Poll: Fewer Americans Think Bush Is Honest
By WILL LESTER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Less than half of Americans now say they think President Bush is honest, according to an AP-Ipsos poll taken at a time of increasing concerns about Iraq, a potential problem for a president who won re-election declaring that "people know where I stand."
The percentage of people who say they consider Bush honest has dropped slightly from the start of the year. In January, 53 percent described him that way in the AP-Ipsos poll, while 45 percent said they did not believe he was honest. Now, people are just about evenly split - 48 percent saying he's honest and 50 percent saying he's not.
"Whether you agree or disagree with him, the president has taken a pounding on perceptions of his honesty," said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. She cited as one example the administration's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but none have been found.
A solid majority still see Bush as likable and a strong leader, but a growing number view the president's confidence as arrogance, up from 49 percent in January to 56 percent now.
"He pushes and pushes and pushes until he gets his own way," said Diane Maley, a politically independent registered nurse from East Greenbush, N.Y. "I don't think he has the best interest of the country in mind."
For some people, especially Republicans, Bush is personally appealing.
"He's a man of character," said Cheryl Cheyney, a school bus driver from Cumming, Ga., and a Republican. "He's very honest in the things he says. I agree with his belief system, the way he believes in God and is not afraid to show it. That's very important to me."
Bush's overall job approval was at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. That's about where his approval rating has been all summer but slightly lower than it was when the year began. His approval on handling Iraq was at 38 percent.
Some who don't approve of Bush's job performance admire him personally.
"I think he tries to be likable and I think he's somewhat honest," said Cindy Bashura, a Democratic-leaning resident of Seymour, Conn. "He tries to do what he thinks is right, but sometimes I think he takes the wrong advice from people in his circle."
Continuing worries about Iraq may do more than drag down Bush's standing with the public. They could become a major issue in the 2006 midterm congressional races, and if the war is still going in 2008, they could be a factor in the presidential race.
The war in Iraq also could have an impact on more than elections.
"Bush's standing with the public is a factor in his ongoing effort to influence legislation and to sustain support for his Iraq policy," said Bruce Buchanan, a professor of political science at the University of Texas. "The honesty dip is partly caused by a loss of faith in his credibility on Iraq."
The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Aug. 1-3 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
On the Net:
White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Poll: Fewer Americans Think Bush Is Honest
Roberts Questioned Lifetime Appointments
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD
Associated Press Writer
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, holding one lifetime appointment and seeking another, argued against them as a young lawyer in Ronald Reagan's White House.
At age 50, Roberts could influence federal law for many years to come. Two decades ago, however, he reasoned that long-entrenched judges could fall out of step with the society they serve. Limiting terms of federal judges would ensure a fresh supply of talent while guarding against "ivory tower" elitism, he wrote.
The Constitution "adopted life tenure at a time when people simply did not live as long as they do now," Roberts wrote in an Oct. 3, 1983, memo to White House Counsel Fred Fielding that is now on file at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
"A judge insulated from the normal currents of life for 25 or 30 years was a rarity then but is becoming commonplace today," Roberts wrote. "Setting a term of, say, 15 years would ensure that federal judges would not lose all touch with reality through decades of ivory tower existence."
Roberts, then 28, offered his views while analyzing a Senate resolution that called for limiting members of the federal bench to 10-year terms, after which they could be reappointed.
The Reagan administration opposed the proposal, arguing in part that lifetime tenure protected judicial independence. Though Roberts did not formally object to that position, he saw merit in set terms. He accepted an open-ended federal appeals court seat in 2003.
Ending lifetime tenure would "provide a more regular and greater degree of turnover among the judges," Roberts wrote 20 years earlier. "There is much to be said for changing life tenure to a term of years, without the possibility of reappointment."
In the same memo, Roberts railed against what he described as an overreaching federal judiciary. He suggested that lifetime tenure was defensible only if judges stuck to interpreting - rather than making - law. It was a frequent complaint through his writings of the time.
"It is certainly appropriate to protect judges from popular pressure if their task is limited to discerning and applying the intent of the framers or legislators," he wrote. "The federal judiciary today benefits from an insulation from political pressure even as it usurps the roles of the political branches."
His criticisms weren't limited to lifetime tenure. Writing to Fielding earlier that year, Roberts scoffed at a proposal by then-Chief Justice Warren Burger to lighten the Supreme Court's caseload.
Burger suggested creating a "special temporary panel" of federal appeals court judges to hear cases referred by the Supreme Court.
In a Feb. 10, 1983, memo, Roberts wrote that "a new tier of judicial review is a terrible idea." The justices were to blame for taking too many cases and issuing "opinions so confusing that they often do not even resolve the questions presented," Roberts wrote.
To cut its caseload, he suggested that the high court consider "abdicating the role of fourth or fifth guesser in death penalty cases."
"So long as the court views itself as ultimately responsible for governing all aspects of our society, it will, understandably, be overworked," Roberts wrote. "A new court will not solve this problem."
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:50 AM
Justice Dept denies request for Roberts documents
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush Administration refused on Friday to release some documents sought by Democratic lawmakers from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' work as deputy solicitor general, opening the door for conflict as the Senate votes later this year on his confirmation.
"It is simply contrary to the public interest for these documents to be released," the Justice Department wrote in a letter to Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the committee that will first consider Roberts' nomination.
Roberts, who worked on the government's cases in the solicitor general's office during former President Bush's administration, was nominated by President Bush to fill the vacant seat on the high court as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retires.
His nomination has drawn huge interest in Congress, particularly among Democrats concerned about his views on abortion and other controversial issues.
"The administration's decision to shield these documents is an unfortunate turn as the Senate prepares for these confirmation hearings," Leahy said.
In its letter, the department said it will release documents reflecting the Solicitor General's office's final decisions in any case, but internal deliberations among attorneys in the office could not be made public.
"These internal discussions among lawyers have always been considered privileged, covered by both the deliberative process privilege and the attorney-client privilege," the Justice Department wrote.
The Department further stated that it would be difficult to provide those documents without disclosing the confidential communications of many other lawyers who worked with Roberts.
"It would be unfair to all lawyers who serve in the office, and particularly so with respect to those who served with Mr. Roberts," the Department wrote.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:47 AM
US scientists find flexible stem cells in placenta
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists looking for easier and less-controversial alternatives to stem cells from human embryos said on Friday they found a potential source in placentas saved during childbirth.
They described primitive cells found in a part of the placenta called the amnion, which they coaxed into forming a variety of cell types and which look very similar to sought-after embryonic stem cells.
With 4 million children born in the United States each year, placentas could provide a ready source of the cells, the team at the University of Pittsburgh said.
It is not yet certain that the cells they found are true stem cells, said Stephen Strom, who worked on the study. But they carry two important genes, called Oct 4 and nanog, which so far have only been seen on embryonic stem cells.
"We were just blown away when we found those two genes expressed in those cells," Strom said in a telephone interview.
"The presence of these two genes suggests these cells are pluripotent, which means they should be able to form any cell type in the body."
Stem cells are the body's master cells. So-called adult stem cells are found in the tissue and blood are a source for renewing cells.
Embryonic stem cells are found in days-old embryos. While powerful, their use is controversial because some people, President Bush among them, believe destroying an embryo is immoral and unethical.
Supporters of embryonic stem-cell research say it may provide an important path to a new field called regenerative medicine, in which diseases ranging from juvenile diabetes to paralysis could be cured using transplants of carefully cultivated stem cells.
There are moves in Congress to expand funding of embryonic stem cell research, in case it proves to be the best way forward, but also counter-measures to further restrict it.
GETTING AROUND POLITICS
Mindful of the controversy, Strom's team looked for other sources of stem cells.
"We looked and we found them. The politics is important," Strom said.
Writing in the journal Stem Cells, Strom and colleagues said they looked in a part of the placenta called the amnion -- the outer membrane of the amniotic sac.
The placenta is the interface between mother and fetus during gestation, and is produced by the embryo. The embryo and later fetus floats inside the sac of amniotic fluid.
Other teams of researchers, notably Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University in North Carolina, have found stem cells resembling embryonic cells in amniotic fluid, but research is still early and it is not known how useful those would be.
Strom says his cells are different are different from the ones the Wake Forest team found, and they may not be true stem cells because they did not form tumors in his experiments, as a true stem cell would.
Strom said the cells he worked with also do not appear to be immortal, meaning they die out after a while in the lab, unlike true stem cells.
Strom's team tested the cells in lab dishes, incubating them in various compounds, and got them to form into what looked like heart cells, nerve cells, liver cells and pancreatic cells.
