Saturday, December 03, 2005

US civil rights group to sue CIA

US civil rights group to sue CIA

A US civil rights groups says it is taking the CIA to court to stop the transportation of terror suspects to countries outside US legal authority.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the intelligence agency has broken both US and international law.

It is acting for a man allegedly flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she'll comment on recent reports of alleged CIA prisons abroad before starting a visit to Europe on Monday.

Ms Rice has said she will provide an answer to a EU letter expressing concern over reports last month alleging the US intelligence agency was using secret jails - particularly in eastern Europe.

'Extraordinary rendition'

"The lawsuit will charge that CIA officials at the highest level violated US and universal human rights laws when they authorised agents to abduct an innocent man, detain him in incommunicado, beat him, drug and transport him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan," the ACLU said in a news release.

The release identified the jail as the "Salt Pit".

The group did not provide the name or nationality of the plaintiff, saying only that he would appear at a news conference next week to reveal details of the lawsuit.

The ACLU also wants to name corporations which it accuses of owning and operating the aircraft used to transport detainees secretly from country to country.

The highly secretive process is known as "extraordinary rendition" whereby intelligence agencies move and interrogate terrorism suspects outside the US, where they have no American legal protection.

It has become extremely controversial, the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington reports.

Some individuals have claimed they were flown by the CIA to countries like Syria and Egypt, where they were tortured.

The US government and its intelligence agencies maintain that all their operations are conducted within the law and they will no doubt fight this case vigorously, our correspondent says.

He says they will not want to see US intelligence officers forced publicly to defend their actions and they will not want to see one of their most secret procedures laid bare in open court.

Story from BBC NEWS:


9/11 Panel Gives Gov't Poor Marks on Reform

Yahoo! News
9/11 Panel Gives Gov't Poor Marks on Reform

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. intelligence agencies still are failing to share information while Congress battles over security funding, a panel that investigated the terrorist hijackings will conclude in a new report.

In interviews Friday, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said the government should receive a dismal grade for its lack of urgency in enacting strong security measures to prevent terror attacks.

The 10-member, bipartisan commission disbanded after issuing 41 recommendations to bolster the nation's security in July 2004. The members have reconstituted themselves, using private funds, as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project and will release a new report Monday assessing the extent their directives have been followed.

Overall, the government has performed "not very well," said former commission chairman Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey.

"Before 9-11, both the Clinton and Bush administrations said they had identified Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida as problems that have to be dealt with, and were working on it," Kean said. "But they just were not very high on their priority list. And again it seems that the safety of the American people is not very high on Washington's priority list."

A spokesman at the Homeland Security Department declined to comment until the report is issued Monday. Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, acknowledged that some areas continue to be vulnerable but have not been addressed due to disagreements with the Senate.

Congress established the commission in 2002 to investigate government missteps that led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It found that the United States could not protect its citizens from the attacks because it underestimated al-Qaida. Since June, the former commissioners have held hearings to examine what they described as the government's unfinished agenda to secure the country.

Among the main concerns, which former Democratic commissioner Timothy Roemer said would receive the "worst grades":

_The United States is not doing enough to ensure that foreign nations are upgrading security measures to stop proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical materials. Such materials could be used in weapons of mass destruction, and over 100 research reactors around the world have enough highly enriched uranium present to make a nuclear device.

"We've seen that Osama bin Laden likes to do spectacular things," said Roemer, a former Indiana congressman. "Is a dirty bomb next? ... We're not doing enough, and we're not doing it urgently enough."

_Police, firefighters, medics and other first responders still lack interconnected radio systems letting them communicate with each other during emergencies. Responders from different agencies at the World Trade Center were unable to coordinate rescues — or receive information that could have saved their own lives — on 9/11.

Congress last year approved spending nearly $1 billion on interoperable systems, but King said the matter is "a very difficult issue."

_Both the Bush administration and Congress have continued to distribute security funding to states without aiming most money at high-risk communities. The Homeland Security Department gave $2.5 billion in grants to states and 50 high-risk cities last year, but some rural states, like Wyoming, received more money per resident than terror targets like New York.

The House and Senate have been unable this year to agree on a funding formula that distributes money based solely on risk, threats and vulnerability. King said the Senate's proposal "is still living with a pork-barrel formula." But Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins said in statement that her bipartisan plan "provides a meaningful baseline of funds to each state so that the nation as a whole can achieve essential levels of preparedness."

Kean said information-sharing gaps among turf-conscious federal intelligence agencies continue to exist. He also chastised the Transportation Security Administration for failing to consolidate multiple databases of passenger information into a single "terror watch list" that would make it easier for airlines to screen for suspicious travelers.

Moreover, expanded governmental powers to seek out terror-related intelligence have not been adequately balanced by civil liberties protections or oversight, said former Democratic commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste. He said President Bush was "tardy in naming a civil liberties protection board, whose funding is anemic and which has not yet been met to get underway."

A bright spot in the government's performance is the creation of a national intelligence director to help coordinate all government terror information, Roemer said.

"Generally, the grades range all the way from A to F," Kean said.

Still, "No parent would be happy with this report card," said former Democratic commissioner Jamie Gorelick.


On the Net:

9/11 Public Discourse Project:


The United States Is Opposed
Carl Pope
The United States Is Opposed

"The United States is opposed." That's how Harlan Watson, the chief of the U.S. delegation to the international global warming meeting in Montreal, responded this week. What's appalling is that Watson was not referring to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Bush administration has always been against.

Nor was he taking off on some European or Third World proposal that the U.S. found objectionable. Watson was nixing the idea of continuing to negotiate about international targets for greenhouse emissions, even though we already are a signatory to (and in violation of) the Rio Treaty, which binds us at the least to hold emissions down to 1990 levels. So the U.S. is against further discussion of the world's biggest environmental challenge and against talking about how the U.S. might honor its treaty obligations.

In fact, Watson even opposed having the conference talk about his own government's proposal. As Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada put it:

"The U.S. even objected to any discussion of its pet techno-fix, carbon capture and storage -- a hugely controversial technology to bury carbon dioxide below ground and hope it stays there. The U.S. is still pushing carbon capture and storage -- it just does not want to allow that discussion to happen in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention or Kyoto."

This opposition was expressed in such incredible diplomatic doublespeak that I won't even try to quote it, but the State Department has kindly posted the full verbiage on its website, and it's worth reading as a model if there’s something you need to say but you don't actually want anyone to know what you mean.

Meanwhile Richard Pombo's land grab ran into still more resistance in the West, when five western governors, led by Wyoming's Dave Freudenthal, weighed in against Pombo's attempted public-lands giveaway rider tucked into the pending House version of the Budget Bill. Freudenthal was joined by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire:

"Private lands that have historically been accessible by the average outdoorsman are becoming increasingly closed to public access. It follows that public lands have over the years become essential to these folks, but there are provisions in this bill that could see those lands lost to the public as they pass into private ownership."

And while it happens that all six governors who signed the letter are Democrats, Pombo can't take much heart from this fact. Because Wyoming's two Republican senators are now joining the alarm, with Senator Craig Thomas saying "I won't stand by and let a Band-Aid fix to the Mining Act become a chronic injury to land use in our state."


Friday, December 02, 2005

US skewed evidence of 1964 Tonkin attack

Yahoo! News
US skewed evidence of 1964 Tonkin attack: document

U.S. intelligence officials in 1964 skewed evidence of an attack on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin to support claims of communist aggression that led to a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, according to a newly declassified government document.

An article by a National Security Agency historian, released by the NSA this week along with intelligence reports and other related documents, said officials at the spy agency withheld nearly 90 percent of intelligence on the August 4, 1964, incident to back allegations of a North Vietnamese attack.

