Saturday, October 29, 2005

GAO confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
Powerful Government Accounting Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

As a legal noose appears to be tightening around the Bush/Cheney/Rove inner circle, a shocking government report shows the floor under the legitimacy of their alleged election to the White House is crumbling.

The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the General Accounting Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.

The government's lead investigative agency is known for its general incorruptibility and its through, in-depth analyses. Its concurrence with assertions widely dismissed as "conspiracy theories" adds crucial new weight to the case that Team Bush has no legitimate business being in the White House.

Nearly a year ago, senior Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (D-MI) asked the GAO to investigate electronic voting machines as they were used during the November 2, 2004 presidential election. The request came amidst widespread complaints in Ohio and elsewhere that often shocking irregularities defined their performance.

According to CNN, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee received "more than 57,000 complaints" following Bush's alleged re-election. Many such concerns were memorialized under oath in a series of sworn statements and affidavits in public hearings and investigations conducted in Ohio by the Free Press and other election protection organizations.

The non-partisan GAO report has now found that, "some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes."

The United States is the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non-transparent software. Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, has asserted that "public elections must not be conducted on privately-owned machines." The CEO of one of the most crucial suppliers of electronic voting machines, Warren O'Dell of Diebold, pledged before the 2004 campaign to deliver Ohio and thus the presidency to George W. Bush.

Bush's official margin of victory in Ohio was just 118,775 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast. Election protection advocates argue that O'Dell's statement still stands as a clear sign of an effort, apparently successful, to steal the White House.

Among other things, the GAO confirms that:

1. Some electronic voting machines "did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected." In other words, the GAO now confirms that electronic voting machines provided an open door to flip an entire vote count. More than 800,000 votes were cast in Ohio on electronic voting machines, some seven times Bush's official margin of victory.

2. "It was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate." Numerous sworn statements and affidavits assert that this did happen in Ohio 2004.

3. "Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level." 3. Falsifying election results without leaving any evidence of such an action by using altered memory cards can easily be done, according to the GAO.

4. The GAO also confirms that access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected, so access to one machine provided access to the whole network. This critical finding confirms that rigging the 2004 vote did not require a "widespread conspiracy" but rather the cooperation of a very small number of operatives with the power to tap into the networked machines and thus change large numbers of votes at will. With 800,000 votes cast on electronic machines in Ohio, flipping the number needed to give Bush 118,775 could be easily done by just one programmer.

5. Access to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords. So even relatively amateur hackers could have gained access to and altered the Ohio vote tallies.

6. The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy, meaning, again, getting into the system was an easy matter.

7. One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail, re-emphasizing the fragility of the system on which the Presidency of the United States was decided.

8. GAO identified further problems with the security protocols and background screening practices for vendor personnel, confirming still more easy access to the system.

In essence, the GAO study makes it clear that no bank, grocery store or mom & pop chop shop would dare operate its business on a computer system as flimsy, fragile and easily manipulated as the one on which the 2004 election turned.

The GAO findings are particularly damning when set in the context of an election run in Ohio by a Secretary of State simultaneously working as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Far from what election theft skeptics have long asserted, the GAO findings confirm that the electronic network on which 800,000 Ohio votes were cast was vulnerable enough to allow a a tiny handful of operatives -- or less -- to turn the whole vote count using personal computers operating on relatively simple software.

The GAO documentation flows alongside other crucial realities surrounding the 2004 vote count. For example:

# The exit polls showed Kerry winning in Ohio, until an unexplained last minute shift gave the election to Bush. Similar definitive shifts also occurred in Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico, a virtual statistical impossibility.

# A few weeks prior to the election, an unauthorized former ES&S voting machine company employee, was caught on the ballot-making machine in Auglaize County

# Election officials in Mahoning County now concede that at least 18 machines visibly transferred votes for Kerry to Bush. Voters who pushed Kerry's name saw Bush's name light up, again and again, all day long. Officials claim the problems were quickly solved, but sworn statements and affidavits say otherwise. They confirm similar problems in Franklin County (Columbus). Kerry's margins in both counties were suspiciously low.

# A voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry. The problem was allegedly fixed.

# In Gahanna Ward 1B, at a fundamentalist church, a so-called "electronic transfer glitch" gave Bush nearly 4000 extra votes when only 638 people voted at that polling place. The tally was allegedly corrected, but remains infamous as the "loaves and fishes" vote count.

# In Franklin County, dozens of voters swore under oath that their vote for Kerry faded away on the DRE without a paper trail.

# In Miami County, at 1:43am after Election Day, with the county's central tabulator reporting 100% of the vote - 19,000 more votes mysteriously arrived; 13,000 were for Bush at the same percentage as prior to the additional votes, a virtual statistical impossibility.

# In Cleveland, large, entirely implausible vote totals turned up for obscure third party candidates in traditional Democratic African-American wards. Vote counts in neighboring wards showed virtually no votes for those candidates, with 90% going instead for Kerry.

# Prior to one of Blackwell's illegitimate "show recounts," technicians from Triad voting machine company showed up unannounced at the Hocking County Board of Elections and removed the computer hard drive.

# In response to official information requests, Shelby and other counties admit to having discarded key records and equipment before any recount could take place.

# In a conference call with Rev. Jackson, Attorney Cliff Arnebeck, Attorney Bob Fitrakis and others, John Kerry confirmed that he lost every precinct in New Mexico that had a touchscreen voting machine. The losses had no correlation with ethnicity, social class or traditional party affiliation---only with the fact that touchscreen machines were used.

# In a public letter, Rep. Conyers has stated that "by and large, when it comes to a voting machine, the average voter is getting a lemon - the Ford Pinto of voting technology. We must demand better."

But the GAO report now confirms that electronic voting machines as deployed in 2004 were in fact perfectly engineered to allow a very small number of partisans with minimal computer skills and equipment to shift enough votes to put George W. Bush back in the White House.

Given the growing body of evidence, it appears increasingly clear that's exactly what happened.

GAO Report:


Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby pushed case for war


Libby pushed case for war

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, has been a quiet yet powerful force in shaping the Bush administration's policies and helped build the case for the Iraq invasion.

Libby, 55, resigned on Friday after he was indicted on charges of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the probe of the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Cheney said in a statement that he felt "deep regret" in accepting the resignation of Libby, a former attorney known by colleagues for his analytical mind and loyalty to his boss.

A specialist in national security, Libby had logged long hours in his office near the West Wing of the White House, steeping himself in subjects like counterterrorism, bioweapons defense and energy policy.

Libby held three titles: chief of staff and national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to President George W. Bush -- a sign of his broad influence.

But outside the halls of power, Libby has a literary side -- he published a mystery novel, "The Apprentice," in 1996.

Set in rural Japan in 1903, the book was praised by Publishers Weekly for achieving "a sense of mystery and claustrophobia through pared-down prose and minimalist characterization."

Libby goes by his nickname, "Scooter," but many people also refer to him as Dick Cheney's Dick Cheney.

"He is to the vice president what the vice president is to the president," said Mary Matalin, who worked with Libby as an adviser to Cheney during Bush's first term.

She described Libby as a deep thinker and problem-solver who gives "discreet advice."

Libby shares the vice president's hawkish views on national security and his penchant for operating behind the scenes.

"He doesn't grandstand," said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, Libby's friend and mentor.


While Libby is rarely quoted in the press, his private conversations with reporters became a focus of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame case.

Among those he spoke to was New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who testified in the case and spent 85 days in jail for initially refusing to reveal her source.

Central to the five-count indictment against Libby is his involvement in the response to diplomat Joseph Wilson's accusation that the administration twisted the facts to justify the Iraq war. Wilson is Plame's husband.

In the war's run-up, according to journalist Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," Libby presented a document to top officials citing evidence of weapons of mass destruction and possible contacts between Iraqi officials and a ringleader of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The weapons were never found and the administration has since backed away from the idea of a connection between Saddam's government and the September 11 attacks.

Libby got his nickname Scooter as a child after the Yankees baseball player Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto. Born in Connecticut, he attended Phillips Academy, a private school in Massachusetts.

He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and has a law degree from Columbia University.

At Yale, Libby took a political science course with Wolfowitz, who tapped him to serve in the State Department in the Reagan administration and later in the Pentagon.

Wilson has said he believed Libby was part of a White House campaign to "smear" him. But Wolfowitz said Libby has never been "a rabidly partisan political type."