Strom's lab works specifically on liver transplants and he hopes to develop the cells to use them instead of donated liver. Pancreatic cells would be important because they could be used to treat diabetes.
The university has licensed the technology to a company called Stemnion, LLC, and the researchers are shareholders and will receive license fees as part of the agreement.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:46 AM
Leading Republican differs with Bush on evolution
By Jon Hurdle
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A leading Republican senator allied with the religious right differed on Thursday with President Bush's support for teaching an alternative to the theory of evolution known as "intelligent design."
Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a possible 2008 presidential contender who faces a tough re-election fight next year in Pennsylvania, said intelligent design, which is backed by many religious conservatives, lacked scientific credibility and should not be taught in science classes.
Bush told reporters from Texas on Monday that "both sides" in the debate over intelligent design and evolution should be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about."
"I think I would probably tailor that a little more than what the president has suggested," Santorum, the third-ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate, told National Public Radio. "I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom."
Evangelical Christians have launched campaigns in at least 18 states to make public schools teach intelligent design alongside Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Proponents of intelligent design argue that nature is so complex that it could not have occurred by random natural selection, as held by Darwin's 1859 theory of evolution, and so must be the work of an unnamed "intelligent cause."
Santorum is the third-ranking member of the U.S. Senate and has championed causes of the religious right including opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
He is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Bob Casey in his quest for re-election next year in Pennsylvania, a major battleground state in recent presidential elections.
The controversy over intelligent design is a hot topic in Pennsylvania, where the Dover Area School District in south central Pennsylvania has included the theory in its biology curriculum.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to block the policy, calling it a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.
Most Americans believe that God created human beings or guided the process of evolution, according to a CBS poll last November. Two-thirds said they wanted creationism taught alongside evolution in schools.
Critics, including many science teachers, say intelligent design cannot be scientifically tested and has no place in a science curriculum.
Santorum sided in part with intelligent-design proponents in saying that there were gaps in the theory of evolution.
"What we should be teaching are the problems and holes -- and I think there are legitimate problems and holes -- in the theory of evolution. What we need to do is to present those fairly, from a scientific point of view," he said in the interview.
"As far as intelligent design is concerned, I really don't believe it has risen to the level of a scientific theory at this point that we would want to teach it alongside of evolution."
Santorum had proposed an unsuccessful measure in 2001 that would have required discussing the "controversy" of evolution when the theory is taught in classes.
Bush's science adviser, John Marburger, was quoted in The New York Times this week as saying intelligent design was not a scientific concept, and that Bush's remarks should be interpreted to mean he thinks the concept should be taught as part of the "social context" in science classes.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:44 AM
Friday, August 05, 2005
Sticking Up for Evolution
Posted by David Appell
In the wake of President Bush's outrageous remarks
on the teaching of intelligent design the other day (remarks which seem to contradict his own science advisor), it's good to see science organizations publically speaking out on the issue.
"President Bush, in advocating that the concept of 'intelligent design' be taught alongside the theory of evolution, puts America's schoolchildren at risk," says Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director of the American Geophysical Union, which represents 43,000 Earth and space scientists. "Americans will need basic understanding of science in order to participate effectively in the 21st century world. It is essential that students on every level learn what science is and how scientific knowledge progresses.... The President has unfortunately confused the difference between science and belief."
And the American Physical Society, which also represents several tens of thousands of physicists, made their point via a sly backhanded comment: "We are happy that the President's recent comments on the theory of intelligent design have been clarified," says Marvin Cohen, president of the American Physical Society. "As Presidential Science Advisor John Marburger has explained, President Bush does not regard intelligent design as science. If such things are to be taught in the public schools, they belong in a course on comparative religion, which is a particularly appropriate subject for our children given the present state of the world."
Unfortunately, I doubt Bush had Marburger's naunce in mind when he made his comments.
Posted by politicalstuff at 11:16 AM
The New York Times
Pentagon Agrees to Issue Photos of Coffins of Iraq War Dead
By JOHN FILES
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 - Under the terms of a legal settlement announced on Thursday, the Pentagon will make available "as expeditiously as possible" some photographs of the coffins of service members killed in Iraq. The agreement runs counter to a longstanding Pentagon policy that bars the public release of such photographs. But in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the Pentagon has already released hundreds of such photographs this year, and it agreed under the settlement to continue to do so.
The agreement responded to a Freedom of Information Act suit filed in October in Federal District Court here that sought all photographs and video images that showed coffins or similar items that held the remains of American military personnel at Dover Air Force Base, Del., beginning in February 2003.
The Pentagon has strictly enforced a policy barring news photographs showing the coffins. That policy has been in place since the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and President Bush has said it protects the privacy of the families of the dead.
Ralph Begleiter, a journalism professor at the University of Delaware who was a lead plaintiff in the current suit, said the Pentagon's agreement to release the photographs represented a "significant victory for the honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in war for their country, as well as for their families, for all service personnel and for the American people."
The settlement was announced by Mr. Begleiter, along with the National Security Archive, a research institute on foreign affairs that is affiliated with George Washington University, which provided counsel for the case. The archive has used the Freedom of Information Act in other cases to obtain information about government operations.
The Pentagon issued a statement, saying, "As with all information, including images, the Department of Defense has an obligation and a responsibility to strike a balance between our strong desire to be as transparent as possible and the legitimate concerns to protect the privacy of military families and as necessary, operational security."
But there was no indication that the government would permit news organizations to begin taking such photographs.
Under President Bill Clinton, the policy against taking such photographs was not rigorously enforced, and Mr. Clinton took part in numerous ceremonies that honored dead service members. Under Mr. Bush, the Pentagon issued a directive in March 2003 stating that there would be no news coverage of "deceased military personnel returning to or departing from" air bases.
In June 2004, that policy won the backing of the Senate, when lawmakers defeated a Democratic measure to instruct the Pentagon to allow such pictures.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:26 AM
The New York Times
Novak Walks Off Live CNN Program
By JACQUES STEINBERG
Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist whose unmasking of a C.I.A. operative touched off an investigation about a possible leak, stalked off a live appearance on CNN yesterday afternoon after James Carville, the Democratic strategist, accused him of trying to make a particular point "to show these right wingers" that he had "backbone" and was "tough."
The moderator of the program, Ed Henry, later said on the air that he had warned Mr. Novak that he planned to ask him "about the C.I.A. leak case."
"Hopefully, we'll be able to ask him about that in the future," Mr. Henry said.
That opportunity may not arrive soon. About two hours later, a spokeswoman for CNN, Laurie Goldberg, released a statement saying that the network had "asked Mr. Novak to take some time off." Asked later in a telephone interview whether Mr. Novak was being suspended from his work at the Cable News Network, Ms. Goldberg said, "We're characterizing it as a mutual decision."
In her earlier statement, Ms. Goldberg said: "Mr. Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and actions." Just before walking off the program, "Inside Politics," Mr. Novak uttered a profanity.
The heated exchange occurred in a minidebate between Mr. Carville and Mr. Novak over the possibility that Representative Katherine Harris of Florida, that state's former secretary of state, could win the Republican nomination for a Senate seat.
"She might get elected," Mr. Novak said.
After Mr. Carville tried to interrupt Mr. Novak twice, Mr. Novak said: "I know you hate to hear me. But you have to."
Mr. Carville interrupted again, saying of Mr. Novak, "He's got to show these right-wingers that he's got backbone."
A moment later, Mr. Carville said directly to Mr. Novak: "The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show them you're tough."
Mr. Novak responded with a profanity, before telling Mr. Carville: "I hate that. Just let it go."
He stood up, removed his microphone and walked off.
Asked last night in a telephone interview why he thought Mr. Novak had acted as he did, Mr. Carville said, "Bob's probably got a lot going on in his life."
Mr. Novak did not respond to messages left last evening at his office and on his cellphone.
Though Mr. Novak's walk-off was extreme, the sparring between him and Mr. Carville was hardly unusual. For years, their disagreements had been a staple of "Crossfire," a program on which they were part of a rotating panel of debaters.
In January, the president of CNN's domestic networks, Jonathan Klein, announced his intention to cancel "Crossfire" because it and other such programs relied on "head butting debate."
Mr. Carville and Mr. Novak are, however, among the commentators scheduled to make periodic appearances on a new program, "The Situation Room," which begins Monday on CNN.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:24 AM
The New York Times
Lawyers to Discuss Shield Law
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (AP) - The American Bar Association has resurrected a plan to endorse federal protection for journalists who refuse to reveal their sources to prosecutors, after the jailing of one reporter and threats against others.
The association, the nation's largest lawyers' group, declined 30 years ago to support a shield law for reporters. It was debating that issue and others at its annual meeting, which runs through Tuesday in Chicago.