"It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened. It is that no attack happened that night," NSA historian Robert Hanyok wrote.

Hanyok's article, which appeared in a classified NSA publication in 2001, was based on a review of newly discovered signals intelligence documents from 41 years ago.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident gave President Lyndon Johnson carte blanche for a huge U.S. military buildup in Southeast Asia that led to the deaths of more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers and over 2 million Vietnamese civilians.

The New York Times reported Friday that some intelligence officials believe the NSA delayed the release of the Hanyok article to avoid comparisons between skewed Vietnam intelligence and flawed prewar intelligence on Iraq.

But NSA spokesman Don Weber said there was no delay. The agency only waited so it could also make public the raw material Hanyok used in composing his history, he said.

Officials at NSA, the spy agency that monitors transmission signals, provided the Johnson administration only with signals intelligence that supported claims of an attack. The reports were also flawed by severe analytic errors and contained unexplained translation changes, the article said.

In fact, Johnson's main proof that the August 4 attack occurred proved to be a "conjunction of two unrelated messages into one translation," the article stated.

"Information was presented in such a manner as to preclude responsible decisionmakers in the Johnson administration from having the complete and objective narrative," said the article, which was among hundreds of documents on the Gulf of Tonkin released by the NSA.

"The conclusion that would have been drawn from a review of all ... evidence would have been that the North Vietnamese not only did not attack, but were uncertain as to the location of the (U.S.) ships."

Historians have long suspected that government reports of the 1964 attack were fabricated. Robert McNamara, Johnson's defense secretary, said during a visit to Vietnam a decade ago that he had come to believe the attack did not occur.


Diebold faces e-voting machine hack test in California
Diebold faces e-voting machine hack test in California
The attempted hack, set to take place this week, has been delayed

News Story by Marc L. Songini

DECEMBER 01, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Looking to quell fears about the potential for vote tampering with electronic voting machines, the state of California is sponsoring a hacking test of an optical scan voting device from Diebold Election Systems.

The initial hacking was slated to be held yesterday but was postponed, said Jim March, an investigator at Black Box Voting Inc., a Renton, Wash.-based nonprofit voter advocacy group. His organization has been prodding California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's office to test Diebold's AccuVote optical scan gear for alleged vulnerabilities.

The move comes amid recurring concerns that e-voting gear, including optical scan and touch-screen voting machines, are vulnerable to intrusion or rigging. In this case, March claimed that a vulnerability in the memory card in the Diebold optical scan machine could allow a hacker to replace code and "doctor the results."

Black Box Voting had planned to provide a hacker for yesterday's demonstration, a Finland-based security expert and "uber-geek" named Harri Hursti, March said. Working with Black Box Voting, Hursti last May successfully hacked a Diebold machine in Leon County, Fla. (download PDF).

A spokeswoman for the California secretary of state said that McPherson decided to sponsor the security test because of the Florida experiment. She also said the exact protocols and logistical details to be used in the hacking attempt are still being finalized with Hursti. The testing would involve the random selection of an AccuVote machine currently in use in one of California's voting precincts. No new date for the hacking attempt has been set, but California officials said they hope to conduct it by year's end.

McKinney, Texas-based Diebold denied that its optical scan gear is vulnerable and said it will work with McPherson on the upcoming hacking attempt. A Diebold spokesman also called the Leon County, Fla., hacking invalid. "We weren't ever aware of it," David Bear said. "The election official bringing [Hursti and Black Box] in gave them complete and unfettered access and the passcode." In a real election, doing so is bad policy and something elections officials would not allow to happen, he said. Bear also said that security procedures during elections extend beyond the safety of the equipment.

"If I gave you the keys to my house and told you when I was out, you would have a good chance to get in," Bear said. He also noted that the optical scan machine records the actual vote in a memory card and on paper ballots that are audited during the mandatory canvassing period to guarantee the integrity of the results.

On another front, Diebold's status as a provider of e-voting equipment in North Carolina is in limbo after a judge this week denied the company's request for protection from the state's election transparency laws.

North Carolina's strict election statues, passed in August, demand that the vendors of all e-voting machines put their source code in escrow with an approved and independent agent. The vendor must also include relevant scripts, object libraries, application interfaces, and design and technical documentation. If the vendor doesn't comply, it faces potential civil or criminal legal penalties.

Diebold on Nov. 4 got a temporary restraining order to exempt it from any legal jeopardy while it continues to sell its machines in North Carolina. On Monday, Diebold appeared in Wake County Court in Raleigh, N.C., for a preliminary injunction to shield it from potential penalties. But the judge ruled that such an injunction would be premature and dismissed the suit.

"We're not trying to evade anything," said Doug Hanna, a Raleigh-based attorney representing Diebold. He said there is no way any vendor can comply with the statute because there are software components from third-party vendors such as Microsoft Corp. that Diebold has no legal to right to place in escrow. Diebold would also be unable to name every programmer that worked on those third-party applications, as the state law requires, he said.

Hanna said many states dictate that proprietary source code be placed in escrow, and Diebold has done so in a number of jurisdictions. North Carolina could gain access to the code through one of them, he said.

He said he doesn't know how the fight in North Carolina will affect Diebold's status there.

Critics of Diebold are chalking up the latest ruling as a win. "We think this is a great victory for North Carolina voters," said Matthew Zimmerman, staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group. The EFF was among the parties opposing Diebold in court.

"It sends a clear message to the rest of the country that the laws designed to increase integrity and transparency are valid and don't prevent a state from being able to go forward with e-voting systems," Zimmerman said, adding that other e-voting vendors, such as Election Systems & Software Inc., have complied with North Carolina's laws. "It [the third-party software issue] was a completely artificial argument in the first place," he said.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Unpopular in Pursuit of the Unwinnable?

Inter Press Service News Agency
The Unpopular in Pursuit of the Unwinnable?

Jim Lobe

Hoping to reverse plunging confidence in his strategy for Iraq -- and in his own leadership -- U.S. President George W. Bush Wednesday launched a major campaign to persuade the public that Washington is indeed prevailing against the insurgency there.

However, beneath that rhetoric, as well as in the new strategy document, could be found an approach to Iraq significantly closer to that advocated by realist critics ranging from former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft to ranking Democrats, than to the neo-conservative vision with which the administration went to war in 2003.

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (IPS) - Speaking before a generally friendly, if somewhat restrained audience of cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Bush vowed to settle for "nothing less than complete victory" and repeated previous warnings against setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

To coincide with Bush's speech, however, the White House released a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", which suggested that the administration is indeed preparing to draw down U.S. troops in 2006.

"We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process consolidates and as Iraqi Security Forces grow and gain experience," the 35-page document stated, noting as well that U.S. forces will increasingly "move to supporting roles in most areas".

And in spite of Bush's insistence that the U.S. would not leave until it achieves "complete victory", the strategy document asserted that Iraq "is likely to struggle with some level of violence for many years to come".

Bush's speech, as well as the strategy document's release, marks the beginning of an unprecedented campaign to rally the public behind the president, as well as his policy in Iraq. With his approval ratings hovering below 40 percent for several weeks, Bush's political advisers, as well as independent analysts, believe that the public's perceptions of success or failure in Iraq will largely determine his political potency over the three years that remain in his presidency.

In addition to Wednesday's address, Bush plans to give several other speeches on Iraq in the coming days, each featuring different aspects of his administration's strategy and culminating in what the White House fervently hopes will be a huge turnout in Iraq's elections Dec. 15.

