French solution: Paristinian state
OK, enough is enough.
It's clear France is no longer in control of its population.
It's clear millions within its borders are struggling for freedom and independence.
It's clear that these people are not rioting for the sake of rioting, they are responding to oppression from French authorities.
It's clear that their uprising cannot be met with state violence, because that would only lead to a cycle of violence.
It's clear that these freedom-fighters – whom I have dubbed "Paristinians" – want a state of their own.
It's clear that the international community must force France to the negotiating table with these freedom fighters to begin the peace process that will inevitably lead to the creation of an autonomous, independent state of "Paristine."
If it's good enough for Israel, it's good enough for the French surrender monkeys who have been leaders of the global movement to force the Jewish state into appeasement of terrorists.
We've got to stop referring to this "intifada" in France as "riots." This is a movement for self-determination. This is a movement for independence. This is a movement for freedom from imperialism.
The analogy is apt.
That's not "Frère Jacques" they're singing in France. It's "Fire Jacques."
The president of France can see the cinder in the eye of others, but is missing the beam in his own.
What's good for the goose liver is good for the gander liver.
The chicken cordon bleu has come home to roost.
It's time for France to stop the hypocrisy.
It's time for the French to take a dose of the medicine they have been handing out to the Jews of Israel.
It's time to end the apartheid within its population. It's time for France to stop treating those poor, Muslim immigrants as second-class citizens. It's time to accept the only permanent solution that can address the root problem in French society – the recognition of the Paristinians as a legitimate negotiating partner.
Enough rubber bullets!
Enough police repression!
Enough calls for restraint!
Enough with the threats!
Before this cycle of violence spreads throughout all of Europe, France needs to do the right thing.
The French have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths for too long. They've been speaking out of both of their nostrils for too long, too. If appeasement was the solution in Iraq, it's the solution for the "Paristinian" revolt. If appeasement was the solution for Hitler, it's the solution for the "Paristinian" revolt. If appeasement was the solution for Israel in dealing with its "Palestinian" problem, it's the solution for France's "Paristinian" uprising.
As I mentioned yesterday in my column, if France has these kinds of systemic problems with its Muslim population, then it is time to partition France. It's time for an independent Muslim state to be created. After all, isn't that what France and other European nations have determined is the proper solution for Israel?
These are not just riots. This is an intifada – just like the one begun in 2000 within and around Israel.
France and other countries, including the United States, have demanded that Israel meet those attacks with land concessions to the rioters and suicide bombers. That is the only viable, long-term solution, they say. They claim this violence will never cease until those oppressed by Israel are granted an independent, autonomous state of their own.
Why should the solution be any different in France?
Stop the violence! Now – not at a snail's pace. The time has come to begin talks with the "Paristinians" about their own future homeland of "Paristine."
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
Accord on anti-terror law faces opposition
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of six senators vowed on Thursday to oppose renewal of the anti-terror Patriot Act unless a tentative accord drafted by Republican-led negotiators was changed to provide greater protections of civil liberties.
It was unclear what, if any, changes would be made. Critics expressed hope they could obtain some revisions to ease concerns in the 100-member Senate.
But top Republican aides in the House of Representatives and the Senate said they expected to muster adequate support to proceed with perhaps relatively minor modifications.
The Patriot Act, a controversial centerpiece of President George W. Bush's war on terror, was enacted after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States to expand federal powers to track suspected terrorists.
Republican-led negotiators agreed on Wednesday to extend or make permanent key provisions set to expire next month, including ones covering wiretaps, Internet surveillance and access to personal records.
But six senators -- three Democrats and three Republicans -- on Thursday called the tentative accord "unacceptable."
Among the revisions they demanded were ones that would require the government to convince a judge that records sought have a connection to a suspected terrorist or spy. They also want people more quickly advised after they are subjected to "a sneak-and-peek search" of their home or place of business.
"If further changes are not made, we will work to stop this bill from becoming law," they wrote leaders of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
The six are assistant Senate minority leader Dick Durbin of Illinois, fellow Democrats Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Ken Salazar of Colorado, and Republicans Larry Craig of Idaho, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, declined comment, other than to tell reporters, "We're working on it."
Feingold said, "They (proponents) may be able to get it through ... but I am ready to resist."
Feingold and other critics have at least slowed down final congressional consideration. Proponents had initially hoped to bring the tentative accord up for a vote in the House on Thursday.
The House and Senate would both have to approve such legislation before it could be sent to Bush to sign into law.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:04 AM
Lawmakers reject emergency bird flu funds
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Emergency money that President George W. Bush requested to combat a looming influenza pandemic has been deleted from U.S. health-funding legislation after conservative Republicans insisted it would have to be paid for by cutting other government programs.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday unexpectedly defeated the fiscal 2006 health-care spending bill, even with the avian flu funds barred from the measure. The fate of the massive funding bill, as well as money to fight an avian flu outbreak, was now in doubt as Congress had little time left before adjourning for the year.
After days of intensive talks between the House and Senate, negotiators dropped a plan for $8 billion in funds that Democrats pushed through the Senate last month.
Following that Senate vote, Bush on November 1 asked Congress for $7.1 billion in emergency money.
The funding fight erupted after conservative Republicans in the House insisted that an emergency U.S. effort to stockpile vaccines and anti-viral drugs that could be effective against the deadly flu would have to be paid for by cutting other government programs.
Republican leaders in the House said that instead of attaching the bird flu money to a massive $602 billion health and labor spending bill that is rapidly moving through Congress, they would try separate legislation later this year or early next year.
Avian flu has been killing poultry flocks in Asia and the animal disease has spread globally. More than 100 people have been infected with avian flu and about half have died.
Scientists fear a pandemic-style human outbreak if the virus mutates in a way that people could easily pass the disease to each other.
POTENTIAL FOR PANDEMIC
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, a California Republican, helped block the emergency funds. But earlier this week he acknowledged, "The more I study it, the more I see the potential for a pandemic."
Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, one of several conservative Republicans pushing for less government spending, told Reuters he would try to kill any avian flu legislation that does not offset the spending with cuts to other programs.
But Rep. Ralph Regula, the Ohio Republican who oversees health-care funding in the House, said it's such a big-ticket item that "There's no way to offset $7 billion or $8 billion."
Democrats in Congress have been urging quick approval of the money, which also would be used to step up worldwide surveillance of the disease and help localities cope with an outbreak.
But with Congress already reeling over $62 billion in emergency spending for the fall's hurricane cleanup and with huge budget deficits becoming chronic, conservatives have warned their leaders that they will not tolerate an open checkbook.
As a result, the House on Thursday also was set to debate $50 billion in spending cuts that hit social programs for the poor and have generated a broad debate over government priorities. At the same time, House Republicans are advancing tax cuts that help the wealthy.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:00 AM
Broadcast ex-chief sent 'bragging' e-mail to Rove
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's former chief e-mailed White House strategist Karl Rove, "bragging" about a push for conservative programming on U.S. public television, the CPB's inspector general said on Thursday.
Kenneth Tomlinson, who resigned as CPB's chairman this month, told Rove of his work to balance the liberal PBS program "Now with Bill Moyers," with a conservative show, "The Journal Editorial Report," Inspector General Kenneth Konz said in a telephone interview.
"There's a few of them to and from Karl Rove," Konz said of the e-mail traffic. "They primarily relate to (ex-)Chairman Tomlinson advising Mr. Rove and his staff regarding his success in getting a program to be put on the air to balance the Bill Moyers program. ... He was bragging on how successful he was being.
"In addition, I saw some general comments relating to how (Tomlinson) was shaking things up here at CPB," Konz said, adding Rove responded with "sort of general congratulations ... very short, very cryptic."
The e-mails show no evidence Tomlinson acted with White House guidance to push for right-leaning programming, Konz said, but they do show Tomlinson failed to keep the CPB board and management informed about what he was doing.
"It went against what the law said he had the authority to do," Konz said.
The Bush administration came under fire earlier this year for trying to influence news coverage, including paying a conservative commentator to praise its new education law and the production by government agencies of video news releases that some television stations aired without identifying their origin.
Konz's office released a highly critical report on Tuesday that said Tomlinson violated CPB policy and federal law by involving himself in specific programming decisions, and by using "political tests" to choose a new CPB president.
The new president, Patricia Harrison, formerly co-chaired the Republican National Committee.
Also on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal released e-mail exchanges between Tomlinson and Paul Gigot, the newspaper's editorial page editor, regarding the PBS program "The Journal Editorial Report."