The group's policy-making board will begin taking policy votes on Monday. Endorsement of the shield law would allow the organization to lobby Congress, where bills are pending to protect reporters.
"This is a ripe topic," said Landis Best, a media lawyer in New York who worked on the proposal. "Not just lawyers and not just journalists are talking about it."
A New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, has been in jail for a month in Virginia for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of Valerie Wilson, a Central Intelligence Agency officer.
In June, a federal appeals court upheld civil contempt findings against four journalists, including an Associated Press reporter, whose confidential sources pointed to the scientist Wen Ho Lee as an espionage suspect.
Mr. Best says that many states have laws that prevent punishments of reporters who keep sources private, but that a national law is needed to encourage federal government whistle-blowers and others to provide information to the news media.
Not all lawyers support the proposal.
"The national government has certain kinds of compelling interests that conflict with the right of the press to keep their sources confidential, like national defense and security," said John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who worked in the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003.
"It's hard to see the A.B.A. getting people in Congress to place the right to protect anonymous sources above national security," Professor Yoo said.
The subject had come before the group previously, after the Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that reporters had no constitutional right to withhold information from grand juries.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:22 AM
GOP Leaders Have Misgivings About Harris
Republican Leaders Have Misgivings About Rep. Katherine Harris' Run for Senate
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
The Associated Press
Aug. 5, 2005 - Republican leaders have been looking around for someone other than Rep. Katherine Harris to run for the Senate, fearing too many Democrats and moderates still despise her over her role in the 2000 presidential recount. But the GOP may be stuck with her.
The White House, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and Gov. Jeb Bush tried to talk Florida House Speaker Allan Bense into joining the race for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's seat in 2006. But Bense decided this week not to run.
Rep. Mark Foley has expressed mild interest in running but has not made any firm commitments.
With Bense out, the GOP committee said that it is still talking to candidates who have expressed interest in the race, but that it isn't trying to recruit anyone to oppose Harris.
Similarly, the governor said he is not going to get involved in any more recruiting.
"I wish her well," he said of Harris, who announced in June that she planned to run. "I think she'll be a formidable candidate."
With her name recognition, ability to raise money and hero status among Republicans who believe she helped preserve President Bush's 2000 victory when she was Florida's secretary of state, Harris is considered the odds-on favorite to beat just about anyone in a Republican primary.
But Democrats still accuse her of helping to steal the election for Bush, who beat Al Gore by 537 votes after the U.S. Supreme Court stopped five weeks of recounts. And Republicans have privately said her negatives among independent and Democratic voters are so high that she will not be able to defeat Nelson.
In fact, it is widely believed that the White House and others asked her not to run.
"Clearly she was talked out of the race the last time around (in 2004) and clearly she had conversations with Karl Rove and others in D.C. who didn't want her to run this time," said Darryl Paulson, a University of South Florida political science professor and a registered Republican. "I don't think she's the right person at the right time, and I don't think there is a right time for Katherine Harris."
Harris campaign manager Jim Dornan said Harris was never told by the White House or the NRSC not to run, and he disputed the notion that she cannot win against Nelson.
"That is a completely false premise, for as `polarizing' as Katherine may be with Democrats, she is equally energizing with Republicans around Florida," Dornan said. "Moderates at the end of the day will see that what Katherine Harris did in 2000 is exactly what the law called for."
The Harris campaign's pollsters have said they believe the voters can be swayed when told about her accomplishments.
Geoffrey Becker, a political strategist and former state Republican party executive director, also rejected the notion that she cannot win.
"Her negatives aren't driven by votes or specific issues; they're driven by media coverage and partisan attacks," he said. "You cut through all that with a real campaign i.e. issues and votes and I think you come through with a more competitive race than people think it."
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:21 AM
The New York Times
Design for Confusion
By PAUL KRUGMAN
I'd like to nominate Irving Kristol, the neoconservative former editor of The Public Interest, as the father of "intelligent design." No, he didn't play any role in developing the doctrine. But he is the father of the political strategy that lies behind the intelligent design movement - a strategy that has been used with great success by the economic right and has now been adopted by the religious right.
Back in 1978 Mr. Kristol urged corporations to make "philanthropic contributions to scholars and institutions who are likely to advocate preservation of a strong private sector." That was delicately worded, but the clear implication was that corporations that didn't like the results of academic research, however valid, should support people willing to say something more to their liking.
Mr. Kristol led by example, using The Public Interest to promote supply-side economics, a doctrine whose central claim - that tax cuts have such miraculous positive effects on the economy that they pay for themselves - has never been backed by evidence. He would later concede, or perhaps boast, that he had a "cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit."
"Political effectiveness was the priority," he wrote in 1995, "not the accounting deficiencies of government."
Corporations followed his lead, pouring a steady stream of money into think tanks that created a sort of parallel intellectual universe, a world of "scholars" whose careers are based on toeing an ideological line, rather than on doing research that stands up to scrutiny by their peers.
You might have thought that a strategy of creating doubt about inconvenient research results could work only in soft fields like economics. But it turns out that the strategy works equally well when deployed against the hard sciences.
The most spectacular example is the campaign to discredit research on global warming. Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, many people have the impression that the issue is still unresolved. This impression reflects the assiduous work of conservative think tanks, which produce and promote skeptical reports that look like peer-reviewed research, but aren't. And behind it all lies lavish financing from the energy industry, especially ExxonMobil.
There are several reasons why fake research is so effective. One is that nonscientists sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between research and advocacy - if it's got numbers and charts in it, doesn't that make it science?
Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth." The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close.
Finally, the self-policing nature of science - scientific truth is determined by peer review, not public opinion - can be exploited by skilled purveyors of cultural resentment. Do virtually all biologists agree that Darwin was right? Well, that just shows that they're elitists who think they're smarter than the rest of us.
Which brings us, finally, to intelligent design. Some of America's most powerful politicians have a deep hatred for Darwinism. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, blamed the theory of evolution for the Columbine school shootings. But sheer political power hasn't been enough to get creationism into the school curriculum. The theory of evolution has overwhelming scientific support, and the country isn't ready - yet - to teach religious doctrine in public schools.
But what if creationists do to evolutionary theory what corporate interests did to global warming: create a widespread impression that the scientific consensus has shaky foundations?
Creationists failed when they pretended to be engaged in science, not religious indoctrination: "creation science" was too crude to fool anyone. But intelligent design, which spreads doubt about evolution without being too overtly religious, may succeed where creation science failed.
The important thing to remember is that like supply-side economics or global-warming skepticism, intelligent design doesn't have to attract significant support from actual researchers to be effective. All it has to do is create confusion, to make it seem as if there really is a controversy about the validity of evolutionary theory. That, together with the political muscle of the religious right, may be enough to start a process that ends with banishing Darwin from the classroom.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:19 AM
New York Police Sued Over Subway Searches
By Michelle Garcia
Washington Post Staff Writer
NEW YORK, Aug 4 -- The New York Civil Liberties Union sued the city's police department Thursday, calling the random search of subway riders' bags unconstitutional and ineffective.
The lawsuit -- filed in a federal court on behalf of five subway passengers, including the son of a retired police captain and a naturalized citizen -- alleges that the program violates constitutional rights that protect against illegal searches and guarantee due process.
New York City's transit system is the first in the nation to institute regular, random checks of passenger bags. The searches began July 21, after terrorist suicide bombings two weeks earlier in London's transit system killed 52 bystanders. Critics not aligned with civil liberties activists also say the searches are ineffective but say they want police to begin racial profiling of passengers to emphasize searches of young men of Middle Eastern or Asian descent.
Civil liberties advocates said searches that are not based on suspicion do little to protect the public, particularly when mass-transit riders who refuse to submit to the searches are allowed to enter the subway system at another station.
"People are allowed to walk away, ensuring that only innocent people are searched," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU, who called the searches a "civil liberties surcharge on a Metrocard."
The searches are performed on a rough mathematical formula of one out of five to 10 people depending on foot traffic, according to police officials.
New York subways move 4.7 million passengers, nearly half of the nation's mass-transit riders. New Jersey riders boarding trains to New York recently became subjected to similar searches.
Gail Donoghue, special counsel in the city's legal department, called the NYCLU "shortsighted" and said in a written statement that the program "preserves the important balance between protecting our City and preserving individual rights."
City police officials said they have received no complaints about the policy.
The Supreme Court has approved the use of checkpoints in special circumstances, but in 2000 the court ruled that random searches could not be employed for the "ordinary enterprise of investigating crimes."
