably, the vice president is also reading in the papers that the intelligence community accuses the White House of making inflated claims about Iraq's much-rumored chemical and biological weapons program.
Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False
Senior administration officials tell CBS News the President’s mistaken claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was included in his State of the Union address -- despite objections from the CIA.
Before the speech was delivered, the portions dealing with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were checked with the CIA for accuracy, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.
CIA officials warned members of the President’s National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.
The White House officials responded that a paper issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: "Iraq has ... sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that’s how it was delivered.
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," Mr. Bush said.
The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had explicitly warned might not be true.
The White Man Unburdened by Norman Mailer
Democracy, more than any other political system, depends on a modicum of honesty. Ultimately, it is much at the mercy of a leader who has never been embarrassed by himself. What is to be said of a man who spent two years in the Air Force of the National Guard (as a way of not having to go to Vietnam) and proceeded—like many another spoiled and wealthy father's son—not to bother to show up for duty in his second year of service? Most of us have episodes in our youth that can cause us shame on reflection. It is a mark of maturation that we do not try to profit from our early lacks and vices but do our best to learn from them. Bush proceeded, however, to turn his declaration of the Iraqi campaign's end into a mighty fashion show. He chose—this overnight clone of Honest Abe—to arrive on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on an S-3B Viking jet that came in with a dramatic tail-hook landing. The carrier was easily within helicopter range of San Diego but G.W. would not have been able to show himself in flight regalia, and so would not have been able to demonstrate how well he wore the uniform he had not honored. Jack Kennedy, a war hero, was always in civvies while he was commander in chief. So was General Eisenhower. George W. Bush, who might, if he had been entirely on his own, have made a world-class male model (since he never takes an awkward photograph), proceeded to tote the flight helmet and sport the flight suit. There he was for the photo-op looking like one more great guy among the great guys. Let us hope that our democracy will survive these nonstop foulings of the nest.
[New York Review of Books, 7/17/03 issue]
All Spin All The Time by Russ Baker
It must be great working in the Bush White House. Zero accountability. It's All Spin, All the Time. Nothing matters but politics, hence no unfounded claim requires correction or apology. Unless, of course, they are pushed to the end of the plank, as they were recently with the tale about Niger and nuclear materials.
Take those elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction. Despite the failure of the concentrated might of the U.S. military-intelligence complex to find anything that might qualify in the remotest possible way, the administration labels critics "revisionist historians" and imperturbedly moves on. The initial assertions and touted "discoveries" usually get more attention than does the sound of a balloon deflating. That's why polls find a sizable chunk of the American public still under the impression that WMD have been found.
Whatever Saddam's interest in WMD, the administration didn't know what he had and didn't have solid evidence to make the claims it did -- much less to launch a war over them. For those amateur "revisionist historians" out there, here is a partial, unscientific reconstruction of the claims that fizzled.
Another interesting list of lies.
Disarm Saddam Hussein
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, a design for a nuclear weapon, and was working on methods of enriching uranium for a nuclear bomb. He recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, according to the British Government. He has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons, according to our intelligence sources. Yet he has not credibly explained these activities.
[White House website]
These government statements are now known to be false or misleading. Incredibly, this document (apparently from January 2003) is still up on the White House website. Read it while you can!
True Lies by Michael Tomasky
A fresh and potentially damning revelation about pre-war manipulation of intelligence comes out, and the administration -- for the first time -- has to acknowledge that an "incorrect" justification for war was bruited. It's yet another instance -- the 13,862nd, I think -- over which we shake our heads, imagining what the right would have done if a Gore administration had tried to get away with something like this. And so, once again, we are confronted with the same exasperating question: What has to happen to make the American people care about the lies told to get us into this war?
Actually, there are a few encouraging signs of disarray. Joseph C. Wilson IV's thunderbolt New York Times op-ed piece Sunday debunking George W. Bush's State of the Union claim about the Iraq-Niger uranium connection could prove to be a turning point. But for that to happen -- that is, for the people to care -- the media has to tell them it's something they should care about.
Those of us who hang on every turn of the screw and have been maddened for months about how Bush can get away with converting Saddam Hussein into an imminent threat to America -- or calling his tax cut middle-class, or labeling this Medicare swindle "reform," or any of a hundred other surrealities -- have been dumbfounded at how thoroughly the interpretation has taken hold. The Wilson op-ed piece just might mark the day that the facts finally started to catch up.
This 9/11 report that's about to come out should help too.
U.S. report on 9/11 to be 'explosive' by Frank Davies
A long-awaited final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be released in the next two weeks, containing new information about U.S. government mistakes and Saudi financing of terrorists.