In one of the e-mails, Tomlinson told Gigot, "I'm trying to pressure Pat Mitchell (PBS president) to produce a real conservative counterpart to Moyers." In another, Tomlinson wrote, "I do not trust Pat Mitchell but I have a deal with others stipulating that you will have access to the same deal Moyers has."
Both Tomlinson and The Wall Street Journal's editorial page accused Konz of being motivated by politics, an accusation Konz denied.
CPB is a federally funded nonprofit corporation and the largest single source of money for U.S. public television and radio programming, including PBS and National Public Radio. It is governed by a presidentially appointed board.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:58 AM
Report: Most airline cargo isn't checked for explosives
By Thomas Frank, USA TODAY
Nearly all of the cargo in the nation's aviation system goes unchecked for explosives, and policies aimed at thwarting cargo bombs on passenger planes are flawed, according to a government report due out Wednesday.
Terrorists could foil the government's strategy for keeping bombs out of cargo holds by meeting a few basic requirements that would allow them to put an explosives-laden package on a jet, the Government Accountability Office said.
Passenger planes carried 6 billion pounds of cargo last year, and only "a very small percentage" is inspected, the report said. By contrast, all domestic luggage is scanned for bombs.
The GAO, a watchdog arm of Congress, urged the Transportation Security Administration to come up with ways to close cargo security loopholes. A study should be done to track the steps in which cargo goes from shippers to the belly of an airplane, the GAO said.
"TSA has not taken needed steps to identify shippers who may pose a security threat," the report said.
The TSA said in a statement Tuesday that it has improved cargo security but "recognizes the need to do more."
Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said air cargo "is an opening which al-Qaeda can exploit." He requested the GAO report last year with four House members from both parties. All cargo should be inspected before going on passenger planes, Markey said.
The TSA objects to the idea, saying it would cost the government $3.6 billion over 10 years and could delay cargo shipments.
The agency allows cargo on passenger planes only from shippers that meet certain security requirements. Air carriers must randomly inspect some cargo. But the GAO said the criteria "may not ... deter or prevent terrorists." The report said a significant portion of cargo is exempt from random inspection.
Posted by politicalstuff at 12:50 AM
Thursday, November 17, 2005
New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak
Bob Woodward has set off a frantic new round of guessing about who that source might be and a wave of public denials.
This article was reported by Todd S. Purdum, David Johnston and Douglas Jehl and written by Mr. Purdum.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - The disclosure that a current or former Bush administration official told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post more than two years ago that the wife of a prominent administration critic worked for the C.I.A. threatened Wednesday to prolong a politically damaging leak investigation that the White House had hoped would soon be contained.
The revelation left the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, grappling with an unexpected new twist - one that he had not uncovered in an exhaustive inquiry - and gave lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff and the only official charged with a crime, fresh evidence to support his defense.
Mr. Woodward's account of his surprise testimony to Mr. Fitzgerald - reported by The Post in Wednesday's issue and elaborated on in a first-person statement - now makes it apparent that he was the first journalist known to have learned the C.I.A. identity of Valerie Wilson, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, has sharply criticized the administration's rationale for war with Iraq. [Page A22.]
He says that he was told in mid-June 2003 that Ms. Wilson worked as a C.I.A. weapons analyst, by an official who made an offhand reference that did not appear to indicate her identity was classified or secret.
Mr. Woodward said he provided sworn testimony to Mr. Fitzgerald on Monday, only after his original source went to the prosecutor to disclose their two-year-old conversation. But because Mr. Woodward said that source had still not authorized him to disclose his or her name, he set off a frantic new round of guessing about who that source might be and a wave of public denials by spokesmen for possible suspects.
A senior administration official said that neither President Bush himself, nor his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., nor his counselor, Dan Bartlett, was Mr. Woodward's source. So did spokesmen for former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; the former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet; and his deputy, John E. McLaughlin.
A lawyer for Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff who has acknowledged conversations with reporters about the case and remains under investigation, said Mr. Rove was not Mr. Woodward's source.
Mr. Cheney did not join the parade of denials. A spokeswoman said he would have no comment on a continuing investigation. Several other officials could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Woodward, perhaps the nation's single most famous reporter, never wrote about the case, even after it became the most prominent story in Washington, although he made public statements dismissing its importance. He only informed The Post's executive editor, Leonard Downie Jr., of his knowledge last month, just before Mr. Fitzgerald indicted Mr. Libby on charges that he made false statements about his contacts with reporters and accused him of obstructing the investigation into whether the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity was a crime.
On Wednesday, Mr. Libby's lawyer, Theodore Wells, pronounced Mr. Woodward's revelation a "bombshell" that contradicted Mr. Fitzgerald's assertion that Mr. Libby was the first government official to discuss Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. connection with a journalist, Judith Miller, a former reporter for The New York Times, on June 23, 2003.
The latest revelation left Mr. Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Post who operates with extraordinary latitude to produce best-selling books detailing the inner workings of the highest levels of government, in an unusual - and unusually uncomfortable role.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Woodward said he had apologized to Mr. Downie for not disclosing his own part in such a long-running story long ago and said he had kept a deliberately low profile to protect his sources. "The terms of engagement change when a reporter and reporters are being subpoenaed, agreeing to testify, being forced to testify, being jailed," Mr. Woodward said. "That's the new element in this. And what it did, it caused me to become even more secretive about sources, and to protect them. I couldn't do my job if I couldn't protect them. And to really make sure that I don't become part of this process, but not to be less aggressive in reporting the news."
It was not clear just what had prompted Mr. Woodward's original source to go to Mr. Fitzgerald, or whether that source had previously testified in the case. But Mr. Woodward was said to have begun making inquiries about the case before Mr. Libby's indictment, which may have been the catalyst.
If there are inconsistencies between Mr. Woodward's account and any earlier account by his source, Mr. Fitzgerald could be obliged to explore new legal implications.
The existence of Mr. Woodward's mysterious source came as a surprise to lawyers in the case, because it hinted that Mr. Fitzgerald had failed to learn a significant fact after two years of investigation, despite his reputation as a ferocious investigator who spent weeks digging out the smallest details before seeking indictments.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, declined to comment on Mr. Woodward's statement. Mr. Libby was at the federal courthouse here on Wednesday, reviewing documents to aid in his defense. Lawyers involved in the case said that while the issues raised by Mr. Woodward's new account did not go to the heart of the perjury and obstruction charges against Mr. Libby, they could cast doubt on an underlying prosecution theme: that Mr. Libby was untruthful when he told the grand jury Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. identity was common knowledge among reporters.
In fact, only a small group of officials - at the White House, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency - are believed to have known by early June 2003 about Ms. Wilson's ties to the C.I.A. They included Secretary Powell, Mr. Tenet, Mr. McLaughlin, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Libby; Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs; Carl Ford, then the head of the State Department's intelligence bureau; and Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state.
Mr. Wilson did not publicly identify himself until July 6 as the former ambassador who had made a trip to Niger in 2002 on behalf of the C.I.A. to investigate a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium there. Both The New York Times, in a May 6 column by Nicholas D. Kristof, and The Washington Post, in a front-page article on June 12 by Walter Pincus, had reported about the trip, but had not identified Mr. Wilson by name.
But former government officials have said that Mr. Pincus's inquiries at the White House, the C.I.A. and other agencies about Mr. Wilson's trip prompted Mr. Libby and other officials within the administration to try to learn more about the origins of the trip.
In his formal statement in The Post, Mr. Woodward said he had mentioned to Mr. Pincus in June 2003 that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. But Mr. Pincus, who has written that he first heard about Ms. Wilson from a senior administration official in July, said he did not recall that.
"The way he describes it, which is he walked by and said something about Wilson's wife being at C.I.A., I have absolutely no memory of it at all," Mr. Pincus said in a telephone interview. "And I think he may say that my reaction was 'What!' " like I was surprised. He now thinks I may never have heard him, and said, 'What?' "
Mr. Pincus did recall a later conversation with Mr. Woodward, in October 2003, after Mr. Pincus wrote about administration officials' efforts to discredit Mr. Wilson. He said Mr. Woodward stopped by his desk to tell Mr. Pincus that he "wasn't the only one who had been told," about Ms. Wilson's identity before it was publicly revealed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003. Mr. Pincus said Mr. Woodward "asked me to keep him out of my reporting, and I agreed to do it."
Mr. Pincus said he agreed not to pursue the question of whether anyone in the administration might have contacted Mr. Woodward because "he hadn't written a story."
He continued, "I was writing that they had talked to a group of people. I don't think I named everybody."