A plaintiff in the NYCLU lawsuit, Joseph Gehring Jr., the son of a retired police captain and a "lifelong Republican," said he began avoiding police checkpoints after his bags were searched. "I've been forced to act like a criminal in my own city when I have done nothing wrong," said Gehring, who lamented a lack of opposition by New Yorkers to the program. "We are becoming accustomed to having our liberties taken away."
New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) plans to introduce legislation in the state legislature within two months that will empower police officers to single out people based on national origin and ethnicity.
"Police officers need to keep specific attention to young people -- Middle Eastern, South Asian -- based on a profile that is so obvious," Hikind said.
New York City Council member James S. Oddo (R) said he will introduce a nonbinding resolution in support of the legislation.
On a Manhattan-bound subway, Princess Alexander, 38, offered her conditional support for the police searches, saying, "This is what we have to live with right now." But Alexander, an office manager, said she is opposed to racial profiling. "We have been singled out," said Alexander, who is black.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:17 AM
In Private Practice, Roberts's Record Is Mixed
Some Cases Run Counter to Conservative Image, but Activists on the Right Say His Past Is Irrelevant
By Jo Becker and Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writers
As a private lawyer, John G. Roberts Jr. represented homeless Washingtonians who had lost their government benefits because of city budget cuts. He advocated environmental protections for Lake Tahoe, Glacier Bay and the Grand Canyon. He spent 25 hours assisting a convicted murderer with a death penalty appeal. He even helped gay rights activists win a landmark Supreme Court anti-discrimination case.
At first blush, these cases would seem to complicate any image of the Supreme Court nominee as a down-the-line conservative. But as details have emerged in recent days, conservative groups have been busy spreading the word to their members and the broader public about what they should think of Roberts's work in private practice: Pay it no mind.
At second blush, Roberts's role is hardly surprising, say people who have worked with him or studied his career. For more than a decade, he practiced appellate law at the Washington firm Hogan & Hartson in a distinctly non-ideological fashion. Now, as liberal and conservative activists pick over his career for evidence of his political and legal philosophy, neither side seems to attach much importance to his diverse practice. And some activists on both sides remain secure in their conviction that he is an emphatic conservative who will move the high court to the right -- never mind his client list.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that in 1996, as part of his firm's pro bono program, Roberts offered limited aid to opponents of a Colorado referendum that allowed discrimination against gays. The case led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.
But Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice said that Roberts's involvement "doesn't say anything about his judicial philosophy." And Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice called the Colorado case "a red herring meant to divide the right."
"I don't think this is serious," said Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. "Most conservatives are very pleased. . . . He has a long record, and has been very consistent."
The prevailing view of Roberts as a reliable conservative initially emerged from his résumé as a clerk to then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist, aide to President Ronald Reagan, deputy to then-Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr and nominee of President Bush. That view was solidified by the release of forceful memos he wrote while serving in the Reagan administration, during which he helped shape policies opposing affirmative-action quotas and busing of schoolchildren to achieve desegregation. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, he signed a brief that called Roe v. Wade "wrongly decided."
In recent days, the White House and its allies have grown concerned that the documents released so far have painted Roberts as a rigid ideologue, and they have sought to provide a more complete portrait. Yesterday, the Bush administration released two Reagan-era documents sought by The Washington Post and others under the Freedom of Information Act. The Post request included thousands of other documents, which were not released.
In one memo, Roberts argued that Reagan should not interfere in a Kentucky case involving the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. In the other, he wrote that the bomber of an abortion clinic should not receive any special consideration for a pardon. "No matter how lofty or sincerely held the goal, those who resort to violence to achieve it are criminals," Roberts wrote.
Advisers to the White House have been urging the Bush team to be more aggressive about providing its own narrative of Roberts.
"There needs to be a good branding effort," said one Republican strategist involved in pro-Roberts strategy. "We do need to get out and start defining who this guy is."
Neither side has focused much attention yet on his work from 1986 to 1989 and from 1993 to 2003 at Hogan & Hartson, where he sometimes took on cases that clashed with conservative orthodoxy. For example, he once defended racial preferences for Native Hawaiians -- a case he lost to Theodore B. Olson, a prominent Republican in the appellate bar. On the other hand, Roberts assisted Republican Gov. Jeb Bush at no charge during the Florida presidential election recount in 2000.
"It's good for lawyers to represent clients on all sides of the political spectrum," Olson said. "You can't read anything into his personal feelings about the case."
The Supreme Court hears only about 80 cases a year, so even elite appellate lawyers such as Roberts have to compete for cases, and they rarely turn them down. Olson said that Supreme Court specialists also regularly help less-experienced lawyers prepare as a professional courtesy. And Hogan & Hartson lawyers said the firm has a culture in which every partner and associate is expected to help out on pro bono cases when asked.
That is what happened in the Colorado gay rights case, Romer v. Evans , in which lawyers seeking to strike down the referendum sought the help of Hogan & Hartson. Walter Smith, then head of the firm's pro bono department, turned to Roberts for assistance. Smith said Roberts readily accepted, helping to grill the lawyers handling the case during a mock trial, in which he played the role of Justice Antonin Scalia. Roberts also helped devise a strategy for the case.
"He only put in a few hours, but a few hours with John Roberts is probably worth a few weeks with someone else," Smith said. "John was always willing to help on pro bono cases, regardless of the politics. Not all his conservative brethren felt that way."
On conservative Web sites yesterday, there was scattered negative reaction to the news that Bush's nominee had helped to advance the cause of gay rights. "Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a 'conservative' Roman Catholic would not have declined to participate on moral grounds," one person wrote at http://www.confirmthem.com/ .
John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush administration, said the pro bono case was unusual for a conservative Republican lawyer. "Usually, conservative lawyers take on the more conservative causes," Yoo said.
On balance, the conservative establishment remained firmly supportive of Roberts. "While this is certainly not welcome news to those of us who advocate for traditional values, it is by no means a given that John Roberts' personal views are reflected in his involvement in the case," the group Focus on the Family said in a statement.
David Leitch, a former Hogan & Hartson partner, said Roberts never brought politics into his practice.
"We were Republicans, no question about that," said Leitch, who is now the general counsel of the Ford Motor Co. "But I never knew John to turn down a case for ideological reasons. He was there to represent clients. And he did it very well."
Staff writer Peter Baker contributed to this report.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:16 AM
Congress' spending draws fire
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A series of actions by the Republican-controlled Congress threatens to send the federal deficit soaring, reversing a downward trend caused by new tax revenues from a rebounding economy.
Legislation passed by Congress this year will add $35 billion to next year's budget deficit and $115 billion through 2010, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan watchdog group.
Fueling the spending is the war in Iraq and emergency aid for victims of last December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Last week, lawmakers added billions more in energy, highway and veterans health care funding.
The threats to the deficit will escalate in the fall, when Congress traditionally faces political pressure to cut taxes more and federal benefits less than promised. Congress approved a budget earlier this year with about $106 billion in tax cuts and $35 billion in benefit reductions, but the actual cuts must be made this fall.
*Bill too new for precise estimate.
Source: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
As difficult as the situation is now, it's forecast to get worse. Federal health care and retirement benefits are projected to skyrocket as the baby boom generation retires. The Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday that Medicare costs are growing faster than they have in a decade. That's before a new prescription-drug benefit takes effect in January.
"We have a very short window of opportunity to make real changes in advance of when the real fiscal storm hits, and we're continuing to make things worse instead of better," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
A coalition of fiscal watchdog groups wrote President Bush on Thursday urging him to veto the highway bill, which will cost $286.4 billion over the next four years. They cited nearly 6,500 "pork-barrel" projects worth a record $24 billion. They also criticized a provision that subtracts $8.6 billion on the last day the bill is in effect, Sept. 30, 2009 — a "rescission" they doubt will occur.
"Republicans are spending at a rate not seen since Lyndon Johnson's presidency," said Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union. Added Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense: "They're legislating as if deficits don't matter."
The White House said legislation passed by Congress last week was slimmer than earlier versions. Lawmakers reduced the highway bill by $88.5 billion and the energy bill by $18.5 billion. The White House also noted that the House has voted to eliminate 101 programs.
"The federal government's near-term fiscal improvements give us the chance and the responsibility to deal with the long-term budget challenges posed by demographic changes and ever-rising health care costs," said Scott Milburn, spokesman for the White House budget office.
Find this article at:
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:12 AM
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Smoking Gun on Roberts
Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has been presented as a solid, non-fringe conservative. In answer to a Senate questionnaire,
Roberts used one question on "judicial activism" to echo a theme voiced by President Bush. "It is not part of the judicial function to make the law" from the bench, Roberts said. A judge's job is "simply to decide cases before them according to the rule of law," he said.