"There is a difference between people who focus on policy and people who believe it's my party right or wrong -- that's not Scooter," he said.

Before he worked for Cheney, Libby was a managing partner at the international law firm Dechert, Price and Rhoads.

One of his clients was Marc Rich, the billionaire fugitive pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Libby has two children with his wife, Harriet Grant, a former lawyer on the Democratic staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to writing, he likes to ski.

A September letter that Libby sent to Miller in jail showed his literary side. Urging her to testify, he wrote: "Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work -- and life."


Thursday, October 27, 2005

U.N.: 2,200 Companies Gave Iraq Illicit Funds

Yahoo! News
U.N.: 2,200 Cos. Gave Iraq Illicit Funds

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

About 2,200 companies in the U.N. oil-for-food program, including corporations in the United States, France, Germany and Russia, paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam Hussein's government, a U.N.-backed investigation said in a report released Thursday.

The report from the committee probing the $64 billion program said prominent politicians also made money from extensive manipulation of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq.

The investigators reported that companies and individuals from 66 countries paid illegal kickbacks using a variety of ways, and those paying illegal oil surcharges came from, or were registered in, 40 countries.

There were two main types of manipulation: surcharges paid for humanitarian contracts for spare parts, trucks, medical equipment and other supplies; and kickbacks for oil contracts.

Among the companies that paid illegal surcharges were South Korea's Daewoo International and Siemans SAS of France. On the oil side, contractors listed included Texas-based Bayoil and Coastal Corp., and Russia's oil giants Gazprom and Lukoil.

Russian companies were contracted for approximately $19.3 billion in oil from Iraq, which amounted to about 30 percent of oil sales, by far the largest proportion among all participating countries.

Germany-based automaker DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, appears to have paid just $7,000 on a contract worth $70,000. DaimlerChrysler said it was aware of the report but declined to comment because of an ongoing investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

In July, DaimlerChrysler said it had been asked for a statement and documents regarding its role in the oil-for-food program, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The report said, for example, that Brussels-based Volvo Construction Equipment paid $317,000 in extra fees to Iraq on a $6.4 million contract. Volvo Construction is part of Swedish-based Volvo Group, which referred all questions to Volvo Construction Equipment's headquarters in Brussels. The group is separate from Volvo automobiles, which is owned by Ford.

Beatrice Cardon, a Volvo spokeswoman, said she was unaware the company was listed in the U.N. report, or what the alleged payments were for. "This is the first I hear about it," she said.

The report alleged that Jean-Bernard Merrimee, France's former U.N. ambassador, received $165,725 in commissions from oil allocations awarded to him by the Iraqi regime. He is now under investigation in France.

Merrimee "began receiving oil allocations that would ultimately total approximately 6 million barrels from the government of Iraq," the report said.

Other so-called "political beneficiaries" included British lawmaker George Galloway; Roberto Formigoni, the president of the Lombardi region in Italy, and the Rev. Jean-Marie Benjamin, a priest who once worked as an assistant to the Vatican secretary of state and became an activist for lifting Iraqi sanctions.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who heads Russia's Liberal Democratic Party, received millions of barrels of oil he could turn around and sell for a profit, the report said. Iraqi Oil Ministry records show that 4.3 million barrels were allocated to Alexander Voloshin, who at the time was chief of staff in the administration of Russia's president. Both Voloshin and Zhirinovsky have denied any wrongdoing.

Thursday's final report of the investigation led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker strongly criticizes the U.N. Secretariat and Security Council for failing to monitor the program and allowing the emergence of front companies and international trading concerns prepared to make illegal payments.

In a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan, the committee said its task had been to find mismanagement and evidence of corruption, and "unhappily, both were found and have been documented in great detail."

It said responsibility should start with the U.N. Security Council, which is dominated by its five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

"The program left too much initiative with Iraq," the letter said. "It was, as one past member of the council put it, a compact with the devil, and the devil had means of manipulating the program to his ends."

The oil-for-food program was one of the world's largest humanitarian aid operations, running from 1996-2003.

It allowed Iraq to sell limited and then unlimited quantities of oil provided most of the money went to buy humanitarian goods. It was launched to help ordinary Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

But Saddam, who could choose the buyers of Iraqi oil and the sellers of humanitarian goods, corrupted the program by awarding contracts to — and getting kickbacks from — favored buyers, mostly parties who supported his regime or opposed the sanctions.

Tracing the politicization of oil contracts, the report said Iraqi leaders in the late 1990s decided to deny American, British and Japanese companies allocations to purchase oil because of their countries' opposition to lifting sanctions.

At the same time, it said, Iraq gave preferential treatment to France, Russia and China, which were perceived to be more favorable to lifting sanctions and were also permanent members of the Security Council.

Volcker's previous report, released in September, said lax U.N. oversight allowed Saddam's regime to pocket $1.8 billion in kickbacks and surcharges in the awarding of contracts during the program's operation from 1997-2003.

According to the new findings, Iraq's largest source of illicit income from the oil-for-food program was the more than $1.5 billion from kickbacks on humanitarian contracts.

Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee calculated that more than 2,200 companies worldwide paid kickbacks to Iraq in the form of "fees" for transporting goods to the interior of the country or "after-sales-service" fees, or both.

Tables accompanying the report give a detailed look at the value of each company's contracts and the amount of money it paid in kickbacks.

According to the findings, the Banque Nationale de Paris S.A., known as BNP, which held the U.N. oil-for-food escrow account, had a dual role and did not disclose fully to the United Nations the firsthand knowledge it acquired about the financial relationships that fostered the payment of illegal surcharges.

The report chronicles Saddam's manipulation of the program and examines in detail 23 companies that paid kickbacks on humanitarian contracts including Iraqi front companies, major food providers, major trading companies, and major industrial and manufacturing companies.

According to the findings, the program was just under 3 years old when the Iraqi regime began openly demanding illicit payments from its customers. The report said that while U.N. officials and the Security Council were informed, little action was taken.

The report is the fifth by Volcker and wraps up a year-long, $34 million investigation that has faulted Annan, his deputy, Canada's Louise Frechette, and the Security Council for tolerating corruption and doing little to stop Saddam's manipulations.

The smuggling of Iraqi oil outside the program in violation of U.N. sanctions poured much more money — $11 billion — into Saddam's coffers in the same period, according to the report.


On the Net:


Meirs Withdraws

President Bush's choice for Supreme Court Justice has withdrawn her nomination. The excuse revolved around lawyer-client priveledged communications. The reality is that members of the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, would have voted her down. The further truth is that Bush was receiving extreme pressure, including televised ads, from the extreme right wing of the republican party, to withdraw Meirs from consideration.


Eyes Only and Lies Only...Let's Make Sure the Story is Told...

Eyes Only and Lies Only...Let's Make Sure the Story is Told...
Brad Friedman

As the TreasonGate storm rolls towards D.C., let's not forget how it all began. Had George W. Bush been honest with the Congress and the American People we might not have been mourning our 2,000th lost troop today. Or perhaps we would.

The Administration knew what we (and Congress) didn't. That the war was built on lies.

The Downing Street Memos, which have still gone virtually unreported by the Corporate Mainstream Media, hold the key to the entire fine mess.

(See the Complete Set of Downing Street Documents here: )

Unfortunately, too many Americans are still completely unaware of what those "Eyes Only" documents tell us quite clearly; The administration had long ago planned to "remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

In other words, the war was going to happen. No matter what. No matter who had to die. No matter whose lives would need to be trashed in order to "justify" it.

The outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame/Wilson in hopes of trashing her husband Ambassador Joe Wilson who questioned the "fixed" facts and intelligence was a key part in that effort to ensure "the policy" would move ahead at all costs.

Shortly, the political firestorm to come will no doubt overshadow the facts of how we got into this shameful mess to start with. (an organization I co-founded, bringing together more than 100 progressive organizations) has released our third print ad today in our effort to ensure that the facts are no longer "fixed" and that the truth is finally understood by the American People.

Please help us continue to counter the media noise with the real messages that need to be understood by this country.

Revolution begins at home...


GOP senators push for more on Miers

Yahoo! News
GOP senators push for more on Miers

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

Republican senators stepped up their calls Tuesday for more information on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. They said there should be documents the White House can release without violating executive or attorney-client privilege.

President Bush seemed to shut the door Monday on the such requests, saying that releasing documents by Miers, a close friend who serves as White House counsel, "would breach very important confidentiality" and make it more difficult for his advisers to give him candid advice.