Mr. Fitzgerald's indictment of Mr. Libby provides some clues about the small number of people who were directly involved in exchanging information about the Wilsons. It says that Mr. Libby first sought information about Ambassador Wilson's trip from Mr. Grossman, on May 29, 2003. It says that Mr. Grossman directed Mr. Ford's intelligence bureau to prepare a report about Mr. Wilson and his trip to Niger, and briefed Mr. Libby about that report as it was being completed, telling him on June 11 or 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and that State Department personnel were involved in the planning of the trip. Mr. Grossman declined to comment on Wednesday, and Mr. Ford did not reply to a telephone call and an e-mail message.
Mr. Libby also learned from a "a senior officer of the C.I.A." on or about June 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and was believed to be responsible for sending Mr. Wilson on the trip, the indictment says.
The indictment says that it was Mr. Cheney who specifically first told Mr. Libby, on or about June 12, 2003, that Ms. Wilson worked in the counterproliferation division at the C.I.A., a fact that meant that she worked within the agency's clandestine service, where many employees are undercover. It says that Mr. Libby understood that Mr. Cheney had learned the information "from the C.I.A.," and people who have been officially briefed on the investigation say that notes taken by Mr. Libby at the time say that Mr. Cheney learned it from Mr. Tenet.
Others mentioned in the indictment as having discussed Mr. Wilson's trip with Mr. Libby in June or July 2003 include Eric Edelman, then Mr. Cheney's national security adviser; Catherine Martin, then his director of public affairs; Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary; Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's political adviser; and David Addington, the counsel to the vice president. Other administration officials known to have been interviewed by investigators include Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser and is now secretary of state; Stephen Hadley, then deputy national security adviser and now the national security adviser; Mr. Card; and Mr. Bartlett.
Mr. Woodward's statement could help Mr. Libby counter one of the main charges against him, that he lied to the grand jury about a conversation with Tim Russert, NBC's Washington bureau chief, in which Mr. Libby asserted that it was Mr. Russert who told him about Ms. Wilson. The lawyers said that they could say he merely misspoke, never intending to mislead the grand jury because he honestly believed he had heard about the C.I.A. officer as the subject of gossip in news media circles.
But some legal experts were skeptical that Mr. Woodward's disclosure would significantly alter the case against Mr. Libby.
"I don't think that in a technical legal sense it matters," said Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the law school at the University of Richmond and a specialist in media law. "It's neutral as to Libby because he has been indicted for perjury and for lying, and nothing in his account seems to sanitize those lies if in fact they turn out to be lies."
Other than Mr. Libby, the only administration official publicly known to have talked with reporters about Ms. Wilson's identity is Mr. Rove.
Other mysteries remain. It is still not known who first told Mr. Novak about Ms. Wilson. In addition, Mr. Pincus has never publicly disclosed the identity of an administration official he says told him on July 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's trip was "a boondoggle" by his wife. Mr. Pincus has said he testified about that exchange in 2004 after his source told prosecutors about it; Mr. Novak is also believed to have testified in the case, although he has not said so publicly.
Mr. Woodward wrote that he conducted three interviews related to the investigation, which were mainly background interviews for his 2004 book, "Plan of Attack," about the Iraq war. He said that he had confidentiality agreements with each of these sources, who signed written statements releasing him from his previous pledge of secrecy.
Mr. Woodward said that he testified about a second meeting on June 20, 2003, with a second administration official who was not identified by Mr. Woodward, but whom The Post identified on its Web site Wednesday as Mr. Card. Mr. Woodward wrote that he had a list of questions to the interview that included a line that said "Joe Wilson's wife." A tape of the interview contained no indication that the subject had come up.
A third conversation was conducted by phone with Mr. Libby on June 23, 2003. Mr. Woodward told him that he was sending 18 pages of questions intended for Mr. Cheney, including one that referred to "yellowcake," the uranium ore at the center of Mr. Wilson's fact-finding trip to Africa. "I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation."
In the telephone interview, Mr. Woodward said that his goal had been "the protection of a confidential source, and aggressive reporting, and they do go hand in hand."
Richard W. Stevenson, Eric Lichtblau and Anne E. Kornblut contributed reporting for this article.
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:03 AM
Lawmakers Acted on Heels of Abramoff Gifts
By JOHN SOLOMON and SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writers
Nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino while the lawmakers collected large donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.
Many intervened with letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton within days of receiving money from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist's restaurant for fundraising, an Associated Press review of campaign records, IRS records and congressional correspondence found.
Lawmakers said their intervention had nothing to do with Abramoff, and the timing of donations was a coincidence. They said they wrote letters because they opposed the expansion of tribal gaming — even though they continued to accept donations from casino-operating tribes.
Many lived far from Louisiana and had no constituent interest in the casino dispute.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, held a fundraiser at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant in Washington on June 3, 2003, that collected at least $21,500 for his Keep Our Majority political action committee from the lobbyist's firm and tribal clients.
Seven days later, Hastert wrote Norton urging her to reject the Jena tribe of Choctaw Indians' request for a new casino. Hastert's three top House deputies also signed the letter.
Approving the Jena application or others like it would "run counter to congressional intent," Hastert's June 10, 2003, letter warned Norton.
It was exactly what Abramoff's tribal clients wanted. The tribes, including the Louisiana Coushattas and Mississippi Choctaw, were trying to block the Jena's gambling hall for fear it would undercut business at their own casinos.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Norton on March 5, 2002, also signed by Sen. John Ensign (news, bio, voting record), R-Nev. The next day, the Coushattas issued a $5,000 check to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund. A second Abramoff tribe sent another $5,000 to Reid's group. Reid ultimately received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related donations between 2001 and 2004.
In the midst of the congressional letter-writing campaign, the Bush administration rejected the Jena's casino on technical grounds. The tribe persisted, eventually winning Interior approval but the casino now is tied up in a court dispute.
Congressional ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in performing their official duties and accepting political money.
That requirement was made famous a decade ago during the Keating Five scandal when five lawmakers were criticized for intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating while receiving money from the failed savings and loan operator.
The Abramoff donations dwarf those made by Keating. At least 33 lawmakers wrote letters to Norton and got more than $830,000 in Abramoff-related donations as the lobbying unfolded between 2001 and 2004, AP found.
"This is one of the largest examples we've had to date where congressional action was predicated on money being given for the action," said Kent Cooper, who reviewed lawmakers' campaign reports for two decades as the Federal Election Commission's chief of public disclosure.
Cooper, who now runs the Political Money Line Web site that tracks fundraising, said "the speed in which this money was turned around" after the letters makes the Abramoff matter more serious than previous controversies that tarnished Congress.
Lawmakers contacted by AP said their intervention had nothing to do with Abramoff's fundraising, and instead reflected their long-held concerns about tribal gaming expansion.
"There is absolutely no connection between the letter and the fundraising," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. "The only connection was Senator Reid has consistently opposed any effort to undermine the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."
Hastert ultimately collected more than $100,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm and tribal clients between 2001 and 2004. His office said he never discussed the matter with Abramoff, but long opposed expanding Indian gambling off reservations and was asked to send the letter by Rep. Jim McCrery (news, bio, voting record), R-La.
McCrery sent his own letter as well, and collected more than $36,000 in Abramoff-connected donations.
"We've always opposed these things, in our backyard, in our state, someplace else," said Michael Stokke, Hastert's deputy chief of staff.
Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, said lawmakers' denials of a connection rang hollow.
"Special interests do get more and they do get what they pay for despite the constant denial that lawmakers can't be bought," said Sloan, who now runs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that monitors public officials' conduct.
Abramoff's spokesman, Andrew Blum, declined comment. The lobbyist has been indicted on fraud charges by a federal grand jury in Florida stemming from his role in the 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Abramoff's fundraising influenced members of Congress or the Bush administration, and whether anyone tried to conceal their dealings with Abramoff. For instance:
_Hastert failed for two years to disclose his use of Abramoff's restaurant the week before his letter or to reimburse for it as legally required. Hastert blames a paperwork oversight and recently corrected it.
_Sen. David Vitter, R-La., received $6,000 from Abramoff tribes from 1999 to 2001 and refunded it the day before he sent one of his letters to Norton in February 2002. He also used Abramoff's restaurant for a September 2003 fund-raiser but failed to reimburse for it until this year.
_The Coushattas wrote two checks to Rep. Tom DeLay's groups in 2001 and 2002, shortly before the GOP leader wrote Norton. But the tribe was asked by Abramoff to take back the checks and route the money to other GOP groups. In all, DeLay, R-Texas, received at least $57,000 in Abramoff and tribal donations between 2001 and 2004.