"High Court Nominee Sides With Restraint", Los Angeles Times, August 3.
Roberts, like everyone in Bush's coterie, is lying. Findlaw columnist Julie Hilden has identified the smoking gun. She shows that Roberts' dissent in a case involving toads and the Endangered Species Act "reveals him as an extreme proponent of 'states' rights' Federalism" (1).
The Washington Post has touched lightly on this topic, reporting that
A toad may offer insight into John Roberts' legal philosophy.
The Supreme Court nominee voted against the amphibian in a 2003 case testing the powers of the federal government, a decision that suggests he may be inclined to support state or local interests on issues from civil rights to pollution control if confirmed to the high court.
("Roberts' Vote in Toad Case Is Dissected", August 1.) The Post is grossly understating the problem, and even Ms. Hilden did not explore all the implications of Roberts' dissent, as she acknowledged in an email.
In Rancho Viejo v. Norton, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. Fish and Wildlife restrictions on a California developer's construction methods, designed to protect the endangered arroyo desert toad. The power to protect the toad (via the Endangered Species Act) derives from the Federal constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. Under long-standing court precedent, it is assumed that the developer is using materials or labor brought in from another state, will not restrict its marketing to California, and will not turn away out-of-state purchasers. Thus the construction of the homes is, for purposes of the Constitution, interstate commerce.(2)
Judge Roberts, in his dissent, argued that the immediate activity which threatened the toads, digging dirt out of their habitat, should be considered in isolation. The act of digging occurred strictly within California, was therefore was not an interstate activity, and the toads were therefore not protected by the Endangered Species Act. He could cite no precedent for this extreme position.
Those of you who wouldn't give a rat's ass for a toad had better be concerned about Roberts' position anyway. Its implications of are breathtaking. If followed consistently, it would eviscerate virtually all Federal regulatory laws.
Under Roberts' logic, any highway, railroad, or airport construction activities that aren't literally on a state line are local affairs, exempt from the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Or take consumer product safety. The actual act of assembling a toy no more occurs across state lines than the actual act of building a house. Most toys come from China nowadays and are shipped across state lines, but the actual act of selling a toy no more occurs across state lines than does putting up a building. So, out with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Or take lending. The actual legal act of lending, signing the papers, occurs in one state. (How many lending organizations provide desks that straddle state lines?) So, out with Federal truth-in-lending laws.
Roberts' answer might be that the taking of a toad is entirely different than ensuring safety. But such an answer would merely prove that his position is politically motivated. Constitutionally, there's no difference between toads and toy safety. The Constitution doesn't give Congress the right to regulate safety (or lending practices); it gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce. If Roberts wants to pick and choose which activities are part of interstate commerce, based on what he thinks ought to be regulated, then he's making his own law. Or, if he applies his principle consistently, then he's consistently departing from settled law. In either case, he's lied to us, and does not deserve to sit on any court, let alone the Supreme Court.
(2) The alternative of allowing builders to agree not to use out-of-state materials and labor, and only sell to California residents, would be expensive and impractical to enforce.
Posted by politicalstuff at 5:20 PM
Roberts Failed to Disclose Lobbyist Work
Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts Acknowledges Failure to Disclose Lobbyist Work to Senate Committee
The Associated Press
Aug. 4, 2005 - Supreme Court nominee John Roberts has acknowledged he should have disclosed to a Senate committee that he worked as lobbyist for the cosmetics industry in 2001.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee late Wednesday, Roberts wrote that he neglected to reveal that work in response to the panel's questionnaire asking about his lobbying activities. Confirmation hearings begin Sept. 6.
The work, which was on behalf of the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances Association, involved an effort to stave off a regulatory change involving sunscreen.
Roberts, a lawyer in private practice at the time, suggested that he did not think of disclosing the information because the nature of the work in which he met with lawyers at the federal Office of Management and Budget and the Food and Drug Administration did not seem political.
"My conversations with the government attorneys were focused on the prospect of litigation," Roberts said in a four-paragraph letter addressed to Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the panel's ranking Democrat. "Consequently, the question about lobbying on the questionnaire did not trigger a memory of these meetings."
Newsday first reported Wednesday that Roberts had done the lobbyist work, resulting in the suspension of stricter labeling rules for sunscreen.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:53 PM
NYPD Reveals Details of London Attack
By TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writer
The London suicide bombers cooked up their explosives using mundane items like hydrogen peroxide, suggesting that "these terrorists went to a hardware store or some beauty supply store" for ingredients, according to New York City police.
Details from the July 7 London bombings emerged Wednesday at an unusually wide-ranging briefing given by the New York Police Department to city business leaders. A department spokesman later acknowledged that London officials had not authorized the briefing.
The briefing — based partly on information obtained by NYPD detectives who were dispatched to London to monitor the investigation — was part of a program designed to encourage more vigilance by private security at large hotels, Wall Street firms, storage facilities and other companies.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly warned the materials and methods used in the London attack were easily adaptable to New York.
"Initially it was thought that perhaps the materials were high-end military explosives that were smuggled, but it turns out not to be the case," Kelly said. "It's more like these terrorists went to a hardware store or some beauty supply store."
The NYPD officials said investigators believe the bombers used a peroxide-based explosive called HMDT, or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine. HMDT can be made using ordinary ingredients like hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach), citric acid (a common food preservative) and heat tablets (sometimes used by the military for cooking).
HMDT degrades at room temperature, so the bombers preserved it in way that offered an early warning sign, said Michael Sheehan, deputy commissioner of counterterrorism at the nation's largest police department.
"In the flophouse where this was built in Leeds, they had commercial grade refrigerators to keep the materials cool," Sheehan said, describing the setup as "an indicator of a problem."
Among the other details cited by NYPD officials:
• The bombers transported the explosives in beverage coolers tucked in the back of two cars to the outskirts of London.
• Investigators believe the three bombs that exploded in the subway were detonated by cell phones that had alarms set to 8:50 a.m.
• Similar "explosive compounds" were used in the attempted attack in London on July 21. However, the detonators were hand-activated, not timed.
Sheehan said the NYPD was troubled by information it had received about the bombers' links to "organizations," but he did not name any groups.
"We know those same types of organizations that they're affiliated with are very much present in New York City," he said. "That's something we're studying very, very carefully. ... This could happen here."
After the briefing, police spokesman Paul Browne claimed NYPD had clearance from British authorities to present the information about the July 7 attack, which killed 52 people. On Thursday, he said had been mistaken.
However, Browne insisted "all the information in the briefing was from open and unclassified sources."
The session at police headquarters in lower Manhattan was attended by officials from police departments and law enforcement agencies in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other jurisdictions. The officials were in the city discussing plans to beef up security along Amtrak's New York-Washington route.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:50 PM
Bush unswayed by Sen. Frist on stem cell research
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush in remarks published on Wednesday reiterated his threat to veto any legislation that would use federal funds to destroy human embryos for stem cell research after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist broke with Bush on the subject.
"I'm confident that I have achieved the right balance between science and ethics," he told eight newspapers in a roundtable interview on Tuesday.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican and surgeon, last Friday endorsed legislation that would expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research, seen as possible cures to diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and others.
Bush allowed federal funding for stem cell research in 2001 but imposed limits on it. He has vowed to veto the pending legislation because embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted.
The bill, approved in the House and likely to come up in the Senate after the August recess, would allow federally funded research on stem cells derived from leftover embryos in fertility clinics. There are currently about 400,000 such frozen embryos, many of which will otherwise be destroyed.
"They have the prerogative to pass laws. I have the prerogative to set limits on what I think is right," Bush said of congressional efforts to lift the restrictions he imposed.
The White House would not provide a transcript of Bush's remarks, in keeping with its policy that interviews are exclusive to the news organization.
But White House spokesman Trent Duffy said that in the interview "reiterated that he would veto any legislation that would use taxpayer dollars to destroy human embryos. That is the line he has drawn."
In the interview, Bush also said he was "troubled" by a recent ruling by the Supreme Court on eminent domain that curbed property rights.
By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that a city can take a person's home or business with just compensation for a development project designed to revitalize a depressed local economy.
Bush said he would give serious review to congressional efforts to ease its impact through legislation.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:46 PM
Democrats celebrate narrow U.S. House loss in Ohio
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats on Wednesday celebrated a closer-than-expected loss in a special House of Representatives race in Ohio and called it a warning sign for Republicans entering the 2006 congressional elections.
But Republicans cautioned against reading too much into Jean Schmidt's narrow win over Democrat and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, saying low turnout and local issues made the race unique and kept it from being a bellwether on Republican leadership or President Bush.