Other top officials, including the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, have also scheduled speaking engagements that the White House hopes will not only dominate news coverage, but also make it appear that the strategy is one that is fully backed by the military itself.

That perception is regarded as particularly important at the moment, both because the administration and its supporters have tried hard in recent weeks to equate growing calls for withdrawal with a betrayal of the country's soldiers, and because some of those calls have been endorsed by critics, notably Democratic Rep. John Murtha, with particularly close and long-standing ties to the uniformed military.

Murtha, a well-known hawk and highly decorated Marine veteran from both the Korean and Vietnam wars, shocked Washington two weeks ago when he called on Bush to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by mid-2006. "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency" and had become "a catalyst for violence", he said. "It's time to bring them home."

While most of his fellow-Democrats argued for a less hurried withdrawal of the nearly 160,000 troops who are currently deployed there, Murtha's stance, coupled with Bush's declining poll numbers and growing unrest among Republican lawmakers over Iraq's impact on their re-election prospects next November, spurred panic in the administration.

It also infuriated Bush's hawkish and neo-conservative supporters, who launched their own media campaign accusing critics of "cutting and running" and reassuring the public that all the talk of the withdrawal would "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" in Iraq.

"(T)he Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood," wrote Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Congress' leading Democratic neo-conservative, in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, "unless the great American military has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn."

It was not by accident Bush extolled Lieberman in Wednesday's 40-minute speech which, like the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, insisted that Iraq had made "incredible progress" in the last two and a half years and was on the verge of a major breakthrough in its transformation into a democratic state.

The core of his remarks, however, was devoted to outlining progress made in training and equipping an estimated 210,000 Iraqi military and police forces, whose ability to replace U.S. troops is seen by both the administration and its critics here as the key to securing the latter's withdrawal sooner rather than later.

While the process "hasn't always gone smoothly", he admitted, "in the past year, Iraqi forces have made real progress" both in being able to operate independently of U.S. forces and "hold(ing)" territory and towns that had been cleared of insurgents by U.S. or joint U.S.-Iraqi forces on their own.

The growing capabilities of the security forces, Bush went on in an echo of the strategy document, will translate into reduced visibility and presence of U.S. troops. "We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys," he said.

"As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists," he went on, adding that those reductions "will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq ..., not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington", in what was one of several notes of defiance that peppered the speech.

However, beneath that rhetoric, as well as in the new strategy document, could be found an approach to Iraq significantly closer to that advocated by realist critics ranging from former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft to ranking Democrats, than to the neo-conservative vision with which the administration went to war in 2003.

"I think that Bush was trying to put the best possible face on a policy that he's being forced to change by circumstances both here and in Iraq," Lawrence Korb of the Campaign for American Progress (CAP) and co-author of a widely-cited "redeployment plan" that calls for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq, told IPS.

"There's no doubt that if you look at the troops that have been alerted to go next year, that you will have less than 100,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2006," he added.

That was made evident not only by the references to the reduced visibility and presence of U.S. forces, but also to a much more nuanced breakdown of the "enemy" as consisting mostly of "rejectionists". These are described by Bush as "ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs" who must, as the strategy document made particularly clear, be cultivated through political means in order to isolate harder-core foes -- "former regime loyalists" and "the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda."

The strategy document implicitly assails the de-Baathification programme that was so vigorously advocated by neo-conservatives and expresses serious concerns about the infiltration of the new security forces by Kurdish and Shiite militia.

But it appears above all to reflect the more realist views of U.S. Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad; his military counterpart, Gen. George Casey; and the new Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, Meghan O'Sullivan, who clashed frequently with neo-conservatives in the Pentagon before and after the U.S. invasion. (FIN/2005)


50 Years Ago Today

50 Years Ago Today


I just thought we should all pause for a moment today to remember the simple act of courage, defiance and dignity committed by Rosa Parks when she refused to move to the back of the bus because the law said she had the wrong skin color. The greatest moments in history, the ones that have truly mattered and have taken us to a better place, are made up of scores of these singular acts by ordinary, everyday people who could no longer tolerate the crap and the nonsense of those in charge.

Today, whether it is a student who holds a sit-in to get the army recruiters off his campus, or the mother of a dead soldier who refuses to leave the front gate of the president's ranch, we continue to be saved by brave people who risk ridicule and rejection but end up turning huge tides of public opinion in the direction of righteousness. We owe them enormous debts of gratitude. It is not easy to stand up for what is right, especially when everyone else is afraid to leave the comfortable path of conformity.

Rosa Parks may have been alone on that bus at the moment of her arrest but she wasn't alone for long. The old order was shaken, the world was upended and, as a people, we were given a chance for a bit of redemption.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate this most important day in American history is to ask yourself what it is that you can do today to make a difference. What risk can you take to move the ball forward? What is that one thing you've been wanting to say to your co-workers or classmates that you've been afraid to say -- but in your heart of hearts you know needs to be said? Why wait another day to say it or do it?

There is probably no better way to honor Rosa Parks -- and yourself -- than for you to put a stop to an injustice you see, not allowing it to continue for one more second. Do something. Then send me an email ( and tell all of us what you did (I'll post as many as I can).

Fifty years later, the bus we're on could use a few more people simply saying, "No. I'm sorry. I've had enough. I'm not going to take it anymore."


Michael Moore


Bush Gives (VICTORY!!!) a Speech
Adam McKay
Bush Gives (VICTORY!!!) a Speech

For the past five years the Republicans have come up with a great and subtle way to underline the theme of a speech for the casual viewer. They put it in bold letters on the flat or banner behind the speaker. It’s a trick that’s been pointed out many times, yet Bush and his ilk continue to ride it for all it’s worth.
Which is apparently quite a bit.

The most recent example is Bush's speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis to reenergize America on the Iraq war. Despite the fact that the speech contained an almost aggressive lack of any new ideas, every AP wire picture of the President had the word "VICTORY" behind him. I told you. It's very subtle:

And for those of you who still don't get it let me explain how this highly scientific and nuanced bit of subliminal branding works. You see, some people hear a speech and they hear Bush say a lot of different things. And they think "Man, I don't know. This guy doesn't have the most reliable track record. And weren't all the reasons for this war pretty bogus?" Then this person, caught in a moment of doubt, looks up and sees the President with the word "VICTORY" behind him and doesn't so much as think, but more "brightens" -- and then says to herself or himself, but probably himself, "Ah screw it, VICTORY!" The person then gets up and puts on a CD of Bob Seeger's "Like a Rock" and beats the shit out of his liberal neighbor.

It's a fantastic idea. And it works. Look how well Bush, you, and the country are doing. I love this approach so much I want it carried into the Theater. I want to see a production of Hamlet where the whole back set is the giant word "INDECISION!" Or maybe a production of Long Day's Journey Into Night where a flat reads "THAT'S FAMILY FOR YOU!"

Now I know what you Republicans (or should I say, you, the Republican) are thinking: Wait! The Democrats do it too! Which is true. As we know, every lame, heavy-handed tactic the Republicans come up with the Democrats copy six months later and not as well. The Democrats are kind of like Canadian TV that way. Kerry, while searching for a theme for his campaign, would often have "I'm different but not that different" behind him while he spoke. Or "Bush is incompetent but not too incompetent because I respect the choices you make, America -- and you chose Bush. Though for the life of me I think you fucked up... er, um... I mean, were misled." Like I said, not as good.

Bush's most famous example of letting the theme become the set dressing was his landing on the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln with "Mission Accomplished" on a huge banner behind him:

Later he blamed the sailors for putting the banner up and claimed neither he nor his people knew that the banner would be there.