The intervention by congressional Republicans and Democrats was all but ignored in recent hearings on Capitol Hill led by Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz, that examined Abramoff's lobbying inside Interior.
In one letter obtained by AP, 27 lawmakers told Norton she should reject the Jena casino because gambling was a societal blight. But within weeks, several of the authors had accepted donations from Abramoff's casino-operating tribes. All but eight eventually got Abramoff-related donations or used his restaurant for political events.
Rep. Pete Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, received four donations totaling $5,500 from casino-operating tribes represented by Abramoff a month and a day after he signed the Feb. 27, 2002, group letter.
"If they want to give a contribution to support Republican candidates, more power to them. That doesn't mean we have to support what they are doing," said Guy Harrison, a Sessions spokesman.
Rep. John Doolittle (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., received $1,000 from Abramoff several weeks before he signed the group letter, then got $16,000 from two of Abramoff's casino-operating tribal clients about two months later. By year's end, Doolittle also had used Abramoff's restaurant to cater a campaign event and received another $15,000 from tribes.
Some lawmakers intervened more than once.
House Majority Leader Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, signed three letters to Norton. He took $1,000 from Abramoff and $2,000 from the lobbyist's firm around the time he sent a May 2003 letter.
Blunt long has opposed the expansion of tribal gaming and his letters are "consistent with his long-held position and are in no way related to political contributions," spokeswoman Burson Taylor said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, whose committee is investigating Abramoff, sent a letter on March 1, 2002, opposing the Jena casino. The letter said a company that operates casinos in Grassley's home state was concerned. Grassley got $1,000 from Abramoff's firm the following month and a total of $62,200 in related donation by 2004.
Others who intervened:
_Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., the former Senate GOP leader, wrote Norton on March 1, 2002, to "seriously urge" she reject the Jena casino. Lott received $10,000 in donations from Abramoff tribes just before the letter and $55,000 soon after. Lott's office said he sent the letter because his state's Choctaw tribe and a casino company were concerned about losing business.
_Then-Sen. John Breaux (news, bio, voting record), D-La., wrote Norton on March 1, 2002. Five days later the Coushattas sent $1,000 to his campaign and $10,000 to his library fund, tribal records show.
_Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., wrote Norton on June 14, 2001, one of the first such letters. Cochran's political committee got $6,000 from Abramoff tribes in the weeks before the letter, and another $71,000 in the three years after.
_Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who was engaged in a tight re-election race in 2002, sent her letter March 6, 2002. That same day, the Coushattas sent $2,000 to her campaign and she received $5,000 more by the end of that month. By year's end, the total had grown to at least $24,000.
Posted by politicalstuff at 10:00 AM
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Big Lie Technique
At a time when approximately 57 percent of Americans polled believe that President Bush deceived them on the reasons for the war in Iraq, it does seem a bit redundant to deconstruct the president's recent speeches on that subject. Yet, to fail to do so would be to passively accept the Big Lie technique -- which is how we as a nation got into this horrible mess in the first place.
The basic claim of the president's desperate and strident attack on the war's critics this past week is that he was acting as a consensus president when intelligence information left him no choice but to invade Iraq as a preventive action to deter a terrorist attack on America. This is flatly wrong.
His rationalization for attacking Iraq, once accepted uncritically by most in Congress and the media easily intimidated by jingoism, now is known to be false. The bipartisan 9/11 commission selected by Bush concluded unanimously that there was no link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's secular dictatorship, al Qaeda's sworn enemy. And a recently declassified 2002 document proves that Bush's "evidence" for this, available to top administration officials, was based on a single discredited witness.
Clearly on the defensive, Bush now sounds increasingly Nixonian as he basically calls the majority of the country traitors for noticing he tricked us.
"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people," the president said at an Air Force base in Alaska. "Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat."
This is a manipulative distortion; saying Hussein was a threat -- to somebody, somewhere, in some context -- is not the same as endorsing a pre-emptive occupation of his country in a fantastically expensive and blatantly risky nation-building exercise. And the idea that individual senators and members of Congress had the same access to even a fraction of the raw intelligence as the president of the United States is just a lie on its face -- it is a simple matter of security clearances, which are not distributed equally.
It was enormously telling, in fact, that the only part of the Senate which did see the un-sanitized National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq -- the Republican-led Senate Select Intelligence Committee -- shockingly voted in the fall of 2002 against the simple authorization of force demanded by a Republican president. Panicked, the warmongers in the White House and Pentagon pressured CIA Director George Tenet to rush release to the entire Hill a very short "summary" of the careful NIE, which made Hussein seem incalculably more dangerous than the whole report indicated.
The Defense Intelligence Agency finally declassified its investigative report, DITSUM No. 044-02, within recent days. This smoking-gun document proves the Bush administration's key evidence for the apocryphal Osama bin Laden-Saddam Hussein alliance -- said by Bush to involve training in the use of weapons of mass destruction -- was built upon the testimony of a prisoner who, according to the DIA, was probably "intentionally misleading the debriefers."
Yet, despite the government having been informed of this by the Pentagon's intelligence agency in February 2002, Bush told the nation eight months later, on the eve of the Senate's vote to authorize the war, that "we've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and gases."
The false al Qaeda-Hussein link was the linchpin to Bush's argument that he could not delay the invasion until after the United Nations weapons inspectors completed their investigation in a matter of months. Perhaps, he feared not that those weapons would fall into the wrong hands but that they would not be found at all.
Boxed in by international sanctions, weapons inspectors, U.S. fighter jets patrolling two huge no-fly zones and powerful rivals on all his borders, Hussein in 2003 was decidedly not a threat to America. But the Bush White House wanted a war with Iraq, and it pulled out all the stops -- references to "a mushroom cloud" and calling Hussein an "ally" of al Qaeda -- to convince the rest of us it was necessary.
The White House believed the ends (occupying Iraq) justified the means (exaggerating the threat). We know now those ends have proved disastrous.
Oblivious to the grim irony, Bush proclaims his war without end in Iraq the central front in a new Cold War, never acknowledging that he has handed al Qaeda terrorists a new home base. Iran, his "Axis of Evil" member, now has its disciples in power in Iraq. Last week, top Bush administration officials welcomed to Washington Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, who previously was denounced for having allegedly passed U.S. secrets to his old supporters in Tehran and was elected to a top post in Iraq by campaigning on anti-U.S. slogans.
Under Bush's watch, we not only suffered the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks while he snoozed, but he has failed to capture the perpetrator of those attacks and has given al Qaeda a powerful base in Iraq from which to terrorize. And this is the guy who dares tell his critics they are weakening our country.
Robert Scheer is the editor of TruthDig.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:34 AM
Death of a Thousand Cuts
Death of a thousand cuts... That's what seems to be in store either for American democracy, or for what is required to finally bring down the entire anti-democratic Electronic Voting cabal in this country, as aided and abetted in their crimes against American Democratic Values by the Corporate Mainstream Media.
We take heart that there is more and more coverage of these matters these days, even if there is more and more unfortunate reasons to have such coverage in the first place.
VotersUnite.org's "Daily Voting News", now posted each day on The BRAD BLOG, gives one some sense of how much is going on -- both good and bad -- in regards to Election-related issues in this country, and just how much of it does make it into the news somewhere, if only (and too often) on just the local level.
At least the public's and the media's awareness continues to grow -- slowly, but surely -- even as the incidents of democracy in disrepair increase exponentially along with that awareness (and along with the obsene outpouring of virtually unchecked HAVA money to States and Counties in the bargain).
Nonetheless, we always look for reasons to be optimistic, and our usual coterie of Election Reform Media All-Stars continues to both grow and produce stellar work. In addition to the recent Free Press exposé by Fitrakis and Wasserman on the inexplicable in Ohio's election last week, which we mentioned previously at BRAD BLOG (as well as at HuffPo), there are a few other notable heroic voices of late that you should know about it.
Debra LoGuercio, the editor of the Winters Express and syndicated columnist for a number of smaller West Coast papers, continues to take both her democracy and role of media watchdog seriously. Her latest column this week, "Where in the World is Democracy?" picks up on my previous calls (both at BRAD BLOG and later at HuffPo) for Mainstream Corporate Media coverage -- hell, even a single sentence would do! -- of the recent landmark report from the non-partisan Governmental Accountability Office (GAO). That report, which confirms so many of the problems with Electronic Voting that we've been reporting on here for more than a year, is apparently less important to the corporate media braintrust, according to LoGuercio, than figuring out where in the world Matt Lauer is.
We're happy as well to welcome one Kathy Gill into the still-all-too-exclusive club of journalists who give a damn about democracy. She's posted an article on that GAO report yesterday at About.com. Welcome to the small, but still-growing club, Kathy! Glad you're on board and please keep up the good -- and important -- work!