Schmidt, a former state representative, beat Hackett by 3,500 votes out of more than 112,000 cast in the conservative and heavily Republican district, where no Democrat in decades had won or even managed 40 percent of the vote.
Hackett's criticism of the Iraq war and tough attacks on Bush energized the contest to replace Rob Portman, who resigned to become U.S. trade representative after regularly rolling up 70 percent of the vote in the district.
"Every Republican in Congress should consider himself put on notice," Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said of Tuesday's results.
Hackett tried to tie Schmidt to ethics allegations against unpopular Ohio Republican Gov. Bob Taft, and Democrats hope to make ethics scandals surrounding Texas Rep. Tom DeLay and other Republicans a centerpiece of their 2006 campaign.
Democrats said the close race was a sign that scandals and dissatisfaction with the country's direction were taking a toll on Republicans.
"Americans will no longer tolerate the Republicans' continued abuses of power and catering to corporate special interests," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said.
But Republicans said the low turnout, well below the nearly 300,000 votes cast in 2004, and the races run by the two candidates skewed the results.
"Special elections are unique, they don't always reflect the district's usual results," said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the House Republican campaign committee. He said Hackett's two television advertisements featured Bush and made no mention of the fact Hackett was a Democrat.
"Hackett ran as a Republican, he never called himself a Democrat," Forti said, adding Democrats had "a long way to go" to make ethics a national issue for 2006.
Amy Walter, a House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Report, said Hackett ran a much better campaign than Schmidt and was a stronger candidate. The result, however, should give Democrats hope and make some Republicans nervous, she said.
"Republicans in Ohio should definitely be very concerned about this," Walter said, noting several incumbent Ohio Republicans, most notably Rep. Bob Ney, face potentially tough re-election races next year.
Hackett said the result should encourage Democrats nationwide.
"We have the power to win back Congress. Yesterday proved it," he said in an e-mail fund-raising pitch for Democracy for America, the group started by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
"Yesterday, one of the reddest regions in America turned a whole lot bluer," Hackett said.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:44 PM
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
None dare call it stolen - Ohio, the election, and America's servile press
by Mark Crispin Miller, summarized by Mary Anne Saucier, Columbus, Ohio
While commentators, prompted by Republicans, claimed Bush won the 2004 election through the votes of a silent majority concerned with “family values,” Mark Crispin Miller writes that when voters were asked to state, “in their own words the most important factor in their vote,”only 14 percent named “moral values.” He details how the press (except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC) ignored “the strange details of the election—except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss them…It was as if they were reporting from inside a forest fire without acknowledging the fire, except to keep insisting that there was no fire.”
Then he lists the copious evidence pointing to a stolen election, easily available on the web or in paperback, from Michigan Representative John Conyers’ report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio. More than dirty tricks, it covers “the run-up to the election, the election itself, and the post-election cover-up,” listing “specific violations of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act.”
The Conyers report details the disenfranchisement of Democrats through “intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.”
# There was unequal placement of voting machines.
# County boards of elections were ordered to reject all Ohio voter-registration forms not printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight.
# Access was limited to provisional ballots.
# “Caging”was used to challenge 35,000 individuals who did not sign for registered letters sent to new voters.
# There was restriction of media from covering the election and conducting exit polls.
# There was a prearranged FBI terrorist attack warning in Warren County which kept reporters from observing a post-election ballot-counting.
# There was restriction of foreign monitors from “watching the opening of the polling places, the counting of the ballots, and, in some cases, the election itself.
# Numerous statistical anomalies all deducted votes from Kerry.
# In Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties, “the arrows on the absentee ballots were not properly aligned with their respective punch holes, so that countless votes were miscast.”
# In Mercer County, 4000 votes were mysteriously not in the final count.
# In Lucas County a polling place never opened because no one had the key.
# In Hamilton County, many absentee voters could not vote for Kerry because his name was not on the ballot.
# In Mahoning County 25 electronic machines changed Kerry votes to Bush.
# Dirty tricks told voters to go to false polling places; that Democrats were to vote on November 3; volunteers offered to take absentee ballots to the election office; voters were challenged to prove eligibility to vote. The “Texas Strike Force” (25 people registered at a Franklin County Holiday Inn, paid by the Republican Party) threatened targeted people from a pay phone, if they voted.
# Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell created rules for the Ohio recount (requested by the Green and Libertarian Parties) which would prevent “countywide hand recounts by any means necessary.” The end result was “the Ohio vote was never properly recounted, as required by Ohio law.”
# On December 13, 2004, it was reported by Deputy Director of Hocking County Elections Sherole Eaton, that a Triad GSI employee had changed the computer that operated the tabulating machine, and had “advised election officials how to manipulate voting machinery to ensure that [the] preliminary hand recount matched the machine count.” This same Triad employee said he worked on machines in Lorain, Muskingum, Clark, Harrison, and Guernsey counties.
“Based on the above, including actual admissions and statements by Triad employees, it strongly appears that Triad and its employees engaged in a course of behavior to provide “cheat sheets” to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets told them how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand recount mandated by state law. If true, this would frustrate the entire purpose of the recount law—to randomly ascertain if the vote counting apparatus is operating fairly and effectively, and if not to conduct a full hand recount.”
# In Union County, Triad replaced the hard drive on one tabulator.
# In Monroe County, “after the 3 percent hand count had twice failed to match the machine count, a Triad employee brought in a new machine and took away the old one. (That machine’s count matched the hand count.)”
# Green and Libertarian volunteers reported that in Allen, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Morrow, Hocking, Vinton, Summit, and Medina counties, “the precincts for the 3 percent hand recount were preselected, not picked at random, as the law requires.”
# Even though the 3 percent hand recount in Fairfield County was different than the machine count, there was no hand count as required.
# “In Washington and Lucas counties, ballots were marked or altered, apparently to ensure that the hand recount would equal the machine count.”
# “In Ashland, Portage, and Coshocton counties, ballots were improperly unsealed or stored.”
# At great cost, Belmont County had an independent programmer change the counting machines so they would only count votes for President.
# “..Democratic and/or Green observers were denied access to absentee, and /or provisional ballots, or were not allowed to monitor the recount process, in Summit, Huron, Putnam, Allen, Holmes, Mahoning, Licking, Stark, Medina, Warren, and Morgan counties.
Miller writes about the January 6, 2005 Electoral challenge from Ohio Representative Stephonie Tubbs-Jones and California Senator Barbara Boxer. He decries its rejection by the Congress and the press, with the Republicans calling the Democrats “troublemakers and cynical manipulators”, etc., etc.
According to Miller, “all this commentary was simply wrong” and “went unnoticed and/or unreported;” and with Bush’s re-inauguration “all inquiries were apparently concluded, and the story was officially kaput.” Miller emphasizes that, even after the National Election Data Archive Project, on March 31, 2005, “released its study demonstrating that the exit polls had probably been right, it made news only in the Akron Beacon-Journal,” while “the thesis that the exit polls were flawed had been reported by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Columbus Dispatch, CNN.com, MSNBC, and ABC..”
In conclusion, Mark Crispin Miller does not expect to reverse the 2004 election, but to make it possible for us to move on, and achieve real electoral reform.
…The point of our revisiting the last election.. is to see exactly what the damage was so that the people can demand appropriate reforms… for there has never been a great reform that was not driven by some major scandal.
...In this nation’s epic struggle on behalf of freedom, reason, and democracy, the press has unilaterally disarmed—and therefore many good Americans, both liberal and conservative, have lost faith in the promise of self-government. That vast surrender is demoralizing, certainly, but if we face it, and endeavor to reverse it, it will not prove fatal. This democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded.
The piece on which this summary is based was originally published in Harper's (http://harpers.org). Mark Crispin Miller is a professor at New York University, a political/media commentator, and author of his latest book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the Election of 2004, and Why They Will Keep Doing It Unless We StopThem, which will be published by Basic Books this October.
Posted by politicalstuff at 2:00 AM
When They Knew
By MASSIMO CALABRESI
As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.
The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June. Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too.
When Pincus' article ran on June 12, the circle of senior officials who knew about the identity of Wilson's wife expanded. "After Pincus," a former intelligence officer says, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" about Wilson's trip and its origins. A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can't remember exactly when. One thing he's sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that "we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on."
--By Massimo Calabresi. With reporting by Timothy J. Burger, Michael Duffy and Viveca Novak
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:30 AM
U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Surpasses 1,800
By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer
Seven U.S. Marines were killed in two separate attacks west of Baghdad, where American forces are trying to seal a major border infiltration route for foreign fighters, the military said Tuesday. The deaths pushed the U.S. military death toll in Iraq past 1,800.