In defense of the President, this does happen sometimes. Just the other day I went to argue a traffic ticket in court and without me knowing it the Judge had put a giant "Adam McKay is Innocent" banner behind me. After finding me guilty (Long story but, real quick, it involved misreading the directions on an inhaler and an untimely gift of a motorcycle) he apologized for putting the banner up.

Dick Cheney usually has some word behind him when he speaks. It's usually something like "Truth and Integrity" or "Stay the Course." If they really wanted to aid Cheney with his speeches, the people who make the Theme flats should put one behind him that reads "I Do Not Have a Spider That Lives in My Ass" or "I Am Not Sustained by Pure Liquid Evil." Do that, and they might see a bump in Cheney's, oh I don't know, -6% percent approval rating.

Let's face it, even Republicans know this guy is a mangled vampire. But they have to back him because he plays for the home team and most Republicans look at politics not as setting a course for our nation but as Us vs Them. It's kind of like when Dennis Rodman played for the Bulls in the early nineties and did a book signing in the middle of the Loop in a bridal gown and eye shadow. The very working class mid-western town of Chicago was like, "Um...he's a character!" Then, after he left, the whole city let out a collective shudder.

My other favorite not so subtle speech trick that Bush does is to play to only the safest and most partisan crowds. The speech today was in front of naval cadets. I think it's literally against the law for them to heckle or boo a commanding officer, which technically (huge emphasis on "technically”) Bush is. In the past he's given speeches to soldiers, cadets, recently sworn-in soldiers, returning soldiers, veteran soldiers, people who play military role-playing games, and school children. Wow. I get the feeling that when Bush was playing Mario Brothers in his Houston condo in the late eighties he never went past the EASY setting.

But as the country continues to flounder under Bush's leadership we can eventually expect a boo or two from some brave soldier who realizes that this spoiled brat draft dodger is looting the country for his corporate owners and started this war because he did none of his homework and hates to be challenged. Then Bush will have to give his next big speech to an even less challenging audience like a bunch of newborn infants or a giant pile of GI Joe actions figures. Better yet, Bush could start giving speeches to projected film clips of the cadet crowd from the end of Scent of a Woman that applauded Pacino. The sad thing is that if he actually did that you'd have 35% of the country thinking it was a bold move by Bush and that at least he stood by his decision.

This whole Bush reign reminds me of when I was in college and a buddy and I put the song "Radar Love" on a dormant jukebox twenty times in a row at a local pizza place just to see what would happen. At first everyone was like "Hey! I love this song!" But by the fifteenth time they had summoned the owner who was reaching behind the machine trying to pull the plug. Thank God nowadays the jukeboxes have safeguards against songs being played over and over again to the point of losing all meaning and truth.


Plan: We Win

The New York Times

Plan: We Win

We've seen it before: an embattled president so swathed in his inner circle that he completely loses touch with the public and wanders around among small knots of people who agree with him. There was Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's, Richard Nixon in the 1970's, and George H. W. Bush in the 1990's. Now it's his son's turn.

It has been obvious for months that Americans don't believe the war is going just fine, and they needed to hear that President Bush gets that. They wanted to see that he had learned from his mistakes and adjusted his course, and that he had a measurable and realistic plan for making Iraq safe enough to withdraw United States troops. Americans didn't need to be convinced of Mr. Bush's commitment to his idealized version of the war. They needed to be reassured that he recognized the reality of the war.

Instead, Mr. Bush traveled 32 miles from the White House to the Naval Academy and spoke to yet another of the well-behaved, uniformed audiences that have screened him from the rest of America lately. If you do not happen to be a midshipman, you'd have to have been watching cable news at midmorning on a weekday to catch him.

The address was accompanied by a voluminous handout entitled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," which the White House grandly calls the newly declassified version of the plan that has been driving the war. If there was something secret about that plan, we can't figure out what it was. The document, and Mr. Bush's speech, were almost entirely a rehash of the same tired argument that everything's going just fine. Mr. Bush also offered the usual false choice between sticking to his policy and beating a hasty and cowardly retreat.

On the critical question of the progress of the Iraqi military, the president was particularly optimistic, and misleading. He said, for instance, that Iraqi security forces control major areas, including the northern and southern provinces and cities like Najaf. That's true if you believe a nation can be built out of a change of clothing: these forces are based on party and sectarian militias that have controlled many of these same areas since the fall of Saddam Hussein but now wear Iraqi Army uniforms. In other regions, the most powerful Iraqi security forces are rogue militias that refuse to disarm and have on occasion turned their guns against American troops, like Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Mr. Bush's vision of the next big step is equally troubling: training Iraqi forces well enough to free American forces for more of the bloody and ineffective search-and-destroy sweeps that accomplish little beyond alienating the populace.

What Americans wanted to hear was a genuine counterinsurgency plan, perhaps like one proposed by Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., a leading writer on military strategy: find the most secure areas with capable Iraqi forces. Embed American trainers with those forces and make the region safe enough to spend money on reconstruction, thus making friends and draining the insurgency. Then slowly expand those zones and withdraw American forces.

Americans have been clamoring for believable goals in Iraq, but Mr. Bush stuck to his notion of staying until "total victory." His strategy document defines that as an Iraq that "has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency"; is "peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure"; and is a partner in the war on terror, an integral part of the international community, and "an engine for regional economic growth and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region."

That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall. Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.

A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.


Terror Trial Hits Obstacle, Unexpectedly

The New York Times
Terror Trial Hits Obstacle, Unexpectedly

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 - A federal appeals court threw up a surprise obstacle on Wednesday to the Bush administration's plan to transfer Jose Padilla from military custody to face terrorism charges in a civilian court.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., issued a brief order suggesting it might withdraw an earlier opinion that gave President Bush sweeping powers to detain Mr. Padilla, an American, indefinitely without trial.

Despite being armed with that earlier court ruling, the administration shifted course last week and said it would no longer hold Mr. Padilla as an enemy combatant but instead try him on criminal charges in a federal court. To do so, the Justice Department sought permission from the appeals court to transfer Mr. Padilla, a former gang member from Chicago, from a Navy brig in South Carolina to the federal prison system.

To the apparent surprise of lawyers on both sides, the appeals court did not agree to give its permission. Instead, it issued an order requiring both the government and Mr. Padilla's lawyers to submit briefs on whether the court should withdraw its earlier ruling.

The significance of the action was unclear, but some lawyers thought it signaled annoyance with the government. Eugene R. Fidell, a Washington lawyer who closely follows detainee issues, said, "It's hard to tell, but this appears to be a rebuff to the administration."

Mr. Fidell said it was possible that the judges felt ill used in expending the court's institutional capital on issuing its Padilla ruling only to have the government decide to leave it unused.

The government initially asserted that Mr. Padilla was an operative of Al Qaeda who had planned to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in some American city. In its indictment on Nov. 22, the Justice Department said only that he was part of a North American terrorist cell that supported violent acts overseas.

The shift to the civilian courts was interpreted by many as a decision by the government to avoid risking a test in the Supreme Court of the Fourth Circuit's ruling.

In indicting Mr. Padilla, the Justice Department said it believed the issue of Mr. Bush's authority to detain him as an enemy combatant was moot.

Prof. Judith Resnik of the Yale Law School said the issue was still alive because if Mr. Padilla was acquitted, the government could easily turn around and again declare him an enemy combatant.


Electronic Voting Under Scrutiny As Federal Compliance Deadline Looms

ABC News
Electronic Voting Examined; Deadline Nears
Electronic Voting Under Scrutiny As Federal Compliance Deadline Looms
The Associated Press

- Even in this election off-year, the potential perils of electronic voting systems are bedeviling state officials as a Jan. 1 deadline approaches for complying with standards for the machines' reliability.