Former Rep. Tim Roemer, who served on the House Intelligence Committee and who has read the report, said it will be ''highly explosive'' when it becomes public.
The staff director for the congressional investigation that produced the 800-page report, Eleanor Hill, said Wednesday that several lengthy battles with the Bush administration over how much secret data to declassify have been resolved.
She expects the document to go to the Government Printing Office late this week and then be made public about a week later.
''It's compelling and galvanizing and will refocus the public's attention on Sept. 11,'' predicted Roemer, an Indiana Democrat. "Certain mistakes, errors and gaps in the system will be made clear.''
Gee, now you've got me all curious.
Partisan House spares Bush the tough questions by Rupert Cornwell
Congressional committees in Washington will hold hearings this month and the question of how the administration swallowed the fake story of Iraqi uranium purchases from Niger has emerged again.
But George Bush has enjoyed a far easier ride than Tony Blair. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, his Republican Party controls the Senate and House of Representatives and is unlikely to sanction any public investigation that might discredit a president whose popularity remains high.
Secondly, most of the Democratic presidential contenders who might raise the issue on the campaign trail tied their hands in October when they backed the congressional resolution granting Mr Bush sweeping war powers. A third explanation is that, amazingly, a substantial minority of Americans believe that the weapons have been discovered.
Why the CEO in Chief Needs an Audit by Richard Cohen
The Bush White House is run on a business model. The president is the CEO. He delegates to others, including the vice president, who was once a CEO himself. It therefore should come as no surprise that George W. Bush, a Harvard MBA after all, is doing what other CEOs do when they get into trouble. In his case, he's "restated" his reasons for going to war.
In fact, the entire business plan for Iraq has to be restated. It turns out that the country simply will not govern itself, that some elements resent the U.S. occupation and that it will take more troops to administer the country than originally thought. In some way, this abject failure to plan for an occupation -- despite repeated warnings -- will have to be creatively restated. To paraphrase the president, bring on the restatement.
The dangers of an immense budget deficit have been restated. Rising unemployment has been restated to blame the Clinton administration. The critical importance of relations with Mexico has been restated. The evils of affirmative action were -- after the Supreme Court ruled -- restated and so, of course, were the reasons for going to war in Iraq. Now it is to rid that country of Saddam Hussein and establish the predicates for a Middle East peace. I like them both.
Still, all these restatements suggest a business plan that was both flawed from the start and implemented with an appalling level of incompetence. Despite that, the CEO of this mismanaged operation is not held accountable and remains popular with the shareholders. It used to be that the buck stopped with the president. To state the obvious, that's been restated.
A Troubled Occupation in Iraq
He may be deposed but he remains a haunting presence. From a hiding place, Saddam Hussein has issued defiant words and vowed resistance, saying that "jihad cells and brigades have been formed." Earlier, President Bush, displaying misplaced bravado, issued his own challenge to Mr. Hussein's supporters: "Bring them on."
We would have hoped that two months after the end of the war in Iraq, the situation would be neither this confrontational nor this dangerous. With almost daily reports of American fatalities in Iraq, the need for turning around a badly deteriorating situation seems urgent.
Despite some limited gains under Washington's chief civilian administrator, Paul Bremer III, exasperated Iraqis are increasingly blaming occupation forces for the excruciatingly slow progress in restoring vital services, rebuilding the economy and returning governmental and police power to Iraqi hands. It is not enough for President Bush to claim that America has adequate forces on the ground to repel any Iraqi challenge. What is needed is a realistic and workable recovery plan. The administration also needs to level with the American people, acknowledging that stabilizing and reviving Iraq will take many more months and could cost many more American casualties.
Bush Skirts Question on 'Evidence' and Defends War by Richard W. Stevenson
The administration's failure so far to find any substantial caches of chemical or biological weapons and the weakening of its case that Mr. Hussein was trying to rebuild his nuclear program have fed deep skepticism among many opponents of the war that Iraq was as much of a threat as Mr. Bush made it out to be.
Those doubts were further reinforced today in Washington by a recently retired State Department official, who said the Iraqi threat was vastly overstated, Reuters reported.
"I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq," said Greg Thielmann, who left his post as director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research last September.
Jump-Starting 9/11 Inquiry
The commission chairman, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, and the panel's vice chairman, former U.S. Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), accused the administration Tuesday of hamstringing their work. Kean and Hamilton were understandably reluctant to charge the administration with deliberately impeding their inquiry, but what else could the statement they released have meant in noting the mandatory, intimidating presence of what Kean called the "minders," or agency colleagues, who are always present at interviews with intelligence officials?