But senators, including a number from the president's party, say there are less sensitive materials the White House can release without infringing on Bush's right to confidential counsel.

"The Senate has not asked for anything falling under executive privilege," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who will preside over Miers confirmation hearings starting Nov. 7.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Miers' home state of Texas, suggested it would be wise for the White House to try to comply. "I trust that they are doing that," he said. Other Republicans publicly urging the White House to provide more paperwork on Miers include Sam Brownback of Kansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Trent Lott of Mississippi.

The senators contend that it's important for the White House to make documents available because Miers has never served as a judge and doesn't have a series of written public opinions that senators can study.

A questionnaire that Senate Judiciary Committee leaders asked Miers last week to revise is due today. Specter and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, called her first response "inadequate." Among other information, they want a list of major issues on which Miers gave Bush legal advice.

The senators said such a list would help them determine how often Miers might have to recuse herself from Supreme Court arguments. Among the controversial Bush administration decisions that could come before the Supreme Court: a dispute over the constitutionality of military tribunals for foreign terrorism suspects and a case that tests the legal rights of a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorist activities.

Ken Duberstein, a former chief of staff for President Reagan, used a golf analogy to underscore the importance of Miers' revised questionnaire. "You only get one do-over, one mulligan," said Duberstein, who helped shepherd the confirmations of Justices David Souter and Clarence Thomas for the first President Bush.

Some GOP senators reacted sharply to new websites by conservative groups, including Americans for Better Justice, urging Miers' withdrawal. "You ought to give her an opportunity to appear before the committee," said Grassley, a Judiciary member.

"I am puzzled by calls for Harriet Miers to withdraw," Collins said. "It's premature."

In a sign of the discontent on the GOP's conservative flank, Miers is focusing largely on Republican senators in her courtesy calls. On Tuesday, she met with two Republican conservatives, John Ensign of Nevada and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, but only one member of the Judiciary Committee, Russ Feingold, D-Wis. Miers has not yet met with two of the panel's most senior Democrats, Joseph Biden of Delaware and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.


Danforth Criticizes Christian Sway in GOP

Yahoo! News
Danforth Criticizes Christian Sway in GOP

By DANIEL CONNOLLY, Associated Press Writer

Former Sen. John Danforth said Wednesday that the political influence of evangelical Christians is hurting the Republican Party and dividing the country.

Danforth, a Missouri Republican and an Episcopal priest, commented after meeting with students at the Bill Clinton School of Public Service, a graduate branch of the University of Arkansas on the grounds of the Clinton presidential library.

"I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right," he said in an interview. "I don't think that this is a permanent condition, but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country."

He also said the evangelical Christian influence would be bad for the party in the long run.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracy Schmitt declined to comment on Danforth's remarks.

Danforth, who recently served as ambassador to the United Nations, made similar criticism of the party in an opinion article published by the New York Times in June. In that article, he called for religious moderates to take part in public life.

Danforth, considered a conservative on social issues, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 and served three terms.


The ties between disaster aid and politics

The Christian Science Monitor -

from the October 26, 2005 edition -

The ties between disaster aid and politics

Influential lawmakers and election politics play a sizable role in directing federal help to states, research shows.

By Peter N. Spotts | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

When President Bush declared Florida a disaster area this week in the wake of hurricane Wilma, the need was clear - a major hurricane inflicting significant damage to a heavily populated state.

But when it comes to smaller-scale floods, fires, tornadoes, or blizzards, what can prod a president to give the nod that paves the way for federal aid? Politics, say several researchers. It not only plays a sizable role, but it can also influence how much money flows, once a president issues a disaster declaration.

Their conclusion, reached after scrutinizing patterns in federal disaster spending over almost 45 years, is prompting renewed calls for a more objective approach to deciding which disasters merit federal declarations - and for clearer guidelines on how aid dollars get allotted.

The decisionmaking approach, they say, is likely to become increasingly important as disaster losses rise - driven largely by growing populations and wealth in places known to shake, burn, and face the drenching bluster of powerful storms.

The process will never be entirely free of politics, acknowledges Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"We shouldn't be that naïve," he says. "At the same time, you want to believe that someone in Louisiana is being treated as fairly as someone in West Virginia. It's a question of equity and fairness in a democracy."

The latest evidence for the growth in disaster losses - and for the potential imprint of politics - comes from a new county-by-county, year-by-year tally covering the period from 1960 to 2003. The information, culled from disparate sources within the federal government, counts events that caused more than $50,000 in damage. The data show losses rising at an ever-increasing rate. In 1960, losses were running at roughly $2.5 billion in 2004 dollars. For 2003, losses reached nearly $15 billion.

The trend is expected to continue, adds Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards Research Laboratory at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.

Last year each of the four hurricanes that struck Florida inflicted more than $5 billion in damage, notes Dr. Cutter, who built the database. This year President Bush has declared at least 35 major disasters. She and colleague Christopher Emrich reported their results in the Oct. 11 issue of EOS, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

When she looked beyond the trends in losses, "what struck me was how ineffective certain states have been in getting presidential disaster declarations" over the past 40 years. For example, she continues, North Carolina and South Carolina have seen significant losses, yet have garnered relatively few disaster declarations, while North Dakota also has endured similarly high losses and has been "very good" at getting the declarations.

Some disparities may merely reflect a chronic set of events, each too small to merit US help, she explains. Yet politics also appears to play a role, she adds. And it cuts across administrations.

Studies published over the past three years suggest that presidential and congressional politics can influence aid, says Russell Sobel, an economist at West Virginia University.

For example, the presidents of the 1990s were more likely to declare disasters in key states during reelection campaigns than in states deemed less critical to the outcome, according to a study he helped to conduct.

That study also found that disaster spending tended to be higher in states whose lawmakers sat on committees overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). An analysis of the data, which took into account the severity of a disaster, estimated that politics drove nearly half the aid given during this period.

Moreover, the aid appears to have been used more as a carrot than as a stick. The study found little evidence that states in the "wrong" political column received less aid than they had sought.

In addition, Dr. Pielke and colleague Mary Downton looked at declared disasters from flooding from 1965 to 1997 and found similar trends in presidential disaster declarations.

FEMA gives a president guidance on whether a disaster merits a federal declaration, according to the Congressional Research Service. A FEMA spokeswoman notes that once a disaster is declared, applicants for aid still must meet several requirements to qualify.

Yet the system leaves the president and Congress with much discretion, Sobel adds, especially in smaller-scale disasters. "It's not an issue of good or bad people. It's a question of good or bad incentives," he concludes.

Several changes are needed to reduce the influence of politics, specialists note.

Dr. Sobel says FEMA should be responsible only for rebuilding infrastructure and providing security after a disaster. Other types of aid should come from the private sector and the Red Cross, he argues.

Others are less willing to trim FEMA's sails that tightly. Instead, they argue that the agency must be clearer about its aid criteria and why it rejects some applicants.

With all the gaps in information, "as a nation we have no idea what disasters cost us on an annual basis", Cutter says. "How can you derive effective public policy in the absence of that fundamental knowledge?"


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations
FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations
Secret Surveillance Lacked Oversight

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer

The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.

Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.

In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under surveillance for at least five years -- including more than 15 months without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had moved from New York to Detroit. An FBI investigation concluded that the delay was a violation of Justice guidelines and prevented the department "from exercising its responsibility for oversight and approval of an ongoing foreign counterintelligence investigation of a U.S. person."

In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search," according to the documents.

Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA Patriot Act, which made it easier for the government to conduct secret searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil liberties groups.

The records were provided to The Washington Post by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group that has sued the Justice Department for records relating to the Patriot Act.

David Sobel, EPIC's general counsel, said the new documents raise questions about the extent of possible misconduct in counterintelligence investigations and underscore the need for greater congressional oversight of clandestine surveillance within the United States.

"We're seeing what might be the tip of the iceberg at the FBI and across the intelligence community," Sobel said. "It indicates that the existing mechanisms do not appear adequate to prevent abuses or to ensure the public that abuses that are identified are treated seriously and remedied."

FBI officials disagreed, saying that none of the cases have involved major violations and most amount to administrative errors. The officials also said that any information obtained from improper searches or eavesdropping is quarantined and eventually destroyed.