Across the country, officials are trying multiple methods to ensure that touch-screen voting machines can record and count votes without falling prey to software bugs, hackers, malicious insiders or other ills that beset computers.

This isn't just theoretical problems in some states already have led to lost or miscounted votes.

One of the biggest concerns surrounding computerized ballots their frequent inability to produce a written receipt of a vote has been addressed or is being tackled in most states.

Still, an October report from the Government Accountability Office predicted that overall steps to improve electronic voting machines' reliability "are unlikely to have a significant effect" in next year's elections, partly because certification procedures remain a work in progress.

"There's not a lot of precedents in dealing with these electronic systems so people are slowly figuring out the best way to do this," said Thad Hall, a political scientist at the University of Utah and co-author of "Point, Click, and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting."

In North Carolina, officials were expected to announce Thursday which voting machine vendors meet new standards for election equipment. The toughened requirements which include placing the machines' software code in escrow for examination in case of a problem have already led one top supplier, Diebold Inc., to say it may withdraw from the state, where about 20 counties use Diebold voting machines. Diebold executives said Wednesday they have not yet made a decision.

Other states have similar rules, but Diebold argued that North Carolina's law was too broad. The company said that to comply, it would have to disclose proprietary code behind Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system, which is used in its machines.

While rival machine vendors say they can meet those standards, Diebold sought to be exempted, asking a judge to protect it from criminal prosecution if it didn't disclose the code. The judge, Wake County's Narley Cashwell, declined to issue such a blanket protection.

A different kind of showdown is brewing in California, where Secretary of State Bruce McPherson says he might force e-voting machine makers to prove their systems can withstand attacks from a hacker.

One such test on a Diebold system Diebold machines were blamed for voting disruptions in a 2004 California primary is expected to happen in the next few weeks.

The state has been negotiating details with Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, who uncovered severe flaws in a Diebold system used in Leon County, Fla. (He demonstrated how vote results could be changed, then made screens flash "Are we having fun yet?")

Similarly, elections officials in Franklin County, Ohio where older voting machines gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a preliminary count in 2004 recently asked a group of computer experts to test newly purchased touch-screen voting machines from Election Systems & Software Inc.

Such designated hack attempts might be a flawed approach, because a failure proves only that a particular hacker couldn't break into a machine under certain conditions in a fixed period. That's not the same as opening things up to a broader group of researchers, as software developers sometimes do. Many critics of touch-screen election computers argue that the software should be publicly examined to make sure vote tampering couldn't occur.

But McPherson spokeswoman Nghia Nguyen Demovic said the hacking test would be just one of many factors in deciding whether to approve the voting machines. McPherson has released a 10-point plan for certification efforts, including a software code escrow system.

All the scrutiny is likely to make California miss a Jan. 1 deadline set under the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

That law was aimed at phasing out the punch card ballots and other old-fashioned systems that proved so problematic in 2000. It requires states to improve disability access at polling places in addition to standardizing electronic voting systems.

Demovic said McPherson's office was confident there was enough time to properly examine voting machines before California's next elections, the primary on June 6.

A report by Election Data Services, a political consulting firm, for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission determined that 23 percent of American voters used electronic ballots in 2004, up from 12 percent in 2000.

Since then, largely because of warnings from computer security experts and grassroots activism, many states have began requiring the machines to produce paper receipts that voters can examine. At least 25 states have such rules in place and 14 more have requirements pending, according to the Verified Voting Foundation.

"There's a long way to go making our elections truly trustworthy in this country is a multifaceted problem," said David Dill, a Stanford University computer scientist and founder of the Verified Voting Foundation.

But he added that he expected a "much better situation in 2006" and noted that improving electronic vote methods has become "a delightfully nonpartisan issue."

Voting machine makers insist that their systems are reliable, and that critics have made too much out of isolated problems.

"Any time there's an issue that happens with a particular voting system, all vendors are painted with the same broad brush," said Michelle Shafer, a spokeswoman for Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. "There are differences from product to product. You need to look at the track record of particular companies."

On the Net:


Study: White House Aides Get Free Trips

ABC News
Study: White House Aides Get Free Trips
Study: Many White House Aides Accept Free Travel From Companies, Colleges and Private Groups
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Companies lobbying government, colleges seeking star speakers and groups eager for information or face time paid for $2.3 million in trips over six years for White House officials, a watchdog organization reported Wednesday.

Powerful presidential confidants, like President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, and President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, shared in this bounty.

More than 620 White House aides took free trips between late 1998 and late 2004 to speak to conferences in Paris, Rome and other foreign capitals, Hawaii and Florida, ski resorts in Colorado and Switzerland. Of course, less exotic locales, like Detroit, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, also were among more than 350 destinations.

The Center for Public Integrity, a private ethics watchdog, studied two years of the Clinton administration and four years of the current Bush administration. Data came from public disclosure forms required of each federal office and of outfits that lobby government.

Other high-profile free travelers included Clinton's chief of staff, John Podesta, and from Bush's first term national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, homeland security adviser Tom Ridge and legal counsel Alberto Gonzales.

"These trips are often indirect conduits to influence policy," Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, another private watchdog group, told the center.

White House deputy press secretary Erin Healy said that Bush administration officials "abide by the rules and regulations that have guided staff travel for many years."

Regulations forbid private trip payments if the circumstances "would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts ... to question the integrity of agency programs or operations."

The center found:

A third of the trips were paid for by entities registered to lobby the federal government. In all, White House officials accepted free travel from 216 companies and organizations that reported spending more than $1.1 billion lobbying between 1998 and 2004.

Taken together, AFL-CIO labor unions were the top sponsor. They spent $200,000 to fly White House staffers to speak to conventions around the world. During the same period, they spent $26 million lobbying.

Drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. spent more than $20,000 on trips while spending more than $36 million lobbying federal officials. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce paid for $16,000 worth of trips while expending more than $200 million lobbying.

Harvard University spent the second largest amount on trips, $85,137, while spending $3.5 million lobbying. Harvard reached the top of the list by inviting Vice President Al Gore to give speeches and had to pay the high cost of bringing several aides with him on a government jet. That produced identical bills of several thousand dollars for each aide.

Of the 51 White House officials who had more than $10,000 in sponsored trips, 29 were in Gore's office, because of such travel. The reports only cover staff, not the president or vice president.

The center could not compare spending under Clinton and Bush because Vice President Dick Cheney's office has not filed any accounting of staff travel. Cheney counsel David Addington wrote government ethics officials that no one in the office accepted travel payments between April 1, 2001, and March 31, 2004.

Cheney's office appears "to have labeled all trips `official trips' and used untold millions in taxpayer money to cover costs rather than accepting trip sponsors' funds that the rules would require to be disclosed," the center said.

Berger, the Clinton aide, traveled to speak at Stanford, Cornell and Dartmouth.

In September 2002, Rove, Bush's top political adviser, accepted $2,300 to go to Aspen, Colo., for a conference sponsored by the venture capital firm Forstmann Little & Co. Fifteen months later, Bush signed a Medicare prescription benefit law, which "sent millions in additional revenues each year to a select group of hospital chains," the center said. "At the time, Rove's trip sponsor owned almost half the stock of one" such chain.

Among his seven other trips, Rove spoke at Harvard, the University of Utah, and an economic consulting firm in Palm Beach, Fla.