And as Election Day unravelled last week, our friend Robert Koehler of Tribune Media Services once again opines on the MIA MSM in regard to Election Fraud in America's once-great democracy in his latest piece, "A Crime Without a Name - 'Concern' about election fraud is useless without guts and anger". He speaks, amongst other things, about John Kerry's failure to stand up for what is right here, and the unwillingness of the mainstream media to investigate and report without that kick in the pants.
The always sharp Dave Astor of Editor & Publisher has added some visibility by picking up on Bob's column in a quick article about it yesterday. For this, we are pleased, since so many of Bob's Tribune Media clients have shown neither the guts nor anger required to save our democracy, and have chosen instead to avoid running many of his important articles on Election Reform issues all together. It'll be interesting as usual, to see how many of them don't pick up Koehler's latest, despite -- once again -- the elegant way in which he is able to express the nightmare of our crumbling democracy.
To paraphrase a famous movie tagline; In the corporate-conglomerated media world of the 21st century no one can hear you scream. But some have heard, and continue to yell even louder...And we'll keep at the rest of them until they realize what's at stake...no matter how many cuts it takes.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:31 AM
Esquire: Clinton is world's "most influential man"
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is "The Most Influential Man in the World," according to Esquire magazine.
The magazine has designated him as "the most powerful agent of change in the world" despite his lack of electoral standing and the fact he was laid low by a heart attack ahead of last year's presidential election.
The magazine highlights Clinton's accomplishments in its December issue, which goes on newsstands on Thursday, profiling the world's "Best and Brightest" men and women.
Since leaving office, Clinton has been so active that his post-presidency amounts to "a third term" for the Democrat who held the White House from 1992 to 2000, the magazine said. He has tackled global issues from AIDS, poverty and global warming to the recovery from last December's Indian Ocean tsunami.
Esquire editor David Granger argued that Clinton was poised to become "something like a president of the world or at least a president of the world's non-governmental organizations."
But it will mean giving up a leadership role in the Democratic party or pushing the political career of his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, seen as a 2008 White House contender.
In the article, Clinton said that he remained loyal to his party, adding: "I'm not the leader of the opposition anymore."
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:27 AM
Senate panel votes to end Big Oil tax break
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the oil industry enjoying record profits from high prices for gasoline and other petroleum products, the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to repeal a $1 billion tax break for big oil companies.
Congress had included the tax break, which related to certain expenses for oil and natural gas exploration, in a broader bill to update U.S. energy policy that President George W. Bush signed into law this summer.
Executives from five major oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil, told a televised Senate hearing last week that their companies did not need some of the tax breaks Congress provided.
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, told the executives he agreed and on Tuesday he eliminated the tax break for big oil companies by attaching an amendment to a bigger tax relief bill considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
"I think it just looks absurd for us constantly to shovel out tax breaks when executives go on television and say they aren't needed," Wyden said. "They don't need tax incentives."
The five companies represented at last week's Senate hearing earned more than $25 billion in profits during the most recent quarter.
Wyden said the savings from ending the tax break for Big Oil would be about $1 billion over 10 years. Small oil companies would still get the tax incentive.
"Today's modest action starts the long march to start to reform the tax breaks as they relate to the oil industry, and limits these incentives to the smaller oil companies that actually need the help the most," Wyden said.
Wyden said he will work with other lawmakers to modify his plan to come up with more acceptable language, including what is the definition of a big oil company, when the tax relief bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:24 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The full text of what President Bush’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote in his ‘Personal Qualifications Statement’ when applying to be an Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan . . .
. . . can be found here:
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:24 PM
Senate Republicans Block Iraq Timetable
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
The Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday easily defeated a Democratic effort to pressure President Bush to outline a timetable for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It then overwhelmingly endorsed a weaker statement calling on the administration to explain its Iraq policy.
Senators also overwhelmingly voted to endorse the Bush administration's military tribunals for prosecuting suspected foreign terrorists held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but to allow detainees to appeal their status and punishments to a federal court.
On the question of a timetable for troop withdrawal, senators rejected the Democrats' measure by 58-40. Democratic leaders had advanced the timetable measure in the wake of declining public support for a conflict that has claimed more than 2,000 U.S. lives and cost more than $200 billion.
Republicans countered with their own non-binding alternative. It urged that 2006 "should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty," with Iraqi forces taking the lead in providing security to create the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces.
On a 79-19 vote, the Senate approved that GOP-sponsored proposal, which did not call for the president to put forth a withdrawal timetable unlike the Democratic proposal.
"They want an exit strategy, a cut-and-run exit strategy. What we are for is a successful strategy," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: "We want to change the course. We can't stay the course."
Tuesday's fast-paced developments underscored the political significance of the war as the U.S. death toll climbs, public support plummets, the insurgency continues and the price tag soars with no end in sight.
The Senate added the GOP Iraq policy to a defense bill the Senate was completing work on Tuesday.
Overall, the bill includes provisions that, taken together, mark an effort by the Senate to rein in some of the wide authority lawmakers gave the president following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The measure includes White House-opposed language that would prohibit the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees and standardize interrogation procedures used by U.S. troops. The Bush administration has threatened to veto any bill that includes language about the treatment of detainees, arguing it would limit the president's ability to prevent terrorist attacks.
Senators also added language Tuesday that would allow Guantanamo detainees to appeal their status as "enemy combatants" and the rulings of U.S. military tribunals to a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. That avenue would take the place of the one tool the Supreme Court gave detainees in 2004 to fight the legality of their detentions — the right to file habeas corpus petitions in any federal court.
Senators approved the measure on tribunals by an 84-14 vote.
Senators defeated a Democratic proposal that would have reinstated the right to file habeas corpus lawsuits, but limited the challenges to one court.
Reflecting senators' anger over recent leaks of classified information to the public, the bill also includes provisions requiring the Bush administration to provide Congress with details on purportedly secret CIA prisons overseas and stripping of security clearances of any federal government official who knowingly discloses national security secrets.
The House version of the defense bill doesn't include those provisions, nor does it include the language on the detention, interrogation or prosecution of detainees. As a result, it's unclear whether any of those provisions will survive House and Senate negotiations and actually end up in the final defense bill.
However, House GOP leaders will be under pressure to adopt parts of the Senate bill, particularly the statement of U.S. policy in Iraq. That's because public support for the war has fallen and lawmakers are feeling the heat from frustrated constituents heading into a congressional election year in which a third of the Senate and all House members are up for re-election.
The Senate-approved Iraq policy calls for — but does not require — the Bush administration to "explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq" and to provide reports on U.S. foreign policy and military operations in Iraq every three months until all U.S. combat brigades have been withdrawn.
The policy calls 2006 a transition year in which Iraqi forces take over security of their country from U.S. forces to a far greater extent so the Americans can begin returning home.
Republicans largely adopted the Democratic proposal as their own, but they omitted one paragraph calling for the president to offer a plan for a phased withdrawal of the roughly 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. The administration has refused to set a timetable for withdrawal, saying insurgents simply would wait to strike until after U.S. forces departed.
On the Net:
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:17 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2005
The New York Times
No Sex Please, We're American Voters
By GAIL COLLINS
Another election has come and gone, and with it yet another demonstration of American voters' fascinating indifference to the sexual behavior of their public officials.
This year's prime exhibit was New Jersey, where Senator Jon Corzine scored a decisive win against his Republican opponent in the governor's race, Douglas Forrester, despite a last-minute barrage of attack ads in which Mr. Corzine's ex-wife was quoted as declaring that unlike Mr. Forrester, "Jon did let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too."
That is not a connection most voters tend to make. The terrible truth is that great public leadership and domestic fidelity do not really go hand in hand. Some of our favorite national leaders were unreliable on the domestic front. Franklin Roosevelt comes to mind, as does John F. Kennedy. And the current mood of the electorate seems to clearly favor the argument that things were better when the worst thing the president did wrong was have sex with an intern in the Oval Office.
The idea that private sexual misconduct is beside the point for an elected official goes way back to the founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton famously, and rather hysterically, published a pamphlet detailing his affair with a married woman named Maria Reynolds. He wanted to make it clear that the mysterious payments he had been making to Mr. Reynolds were not part of an embezzlement scheme, but simply a result of good old all-American blackmail. The delegation of congressmen who had been assigned to investigate Hamilton's financial transactions regarded this as way too much information.