"Every investigator wants to make sure that their investigation is handled appropriately, because they're not going to be allowed to keep information that they didn't have the proper authority to obtain," said one senior FBI official, who declined to be identified by name because of the ongoing litigation. "But that is a relatively uncommon occurrence. The vast majority of the potential [violations] reported have to do with administrative timelines and time frames for renewing orders."

The documents provided to EPIC focus on 13 cases from 2002 to 2004 that were referred to the Intelligence Oversight Board, an arm of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board that is charged with examining violations of the laws and directives governing clandestine surveillance. Case numbers on the documents indicate that a minimum of 287 potential violations were identified by the FBI during those three years, but the actual number is certainly higher because the records are incomplete.

FBI officials declined to say how many alleged violations they have identified or how many were found to be serious enough to refer to the oversight board.

Catherine Lotrionte, the presidential board's counsel, said most of its work is classified and covered by executive privilege. The board's investigations range from "technical violations to more substantive violations of statutes or executive orders," Lotrionte said.

Most such cases involve powers granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs the use of secret warrants, wiretaps and other methods as part of investigations of agents of foreign powers or terrorist groups. The threshold for such surveillance is lower than for traditional criminal warrants. More than 1,700 new cases were opened by the court last year, according to an administration report to Congress.

In several of the cases outlined in the documents released to EPIC, FBI agents failed to file annual updates on ongoing surveillance, which are required by Justice Department guidelines and presidential directives, and which allow Justice lawyers to monitor the progress of a case. Others included a violation of bank privacy statutes and an improper physical search, though the details of the transgressions are edited out. At least two others involve e-mails that were improperly collected after the authority to do so had expired.

Some of the case details provide a rare peek into the world of FBI counterintelligence. In 2002, for example, the Pittsburgh field office opened a preliminary inquiry on a person to "determine his/her suitability as an asset for foreign counterintelligence matters" -- in other words, to become an informant. The violation occurred when the agent failed to extend the inquiry while maintaining contact with the potential asset, the documents show.

The FBI general counsel's office oversees investigations of alleged misconduct in counterintelligence probes, deciding whether the violation is serious enough to be reported to the oversight board and to personnel departments within Justice and the FBI. The senior FBI official said those cases not referred to the oversight board generally involve missed deadlines of 30 days or fewer with no potential infringement of the civil rights of U.S. persons, who are defined as either citizens or legal U.S. resident aliens.

"The FBI and the people who work in the FBI are very cognizant of the fact that people are watching us to make sure we're doing the right thing," the senior FBI official said. "We also want to do the right thing. We have set up procedures to do the right thing."

But in a letter to be sent today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sobel and other EPIC officials argue that the documents show how little Congress and the public know about the use of clandestine surveillance by the FBI and other agencies. The group advocates legislation requiring the attorney general to report violations to the Senate.

The documents, EPIC writes, "suggest that there may be at least thirteen instances of unlawful intelligence investigations that were never disclosed to Congress."


Most Americans lack confidence in leaders - poll


Most Americans lack confidence in leaders - poll

BOSTON (Reuters) - Seventy-three percent of Americans lack confidence in their leaders and a majority believe the country would be better off with more women in power, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The survey by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the U.S. News & World Report also showed that 66 percent of Americans believe the United States faces a leadership crisis.

The release of the poll comes as President George W. Bush is struggling to stem a slide in popularity caused by the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war and soaring gasoline prices.

The nationwide telephone survey of 1,374 adults, taken from September 13 to September 23, covered all levels of U.S. leaders -- from the White House to Congress and state and local governments.

It showed that 65 percent of Americans are upbeat about the future of the country's leadership and expect better leaders in the future.

The poll also showed that 64 percent believe the country would be better off if more women occupied leadership positions, and perhaps surprisingly more men than women believe this -- 69 percent to 61 percent.

"It's a wake-up call to leaders who enter the public sector," said Todd Pittinsky, assistant professor of public policy at the Kennedy School.

The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.


Democrats rap Bush's pick for State Department job


Democrats rap Bush's pick for State Department job

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats on Tuesday questioned the qualifications of the Bush administration's choice to oversee international refugee and population issues and compared her to Michael Brown, who was blamed for bungling the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the resume of Ellen Sauerbrey, twice a candidate for Maryland governor and chair of President George W. Bush's 2000 campaign in that state, was heavier on Republican politics than on dealing with refugee crises.

They also said Sauerbrey's anti-abortion views would detract from efforts to get international help for refugees.

Twelve women's advocacy groups wrote a letter to Bush urging him to withdraw the nomination. They said Sauerbrey has "shown outright hostility toward women's rights and toward international family planning and related programs" in four years as U.S. representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Sauerbrey told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she had the management experience and the heart to become the assistant secretary of state in charge of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

"I think most important, you need to have the compassion and caring for helping to protect vulnerable people," Sauerbrey said. She cited her experience in women's rights issues, which she said are central to helping refugees who are largely women and children.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed Sauerbrey's nomination. "I strongly support Ellen Sauerbrey because of her devotion to human rights and human liberty, values that are key to the president's foreign policy," Rice said in a statement.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, said she was troubled by Bush's choice to head the agency with a $700 million annual budget.

"I question the wisdom of putting someone in that position who I believe has shown zealotry on the issue of reproductive health, including family planning," Boxer said. "What it says to me is that there's this focus on anti-choice that I'm afraid is going to be a diversion."

Democrats said people in that post before had extensive backgrounds working with international refugee issues.

"You're having to labor in the shadow of Michael Brown is what I think is happening here," said Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat. He was referring to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency who resigned last month under fire after FEMA's sluggish response to Katrina after it was disclosed he had minimal experience dealing with disasters.

As FEMA is the first responder in national disasters, the State Department bureau is the first responder for international refugee crises, Boxer said. "But I don't think we've seen the requisite experience," she said.

The 12 organizations that wrote to Bush included the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Feminist Majority and Advocates for Youth.


CIA leak grand jury may hear charges Wednesday


CIA leak grand jury may hear charges Wednesday

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity was scheduled to meet on Wednesday amid signs the prosecutor in the case was preparing to seek criminal charges.

The grand jury session follows a last-minute flurry of interviews by investigators with CIA operative Valerie Plame's neighbors and a former colleague of top White House adviser Karl Rove.

Plame's identity was leaked after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq.

White House officials were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the leak case since any indicted officials were expected to resign immediately. If indictments are brought, Bush was likely to make a public statement to try to reassure Americans that he is committed to honesty and integrity in government.

Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald appeared close to bringing indictments, with an announcement expected as early as Wednesday, after the grand jury meets.

The grand jury is slated to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

The White House has refused to answer questions about Vice President Dick Cheney's role in the case.

According to a New York Times report, Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, learned about Plame in a conversation with Cheney on June 12, 2003, weeks before her identity became public in a newspaper column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

Libby's notes indicate Cheney got his information about Plame from then-CIA Director George Tenet, according to the Times. The White House would neither confirm nor deny the account.

Fitzgerald's investigation has centered on Libby and Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Other aides may also be charged, lawyers said.

Lawyers involved in the case said it could be difficult for Fitzgerald to charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity.

They said Fitzgerald appeared more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information.

But there were 11th-hour signs that Fitzgerald could still bring charges for the leak itself.

FBI agents on Monday night questioned some of Plame's neighbors about whether they knew about her CIA work before her identity was leaked to the press. The interviews could help Fitzgerald show that Plame's status had been a closely-guarded secret.


Clues about Miers' views in 1990s speeches


Clues about Miers' views in 1990s speeches: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, in speeches a decade ago, said "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and also defended social activism, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The speeches, which she provided to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, offer some of the clearest insights yet into Miers' thinking on contentious social issues that could come before the Supreme Court, the newspaper said.

Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system in a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, the newspaper said.

"The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," Miers said in an excerpt reported by the Post. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."

In speeches delivered when she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers also defended judges who order lawmakers to address social concerns, the newspaper said.

Miers also showed sympathy for feminist causes, referring to the "glass ceiling" faced by professional women and urged her audience to support female candidates, according to the report.

Miers is a veteran attorney, who was President George W. Bush's personal attorney in Texas before coming to the White House. She has never served as a judge and does not have a clear paper-trail.

Bush, citing confidentially, said this week that he would refuse to release documents showing what Miers recommended to him as a White House lawyer. The documents were sought by senators preparing for her confirmation hearing set to begin November 7.

Miers has come under fire from Democrats for once backing a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, and has been challenged by conservative Republicans who fear she lacks the clout and commitment to firmly move the court to the right on abortion and other issues.