Recall the minders that Saddam Hussein sent with Iraqi scientists who were interviewed by weapons inspectors. No one would liken the United States to Iraq, but it is a mistake to create such obvious echoes.
Bush unbowed on Iraq by John Donnelly
President Bush yesterday declined to answer questions on whether he misled Americans by stating in January that Iraq attempted to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger, a now-discredited claim that bolstered his case for going to war. Instead, Bush said the world was safer because of his decision to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Bush made his first substantive comments on the uranium issue a few hours after the clearest acknowledgement yet by his spokesman that the president's original accusation in his State of the Union speech was inaccurate. The issue has resurfaced noisily since the White House announced Monday night that the initial allegation of an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger was based on documents later found to have been falsified.
The controversy has taken on greater weight because of suggestions by some critics that the Bush administration exaggerated the dimensions of Hussein's purported weapons of mass destruction program. The United States has yet to find any evidence in Iraq to back up additional charges that Hussein had extensive chemical and biological weapons programs, but White House and Pentagon officials steadfastly say they will find such evidence.
Iraq weapons 'unlikely to be found'
BBC political editor Andrew Marr said "very senior sources" in Whitehall had virtually ruled out the possibility of finding the weapons.
They believe they did exist - but were hidden or destroyed by Saddam Hussein before the war.
Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the admissions were a "dramatic development" and ex-Prime Minister John Major has called for a full independent inquiry into the basis for war.
Mr Cook, who resigned as leader of the Commons in the run-up to the war, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Parliament voted for war because it was told that Saddam did have real weapons of mass destruction.
"Indeed what the prime minister said on the eve of the war was that the weapons posed a real and present danger, either because [Saddam] might use them or because he might pass them to terrorist groups."
Both Blair and Bush have switched to claiming that they had warned of weapons programs, not actual weapons. Don't let them get away with it! We were warned about imminently usable weapons, which Bush mentioned and gave specific numbers for in his lie-filled State of the Union address.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Obstacles To a Medicare Victory by David S. Broder
It did not take President Bush long to begin capitalizing on his push in Congress to reform Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit for seniors. Three days after the House and Senate passed their separate Medicare bills, he was in Miami talking about the "historic opportunity we have to modernize Medicare on behalf of America's seniors."
It might happen. But, just as the president's "mission accomplished" speech on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln last May 1 now seems a premature declaration of success in Iraq, he may be minimizing both the political and policy obstacles to a Medicare victory worth celebrating.
Wrestling for the Truth of 9/11
The Bush administration, long allergic to the idea of investigating the government's failure to prevent the Sept. 11 terror attacks, is now doing its best to bury the national commission that was created to review Washington's conduct. That was made plain yesterday in a muted way by Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor, and Lee Hamilton, the former congressman, who are directing the inquiry. When these seasoned, mild-mannered men start complaining that the administration is trying to intimidate the commission, the country had better take notice.
[New York Times editorial, 7/9/03]
Bush Charge on Iraq Arms Had Doubters, House Told by David E. Sanger and Carl Hulse
The State Department told a Congressional committee today that seven days after President Bush gave his State of the Union address, in which he charged that Saddam Hussein was trying to purchase uranium in Africa, American diplomats warned the International Atomic Energy Agency that the United States could not confirm the reports.
The State Department letter, provided to Representative Henry A. Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform, confirms that there were deep misgivings in the government about some intelligence Mr. Bush cited in his January speech.
On Monday the White House said for the first time that the evidence that Iraq sought nuclear fuel in Africa was not credible enough, and should not have been included in the president's remarks.
Whatever. Isn't Tom "Insect" DeLay one of those who decry "relative morality"?
Specifically, the nation has a right to know whether US intelligence reports discounting the Niger story reached the White House. If not, why were they suppressed and by whom? If they did, how can Bush justify his use of the story in his State of the Union speech?
More broadly, Congress has a duty to lead a national debate on Bush's foreign policy. If the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, showed international terrorism such a threat that preemptive action might sometimes be warranted, what are the parameters? And what standards of credibility must an administration meet in justifying military action that will have support at home and abroad?
On this issue the Bush administration's credibility is not helped by its reluctance to cooperate with Congress. The way for Bush to restore trust is to make certain that intelligence is not shaded or politicized and that he makes arguments honestly to the public.
Bush has never made arguments honestly to the public. I doubt that he will start now.