On the Net:

The center's study:


Conn. Senate Passes Campaign Finance Laws

ABC News
Conn. Senate Passes Campaign Finance Laws
Conn. Senate Passes Some of the Most Sweeping Changes in Campaign Finance Laws in the Country
The Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. - The state Senate on Wednesday approved some of the most sweeping changes in campaign finance laws in the country, including tight restrictions on contributions and a voluntary, publicly funded election system.

The House took up the bill later in the evening. The legislation would be the first to enact a public financing system applying to all statewide races, including those for the Legislature.

"The bill before us ... does things that no other state in this union has done. It will give us the cleanest, most comprehensive system," said Democratic Sen. Donald DeFronzo, co-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

The Democrat-controlled Senate voted 27-8 in favor of the bill. Four Republicans supported the legislation, which would take effect Dec. 31, 2006. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she would sign the bill into law if it reaches her desk.

The bill allots about $17 million each year in public funds for political campaigns. To reduce the influence of special interests, the bill bans political contributions from lobbyists and state contractors.

Candidates must raise a certain amount to qualify for public funds and agree to campaign spending limits. Candidates who opt out of the plan are not restricted to how much they raise or spend, but still cannot collect money from lobbyists and contractors.

The legislation comes in the wake of a corruption scandal last year that sent Gov. John G. Rowland to prison and led to his former co-chief of staff and a major state contractor to plead guilty in federal court. Two mayors in the state have also gone to prison in recent years.

Democratic House Speaker James Amann said he believes the reforms will ultimately make legislators and other politicians more accountable to their constituents.

Other state legislatures have created public financing for just a few elected offices, such as the governor and lieutenant governor in Vermont, top judges in North Carolina and a regulatory commission in New Mexico that oversees corporations.

New Jersey recently passed a trial public financing program that affected two legislative seats this year and will apply to four in 2007.

Maine and Arizona have public financing systems created by ballot initiatives.


Report questions Medicare drug benefit oversight

Report questions Medicare drug benefit oversight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Medicare has received thousands of complaints about its temporary drug discount card, according to a congressional report released on Wednesday as the agency grapples with new gripes about the card's replacement program.

The Government Accountability Office said the insurance program for the elderly and disabled received 26,000 complaints and formal grievances about the temporary cards. It took 23 actions against 15 insurers and other card sponsors.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California who requested the GAO report, said the findings call into question how well Medicare will oversee the new permanent drug discount benefit that starts January 1.

"Unless they are corrected, the problems identified by GAO will undermine the new Medicare drug benefit, just as they did the Medicare drug card program," said Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark McClellan criticized the report, saying investigators did not take the agency's full enforcement abilities into account and focused "on a snapshot ... rather than the process."

The center also said it has received about 100 complaints about the marketing of the new plans targeted at insurance companies and agents.

"One hundred complaints is a pretty small number when you consider the number of plans, the number of agents out there that are going to be marketing," said agency spokesman Gary Karr. About 40 different plans are offered in most states.

Both the cards and the plans allow private companies to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and offer discount plans to seniors directly. Medicare is charged with making sure they cover certain types of drugs, and not others, and follow certain marketing rules.

"There are a number of things we can and are very willing to do" if sellers break the law, Karr said. These include monetary penalties or terminating a company's contract to provide a plan.

A second GAO report released on Wednesday found Medicare's efforts to promote the discount cards "did not consistently provide information that was clear, accurate, and accessible."

CMS's McClellan said the agency had learned lessons from the program that would "inform" its planning for next year's benefit.


Alito proposed anti-abortion strategy in 1985


Alito proposed anti-abortion strategy in 1985

By Thomas Ferraro and Joanne Kenen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, as a Reagan administration lawyer 20 years ago, outlined ways to limit abortion rights without overturning a 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, a memo released on Wednesday showed.

This strategy, Alito wrote as an assistant in the U.S. Solicitor General's Office, could curb the landmark ruling without generating headlines about a "stinging rebuke" of it.

The 1985 memo by Alito was a road map on how to expand states' ability to regulate certain aspects of abortion.

President George W. Bush has nominated Alito, 55, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who often has been the swing vote on the nine-member court on abortion and other hot-button social issues.

A federal appeals judge the past 15 years, Alito could shift the nation's highest court to the right on such matters if confirmed by the full Republican-led Senate.

Memos stemming from Alito's work in the Reagan administration were released on the same day that he said judges must respect previous rulings and be "sensibly cautious" about their own decisions.

But Alito added in a written statement, "Judges should do all these things without shirking their duty to say what the law is and to carry out their proper role with energy and independence."


Alito made the comments in response to a questionnaire from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to begin his confirmation hearing on January 9.

At the hearing senators are certain to ask Alito to explain his position on the issue now compared with where he stood on it as lawyer in the Reagan administration, which opposed abortion.

But like previous Supreme Court nominees, Alito may decline to answer, saying he does not want to prejudge matters that could come before the court.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called the 1985 abortion memo "stunning."

"These latest revelations cast serious doubt on whether Judge Alito can be at all objective on the right to privacy and a woman's right to choose," Schumer said.

White House spokesman Steve Schmidt responded, "Judge Alito's 15-year record on the federal bench is the best indicator of his judicial philosophy and has shown a deep commitment and respect for precedent." He noted that Alito has ruled in "favor of both abortion rights and abortion restrictions."

Conservatives have rallied around Alito since his nomination last month, while many liberals oppose him, fearing he will move the court to the right.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said, "Judge Alito's questionnaire and his 15 years and more than 300 cases on the bench reveal a lot more about this brilliant jurist than any individual memo."

"I am pleased that Judge Alito's nomination remains on track for a fair up-or-down vote in January" by the full Senate, Frist said.

Republicans hold 55 of 100 Senate seats. But 60 would be needed to end a procedural roadblock known as a filibuster, though it is unclear if Democrats would try such a tactic.

In response to the Senate questionnaire, Alito made the case against "judicial activism," which critics charge amounts to judges imposing their own will from the bench rather than strictly adhering to the U.S. Constitution.

Alito wrote that judges must have "faith that the cause of justice in the long run is best served if they scrupulously heed the limits of their role rather than transgressing those limits in an effort to achieve a desired result."

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Donna Smith)


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Set a deadline that lets Iraqis prove what they want

Yahoo! News
Set a deadline that lets Iraqis prove what they want

By Philip Gold

There is a process in American political life by which the unthinkable becomes the inevitable and the inevitable becomes, inevitably, a big mess. Central to this process is a peculiarly American inability to ask, let alone answer, the vital questions of any endeavor: an inability empowered by that peculiarly American attitude, "We don't have to understand the world, we only need to know about us."

This is how we got into Vietnam. This is how we left. This is how we got into Iraq. It would be tragic, were we to leave the same way.

In the spring of 2002, a year before the event, I became one of America's first conservatives to oppose the Iraq war. I did so for so many hard military, political, and economic reasons that they amounted to a moral reason. This would be a hideous failure of prudence, that oft-extolled conservative art of applying general principles to specific situations. As a conservative, I knew that we should not mortgage our future to the secular redemption of other countries and civilizations. And although I supported the Bush Doctrine, when I started hearing the phrase, "strategic preemption," I got the same uh-oh as when I first heard, "the fetus ex utero."

It's been a lonely three years.

But now that Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania has started his firestorm for US troop withdrawal from Iraq, I find myself opposing his prescription. We're still failing to ask the vital question: Do the people of Iraq really want what we're offering?

Forget the elections, important though they were. Forget the polls - or at least remember taqiya, an Arabic word denoting, among other things, the right and duty of Muslims to lie to infidels. Forget the 3.5 million cellphones we've reportedly provided, or how many Iraqi battalions may now be able to tie their boots without American assistance, or any of the "metrics" by which we measure success. Take a look at the vital matter.