No Death Penalty For Hitler? GOP Ad Goes Too Far.
No Death Penalty For Hitler? GOP Ad Goes Too Far.
--by Matthew Barge

The Republican candidate for Virginia governor claims his opponent "says that Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty." But that's not what the Democrat said.


A TV ad for Jerry Kilgore, Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, says of his Democratic opponent: "Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty." Actually, Kaine didn't say that.

Kaine, who opposes both the death penalty and abortion on religious grounds, gave an equivocal answer to a newspaper interviewer who asked if Hitler, Stalin or Idi Amin "deserved" the death penalty. Kaine said that "they may deserve the death penalty" for their "heinous" acts. But Kaine also said, "God grants life, and God should take it away."

Kaine also has said repeatedly that, despite his religous beliefs, he would carry out the death penalty if elected governor. The issue has become the main focus of TV ads by both candidates.


Kilgore's 60-second ad, unveiled Oct. 11, attempts to support his prediction that Kaine can't be trusted to carry out executions if elected governor, but it misquotes what Kaine said.

The ad is called “Stanley ” and appeared throughout Virginia and the District of Columbia . The Kilgore campaign won't say how long the ad will be up or how much they are spending to air it. The spot features Stanley Rosenbluth, whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered 12 years ago. Kaine, an attorney, briefly assisted in the convicted killer's appeal.

Hitler doesn’t qualify for death penalty?

Rosenbluth states that “Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn’t qualify for the death penalty.”

The Kilgore campaign says that this refers to a Sept. 19 interview with the editorial board of the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper. But an audio recording of that interview shows Kaine didn't actually say what the ad claims. In fact, at one point he said Hitler and two other genocidal dictators "may deserve the death penalty" for their heinous acts.

The interviewers were questioning Kaine on what has become a central issue in the campaign. Kaine has a long history of opposition to the death penalty – and also abortion – on grounds that his Roman Catholic faith teaches that human life is sacred. That's not a popular position in Virginia, which has executed more prisoners than any other state save Texas.

But Kaine has said that he will carry out executions if elected. He appears in one of his own ads, saying "I take my oath of office seriously, and I'll enforce the death penalty." In another ad, Kaine says "I’ll enforce death sentences handed down by Virginia juries because that’s the law."

The newspaper editorial board was pressing Kaine on the depth of his moral opposition to executions. It was one of the interviewers, Michael Hardy, and not Kaine, who brought up Hitler's name:

Michael Hardy, Times-Dispatch editorial board: You couldn’t conceive of a case where the person, because of his behavior and criminal conduct, deserved the death penalty? What about Adolf Hitler, do you think he should be executed? Should have been executed? Joseph Stalin? Idi Amin?

Tim Kaine: Well you know, when you say deserve, it’s…(long pause)…you know, God grants life, and God should take it away. Horrible heinous things deserve incredible punishment, you bet. God grants life, God should take it away, that’s my religious belief. Except in the kind of rare instance of self defense, I mean, a person who, you know, kills someone in self defense, or a nation that, that wages a just war, that is essentially to defend itself or, or others, that would be an exception but…

Hardy: Your conviction is so deep that you cannot name one person in history, because of his malefactions and criminal behavior, deserved the death penalty?

Tim Kaine: Well no, I, the way I answered your question is that they may deserve, you, they may deserve it, of course they may for doing something heinous, they don’t deserve to live in civilized society, they may deserve the death penalty. You know, I look at the world, most nations have decided not to have a death penalty, and, and many are very safe, I don’t think, I don’t think it’s needed to be safe.

Kaine's answer was equivocal – he stressed the word "deserve," saying dictators like Hitler "may" warrant the death penalty, while also saying that God should be the one to take away a life and that the death penalty isn't needed to keep citizens safe. That's different from saying that "Hitler doesn't qualify" for the death penalty. The Kilgore ad quotes him falsely on that point.

"Voluntarily" tried to get a murderer off?

In the same ad, Rosenbluth also claims that “Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the person who murdered my son. He stood with murderers in trying to get them off death row.” In fact, Kaine didn't volunteer to represent the killer; an attorney in Kaine's law firm was routinely appointed by the court to handle the appeal. Kaine says he had almost no personal involvement in the case.

Here are the facts:

Rosenbluth’s son Richard and wife Rebecca were killed in their home in November 1993 by Mark Sheppard, a drug dealer, while the couple was buying cocaine from him. Sheppard was convicted by a Virginia jury and sentenced to death.

On appeal, Sheppard needed legal representation. An appellate court appointed Dana J. Finberg, who worked with Tim Kaine at the law firm of Mezzulo & McCandlish in Richmond , to represent him.

Finberg was quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch as saying “the ad’s claim that Kaine voluntarily represented the murderer is wrong.” The newspaper said that Finberg was the lead lawyer and Kaine “advised Finberg” in the case. Kaine says his law firm's billing records show he devoted about 40 minutes to the case. Sheppard was ultimately executed on January 20, 1999.

It is true that Kaine did assist in the defense of three inmates on death row, including Sheppard, over a legal career spanning more than two decades. All were eventually executed. Kaine's opposition to the death penalty goes back at least to 1983, when he wrote an article in the Harvard Civil Rights—Civil Liberties Law Review arguing that the Constitution “mandates appellate review of capital sentences,” even if the inmates don’t want to appeal, in order “to protect not only the constitutional rights of individual defendants, but also the … interest of society in preventing arbitrary infliction of the death penalty.”

A "Smear?"

Kaine responded to the Kilgore ad with one of his own, in which a narrator quotes blurbs from various newspapers that denounced the Republican spot as "vile," a "smear," "dishonest," and a false accusation against "a decent man" for which Kilgore "should apologize." The quotes are all accurate and in context, from editorials in the Washington Post, the Virginia-Pilot, the Hampton Roads Daily Press, the Roanoke Times and the Bristol Herald Courier. All excoriated the Kilgore ad in editorials, which, of course, are opinions and not facts. Four of those newspapers endorsed John Kerry for President last year, but the Herald Courier urged voters to support President Bush.

In his response ad, Kaine himself says once again – without any equivocation – "I’ll enforce the death penalty."

Jerry Kilgore TV Ad: "Stanley"

Stanley Rosenbluth: Richard was our first born. We had a great relationship. Married Becky. Everything they did, they did together, it was like two peas in a pod. Mark Sheppard shot Richard twice and went over and shot Becky two more times.

Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the person who murdered my son. He stood with murderers in trying to get them off death row.

(Text on screen: Tim Kaine opposes the death penalty even in extreme cases. Times-Dispatch 9/25/05)

No matter how heinous the crime, he doesn't believe that death is a punishment. Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty. This was the... the worst mass murderer in modern times. Being as liberal as he is and the death penalty, he's not representing everybody in the state.

(Text on screen: Get the facts:

I don't trust Tim Kaine when it comes to the death penalty. And I say that as a father whose had a son murdered. And the people of Virginia are entitled to know just what Tim Kaine is and what he stands for.

(Text on screen: We can't trust Tim Kaine.)

Jerry Kilgore: I'm Jerry Kilgore candidate for Governor, and my campaign sponsored this ad.

(Text on screen: Jerry Kilgore For Governor; Paid For By Virginians For Jerry Kilgore)
Tim Kaine TV Ad: "More Ashamed"

Narrator: Jerry Kilgore’s attacks are a “vile attempt to manipulate for political gain.”

(On screen: The Roanoke Times, “vile attempt to manipulate…for base political gain,” 10/13/05)

Female narrator: Newspapers say Kilgore's ads are dishonest . . .

(On screen: Daily Press, "dishonest," 10/14/05)

Male narrator: . . . a loathsome smear . . .

(On screen: The Washington Post, "loathsome," “smear” 10/12/05

Female narrator: . . . falsely accuse Tim Kaine . . .

(On screen: Roanoke Times, “falsely accuse Kaine,” 10/13/05)

Male narrator: . . . and tar a decent man.

(On screen: Virginian-Pilot,“tar a decent man,” 10/13/05)

Female narrator: Kilgore should apologize to Tim Kaine.

(On screen: Bristol Herald Courier,“Kilgore should apologize" 10/14/05)

Tim Kaine: I’m Tim Kaine, candidate for governor. I approve this ad to set the record straight. I’ll enforce the death penalty. As governor, I’ll carry out death sentences handed down by Virginia juries because that’s the law.