US repeats Vietnam-era arrogance by Derrick Z. Jackson
With attacks continuing to claim the lives of US soldiers, a reporter last week asked President Bush what the White House was doing to get France, Germany, and Russia to join the American occupation of Iraq. Bush did not discuss France, Germany, or Russia. He chose to brag that he was the fastest gun in Western civilization.
''There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us,'' Bush said. ''My answer is, bring 'em on! We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. Of course we want other countries to help us ... but we've got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure.... The enemy shouldn't make any mistake about it. We will deal with them harshly if they continue to try to bring harm to the Iraqi people.''
Echoing Bush was General Tommy Franks, who just retired as the commander of the invasion of Iraq. Franks told ABC's ''Good Morning America,'' ''The fact is, wherever we find criminals, death squads, and so forth who are anxious to do damage to this country and to peace-loving countries around the world, I absolutely agree with the president of the United States: Bring 'em on!''
What pathetic leaders we have these days.
Losing battle: Why the Democrats should pursue defeat in 2004 by Alan Wolfe
In contrast, Bush and his allies in Congress have followed in-your-face strategies that abhor all restraints on partisan priorities. Politics for them is an effort to create a self-sustaining Republican machine that offers benefits to the already advantaged in return for past and future campaign contributions that will enable the party to offer even more of the same. Some may believe that it is wrong for government to reward those who need its help least and to punish those who need its help most. But if any of today's Republicans question the notion of rewarding the rich at the expense of the poor, they have been remarkably quiet about it.
The best example of Bush's partisan philosophy of governance is provided by his judicial nominees. In his appointments to federal courts, Bush has consistently sought extreme conservatives capable of winning confirmation by the narrowest majorities rather than less reliably ideological candidates who could win bipartisan support. (Some nominees, in fact, are so conservative they may not win even narrow confirmation.) That the decisions of judges chosen this way will likely be contested and controversial seems to mean as little to him as the fact that his foreign policy is wildly unpopular throughout most of the world. Bush does not want merely to win -- he wants his opponents to know they lost.
That just can't be the American way.
Court Allows Suit on Cheney Energy Panel by Pete Yost
A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected the Bush administration's bid to stop a lawsuit that seeks to delve into the energy industry's ties to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.
In a 2-1 ruling, the court said administration officials must turn over some information about the task force or list specific documents that they intend to withhold from the proceedings.
The administration argues that the lawsuit by the Sierra Club and a conservative group, Judicial Watch, is an unwarranted intrusion into the internal deliberations of the executive branch of government.
But Cheney and administration officials "have not satisfied the heavy burden" required for the appeals court to get involved in the case, wrote Appeals Court Judge David Tatel.
9/11 Commission Says U.S. Agencies Slow Its Inquiry by Philip Shenon
The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony.
The panel also said the failure of the Bush administration to allow officials to be interviewed without the presence of government colleagues could impede its investigation, with the commission's chairman suggesting today that the situation amounted to "intimidation" of the witnesses.
Intimidating witnesses? Isn't that a crime?
White House 'warned over Iraq claim'
Doubts about a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the African state of Niger were aired 10 months before Mr Bush included the allegation in his key State of the Union address this year, a CIA official has told the BBC.
On Tuesday, the White House for the first time officially acknowledged that the Niger claim was wrong and should not have been used in the president's State of the Union speech in January.
But the CIA official has said that a former US diplomat had already established the claim was false in March 2002 - and that the information had been passed on to government departments, including the White House, well before Mr Bush mentioned it in the speech.
As the noose tightens...
Crash caused Lynch's 'horrific injuries' by Rowan Scarborough
The Army will release a report tomorrow on the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company in Iraq that will show Pfc. Jessica Lynch and another female soldier suffered extensive injuries in a vehicle accident, but not from Iraqi fighters.
The deadly March 23 battle in Nasiriyah, in central Iraq, has emerged as perhaps the most famous incident in the war — both for what happened and for what was reported to have happened, but did not.
And it made such a good story, too.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Serviceman's Mother Questioning Son's Role In Iraqi Combat Zone by Bill Gallagher
The soldier's mother tells Bush what he doesn't hear from his handlers in the White House or at the military bases he likes to visit. "People in the U.S. are guilty of misplaced trust -- in their political leaders and the media. Misguided ignorance may have put you in office, but my hope is that the American public begins to see itself as responsible for searching out the truth of the war in Iraq and the lies and manipulation we are being subjected to, while covert agendas are being carried out by our government leaders."
While the troops suffer in Iraq, the president and vice president are on the biggest and most obscene grab for campaign cash in American political history. They expect to rake in a staggering $170 million before the primary season. That's especially interesting since the incumbent president will face no primary opposition. The Republicans will use the money to try to get the least-threatening Democrat nominated, and then march through the general election with the largest campaign war chest ever.