One of the Marines died Monday in a suicide car bombing in Hit, 85 miles northwest of Baghdad. The other six were killed Monday in Haditha, 50 miles from Hit — all of them attached to the same suburban Cleveland unit.
"Every single one of them is a hero," said Lt. Col. Kevin Rush of the Headquarters and Service Co. 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines based in Brook Park, Ohio.
At least 25 American service members have been killed in Iraq in the past 10 days — all but two in combat. The Iraqi Defense Ministry said that since the beginning of April, more than 2,700 Iraqis — about half of them civilians — had been killed in insurgency-related incidents.
Fighting has intensified in recent weeks in Haditha, Hit and other dusty towns along the Euphrates River northwest of Baghdad as American forces step up efforts to seal off the approaches to the Syrian border and prevent foreign fighters from entering the country.
The Marines launched a series of operations in the region in May and June in hopes of pacifying the area so that Iraqi military and civilian forces could assume effective control. But the insurgents have proven resilient.
The U.S. command said the six Marines were "engaged by terrorists and killed by small-arms fire" in Haditha, which U.S. and Iraqi officials have identified as a major route for insurgents entering Iraq.
After the attack, residents of Haditha said several masked gunmen identifying themselves as members of the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group, appeared in the market carrying helmets, flak jackets and automatic rifles they said belonged to U.S. troops.
They distributed fliers claiming they had killed 10 American service members.
"They were on a mountain near the town so we went up, surrounded them and asked them to surrender," the statement said. "They did not surrender so we killed them."
A similar claim in the name of Ansar al-Sunnah was posted on an Islamic Web site.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded at the entrance to a highway tunnel in central Baghdad as a U.S. military convoy was passing, damaging two Humvees. At least 29 Iraqis were wounded, officials said. But there was no report of any American casualties.
At least 1,801 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,382 died as a result of hostile action. The figures include five military civilians.
The toll among Iraqis, however, has been much higher.
On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said that since April 1, a total of 2,709 Iraqis have died in violent attacks, including 1,413 civilians. The rest were soldiers, police and insurgents.
The death toll for July was 656, the ministry said. That was the second deadliest month since the Shiite-dominated government was installed — surpassed only by May's figure of 967 deaths.
However, records-keeping in Iraq is irregular, especially in areas where the insurgents are strong, and the real figure is probably higher.
Violence has accelerated as the Iraqis struggle to finish a new constitution — which the United States sees as crucial toward maintaining political momentum and undermining the insurgency.
An Iraqi committee is racing to finish the charter in time for an Aug. 15 deadline for parliamentary approval. After that, voters will decide whether to ratify the document in a referendum in mid-October, followed by a new election in December.
If all goes well, the United States and its partners hope to start bringing their troops home next year. On Tuesday, a joint commission formed to coordinate the handover of cities to Iraqi security forces held its first meeting.
Progress on the constitution has been slowed, however, due to broad differences on the role of Islam, federalism and the distribution of national wealth. Iraqi women activists fear designating Islam as the main source of legislation will curb their rights.
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad urged the framers to protect women's rights as a "fundamental requirement for Iraq's progress."
"My focus is to help get a constitution that does this," Khalilzad told reporters. "Of course, the Iraqis will decide but we will help in any way that we can."
Khalilzad said his government would encourage Iraqi politicians to exclude any constitutional articles that discriminate or limit opportunities for any Iraqi citizens.
In other developments Tuesday:
_A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint in Mosul, killing four people, three of them police, Brig. Gen. Wathiq Mohammed said.
_An explosion damaged a pipeline used for shipping fuel to a Baghdad power station, raising fears of further power cutbacks in the capital.
• U.S. troops clashed with insurgents in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. There were no reports of U.S. casualties.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:59 AM
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Fired CIA agent seeks FBI probe of WMD intelligence
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fired CIA agent, who a newspaper says told superiors in 2001 that Iraq had abandoned part of its nuclear program, is asking the FBI to investigate allegations that the spy agency dismissed him for refusing to falsify intelligence.
A July 11 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller from the former agent's attorney suggests CIA officials may be guilty of criminal violations involving intelligence he produced on weapons of mass destruction in 2000 that contradicted an official agency position.
The former agent's attorney, Roy Krieger, said his client initially asked the CIA's inspector general to investigate charges that CIA officials had pressured him to alter the intelligence and retaliated when he refused. But the inspector general rebuffed his request.
"If the CIA is telling him to falsify information, that's potentially a crime. This merits an investigation, and if the CIA's not going to do it, the only other place is the FBI," Krieger said.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
The letter to Mueller, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Monday, reiterates charges in a lawsuit which the former agent filed last December in Washington federal court.
Identified only by the alias "Doe," the former agent who worked as a Near Eastern specialist on counter-proliferation issues accuses the CIA of improper action on two separate pieces of intelligence.
One was the WMD intelligence the former agent says he was asked to change in 2000. The other was intelligence uncovered in 2001 that the New York Times described on Monday as dealing with Iraq's nuclear program.
The newspaper, citing people it said had knowledge of the case, said the second piece of intelligence came from a credible source and said that Baghdad had dropped a major segment of its nuclear program years before 2001.
But CIA officials refused to distribute the finding to other intelligence agencies, the Times said.
The case could shed new light on Bush administration thinking ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which the White House largely justified by charging that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was actively pursuing nuclear arms.
No such weapons have been found in Iraq, and U.S. arms investigators have concluded that Baghdad abandoned its nuclear-development program soon after the 1991 Gulf War.
The former CIA agent was not available for comment. Krieger declined to discuss details of the case.
A CIA spokeswoman also declined to comment.
Krieger's letter to the FBI states that CIA officials accused the former agent of sexual and financial misconduct in an attempt to discredit him and retaliate for his refusal to falsify intelligence.
The former agent was fired for unspecified reasons in September 2004, the letter says.
The former CIA agent learned in 2001 that Iraq's uranium-enrichment program had ended years before and that centrifuge components were available for examination and even purchase, the New York Times reported.
The intelligence surfaced around the time when a presidential commission on WMD intelligence says the CIA came to believe Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program because Baghdad had sought high-strength aluminum tubes that the agency believed could be used to enrich uranium.
The Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency later concluded that the tubes were suited not for nuclear applications but for conventional rocketry.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:00 AM
Stem cell sponsor sees veto-proof Senate backing
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An expansion of federally funded embryonic stem cell research could pass the U.S. Senate with a veto-proof margin now that the chamber's leader backs the idea, a leading sponsor of the effort said on Sunday.
But it may be harder getting the super-majority needed to override a possible presidential veto in the House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter said.
Specter said the decision last week by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to defy President Bush and support legislation liberalizing the administration's policy on stem cell research had given the effort a "big boost" in Congress.
"I think we're on our way," Specter, co-sponsor of a bill to expand the research, told CBS's "Face the Nation."
Bush, a Republican, has said he will veto any bill that extends embryonic stem cell research beyond the limits he imposed in 2001. The president is opposed because embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican and heart surgeon who may seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, broke with Bush on Friday by endorsing a bill already passed by the House -- though not with a veto-proof margin -- that would overturn the limits Bush imposed four years ago.
Specter said the change of heart on stem cells by the anti-abortion Frist gave political cover to lawmakers in both houses of Congress who were considering the issue.
"My analysis is that we have 62 votes at the present time, and we've got about 15 more people who are thinking it over. I believe that by the time the vote comes up we'll have 67," Specter said, referring to the two-thirds Senate majority needed to override a presidential veto.
"I think our problem ... is going to be to get it in the House," Specter added.
Separately, conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum said he was convinced Bush would still veto the legislation, despite the shifting politics on Capitol Hill.
"Without question the president will veto this," Santorum, the Senate's third-ranking Republican, told ABC's "This Week."
"Obviously the majority of the House and majority of the Senate disagree with him, but I'm hopeful the House will continue to have the votes necessary to sustain this veto," said Santorum, who like Specter is from Pennsylvania.
The stem cell bill, likely to be brought up in the Senate after the August recess, would allow federally funded research on cells derived from leftover embryos in fertility clinics. There are about 400,000 such frozen embryos, many of which will otherwise be destroyed.
Patients suffering from diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other life-threatening disorders have been clamoring for more federal dollars for cell research.
Santorum warned that Frist's decision could create problems for him with the Republicans' conservative base.
But Specter, a moderate Republican and cancer patient, disagreed, adding that he didn't think a presidential candidate opposed to expanding stem cell research could be elected.