Warren Fiske, “ New Kilgore ads hit Kaine hard over death penalty ,” The Virginian-Pilot, 12 October 2005

“Death penalty demagoguery ,” editorial, The Roanoke Times, 13 October 2005

Jeff E. Schapiro and Tyler Whitley, “Kilgore, Kaine spar on death penalty ,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 13 October 2005

“Campaign detours to the low road ,” editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, 13 October 2005

“Mr. Kilgore’s Low Road ,” editorial, The Washington Post, 16 October 2005

“Ad Watch: Jerry W. Kilgore—Stanley Ad ,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 13 October 2005

Robert Barnes, “ Kilgore ads seek to divide Democrats ,” Washington Post, 13 October 2005

Chris L. Jenkins, “ Kaine calls opponent’s ads egregious misrepresentation ,” Washington Post, 14 October 2005

Michael D. Shear and Chris L. Jenkins, “ In last face-off, candidates drive home familiar points ,” Washington Post, 10 October 2005

Tim Kaine, "Capital Punishment and the Waiver of Sentence Review," Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Summer 1983 (18 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 483)

“December 99 Executions ,” Pro-death, website, undated

“Kaine on the death penalty ,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, website, 12 October 2005

Melissa Scott Sinclair, “ Is Kaine Able? ,” Richmond Style Weekly, 12 October 2005

"The Hitler card: In the search for votes, Kilgore goes looking in the gutter," editorial, Newport News Daily Press , 14 Oct 2005.

"Death penalty attack is a vile political tactic," editorial, Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier, 14 Oct 2005.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release (

POLITICAL SCREENING FOR ALL PARK SERVICE MANAGERS — Mid-Level Managers Picked for Fealty to “the President’s Management Agenda”

Washington, DC — The National Park Service has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions, according to an agency directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.

The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots (Government Service grades or GS-13, 14 and 15) include the “ability to lead employees in achieving the …Secretary’s 4Cs and the President’s Management Agenda.” In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and “the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks,” the number three political appointee in the agency.

The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.

The President’s Management Agenda includes controversial policies and proposals such as aggressive use of outsourcing to replace civil servants, reliance on “faith-based initiatives” and rollbacks of civil service rights. Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s “4Cs” is a slogan she uses to express her management approach: “4 Cs: communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation.”

“It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing.”

The order applies to all hires for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers, such as chief ranger or the head of interpretive or cultural programs. Overall, the policy applies to more than 1,000 mid-level management and supervisory positions in the Park Service.

“Presidents come and go but the civil service is designed to serve whoever occupies the swivel chair in the Oval Office,” Ruch added. “It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee.”



Jail term for Afghan journalist

Jail term for Afghan journalist

The editor of a women's rights magazine in Afghanistan has been sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy.

The editor, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, was convicted after a court in Kabul concluded that several articles in his magazine Huquq-e Zan were anti-Islamic.

Correspondents say the case underlines the fragility of journalistic freedom in post-Taleban Afghanistan.

It also highlights a struggle between religious moderates and extremists over what form Islam should take.

Mr Nasab was arrested earlier this month after he published a series of controversial articles.

One of them argued that giving up Islam was not a crime that should be punished by death, as sanctioned by some interpretations of Islamic Sharia law.

Other pieces criticised the practice of punishing adultery with 100 lashes and argued that men and women should be considered by Islamic law to be equals.

Clerics' ruling

The Ulema Council, a body of top Islamic clerics, reacted strongly against the articles.

"The Ulema Council sent us a letter saying that he should be punished so I sentenced him to two years' jail," Judge Ansarullah Mawizada told the Associated Press.

Mr Nasab said that he didn't recognise the court and did not accept its verdict.

The Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association has also spoken out against the verdict, saying it was outside the law.

"He wrote what he had the right to write according to Afghan law and press freedom and freedom of expression," the association's president, Rahimullah Samander, told AFP.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called for his immediate release.

The editor has three weeks in which to appeal against the verdict.

In 2003, two journalists were arrested in Afghanistan over charges of defaming Islam.

They were later released on the orders of President Hamid Karzai.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Cheney told top aide of CIA officer


Cheney told top aide of CIA officer: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff first learned about the CIA officer at the center of a leak investigation in a conversation with Cheney weeks before her identity became public in July 2003, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Notes of the conversation between chief of staff Lewis Libby and Cheney on June 12, 2003, put a spotlight on the vice president's possible role in the leak. The account also appears to run counter to Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he first learned about the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, from reporters.

Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor investigating the leak of Plame's identity, is said by lawyers involved in the case to be considering bringing charges against Libby for making false statements and possibly obstruction of justice.

Another possible target for indictment is Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser. Fitzgerald's announcement is expected later this week.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq. Wilson based the criticism in part on a CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to check out an intelligence report that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.

Cheney's office had sought more information about the uranium deal, prompting the CIA to dispatch Wilson.

Eager to distance the vice president from Wilson's mission and findings, Cheney's office began looking into Wilson's background in May or June of 2003, after details of his mission began to appear in the press but well before he came out publicly in July 2003 with his criticisms, people close to the investigation said.

Libby's notes indicate that Cheney got his information about Plame from George Tenet, who was then the CIA director, according to the Times, which attributed its report to lawyers involved in the case.

According to the Times, the notes do not show that Cheney knew the name of Wilson's wife. But they do show that Cheney did know and told Libby that she was employed by the CIA and that she may have helped arrange her husband's trip.

Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman, declined to comment.

Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride would only say, "We're cooperating fully, as the president and the vice president directed us."

A former intelligence official close to Tenet said the former CIA director has not been in touch with Fitzgerald's staff for over 15 months and was not asked to testify before the grand jury.

"Mr. Tenet does not wish to make any comments regarding an ongoing investigation," the former intelligence official said.


Moving the Goal Posts

Moving the Goal Posts

* In 2003 – and again in 2004 – President Bush said he would fire anyone found to be involved in the leak of Valerie Plame’s name. He didn’t say he would fire anyone who “committed a crime.” He said we would fire anyone found to be involved in the leak. [Bush Media Availability, 9/30/03]

* The president called the leak of Plame’s identity “a serious charge,” and “a criminal action.” [President Bush, 10/6/03] He said the “the special prosecutor is conducting a very serious investigation – he’s doing it in a very dignified way…” [10/11/05]

* The Department of Justice directed Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald to investigate whether any crimes were committed as part of the “alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity.” He was not told to determine whether there was a violation of the “Intelligence Identities Act of 1992,” as conservative talkers assert. He was charged with investigating whether any crimes were committed in connection with the leak. Period. [].

* Perjury is a crime. Perjury is a felony. Obstruction of justice is a felony.

* Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will determine if any crimes were committed. But there is no disputing the fact that Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby were involved in the leak. These men undertook a campaign to discredit Wilson and his wife and then they lied about it. Regardless of what Fitzgerald finds, the president must purge the White House of Karl Rove, I. Lewis Libby and all staff involved in the leak.

* This investigation is not a simple case of the White House “smearing political foes.” Ultimately, it is case about the White House manipulating intelligence to sell the war in Iraq and then lying to cover it up. The president owes the country an answer on the larger and far more troubling question of why the White House manipulated intelligence to make the case for a war that has made our country less safe and cost nearly 2,000 American lives.


Not One More

Not One More
Cindy Sheehan

"Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless and corrupt." Mahatma Gandhi

Unfortunately the 2000th American death in Iraq is tragically coming up too soon. I am in Washington, DC now and along with a coalition of peace groups and local activists, we will be holding vigils at the White House for the rest of the week from 12 noon to 8 PM.

Each day we will be passing out black wrist bands and we will have each person who picks one up write a KIA troop's name and number on it. Each wrist band will also stand for 50 innocent Iraqis killed. Everyday at 6 PM we will have a "die-in." We will ask everyone who is present at 6 PM to lie down and represent a dead soldier. At that point, the park police will give us 3 warnings before they arrest us. We are not encouraging people to get arrested -- it's a very personal decision. I am planning to not get up on the day after the 2000th soldier is killed. I may be arrested. Then when they let me out, I will go back and lie back down. We in America have let this criminal administration get away with murder for too long. Enough is enough. It's time to start practicing non-violent civil disobedience ( C.D.) on a large scale.

On Tuesday the 25th we will be fasting for the length of the vigil in solidarity with the hardships that Americans and Iraqis are enduring on a daily basis. We are asking America to fast in solidarity with us.