Carol is on to that, too, and how corrupting it is for the nation. She tells Bush, "Political policy seems to be dictated by those with power and big pocketbooks. We don't even have a democracy here anymore, how can we help Iraq to create a democratic society?"
Facing Reality in Iraq
The first step toward regaining the initiative would be full acceptance by the administration of the fact that more resources are needed -- more money, more civilian administrators and more troops. Assertions by Washington-based Pentagon officials that the current force is large enough don't square with reports from the field, which depict a steadily mounting conflict as well as sinking morale among some U.S. units exhausted after months of hard duty. Nor are the Pentagon's reports about the recruitment of allied forces encouraging: Though 70 nations have been contacted, only about 10 have made concrete commitments, and the number of non-U.S. troops is due to rise only from 12,000 to 20,000 by the end of summer. The poor support is a direct result of the administration's poor diplomacy, both before and after the war -- and, in particular, its insistence on monopolizing control over Iraq while mostly excluding the United Nations. India and Pakistan, for example, are reluctant to deploy troops under U.S. rather than U.N. command, and European countries have been slower to supply aid and advisers who could be assisting with reconstruction.
While reaching out to U.S. allies, President Bush also needs to speak more clearly about Iraq to the American people. Last week he finally acknowledged that rebuilding Iraq would be "a massive and long-term undertaking," but his shallow "bring 'em on" taunt to the militants merely underlined his failure to clearly explain the objectives of U.S. forces and how long it may take to achieve them. Americans are now dying in Iraq at the rate of nearly one per day. Mr. Bush needs to tell the country why that sacrifice is necessary -- and what he will do to mitigate the threat.
[Washington Post editorial, 7/8/03]
Bush Seeks Big Changes in Head Start, Drawing Criticism From Program's Supporters by Elisabeth Bumiller
Mr. Bush's speech at a Head Start center at Highland Park Elementary School in suburban Washington, some seven hours before his scheduled departure tonight for a five-day trip to Africa, reflected the White House concern that the president stay focused on domestic policy in the run-up to his 2004 re-election campaign. But his words unleashed a new torrent of criticism from advocates for the poor and political opponents who said that the administration could not be trusted on the issue.
"It makes no sense to start down a totally new path with a program that's been proven effective by three full decades of research," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, the most important member of the Senate on education issues, said in a statement. "Why would anyone want to turn Head Start into Slow Start or No Start?"
A Diplomat's Undiplomatic Truth: They Lied by Robert Scheer
Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson publicly revealed over the weekend that he was the mysterious envoy whom the CIA, under pressure from Cheney, sent to Niger to investigate a document — now known to be a crude forgery — that allegedly showed Iraq was trying to acquire enriched uranium that might be used to build a nuclear bomb. Wilson found no basis for the story, and nobody else has either.
What is startling in Wilson's account, however, is that the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office were all informed that the Niger-Iraq connection was phony. No one in the chain of command disputed that this "evidence" of Iraq's revised nuclear weapons program was a hoax.
Yet, nearly a year after Wilson reported back the facts to Cheney and the U.S. security apparatus, Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, invoked the fraudulent Iraq-Africa uranium connection as a major justification for rushing the nation to war: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." What the president did not say was that the British were relying on their intelligence white paper, which was based on the same false information that Wilson and the U.S. ambassador to Niger had already debunked. "That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address," Wilson said Sunday on "Meet the Press."
And who is going to believe that?
Bush's war against evil by James Carroll
Having forthrightly set out to rid the world of evil, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq, has the United States, willy-nilly, become an instrument of evil? Lying (weapons of mass deception). Torture (if only by US surrogates). The killing of children (''collaterally,'' but inevitably). The vulgarization of patriotism (last week's orgy of bunting). The imposition of chaos (and calling it freedom). The destruction of alliances (''First Iraq, then France''). The invitation to other nations to behave in like fashion (Goodbye, Chechnya). The inexorable escalation (''Bring 'em on!''). The made-in-Washington pantheon of mythologized enemies (first Osama, now Saddam). The transmutation of ordinary young Americans (into dead heroes). How does all of this, or any of it, ''rid the world of evil''?
Which brings us back to that Gothic cathedral of a question: What is evil anyway? Is it the impulse only of tyrants? Of enemies alone? Or is it tied to the personal entitlement onto which America, too, hangs its bunting? Is evil the thing, perhaps, that forever inclines human beings to believe that they are themselves untouched by it? Moral maturity, mellowed across the distance of history, begins in the acknowledgement that evil, whatever its primal source, resides, like a virus in its niche, in the human self. There is no ridding the world of evil for the simple fact that, shy of history's end, there is no ridding the self of it.