The Maria Reynolds affair did produce an outcry among Hamilton's political opponents - one newspaper thundered that "even the frosts of America are incapable of cooling your blood and the eternal snow of Nova Zembla would hardly reduce you to common propriety," which perhaps goes to show that they don't make editorial page editors like they used to. But Hamilton shared the standards of his political peers when it came to morality - if not discretion. And the public went on to elect Thomas Jefferson as president, despite the tavern songs about his relationship with the slave "Monticello Sally" Hemings, and to fall madly in love with Andrew Jackson, who they very well knew had lived with his wife, Rachel, when she was still married to another man.
Mr. Corzine, however, broke the rule that says the affair has to stay in the bedroom. All bets are off when adultery leaches into the public sphere (or the White House pantry). His affair - which Joanne Corzine claimed broke up her marriage - was with a woman who serves as president of a state workers' union. And when it ended, Mr. Corzine forgave a $470,000 loan he had made to her when she bought her house. (His supporters argued that the multimillionaire candidate was so rich that it would have been unseemly for him to dun his ex-girlfriend for such a paltry sum, thus unveiling a hitherto unnoticed downside to the trend toward fabulously rich political candidates.)
This was not as severe a mixing of sex and policy as occurred with New Jersey's last elected governor, James McGreevey. The nation missed a chance to see what happens when an already elected (and already married) chief executive suddenly announces he is gay, because of the deeply complicating fact that Mr. McGreevey had given the job of special assistant to the governor for homeland security to the object of his affections, an Israeli poet.
Nevertheless it's interesting that the adultery-doesn't-matter rule still seems so strong at a time when Americans have been mixing religion and politics so enthusiastically. (Just last week the increasingly nutty Pat Robertson suggested that God would no longer be answering any prayers in Dover, Pa., since the voters tossed out the intelligent-design team on the local school board.) It would be interesting to see if the voters in very red states were as impervious to these issues as New Jersey - or as California was back when it was ignoring all those fondling allegations and electing Arnold Schwarzenegger governor. (Arizona voters seemed to react calmly when a Republican congressman, Jim Kolbe, announced he was gay - although gay-rights advocates were not nearly as serene when Mr. Kolbe voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.)
An even more interesting question is whether the public will separate sex from politics when it comes to female candidates. When the issue has come up in the past, it usually involved spectacularly messy marital meltdowns in which the woman was more sinned against than sinning. Even then, voters have shown little enthusiasm about untangling the domestic mess. Coya Knutson, one of the earliest women to win a Congressional seat completely in her own right, was undone when newspapers published an open "Coya Come Home" letter signed by her alcoholic husband. More recently, Enid Greene Waldholtz of Utah lost her office after it turned out that her husband had broken just about every campaign finance law written since the dawn of time. New York voters didn't have much trouble in the end with Hillary Clinton's problematic marriage - but then New York is deep in the at-least-he-never-invaded-Iraq territory.
What would happen if a woman was running for governor and the voters discovered she had had an extramarital affair with a union leader, and her ex-husband told the media she'd probably betray the voters the way she betrayed him? Would the voters shrug it off so casually, and tell each other that at least she never put her inamorato in charge of fighting terrorism?
Two good bets: 1) Sooner or later we'll find out. 2) Probably not.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:57 PM
Ellsberg Warns Iraq Is Similar to Vietnam
Daniel Ellsberg, Gov't Official Who Leaked Pentagon Papers, Warns Iraq War Is Similar to Vietnam
By ROSA CIRIANNI
The Associated Press
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. - The former Defense Department official who leaked secret documents about the Vietnam War said Saturday that he sees many similarities between that conflict and the one in Iraq.
Daniel Ellsberg, 74, became famous for his release of the Pentagon Papers, which indicated the government had deceived the public about whether the war could be won and the extent of casualties.
He spoke to a crowd of more than 400 people at a New Jersey high school, telling them that the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq were both based on lies, referring to the such as the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Ellsberg, who has praised government whistleblowers who leak information about the Iraq war, said he wishes he had leaked the Pentagon Papers earlier so the release could possibly have lead to the war ending sooner.
He urged government workers to speak up about possible misconduct related to the war.
He also criticized the news media for not keeping tabs on Iraqi casualties. Just focusing on lost American lives is not enough, he said, pointing to a headline in a newspaper about four U.S. soldiers who died.
In 1971, Ellsberg, who had worked at both the State Department and the Pentagon, leaked 7,000 pages of classified documents to the press. He was put on trial on 12 felony counts punishable by up to 115 years in prison, but the charges were dismissed in 1973 because of government misconduct against him.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:56 PM
Iraqi Woman Confesses on Jordan TV
On Jordan TV, Iraqi Woman Says She Tried to Blow Herself Up at Amman Hotel Along With Husband
By JAMAL HALABY
The Associated Press
AMMAN, Jordan - An Iraqi woman confessed on Jordanian state television Sunday that she tried to blow herself up along with her husband during a hotel wedding reception last week, saying that the explosives concealed under her denim dress failed to detonate.
Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, 35, made her statement hours after being arrested by authorities tipped off by an al-Qaida in Iraq claim that a husband-and-wife team participated in Wednesday's bombings at three U.S.-based hotels. The attackers killed 57 other people at the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels.
Al-Rishawi's brother was once the right-hand man to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, said deputy premier Marwan Muasher. He said the brother, Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, was killed in the former terrorist stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq.
Officials believe al-Rishawi, who entered Jordan from Iraq on Nov. 5, may provide significant information about the operations of al-Zarqawi's group, which claimed responsibility for the hotel bombings, Jordan's deadliest terrorist attacks. The group said the attacks were retaliation for Jordan supporting the United States and other Western powers.
Al-Rishawi was shown on state television wearing a white head scarf, a buttoned, body-length dark denim dress, and belts packed with TNT and ball bearings. Muasher told CNN the belts were captured with her.
Al-Rishawi said she and her husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, 35, were wearing explosive-laden belts when they strolled into a Radisson ballroom where hundreds of guests, including children, were attending a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding reception.
"My husband wore a belt and put one on me. He taught me how to use it, how to pull the (primer cord) and operate it," she said, wringing her hands.
"My husband detonated (his bomb). I tried to explode (my belt) but it wouldn't. I left, people fled running and I left running with them."
Muasher said al-Rishawi's husband noticed her struggle and pushed her out of the ballroom in order not to attract attention before blowing himself up.
After a second showing of the tape, a TV announcer cited security officials as saying the woman gave no further details because "she was still suffering from the shock of the blasts and her subsequent arrest."
Al-Rishawi was arrested Sunday morning at a "safe house" in the same Amman suburb where her husband and the other two bombers rented a furnished apartment, a top Jordanian security official said.
Jordanian security was tipped off to her presence by al-Qaida in Iraq's claim of a female bomber, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists. The group apparently assumed she was killed in the blasts.
"There were leads that more people had been involved, but it was not clear that it was a woman and we had no idea on her nationality," the official said.
Al-Rishawi, who is from the volatile Anbar province town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, said on state TV that she entered Jordan from Iraq four days before the attacks with her husband and two other men using fake passports. She said they rode across the border in a white car with a driver and another passenger.
"My husband arranged our trip from there, I don't know," she said, adding that they rented a furnished apartment in a middle-class suburb of western Amman. She said bombers took taxis to the hotels.
Jordan officials confirmed the three bombers were Iraqis. Al-Rishawi did not name the other two, but Jordanian authorities identified them as Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed and Safaa Mohammed Ali, both 23.
Muasher said investigations showed no Jordanians were involved, but several local followers of al-Zarqawi have been arrested.
King Abdullah II told NBC's "Meet the Press" that "all Jordanians are unified, in that they want the people who are responsible for these crimes to be brought to justice."
"If we know where they are, even if it's beyond the borders of Jordan, we will give it the best shot possible to bring these people to justice," he said.
Jordanian counterterrorism officials believe al-Rishawi could provide significant leads into al-Zarqawi's whereabouts and his terrorist operations in Iraq.
But the officials, insisting on anonymity because of the sensitivity of their positions, also fear her capture may spur al-Zarqawi to avenge the arrest with more attacks in Jordan or against Jordanian interests abroad.
Al-Zarqawi, who traveled from militant training grounds in Afghanistan to Iraq before the U.S.-led 2003 war, has been sentenced to death in absentia here for terrorism-related crimes. He has vowed to topple the kingdom's moderate Hashemite rulers. The U.S. government is offering a $25 million bounty for information leading to his capture.
Residents of Iraq's Anbar province said al-Rishawi comes from a clan living mostly in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold about 70 miles west of Baghdad.