On Wednesday the 26th at 10:30 AM, we will be going to Arlington Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then to the White House for our vigil.

On Thursday the 27th at 10:30 AM we will be delivering a wreath and signed sympathy cards to the Iraqi Embassy. We are asking people who come out to our vigil on the Lafayette Park side to bring sympathy cards. Then to the White House for our vigil.

On Friday the 28th at 10:30 AM we will be delivering flowers and get well wishes to Walter Reed Hospital and we are asking people to bring get well cards to our vigil. Then off to the White House for our vigil.

Tomorrow I will be calling on President Bush to answer my original question: "What Noble Cause?" There is absolutely no noble cause. Our children and the Iraqi people are dying and suffering for no cause except for power and money greedy criminals.

The numbers are staggering. More American soldiers have been KIA in the first 32 months of Iraq so far then in the first 4 years of Vietnam. This isn't another Vietnam people, this is worse.

We cannot allow the people who are running our country to keep on running it into the ground.

It is time to exercise our sacred duty as human beings.

Let's get peacefully radical.


Some Volunteers Hid Support for Bloomberg

Some Volunteers Hid Support for Bloomberg

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- When Mayor Michael Bloomberg picked up the endorsement of an influential black minister at a Harlem restaurant last month, the diners there appeared to be ordinary people whose pancakes and coffee just happened to be interrupted by a campaign event.

But several were actually volunteers for the campaign - even though one of them told a reporter she had no idea the mayor would be there that morning. She and another volunteer were quoted in news stories as if they were Bloomberg supporters casually observing the event, not participating in it.

Michelle Middleton was one of about nine volunteers who blended into the morning crowd at the International House of Pancakes, campaign spokesman Stu Loeser said after The Associated Press inquired about her.

Experts say the practice of stacking crowds at campaign events with supporters is nothing new, but the fact that volunteers hid their allegiance to Bloomberg startled some. Loeser stressed the volunteers were not told to lie about why they were there.

"It just sounds like it was amateur hour," said Republican strategist Rich Galen.

Loeser said the campaign often invites volunteers to attend events like the Sept. 15 endorsement from the Rev. Calvin Butts. But volunteers are usually identifiable because they are cheering, holding signs, handing out literature or clearly doing campaign work.

A spokeswoman with the campaign of Bloomberg's opponent, Fernando Ferrer, asked Monday why the mayor would want to "surround himself" with "lackeys."

However, the Ferrer campaign itself has been known to dispatch volunteers to events. And during last year's presidential election, both candidates often filled crowds with their own supporters, especially during so-called town hall events. On one occasion, those who signed up to attend a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney were asked to sign a pledge endorsing President Bush.

"Campaign 101 is if you're having a rally or event, you should definitely make sure you have supporters there, but you should be straightforward about it," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist.

The Bloomberg campaign said only a few volunteers, out of thousands, were asked to attend the news conference at the International House of Pancakes in Harlem.

As reporters waited for the mayor and Butts to begin their news conference, several fanned out to interview "regular people" about their opinions on the mayor - a common practice at campaign stops.

A striking number of diners were effusive about Bloomberg.

"His record speaks for itself," Middleton said, "and I think he needs another four years to continue his progress as well as new policies."

Middleton said she was a Democrat, but planned to vote for the mayor, a billionaire Republican. She identified herself as a consultant, and said she was in Harlem that morning just to have breakfast with friends.

In a telephone follow-up interview later that day, she said again that her presence there was a coincidence. Middleton did not respond to several calls seeking comment after the AP learned last week she was a volunteer.

Another volunteer was quoted by The New York Sun in a story about the endorsement. Marilyn Foulks identified herself as a Democrat who skipped her party's primary because she was "saving her vote for Bloomberg."

And a man, Fred Wilson, who spoke with The New York Times, but whose quote ended up not being used in their coverage, has been a volunteer since February.

Wilson declined to comment late Monday to the AP.

None identified themselves as being affiliated with the campaign.


Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks dies


Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks dies

By Tom Brown

DETROIT (Reuters) - Rosa Parks, the black seamstress whose refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man sparked a revolution in American race relations, died on Monday. The U.S. civil rights pioneer was 92.

Shirley Kaigler, Parks' lawyer, said she died while taking a nap early on Monday evening surrounded by a small group of friends and family members.

"She just fell asleep and didn't wake up," Kaigler said.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Medical records released earlier this year, as part of a long-running legal dispute over the use of Parks' name in a song by the hip-hop group OutKast, revealed the she was suffering from progressive dementia. She rarely appeared in public in recent years.

Kaigler said Parks was at home in an apartment complex overlooking the Detroit River and the border with Ontario, Canada, when she died.

"She lived in the neighborhood that I grew up in," Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said of Parks, who lived in the predominantly black city for decades and had a major thoroughfare named after her.

"Everybody knew where her house was. Everybody would walk past and point her out," said Kilpatrick. "She was an amazing individual."

Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement: "The nation lost a courageous woman and a true American hero. A half century ago, Rosa Parks stood up not only for herself, but for generations upon generations of Americans."


"We are saddened by the passing of Rosa Parks. We rejoice in her legacy, which will never die. In many ways, history is marked as before, and after, Rosa Parks," said civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

"She sat down in order that we all might stand up, and the walls of segregation came down."

Parks was a 42-year-old seamstress for a Montgomery department store when she caught a bus in downtown Montgomery on December 1, 1955.

Three stops after she got on, a white man boarded and had to stand. To make room for him to sit alone, as the rules required, driver James Blake told Parks and three other black riders, "You all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats."

The other riders complied but Parks did not.

"No. I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen," she told Blake. Blake called police, who asked Parks why she didn't move: "I didn't think I should have to. I paid my fare like everybody else."

Parks was not the first black Montgomery bus rider to be arrested for failing to give up a seat, but she was the first to challenge the law. For years before her arrest, Parks and her husband had been active with local civil rights groups, which were looking for a test case to fight the city's segregation laws.

Four days later, she was convicted of breaking the law and fined $10, along with $4 in court costs. That same day, black residents began a boycott of the bus system, led by a then-unknown Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The boycott lasted 381 days, and the legal challenges led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that forced Montgomery to desegregate its bus system and put an end to "Jim Crow" laws separating blacks and whites at public facilities throughout the South.

Parks and her husband, Raymond, moved to Detroit in 1957, after she lost her job and received numerous death threats in Alabama. From 1965 to 1988, she worked as an aide to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"For a long time people were a little bit afraid of Rosa Parks because she had created this whole new modern civil rights movement," Conyers told Detroit radio late on Monday. "They didn't know what to expect, and they certainly didn't expect someone that quiet. She sought no limelight; you'd never hear her talking about her own civil rights activities and all the things that she had been in," he said.

"She has saint-like qualities," Conyers added.

Parks' husband died in 1977. The couple had no children and Parks' closest living relatives are her brother's 13 sons and daughters.

Parks received the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1996 and Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 1999. Recommending the medal for Parks that year, the U.S. Senate described her as "a living icon for freedom in America."


Monday, October 24, 2005

Fed Chair nominee Bernanke - logic flawed on Outsourcing

Fed Chair nominee Bernanke - logic flawed on Outsourcing

By Richard Kuper

The Op Ed Page

In June 2004, Minneapolis Fed Research Director Art Rolnick interviewed Ben S. Bernanke, whom President George W Bush has today nominated to succeed Alan Greenspan. Of interest to US citizens seeking work in the United States is Mr. Bernanke's response to a question about outsourcing.

Please read the full article here:


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Trick or Treat


Turning Point


The Northwest, 2045


The Court Awaits You


The Perfect Storm


NYT, Miller Spar Over Role in Leak Probe

ABC News
NYT, Miller Spar Over Role in Leak Probe
N.Y. Times, Reporter Engage in Public Fight About Her Seeming Lack of Candor in CIA Leak Probe
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - In the latest fallout from the CIA leak investigation, reporter Judith Miller and The New York Times are engaging in a very public fight about her seeming lack of candor in the case.

In a memo to the staff, Executive Editor Bill Keller says Miller "seems to have misled" the newspaper's Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, who said Miller told him in the fall of 2003 that she was not one of the recipients of a leak about the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Miller says Keller's criticism is "seriously inaccurate."

"I certainly never meant to mislead Phil, nor did I mislead him," Miller was quoted as saying in a Times story Saturday.