But there's the problem with President Bush. It is not the moral immaturity of the texts he reads. Like his callow statement in the National Cathedral, they are written by someone else. When the president speaks, unscripted, from his own moral center, what shows itself is a bottomless void.
White House Backs Off Claim on Iraqi Buy by Walter Pincus
The Bush administration acknowledged for the first time yesterday that President Bush should not have alleged in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.
The statement was prompted by publication of a British parliamentary commission report, which raised serious questions about the reliability of British intelligence that was cited by Bush as part of his effort to convince Congress and the American people that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program were a threat to U.S. security.
The British panel said it was unclear why the British government asserted as a "bald claim" that there was intelligence that Iraq had sought to buy significant amounts of uranium in Africa. It noted that the CIA had already debunked this intelligence, and questioned why an official British government intelligence dossier published four months before Bush's speech included the allegation as part of an effort to make the case for going to war against Iraq.
The British are taking this a lot more seriously than "we" are. It looks like Bush will be forced to respond to charges made over there. Tally ho!
Monday, July 07, 2003
Red, white and worried by Tim Harper
In a University of Maryland poll released last week, one in four respondents thought Saddam was directly involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. And there is still a widespread perception in this country that the hijackers entered the U.S. from Canada.
There may be a reason for the confusion, however. It may be that the Bush administration is purposely trying to confuse people.
In the Maryland poll, 71 per cent believed Bush at least implied that Saddam and Iraq were behind the terrorist attacks.
Now, with the Liberian deployment looming, Americans are set to plunge deeper into potential danger, something U.S. presidents seeking re-election would normally seek to avoid. It also marks a departure for Bush who, while campaigning in the last election, was viewing the country from the more narrow perspective of a state governor.
In 2000, Bush promised he would not overextend the military, saying he would not even have intervened in the Rwandan genocide and he shunned nation-building exercises.
"We can't be all things to all people in the world," he said then.
But we can be all things to some people here at home.
Iraq Policy Is Broken. Fix It. by Fareed Zakaria
Today the United States gets to decide which Shiite leader will be mayor of Najaf—thereby annoying 100 other contenders. Meanwhile the United Nations distributes food, water and medicine. Why is this such a great deal for America? Why not mix it up so that the political decisions are made by an international group? And why not have the United States more involved in relief work?
From the start, internationalizing the Iraq operation has seemed such an obvious solution. But the Bush administration has not adopted it because it holds a whole series of prejudices about the United Nations, nation-building, the French, the Germans and multilateral organizations. In clinging on to ideological fixations, the administration is risking its most important foreign-policy project.
Dems Blast Bush for 'Bring 'Em On' Remark by Jennifer C. Kerr
Last week, Bush lashed out at those attacking American troops, saying "bring 'em on" as he vowed to stay the course in Iraq with a military capable of handling the situation.
Al Sharpton, the New York clergyman who's running for the Democratic nomination in 2004, demanded that Bush apologize to U.S. forces and their families.
"For the president to say, 'bring it on,' almost like daring and provoking Iraqis to kill American soldiers, he sounds more like a gang leader in South-Central L.A. than one that is trying to institute a policy of democracy and reconstruction in the world," Sharpton said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, agreed that Bush's tone was over the top.
"I think that it's perfectly proper for the president to say that he has confidence in our troops. But it seems to me unwise to engage in this kind of cocky rhetoric, because it's not going to be helpful ... either with our troops or in bringing in other countries into this issue," said Levin, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Did they now.
Bring reality on
The tumult has led the U.S. reconstruction chief in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, to request more troops and civilian personnel.
That recommendation slammed headlong into a familiar problem: the unwillingness of top administration officials to let reality intrude on their hubris. In fact, the President's quip ["Bring 'em on"] came as he ridiculed those who suggest more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.
Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz assured America before the war that Iraqis would gladly welcome U.S. troops. They assumed Iraqis would gratefully accept the Iraqi exiles the Bush team had handpicked as Saddam's replacements. They predicted a smooth transition to democracy requiring no help from individual nations or the United Nations, and little investment of American dollars, thanks to Iraqi oil riches.
The reality evolving on the ground is vastly different from that gauzy picture. Yet those officials still seem loathe to admit any mistakes.
So here are a few items, call it a get-real list, to get the Bush team's head out of the clouds and into the hot and hostile reality where U.S. soldiers bravely toil on.