The Iraqi people, courtesy of hundreds of ill-guarded ancien régime weapons dumps and a thriving import trade, are among the most heavily armed on earth. The people of Iraq know who and where the bad guys are. This insurgency would have ended in a month, had the Iraqis chosen to wage a people's war against them. They did not. The silence of the armed is the silence of consent.

Put differently: This strange double helix of insurgency and incipient civil war will not be won by us. It will be won if, and only if, the Iraqi government and the scores of (illegal) militias that suffuse the country can find ways to defeat the insurgency while avoiding civil war, then sort out their peacetime relationships later. Therefore, the United States should set a deadline, but not a deadline for withdrawal. The next nine months should show whether the Iraqi people want their new government, and their new freedom, enough to wage a people's war for it. The US should give them that chance, with the clear understanding that next summer we will judge whether or not their commitment justifies ours. If it does, we press on. If it does not, we leave.

Toward that end, all serious and honorable critics of the war should stand down until late next summer. Vietnam protest was, by and large, a carnival superimposed upon a tragedy. We need no more carnivals. But if there is to be another carnival - a circus composed of preening celebrities and wannabes, calculating politicians, high-dudgeon radicals, the blame-America-first crowd, and all who lust for American defeat - let it be seen for what it is.

But a silence of today's serious and honorable dissidents would not mean consent. Should it happen that the Iraqi people, for whatever reasons, do not want what we have so clumsily offered, or if they do, it's time to make Iraq a fundamental issue of the 2006 election. Increasingly, President Bush falls victim to the Year-Six Curse. (The last president to serve more than six years without a major meltdown was Teddy Roosevelt.) Under such circumstances, year-six elections can occasion major political shifts. We may be overdue, perhaps for the greatest course change since 1918.

And a serious 2006 election might have another benefit. We get into mess after mess because we believe that what we know about ourselves matters more than knowing the world. Perhaps it's time to ask whether we know ourselves as well as we think we do. We are a good people. But the things we do are not always just right because we're the ones doing them.

Perhaps, while considering what the people of Iraq want, we might also spend some time on ourselves.

• Philip Gold is author of "Take Back the Right." His next book, "The Coming Draft?" will be published by Presidio in 2006.


President Bush's war, not America's war

Yahoo! News
'President Bush's war, not America's war'

Most Americans now realize we were duped into supporting an unjust invasion of Iraq. It took a long time to realize there were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons, no mushroom cloud threats, no uranium from Niger, no link to al-Qaeda. Today, most Americans have figured it out.

Some will tell us mistakes were made, but most of us recognize a lie when we see one. We are in Iraq based on lies, and our military men and women are dying.

This is President Bush's war, not America's war. There is no dishonor for the United States in stopping Bush's war. There is, however, enormous dishonor for America if we don't stop killing, given that we now can conclude the Iraq war is based on lie after lie after lie.

Joseph T. Suste, Medford, Ore.

Bush 'consistently wrong'

USA TODAY reader Jane Kenny, who links the fact that this country hasn't been "attacked since 9/11" to our occupancy in Iraq, apparently has swallowed hook, line and sinker the Bush administration's misleading justification for the Iraq invasion ("President's critics miss war's big picture," Letters, Tuesday).

As many of us now accept, Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and, yes, Iraq is now a magnet for terrorists and a frightening showpiece of terrorism in action.

I do agree with the letter writer on one thing: We have to give President Bush credit for being consistent. Amen. He appears to be consistently wrong.

Dorian de Wind, Austin

No turning back

Jane Kenny's letter to the editor assumes we were constantly under attack on our homeland before Sept. 11, 2001. We weren't.

Until 9/11, we were practically invincible on our homeland.

President Bush is consistent in his beliefs, but he has no choice. To change direction now would be political suicide.

Carlos Griffin, Ridgeland, Miss.

'Persevere to the end'

Thanks, USA TODAY, for the editorial view on American troops in Iraq. While I believe the United States has mishandled a number of things in Iraq, the fact remains that we are there: We caused the problem and have to persevere to the end ("Congress finally debates war but finds no easy solution," Our view, Invading Iraq debate, Nov. 21).

Having had the privilege of flying U.S. troops to and from the Middle East for the past two years, in talking with them I've found, almost to a man, they feel they have a mission and want to complete it.

I believe that prematurely pulling troops from Iraq would only lead to the failure of democracy in that region, and further diminish the perception of the United States there. Additionally, failing to guide Iraq through this difficult period would dishonor those who have been injured or killed in fighting this war.

While Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., indicates that public support is waning, I'd disagree with his conclusion this is a reason to pull out ("Staying is not the answer," Opposing view). The United States has a moral responsibility to bring to completion what it has started, whether popular or not.

Scott Grillo, Lancaster, Pa.

U.S. can't fight all battles

So, USA TODAY thinks that terrorists' opinions are a good reason to continue sending our young men and women to die in Iraq?

The recent editorial notes that Osama bin Laden said that the United States "rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace" and that his forces were emboldened as a result. Our "occupation" of Iraq already emboldens terrorists; I don't think ending our occupation would further embolden them. Besides, as I would tell my 5-year-old, you should not "live your life based on what bad people say about you."

Bad people are going to find ways to be bad people and find places to do bad things. But this is the heart of why USA TODAY argues that thousands more ought to be sent to be killed or wounded?

This nation fought its only civil war because it had to. Let other nations fight their own civil wars. Saddam Hussein is gone. We allowed bin Laden to escape. Terrorists will be terrorists. It's an ugly world, and we can't fight all its battles - not at this cost, not when the rationales aren't why most Americans agreed to invade Iraq. When we are attacked, or an attack is imminent, we should annihilate the true perpetrators. Nothing less. But it's not our job to nation-build or police any nation in the world.

Whether it takes six weeks or six months, we need to disengage to the level that Rep. John Murtha outlines. We need to stop building streetlights and remove en masse our police forces from an entire region where the "stability" bar will never be what we'd prefer.

David Gaines, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Stay course in trying times

I have nothing but respect for the comments of Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine, regarding withdrawal from Iraq. And I agree that the entry into Iraq was a very bad mistake. Nonetheless, to withdraw without training the Iraqi troops to defend themselves from the terrorists would be another mistake.

I can feel Murtha's frustration, especially after having to live through the disaster of the Vietnam War. But the ghosts of Vietnam shouldn't bring us to make more mistakes, nor should the mistaken judgments of our leadership drive us to make more errors in judgment.

I cannot forget that during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II - when we were losing the war, after many months of being the victors - how depressing it was to those of us serving overseas in our third year of the war. During the month of the Bulge, 19,000 of our brave servicemembers gave their lives.

Please, let us not rush to make more bad judgments, in these "times that try men's souls." Remember the courage of the soldiers who have risked their lives and the many who have given all.

Orville B. Iverson, Woodside, Calif.

Patriotic to withdraw, too

Soldiers have a duty to follow orders and fight their enemies. But U.S. citizens also have a duty: not to blindly or unquestioningly support a war our leaders tell them to fight - one that, it is becoming increasingly evident, cannot be won.

U.S. soldiers are being killed and maimed in Iraq (and even Afghanistan) every day. While it is true that casualties are not nearly as high as during the Vietnam War or World War II, it is apparent that such casualties are unnecessary. The spreading of democracy is a noble goal worth fighting for, but not necessarily worth dying for.

Our troops have done all that could possibly be expected of them. But now that freedom-loving Iraqis have been released from the chains of brutal dictatorship, it is time for our troops to come home. Our soldiers' feet have been held to the fire, and our troops have performed honorably and well.