According to a Times story on Oct. 16, Miller told Taubman two years ago that the subject of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson and Wilson's wife, Plame, had come up in casual conversation with government officials, but that Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information."

In recent weeks, Miller testified to the grand jury in the leak probe that she had discussed Wilson and his wife in three conversations with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in June and July of 2003.

Keller wrote that if he had known of Miller's "entanglement" with Libby, he might have been more willing to explore compromises with the prosecutor who was trying to get her testimony for the criminal investigation into the leak of Plame's identity.

Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. She was freed on Sept. 29 when she finally agreed to testify.

Responding to Keller's criticism, Miller told the newspaper, "I was unaware that there was a deliberate, concerted disinformation campaign to discredit Wilson and that if there had been, I did not think I was a target of it."

"As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social or other relationship with him except as a source," Miller said.

Underlying the issue is Miller's own flawed prewar reporting on Iraq.

Her stories pointing to the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq helped clear a path for the administration's arguments in favor of going to war. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, and Keller said he regretted waiting a year before confronting problems with Miller's reporting.

In his memo, Keller wrote that the newspaper in the summer of 2003 had just been through the trauma of the Jayson Blair episode, in which a reporter was found to have fabricated articles, resulting in the departure of the Times' executive editor and managing editor.

"It felt somehow unsavory to begin a tenure by attacking our predecessors," Keller wrote. By waiting more than a year, he said, "We allowed the anger inside and outside the paper to fester. Worse, we fear, we fostered an impression that the Times put a higher premium on protecting its reporters than on coming clean with its readers."

Op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd weighed in with further criticism in Saturday's Times. "Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, (Miller) was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers," Dowd wrote.

If Miller returns to covering national security issues, Dowd wrote, "the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands."

In a column written for Sunday's editions of The Times, public editor Byron Calame wrote, "It seems to me that whatever the limits put on her, the problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a reporter."


Senator Urges Gov't to Stop Price Gougers

ABC News
Senator Urges Gov't to Stop Price Gougers
Democratic Senator Calls on Federal Gov't to Pursue Price Gougers, Help Poor With Heating Bills
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Calling upon lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas said Saturday the federal government can do a better job of caring for its citizens.

Consumers need protection from price gouging in times of gasoline shortages and supply delays and low-income families need help paying home-heating fuel bills, projected to rise by as much as 50 percent this winter, Pryor said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

High energy costs also are hurting small and large businesses alike, he said.

Pryor said Congress and the Bush administration must return to an era of "responsible budgeting" and be less inclined to advocate tax cuts for special interests as a remedy for economic ills.

"We simply must do a better job of putting the needs of all Americans over the wants of a privileged few," the senator said.

He also stressed the importance of energy independence and said the country should waste no time in developing alternative fuels

Pryor reminded listeners that much work in health care, housing and economic opportunities remained to rebuild communities damaged by Gulf Coast hurricanes, and pledged Democratic resolve to fix problems that caused the failed government response to Hurricane Katrina.


Young Lawmaker Likens Congress to Jr. High

ABC News
Young Lawmaker Likens Congress to Jr. High
Rep. Patrick McHenry, Youngest Member of Congress, Says Capitol Hill Is Like Junior High
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Don't let his age fool you. The youngest member of Congress says he thinks he has Capitol Hill all figured out, though he's been on the job only 10 months.

"This place is a much more sophisticated junior high school," 30-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said recently in an interview. "There are the nice guys that everybody likes, the jocks, the geeks, the bullies they're all here. It's a representative democracy."

It's easy to imagine where McHenry fits in this analogy. The freshman lawmaker, whose birthday was Saturday, would be the kid brother, the one eager to subject himself to an occasional barb if it helps him get into the club.

At a White House lunch for new members, President Bush teased McHenry about his boyish appearance despite his prematurely graying hair. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., a former high school wrestling coach, put him in a playful headlock after a conference of House Republicans.

Brash, enthusiastic and a strong believer in an aggressive conservative agenda, McHenry is clearly looked upon by GOP leaders as just the type of eager-to-please foot soldier needed for carrying on their cause.

"He brings a fresh perspective to the issues at hand," said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Hastert. "We are lucky to have him."

And just like a kid brother, McHenry has remained loyal as scandals threaten the crowd he has joined. He continues to lead cheers for Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, after his indictment on money-laundering charges, and for Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser caught up in an investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

McHenry echoes DeLay, calling Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle "a partisan hack" and accusing the House Democrats' campaign operation of playing a role in the indictment.

"It's a major part of their agenda," McHenry said. "It's so clear that this is a major desire for (Democratic Reps.) Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel and the leftist organizations to make political hay out of this."

Democrats say McHenry's inside-the-Beltway posturing comes at the expense of his constituents.

"I think the 10th District (of North Carolina) sent him to Washington to work for them, not Tom DeLay or Karl Rove," said Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

McHenry has demonstrated some independence. Textile and furniture manufacturing are a big part of the economy in his district, and he bucked party leaders by upholding a campaign promise to vote against the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

In March, he was among a small number of conservatives who threatened to vote against the 2006 budget resolution unless it included new rules to restrain spending.

"I got a lot of pressure over a period of about two weeks, and I held my ground," McHenry said. "I was committed to a cause."

He has eagerly sought the role of an attack dog against Democrats, although he has sometimes come off as more like a puppy nipping at their heels. But GOP leaders chose him over more senior members to debate Democrats twice his age on national television.

According to fellow freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Wash., McHenry is right where he wants to be.

"He enjoys a good debate and being at the center of the action," she said.

Rep. Sue Myrick, a friend and fellow North Carolina Republican, said McHenry has "got innate political sense, simply because he's been in politics since he was knee-high."

McHenry first ran for public office as a 22-year-old candidate for the North Carolina legislature. He lost to the father of a high school classmate.

He worked as a national youth coordinator for Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, and after cultivating top Republicans and conservative leaders in Washington for two years, returned to western North Carolina to win a seat in the state legislature. He was serving his first term when veteran Republican Rep. Cass Ballenger decided not to seek re-election.

"I got into the race and people literally laughed," McHenry said. "They thought I had no chance of winning."

Largely outspent by his opponents in the primaries, McHenry credits his win to an army of college-age Republicans knocking on 70,000 doors and making more than 100,000 campaign calls.

When he won the primary by 85 votes, he promptly received $10,000 each from the political action committees operated by Hastert, DeLay and another Republican leader, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. He won in November with 63 percent of the vote against Democratic social worker Anne Fischer.

McHenry sits on the Budget, Government Reform and Financial Services committees. The House Republican campaign operation placed him on its executive committee, and he is a member of the House Republican Study Committee, a group of 100 of the most conservative House members.

"I thought it would take years for a new member to become a player," McHenry said. "It's better than I expected."

On the Net:

Rep. Patrick McHenry:


Poll: Clinton Would Lead Rice in '08 Race

ABC News
Poll: Clinton Would Lead Rice in '08 Race
Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Leading Condoleezza Rice in Hypothetical 2008 Presidential Matchup
The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a hypothetical presidential matchup, according to an independent poll released Friday.

The poll, conducted by Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion in conjunction with New York City television station WNBC, gave the former first lady 50 percent to 41 percent for Rice.

But Republicans John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani both topped Clinton.

Clinton, McCain and Giuliani are all considered potential 2008 presidential candidates. Rice has said she will not run.

The poll, mirroring other recent national surveys, had Clinton as the clear front-runner for the 2008 Democratic nomination, favored by 41 percent of her party's voters to 17 percent for Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and 14 percent for former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Kerry's running mate in 2004.

Asked about Clinton's political leanings, 39 percent of voters said she was too liberal, while 46 percent said she was about right.

"She remains a controversial figure when she moves out from the Democratic primary sweepstakes," Marist pollster Lee Miringoff said.

On the Republican side, Rice, Giuliani and McCain were about tied for the GOP nomination, each attracting about 20 percent of the vote.

But with Rice out of the mix, Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, was favored over the senator from Arizona, 31 percent to 24 percent.

No other Republican topped single digits.

The poll had McCain leading Clinton, 50 percent to 41 percent. Giuliani was ahead of the former first lady, 50 percent to 43 percent.

Voters were divided over electing a woman as president. Twenty-six percent told pollsters they were likely or very likely to vote for a woman, while 28 percent said they were not likely to vote for a woman.

They were also divided on whether Clinton should run for president, 48 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.

Marist's telephone poll of 827 registered voters was conducted Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 17 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.