Wait till you read their get-real list. Tough stuff!
Pants on fire...
Many of you have asked for examples of specific, documented lies Bush told regarding the threat Saddam Hussein posed to America. That is a reasonable request. Here is a short list of some of my favorite whoppers he told. This list is nowhere near complete; an unabridged list would likely crash our server.
[The Likely Story, 6/26/03]
Another nice list of lies.
Wrestling with the `Q-word' in Iraq by Clarence Page
Bad news was what I anticipated when the Bush administration entered Iraq without a hint of an exit strategy or a plan for how the U.S. would manage the place once Saddam Hussein inevitably fell.
I was hardly alone. But instead of dealing with such pragmatic questions, the Bush administration and its defensive defenders accused questioners of lacking patriotism or "forgetting" Sept. 11, or being, worst of all, "liberals" just for raising the question.
Now the bad news that many of us questioners wondered about is unfolding. Dozens of coalition forces, mostly American, have died since Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln near a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" on May 1 and said that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
Those who ask "Have you forgotten Sept. 11?" also should ask, "Have you forgotten May 1?"
Report Criticizes Federal Oversight of State Medicaid by Robert Pear
The Bush administration has allowed states to make vast changes in Medicaid but has not held them accountable for the quality of care they provide to poor elderly and disabled people, Congressional investigators said today.
The administration often boasts that it has approved record numbers of Medicaid waivers, which exempt states from some federal regulations and give them broad discretion to decide who gets what services.
But the investigators, from the General Accounting Office, said the secretary of health and human services, Tommy G. Thompson, had "not fully complied with the statutory and regulatory requirements" to monitor the quality of care under such waivers.
Troop morale in Iraq hits 'rock bottom' by Ann Scott Tyson
"Faced with continued resistance, Department of Defense now plans to keep a larger force in Iraq than anticipated for a period of time," Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, explained in a statement to families a month ago. "I appreciate the turmoil and stress that a continued deployment has caused," he added. The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress.
Security threats, heat, harsh living conditions, and, for some soldiers, waiting and boredom have gradually eroded spirits. An estimated 9,000 troops from the 3rd Infantry Division - most deployed for at least six months and some for more than a year - have been waiting for several weeks, without a mission, to return to the United States, officers say.
In one Army unit, an officer described the mentality of troops. "They vent to anyone who will listen. They write letters, they cry, they yell. Many of them walk around looking visibly tired and depressed.... We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."
Check out a similar article from the BBC here.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Quizzing Them on 9/11 by Timothy J. Burger and Matthew Cooper
Will President Bush be summoned before the independent commission investigating 9/11? It now appears very likely. John Lehman, Ronald Reagan's Navy Secretary and one of five Republicans on the 10-member panel, told TIME that he wants both President Bush and former President Clinton to meet with the commission and discuss matters that could include what their Administrations knew about the al-Qaeda terrorist plots—and what was done to combat them—before the 9/11 attacks.
With the commission evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, Lehman's position makes it all but certain that a majority will support a request to interview Bush and Clinton. "I don't think any commission should ever formally call a President to testify," Lehman said, "but I think it is very much in the country's interest—and in both President Clinton's and President Bush's interest—to meet directly with the commissioners." Responded White House press secretary Ari Fleischer: "The White House has been and will continue to cooperate with the commission."
No better protest than the vote by Joan Ryan
The art of government consists largely of taking as much power from its constituents as possible and making them feel relieved to be rid of it.
The men and women in the Bush administration are particularly adept.
They swiped our civil liberties and people felt grateful for the "protection." They waged an pre-emptive war on creaky evidence and Americans were misty with pride. They cut taxes to the rich and social services to the poor, and still people tell pollsters that President Bush is terrific.
Those who are dismayed and disillusioned by this administration staged massive protests in the winter and spring, which served mostly to confirm that this president is unmoved by public demonstrations. And why should he be moved? The folks carrying signs have no effect on his political life. They don't donate to his election campaign. And, more important, many of them don't vote.
Beyond Bush - Part 1 by Michael C. Ruppert
There is only one difference between the evidence showing the Bush administration's criminal culpability in and foreknowledge of the attacks of 9/11, and the evidence showing that the administration deceived the American public about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Both sets of evidence are thoroughly documented. They are irrefutable and based upon government records and official statements and actions shown to be false, misleading or dishonest. And both sets of evidence are unimpeachable. The difference is that the evidence showing the Iraqi deception is being seriously and widely investigated by the mainstream press, and actively by an ever-increasing number of elected representatives. That's it.