Ironically, the clan, known variously as the Burishas and the Rishawis, is known for its good ties with the Americans. Its members include Iraq's defense minister, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, who visited Jordan on Sunday.
Al-Dulaimi offered Jordan his government's support in the bombing probe and warned that unchecked violence in Iraq will spread terrorism across the region.
He also accused Syria of letting Islamic extremists train on its soil and enter Iraq to carry out terrorist attacks. The United States and Iraq have repeatedly called on Syria to lock down its borders and stop al-Qaida extremists from entering Iraq.
During a tour of the Radisson on Sunday, former President Clinton offered his support to "defeat this kind of destructive terror that murdered children and other innocents."
Muasher said the hotels were chosen because they were "easy targets," referring to the lax security before the attacks. Security measures have been increased.
The wedding was targeted because the bombers wanted to "inflict the biggest number of casualties and victims," Muasher said. The security official said the Radisson also was targeted is because it is a favorite for Israeli tourists.
The bomb strapped to al-Rishawi's husband was packed with the powerful explosive RDX and ball bearings and designed to kill as many people as possible, Muasher said.
The bombing has raised fears that al-Zarqawi's terror campaign has gained enough momentum to spread throughout the region.
Despite the Iraqi involvement, Muasher insisted relations with its eastern neighbor are unlikely to suffer.
"It's true that the terrorists are Iraqis, but this doesn't mean that the Iraqi government is involved or condones such actions," he said. "We all know that the (Iraqi) government suffers from this group."
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:55 PM
The New York Times
The Democrats and Judge Alito
Judge Samuel Alito has been working hard to win over moderate Democratic senators. But just as it would be irresponsible to reject his nomination to the Supreme Court without giving him a full hearing, it is unwise to embrace it - or rule out the possibility of a filibuster - until more is known.
The Alito nomination is a defining moment for the country, and for the Democratic Party. Given the sharp divisions on the court, the next justice could decide the scope of reproductive freedom, civil rights and civil liberties, and environmental and workplace protections that Americans will live with for years. Although many questions remain to be answered, there is reason to believe that Judge Alito could do significant damage to values Democrats have long stood for.
Conservative Republicans demonstrated that they have a clear idea of what they want for the Supreme Court. They proved that once again with their insurrection against Harriet Miers. Now Democratic senators have to show their supporters that they are no less willing to fight for their vision.
Judge Alito has tried to reassure Democratic senators by talking about his respect for Supreme Court precedents, including Roe v. Wade. It would be unwise to put too much stock in such reassurances. Even justices who value precedent, as most do, sometimes overturn existing case law with which they disagree. It should give Democrats pause that after Judge Alito's meetings with senators, both sworn opponents of Roe and fervent supporters have emerged reassured.
Even if Judge Alito does stand by important precedents, there is still reason for concern. Under Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Supreme Court perfected the art of reaffirming precedents in areas like criminal procedure while poking enough holes in them to render them almost unrecognizable. Judge Alito showed as a federal appeals court judge - when he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion - that abortion rights can be severely diminished even within the framework of Roe. The same thing could be true in other areas.
One group that clearly does not believe that Judge Alito will be a slave to existing Supreme Court precedents is the far right. Many of the same groups and individuals who waged a fierce campaign against Ms. Miers, President Bush's previous nominee for this seat, appear to be lining up in support of Judge Alito. Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who strongly opposes abortion, and other rights the court has recognized over the years, declared after meeting with Judge Alito, "This is the type of nominee I've been asking for."
The confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to start in early January, should shed light on whether he is in the mainstream of the law or outside it. Democrats should put a heavy burden on Judge Alito to show that he would not do damage to the Constitution, and to Americans' cherished rights.
The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:54 PM
Civil Rights Focus Shift Roils Staff At Justice
Veterans Exit Division as Traditional Cases Decline
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which has enforced the nation's anti-discrimination laws for nearly half a century, is in the midst of an upheaval that has driven away dozens of veteran lawyers and has damaged morale for many of those who remain, according to former and current career employees.
Nearly 20 percent of the division's lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration's conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.
At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.
The division has also come under criticism from the courts and some Democratsfor its decision in August to approve a Georgia program requiring voters to present government-issued identification cards at the polls. The program was halted by an appellate court panel and a district court judge, who likened it to a poll tax from the Jim Crow era.
"Most everyone in the Civil Rights Division realized that with the change of administration, there would be some cutting back of some cases," said Richard Ugelow, who left the division in 2004 and now teaches law at American University. "But I don't think people anticipated that it would go this far, that enforcement would be cut back to the point that people felt like they were spinning their wheels."
The Justice Department and its supporters strongly dispute the complaints. Justice spokesman Eric Holland noted that the overall attrition rate during the Bush administration, about 13 percent, is not significantly higher than the 11 percent average during the last five years under President Bill Clinton.
Holland also said that the division filed a record number of criminal prosecutions in 2004. A quarter of those cases were related tohuman-trafficking crimes, which were made easier to prosecute under legislation passed at the end of the Clinton administration and which account for a growing proportion of the division's caseload.
In addition, Holland defended the department's decision to approve the Georgia voter law, saying that "career and political attorneys together concluded" that the measure would have no negative effect on minorities.
"This administration has continued the robust and vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws," Holland wrote in an e-mail statement, adding later: "These accomplishments could not have been achieved without teamwork between career attorneys and political appointees."
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the first Hispanic to hold the job, named civil rights enforcement as one of his priorities after taking office earlier this year and supports reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
Although relations between the career and political ranks have been strained throughout the Justice Department over the past five years, the level of conflict has been particularly high in civil rights, according to current and former staffers. The debate over civil rights flared in the Senate in recent weeks after the nomination of Wan J. Kim, who was confirmed on Nov. 4 as the assistant attorney general for the division and is the third person to hold that job during the Bush administration. Kim has been the civil rights deputy for the past two years.
There were no serious objections to Kim's nomination, but Democrats including Sens. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) said they were concerned about serious problems with morale and enforcement within the division.
"Its enforcement of civil rights over the past five years has been negligent," Kennedy said in a statement. "Mr. Kim has promised to look closely at these issues and to increase the division's enforcement, and I believed he should be given a chance to turn the division around."
Critics point to several key statistics in arguing that Gonzales and the previous attorney general, John D. Ashcroft, have charted a dramatically different course for civil rights enforcement than previous administrations of both parties.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which includes a number of former Justice lawyers, noted in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the division has filed only a handful of cases in recent years dealing with employment discrimination or discrimination based on the statistical impact on women or minority groups.
The total number of criminal prosecutions is within the range of the Clinton administration, but a growing percentage of those cases involve prosecuting human smugglers, which have become a priority for the division only in recent years. Other types of civil rights prosecutions are down, from 83 in fiscal 2001 to 49 in 2005.
The Bush administration has filed only three lawsuits -- all of them this year -- under the section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits discrimination against minority voters, and none of them involves discrimination against blacks. The initial case was the Justice Department's first reverse-discrimination lawsuit, accusing a majority-black county in Mississippi of discriminating against white voters.
The change in emphasis is perhaps most stark in the division's appellate section, which has historically played a prominent role intervening in key discrimination cases. The section filed only three friend-of-the-court briefs last year -- compared with 22 in 1999 -- and now spends nearly half its time defendingdeportation orders rather than pursuing civil rights litigation. Last year, six of 10 briefs filed by the section were related to immigration cases.
William R. Yeomans, a 24-year division veteran who took a buyout offer earlier this year, wrote in an essay in Legal Affairs magazine that "morale among career attorneys has plummeted, the division's productivity has suffered and the pace of civil rights enforcement has slowed."
In an interview, Yeomans said some of the problems stem from the way the "front office" at Justice has treated career employees, many of whom have been forced to move to other divisions or to handle cases unconnected to civil rights. As an example of the strained relations, Yeomans points to the recent retirement party held for a widely admired 37-year veteran: Not one political appointee showed up.
At the same time, Ashcroft implemented procedures throughout Justice that limited the input of career lawyers in employment decisions, resulting in the hiring of many young conservatives in civil rights and elsewhere in the department, former and current lawyers have said.
"The more slots you open, the more you can populate them with people you like," said Stephen B. Pershing, who left the division in May and is now senior counsel at the Center for Constitutional Litigation, a Washington law firm that handles civil rights cases. "It's pretty simple really."
To Roger Clegg, the situation is also perfectly understandable. A former civil rights deputy in the Reagan administration who is now general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, Clegg said the civil rights area tends to attract activist liberal lawyers who are philosophically opposed to a more conservative approach.