"I believe it will be helpful to him (Frist). You have an enormous constituency out there -- 110 million Americans, directly or indirectly, are affected by Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, etc," Specter said.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:58 AM
Gonzales balks at release of Roberts documents
By Deborah Charles
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Monday he would have "very serious concerns" about sharing internal documents requested by Senate Democrats in the debate over John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court.
In an interview with Reuters, Gonzales also said the Justice Department does not routinely respond to such requests unless they come from the full Senate Judiciary Committee, which will begin confirmation hearings on Roberts on Sept. 6.
"There's been no formal request by the committee. We normally respond to a formal request by the committee and not by one senator or a group of senators," Gonzales said in the interview as he headed to New Orleans to give a speech.
The documents in question, requested Friday by eight Democrats on the panel in a letter to Gonzales, related to 16 cases Roberts was involved in while deputy solicitor general in the early 1990s in the first Bush administration.
They touch on a host of divisive issues including school desegregation, the death penalty, civil rights and a case in which Roberts echoed the administration position that the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.
"The eight Democratic senators view it as an official request," a spokeswoman for Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the panel's top Democrat, said in response to Gonzales' comments.
The spokeswoman said committee Democrats had invited Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, to sign on to the letter, but he declined.
President Bush nominated Roberts, a 50-year-old conservative, to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
In an interview with Texas newspapers, Bush said he did not ask Roberts about Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Bush said he did not want to put Roberts in the position of predetermining a potential case or having to one day recuse himself, The Dallas Morning News reported.
"I said there's no litmus test, and I meant it," Bush said.
The White House has declared the documents the Democrats want off-limits, but Democratic lawmakers said the committee would need them to properly scrutinize Roberts, who has spent the past two years as a federal appeals court judge.
Gonzales also cited a 2002 letter signed by seven former solicitor generals who said "the sharing of this kind of information would be detrimental to the operation of the office of the solicitor general."
"I would have very serious concerns about the sharing of these kinds of documents because I do believe that they would hurt the operation of the solicitor general's office and would weaken the effectiveness of that office," Gonzales said.
Senate Democrats argue that there is plenty of precedent of sensitive materials from other Supreme Court nominees being turned over to the committee.
No Senate Democrat has announced plans to oppose Roberts, but virtually all say they will withhold final judgment until the confirmation hearings.
At the White House on Monday, spokesman Scott McClellan said Roberts would continue paying courtesy calls to senators and had already met with 43, including 23 Democrats and all 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
McClellan also said the White House was pleased with Friday's agreement with Democrats that set the start of the hearings and "will enable the committee and the Senate to move forward in a timely manner to have an up-or-down vote on Judge Roberts by the end of September." (Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Adam Entous)
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:57 AM
Controversy persists as Bolton heads for U.N.
By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Once dubbed the State Department's "most dangerous man," U.S. ambassador John Bolton will bring an aggressive, sometimes-abrasive style to the United Nations that appears at odds with President Bush's new focus on cooperation and diplomacy.
Bush bypassed the Senate and appointed Bolton to the U.N. post on Monday, after the nomination was stalled by Democratic opposition. Under the so-called "recess appointment," Bolton will be able to serve until January 2007.
Bolton has a long history of criticizing the United Nations, has sometimes doubted that European and Asian allies could be counted on to back U.S. positions and has often spoken out so bluntly he was considered political dynamite.
But he is a favorite of conservatives who value his committed hard-line ideology, incisive legal mind and the single-minded passion with which he seeks to turn those views into U.S. policy, often with great effect.
While he revels in a fight, Bolton's controversial demeanor and record deprived him of endorsement by the U.S. Senate. Unable to win Bolton's confirmation by the normal Senate process, Bush bypassed lawmakers and made a recess appointment that only lasts 17 months.
Bolton clearly has Bush's support and is expected to make his time in office count, especially in pursuing the key Republican goal of U.N. reform.
Since Bush's re-election last year, the president and his aides have emphasized a renewed focus on diplomacy and shoring up relations with allies after strains over the Iraq war.
Some officials say Bolton may be more closely scripted working for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice than when he was undersecretary for nonproliferation under her predecessor, Colin Powell.
Bolton, a 56-year-old lawyer, is an unapologetic advocate of assertive American global leadership. Some analysts said appointing him U.N. envoy may be the best way to ensure that U.N. reform takes place and is credible to U.S. conservatives.
Critics accuse him of provoking confrontations over Iran and North Korea. With Rice now heading State and Bolton replaced as nonproliferation adviser, the administration has shifted from some of his harder positions by endorsing European negotiations with Iran, showing flexibility in talks with Pyongyang and agreeing to broad nuclear cooperation with India.
But some experts credit Bolton with infusing new energy into efforts to curb nuclear-weapons proliferation, including rigorous use of sanctions to penalize Chinese and other entities doing nuclear and missile business with Iran.
He is also associated with a security initiative under which more than 60 countries agreed to interdict illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and their components.
Bolton, top nonproliferation official in 2001-2005, hoped for a promotion in Bush's second term and was disappointed when Rice chose Trade Representative Robert Zoellick as her deputy. For months, his political future seemed in limbo.
Apart from policy contributions, Bolton helped ensure Bush's first presidential victory. He was on the team former Secretary of State James Baker took to Florida in 2000 to represent the Bush campaign in a disputed vote count ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from North Carolina, once called Bolton "the man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon" and another admirer described him in the Wall Street Journal as "the most dangerous man at State."
During Bolton's unsuccessful Senate confirmation fight, one former U.S. official who had tangled with him described him as a "quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."
But Bolton himself enjoys throwing rhetorical hand grenades and keeps a defused real one in his office, along with a copy of the "most dangerous man at State" article.
A fierce infighter with an independent streak, he has insisted on holding Iran and North Korea to strict account for their nuclear activities and has voiced an interest in seeing both governments overturned.
He has fought repeated administration battles aimed at bringing both countries to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions and at countering other officials who wanted to pursue dialogue.
Bolton "has overseen this administration's flawed proliferation policy that has seen North Korea quadruple its nuclear arsenal and seen Iran take dangerous steps toward the development of nuclear weapons," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Attempting to defuse opposition, Rice has extolled Bolton's previous service as the assistant secretary of state who dealt with the United Nations and his successful 1991 campaign to persuade the international body to repeal a resolution that equated Zionism with racism.
But Bolton also led the U.S. withdrawal from International Criminal Court jurisdiction and encouraged U.S. opposition to Europe's decision to lift its arms embargo on China, two initiatives that fanned tensions with allies.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:54 AM
Bush: Rove has 'my compete confidence' despite leak
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Monday declared "complete confidence" in his top political adviser, Karl Rove, despite his alleged role in leaking a covert CIA operative's identity, according to an interview.
Federal investigators are trying to determine who outed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose name first appeared in a column by newspaper journalist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.
"Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team," Bush said in his strongest defense yet of Rove, the architect of his presidential campaigns.
Bush made his comments in a roundtable interview with several Texas newspapers, portions of which were posted online by Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Plame's husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, said the leak was meant to discredit him for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in 2003 after a CIA-funded trip to investigate whether Niger helped supply nuclear materials to Baghdad.
Rove was the first person to tell a Time magazine reporter that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, but did not disclose her name, according to the reporter.
NOVAK BREAKS SILENCE
Novak broke his silence on the case on Monday to challenge a former CIA spokesman who said that he had warned Novak not to publish the agent's name.
Bill Harlow, the former CIA spokesman cited by Novak, told the Washington Post last week that he had testified before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published.
Harlow said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the trip to Niger and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed, the Post reported.
Novak, in his column on Monday, brushed aside Harlow's comments about warning him.
"That is meaningless. Once it was determined that Wilson's wife suggested the mission, she could be identified as 'Valerie Plame' by reading her husband's entry in 'Who's Who in America,"' Novak wrote, referring to a publication that compiles information about prominent people.
Novak wrote that he "never would have written those sentences (in July 2003) if Bill Harlow, then-CIA Director George Tenet or anybody else from the agency had told me that Valerie Plame Wilson's disclosure would endanger her or anybody else."
The White House has refused in recent weeks to comment on the case after initially denying that Rove involved.
"Why don't you wait and see what the true facts are?" Bush said on Monday in the roundtable interview.
Democrats have urged Bush to fire Rove or revoke his access to classified information. It is against the law in some cases to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA officer.
The special prosecutor investigating the case could also be considering charges of obstruction of justice or perjury.
Bush said last month that he would fire anyone found to have acted illegally in the case, but critics accused him of lowering the "ethics bar." Bush and his aides have at times in the past been broader in saying that those involved in the leak would face consequences.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:52 AM