It is the hard record of official statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell on Iraq that will sink the administration, either before or after the election. These guys are horrible managers and they have really botched things up, big time - exactly as I said they would. There is no amount of spin anywhere that can neutralize this record. As FTW predicted back in March, the biggest and most obvious criminal action of the administration, a knowing lie (one of many) used to deceive a nation into war, was the administration's assertion that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and had recently attempted to purchase uranium from the African country of Niger.
Part 2 of this important series is promised for mid-July.
Mad As Hell by Cheri Delbrocco
I am happy to announce the WMD’s have been located. For months, we have been told WMD’s are out there. Because of WMD’s, our troops are still suffering casualties daily in Iraq. According to George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Condeleeza Rice, WMD’s pose a great threat to the world. Imagine how surprising it is to learn the WMD’s have been prolifterating right here in the good old U.S. of A.
Such weapons include psychological, political, and propagandizing devices. Those who launch the attacks know thousands could become more hopeless and apathetic, but their fundamental motive is to strike constant and continued fear and panic in millions of Americans.
The American public should enact an Emergency Alert System that will be activated by all voters at the direction of the White House and Congress. It should be sent out to a national network of grassroots efforts coast to coast. Action should be taken immediately so that the Weapons of Mass Deception are detonated immediately.
Standards for Detainees
Fighting the war on terrorism has forced the government to confront profoundly vexing questions concerning the people it captures. Are al Qaeda members criminals who should be prosecuted, members of a strange species of foreign army, or somehow both? And if, as U.S. authorities quickly concluded, they are both, when should they be treated as criminals in civilian courts, when should they go before military tribunals and when should they be held with no trial at all and under what circumstances? We would have hoped that nearly two years after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration would have made a stab at addressing these questions. And in a sense, it has: It is claiming the authority to unilaterally decide how any captive is legally designated and held -- and to unilaterally change that designation at any time. This system is convenient for the government, offering all of the legitimacy the criminal justice system can confer without any of its discipline. As a legal regime, however, it is unacceptable.
[Washington Post, 7/6/03]
What I Didn't Find in Africa by Joseph C. Wilson IV
Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?
Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
The question now is how that answer was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses. (It's worth remembering that in his March "Meet the Press" appearance, Mr. Cheney said that Saddam Hussein was "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.") At a minimum, Congress, which authorized the use of military force at the president's behest, should want to know if the assertions about Iraq were warranted.
The author is the diplomat who disproved the uranium-from-Niger story, long before the president used it in his State of the Union address.
Ritalin for America by Maureen Dowd
Reading over the questions, I realized America has AADD [Adult Attention Deficit Disorder]. The country has always had a pinball attention span, even before the Internet and cable TV accelerated it.
The New Republic recently dubbed this "historical attention deficit disorder," when a country gets distracted from focusing on any one place for very long. Our scattered consciousness is the reason we're so bad at empire, too impatient to hang around hot climes trying to force cold natives to like us.
Let's apply the AADD quiz to our fidgety president and his foreign policy team:
"I find my mind wandering from tasks that are uninteresting or difficult." (Like nation building, which we said we'd never do but are muddling through now, with no coherent strategy, in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, and soon in Liberia.)
"I say things without thinking and later regret having said them." (Such as declaring we have "prevailed" in Iraq two months before the commander there admits, "We're still at war." Or bubbling about the statue of Saddam falling and then months later posting a $25 million bounty on the real Saddam's head. Or saying Saddam had W.M.D.'s that posed an imminent threat to us and then failing to find a single warhead. Or saying we'd already found the weapons when all we'd found was some trashed trailer. Or saying we'd get Osama "dead or alive" and Al Qaeda was "on the run.")
This is the latest attempt at answering the perennial question, "What is wrong with this president, anyway?"
Bush's unfulfilled promises to AmericCorps by Thomas Oliphant
Only in America could an explosion of patriotic interest in national service be met by a national administration whose indifference has been exceeded only by its incompetence.
What began this year as a laudable willingness by President Bush to support a major increase in support for the volunteers of AmeriCorps is for the moment barely treading water and may still face deep cutbacks.
The problem was caused by epic bungling on the part of Bush's National Service Corp. appointees, and it has been exacerbated all year by the president's failure to put an ounce or two of his clout on the line to fix it.
As a result, a Bush pledge - made in prime time during his State of the Union Address in the context of an expansive notion of homeland security - to boost AmeriCorps' enrollment from 50,000 to at least 75,000 young people next year remains unmet. Worse, people of good will in Congress from both parties have had to scramble to keep the popular and successful program from actually being cut by nearly half.