"If the career people are not reflecting the policy priorities of the political appointees, then there's a problem," Clegg said. "Elections have consequences in a democracy."
Holland, the Justice spokesman, said critics are selectively citing statistics. For example, he said, the department is on the winning side of court rulings 90 percent of the time compared with 60 percent during the Clinton years. Federal courts are "less likely to reject our legal arguments than the ones filed in the previous administration," he said.
Ralph F. Boyd Jr., the civil rights chief from 2001 to 2003, agreed: "It's not a prosecutor's job to bring lots of cases; it's a prosecutor's job to bring the right cases. If it means fewer cases overall, then that's what you do."
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:52 PM
Bush Didn't Mislead on War, Adviser Says
Bush National Security Adviser Says President Did Not Mislead People on Iraq War Intelligence
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - While admitting "we were wrong" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, President Bush's national security adviser on Sunday rejected assertions that the president manipulated intelligence and misled the American people.
Bush relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community when he determined that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.
"Turns out, we were wrong," Hadley told "Late Edition" on CNN. "But I think the point that needs to be emphasized ... allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong."
Republican lawmakers and other officials who appeared on Sunday news shows echoed Bush's Veterans Day speech in which he defended his decision to invade Iraq.
Bush said Democrats in Congress had the same intelligence about Iraq, and he argued that many now claiming that the information had been manipulated had supported going to war. The president also accused his critics of making false charges and playing politics with the war.
Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean rejected the criticism on Sunday and said, "The truth is, the president misled America when he sent us to war."
Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," the party chairman disputed Bush's claim that Congress had the same information the president withheld some intelligence and some caveats about it, Dean said and that two commissions had found no evidence of pressure being placed on those within the intelligence community .
In fact, Dean said, how the administration handled the intelligence it received has yet to be determined by a Senate committee.
Contending that the president has not been honest about the size of the deficit as well as the war, Dean said, "This is an administration that has a fundamental problem telling the truth."
Hadley said Bush received dissenting views about the accuracy of intelligence and relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community as conveyed by the CIA director. The national security adviser criticized those who continue to claim that Bush manipulated the intelligence and made misleading statements.
"It is unworthy and unfair and ill-advised, when our men and women in combat are putting their lives on the line, to relitigate an issue which was looked at by two authoritative sources and deemed closed," he said. "We need to put this debate behind us."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Democrats have a right to criticize the war but that it was disingenuous to claim that Bush lied about intelligence to justify it.
"Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russians, the French ... all reached the same conclusion," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
In a column for The Washington Post, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., said he was wrong to have voted to give Bush the authority to go to war and called the intelligence on which he made that decision "deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda."
"The information the American people were hearing from the president and that I was being given by our intelligence community wasn't the whole story," wrote Edwards, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004. "Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war."
Hadley said issues about the accuracy of U.S. intelligence have not impaired the administration's ability to pursue its policies regarding the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.
"We've been able to move our diplomacy forward at the same time we're taking the steps we need to do to improve our intelligence," he said.
Asked why people should believe U.S. claims about the nuclear plans of Iran given the failure of intelligence about Iraq, Hadley said there has been international consensus about Iran.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:46 PM
Battle of the Wal-Mart Documentaries
One New Film Attacks the Retail Giant, While the Other Film Defends It
BELMONT, N.C., Nov. 13, 2005 — - After 25 years as mayor of Belmont, N.C., Billy Joye was voted out of office because he campaigned hard to bring Wal-Mart to town.
"I made up my mind," Joye said. "I was doing all I can do to keep this city afloat and we needed the revenues of the development badly."
Once home to thriving textile mills, Belmont has been struggling for years. Wal-Mart, the mayor argued, is needed to revive the economy. But many residents fear it will destroy their small town.
But though Wal-Mart won the battle in Belmont, where a nearly 200,000-square-foot SuperCenter is due to open in March, the retailing giant faces similar fights in nearly 50 communities across the country.
Today many of those communities are screening a scathing new documentary called "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price."
"The ultimate aim of the movie," said it's producer, Robert Greenwald, "is to get thousands of people across the United States, and the world ultimately, aware of what's going on and turn them into agents to change Wal-Mart."
The film alleges Wal-Mart destroys mom-and-pop businesses, pays so poorly many employees rely on public assistance, and discriminates against women working there.
The film is part of a wider anti-Wal-Mart movement. Backed by big labor, opponents use rallies and Web sites to illustrate how they believe the company treats workers unfairly.
Despite increasing attacks, sales remain strong, but all this negative publicity is hurting the stock price, down 16 percent this year.
"They've sat back they've taken their lumps," said Brian Hindo of Business Week, "and they've found out it really has hurt them."
Wal-Mart Fights Back
Fed up, Wal-Mart is fighting back, pushing for a higher minimum wage, introducing a new health care plan -- and promoting another new documentary entitled, "Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy."
Trailers of the two competing Wal-Mart films are available on the Web.
To find a preview of "Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price," go to http://www.walmartmovie.com/.
To find a preview of "Why Wal-Wart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy," go to http://www.galloway.tv/.
"I personally think that Wal-Mart, more than any special interest group, has benefited more poor and working-class Americans more than any other institution I can think of," said Ron Galloway, the pro-Wal-Mart film's producer.
That may be why nearly 140 million people shop there each week.
"The price is very good on items in Wal-Mart," said one customer, "and you have a variety of things to choose from."
It seems so long as prices remain low, Wal-Mart is winning this debate.
ABC News' Geoff Morrell and Suzanne Yeo originally reported this story for "World News Tonight" on Nov. 13, 2005.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:43 PM
McCain: Torture Ban Needed for U.S. Image
America's Image Abroad Could Be Ruined if Congress Doesn't Ban Torture of Prisoners, McCain Says
By FOSTER KLUG
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain argued Sunday that America's image abroad could be ruined if Congress doesn't ban the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.
McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War, is the leading supporter of a provision banning such inhumane treatment.
White House officials, however, have threatened a presidential veto of any bill with restrictions on handling detainees, saying it would limit the president's ability to protect Americans and prevent a terrorist attack.
"If we are viewed as a country that engages in torture ... any possible information we might be able to gain is far counterbalanced by (the negative) effect of public opinion," McCain, R-Ariz., said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Terrorists are "the quintessence of evil," he said. "But it's not about them; it's about us. This battle we're in is about the things we stand for and believe in and practice. And that is an observance of human rights, no matter how terrible our adversaries may be."
The Republican-led Senate has approved McCain's provision an instance of rare defiance of President Bush's wartime authority.
But prospects of the bill clearing the House of Representatives are uncertain. Vice President Dick Cheney has vigorously lobbied Congress to drop or modify the detainee provisions, and wants to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency from the proposed torture ban.
McCain said he hopes to reach a compromise with the White House. But he said that after the discovery of widespread prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq, public opinion about the United States has plummeted worldwide.
"We've got two wars going on: one a military one in Iraq, and then we've got a war for public opinion, for the hearts and minds of all the people in the world," McCain said. "We've got to make sure that we don't torture people."
Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, said on CNN's "Late Edition" that the White House was working with McCain and other lawmakers to "come up with an approach that both allows us to do what we need to do to defend the country against terrorist attack and, at the same time, make good on the president's commitment that we will not torture and we will act within the bounds of law."
Hadley went on to describe a hypothetical situation that imagined one of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists had been arrested a few days before the attacks.
"It's a difficult dilemma to know what to do in that circumstance to both discharge our responsibility to protect the American people from terrorist attack and follow the president's guidance of staying within the confines of law," he said. "These are difficult issues."
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, however, said it's "unthinkable that the vice president of the United States continues to insist upon an exception for the CIA, saying they should not be bound by our torture policy."
"Torture can't be justified," he told CNN.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:40 PM
Carter 'Disturbed' by Direction of U.S.
Carter Says He Is 'Disturbed and Angry' About Changes in U.S. Caused by Bush Leadership
The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Former President Jimmy Carter, on a tour to promote his latest book, is sharply questioning the direction the Bush administration has taken the country.
"Everywhere you go, you hear, 'What has happened to the United States of America? We thought you used to be the champion of human rights. We thought you used to protect the environment. We thought you used to believe in the separation of church and state,'" Carter said Friday at Unity Temple.
"I felt so disturbed and angry about this radical change in America," he said.
Carter is promoting his 20th book, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis," which he describes as his first political book.
He placed responsibility for that moral crisis largely on the Bush administration, citing a pre-emptive war policy, inadequate attention to the environment, and the use of torture against some prisoners.
About 1,200 people waited to have books signed by the 39th president.
Posted by politicalstuff at 7:39 PM