How dare any of our country's leaders accuse those protesting the war of being unpatriotic. How dare they say we are dishonoring those soldiers who are still fighting and spilling their blood. True patriotism is knowing when to admit defeat.

We can best honor those who have died by saying to those who are still fighting: "You have performed nobly! Now it is time for you to come home! There is honor to be found even in defeat." True patriotism is a badge that deserves to be worn proudly by us all.

Lawrence Auerbach, Las Vegas

Proud to call Bush president

The commitment of George W. Bush to what is seen as an increasingly unpopular war can be summed up in one word: leadership.

Criticism of war is not unprecedented. Lincoln was bitterly criticized by the minority party, which wanted to surrender in the face of a hard fight and mounting casualties. There were riots in the streets. Lincoln stayed the course and gave his life to free the slaves.

As with Lincoln, history, not the current minority party, will judge President Bush.

If we are able to achieve a measure of success that brings democracy to this troubled region, paid for with the blood of our sons and daughters, history will be kind. I'm proud to call Bush my president.

Peter J. Wickman, Inverness, Ill.


N.C. Judge Declines Protection for Diebold

Yahoo! News
N.C. Judge Declines Protection for Diebold

By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press Writer

One of the nation's leading suppliers of electronic voting machines may decide against selling new equipment in North Carolina after a judge declined Monday to protect it from criminal prosecution should it fail to disclose software code as required by state law.

Diebold Inc., which makes automated teller machines and security and voting equipment, is worried it could be charged with a felony if officials determine the company failed to make all of its code — some of which is owned by third-party software firms, including Microsoft Corp. — available for examination by election officials in case of a voting mishap.

The requirement is part of the minimum voting equipment standards approved by state lawmakers earlier this year following the loss of more than 4,400 electronic ballots in Carteret County during the November 2004 election. The lost votes threw at least one close statewide race into uncertainty for more than two months.

About 20 North Carolina counties already use Diebold voting machines, and the State Board of Elections plans to announce Thursday the suppliers that meet the new standards. Local elections boards will be allowed to purchase voting machines from the approved vendors.

"We will obviously have no alternative but withdraw from the process," said Doug Hanna, a Raleigh-based lawyer representing North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold.

David Bear, a Diebold spokesman, said the company was reviewing several options after Monday's ruling. "We're going to do what is necessary to provide what is best for our existing clients" in North Carolina, he said.

The dispute centers on the state's requirement that suppliers place in escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system," as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software.

That's not possible for Diebold's machines, which use Microsoft Windows, Hanna said. The company does not have the right to provide Microsoft's code, he said, adding it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows.

The State Board of Elections has told potential suppliers to provide code for all available software and explain why some is unavailable. That's not enough of an assurance for Diebold, which remains concerned about breaking a law that's punishable by a low-grade felony and a civil penalty of up to $100,000 per violation.

"You cannot have a statute that imposes a criminal violation ... without being clear about what conduct will submit you to a criminal violation," Hanna said.

But because no one has yet to accuse Diebold of breaking the law, Wake County Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell declined to issue an injunction that would have protected the company from prosecution. Cashwell also declined to offer an interpretation of the law that would have allayed Diebold's concerns.

"We need to comply with the literal language and the statute," Cashwell said. "I don't think we have an issue here yet."

Diebold machines were blamed for voting disruptions in a California primary election last year. California has refused to certify some machines because of their malfunction rate. California officials have agreed to let a computer expert attempt to hack into Diebold machines to examine how secure they are.

On Monday, California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said his office might seek to expand such testing to all systems seeking certification for use in California's 58 counties.

Diebold shares fell 71 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $38.93 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.


Associated Press Writer Tom Chorneau in Sacramento contributed to this report.


Monday, November 28, 2005

The appearance-of-ridiculousness standard
Pride Goeth Before the Court

By Al Kamen

Liberals went into high whine mode when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Republican George W. Bush 's appeal in the 2000 Florida vote dispute. They said the high court lacked grounds to agree to hear the case.

But, as it turns out, it had ample grounds, more grounds than anyone knew. Traditionally, the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case to resolve different lower court rulings, if it is of great importance or if there's an important constitutional question involved.

However, as the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted, granting certiorari is really a "subjective decision," or as the late Justice John Marshall Harlan said, "a matter of feel."

Justice Antonin Scalia cited a heretofore unknown but important criterion: national pride.

Scalia unveiled the new criterion at a supposedly off-the-record chat last week at Time Warner headquarters with Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine and Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons and numerous journalists.

(Read on . . .)

On the 5 to 4 ruling in Bush v. Gore that made Bush president, New York Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove reports that Scalia said: "What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough? Or give the Florida Supreme Court another couple of weeks in which the United States could look ridiculous?"

Ah, yes, the old appearance-of-ridiculousness standard.


Advocacy Groups Targeting Vulnerable Senators on Alito Vote
Advocacy Groups Targeting Vulnerable Senators on Alito Vote

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Fifteen foot soldiers newly recruited to the campaign to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. introduced themselves at a recent meeting not only by name but also by offering their reasons for joining the cause.

Their concerns sounded a lot like an anthology of liberal talking points, bringing faint smiles to the faces of the organizers from Rhode Islanders for a Fair Judiciary, which is working to marshal opposition to Alito across the state. Abortion, gay rights, worker rights -- all are imperiled if Alito receives a lifetime appointment to the nation's high court, the volunteers said.

To prevent that from happening, these activists have joined a growing grass-roots campaign aimed at persuading the state's U.S. senators to oppose Alito. And one of those two senators is foremost in their minds: Republican Lincoln D. Chafee, who is up for reelection next year.

Coming from the small liberal wing of his party, Chafee is a supporter of abortion rights whose future is imperiled from both directions. He is facing a conservative challenge in the primary, and if he survives that he faces a general election battle in a distinctly Democratic-leaning state. Few are weighing Alito's nomination more gingerly -- and these activists know it.

This is the mirror opposite of the vulnerability that Alito's supporters are hoping to exploit in states such as Nebraska and North Dakota, which President Bush won easily last year but where Democrats hold Senate seats.

This gives activists on both sides incentives to plunge into the political trenches -- distributing postcards to be mailed to senators, writing letters to the editor, passing out literature extolling Alito's virtues or warning of the dangers he would present if elevated to the high court.

In Providence, one volunteer even offered to prowl downtown streets with a mobile phone and a script, offering passers-by a chance to call Chafee's office on the spot to register opposition to Alito.

"I know some of you might be wondering: Is this going to make a difference? It's only postcards," said Marti Rosenberg, the lead organizer here, who opposed the 1987 Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork. "In the Bork fight, we got nearly 1,000 cards to Senator [John H.] Chafee, the dad. And we did beat Bork."

Backed by the money and know-how of Washington-based advocacy organizations, activists on both sides are duplicating those efforts in about 25 states. In many cases, the grass-roots campaign is being supplemented with television advertising focused on swaying swing-vote senators.

Opponents of the nomination, who are concentrating on states with moderate Republican senators or conservative Democrats, are trying to drive home the argument that Alito is a threat to long-established rights. His confirmation, they say, will put the judiciary in the hands of conservative extremists, threatening the right to abortion, crippling the power of Congress to pass anti-discrimination or gun-control laws, and resulting in more police power over individuals.

Alito's supporters, meanwhile, are trying to apply pressure to Democratic senators from more conservative states by portraying him as a brilliant and restrained jurist committed to narrowly interpreting the Constitution. Any senator who opposes him, they warn, is a captive of liberal groups outside the mainstream.

"If you are a Democratic senator from a state that the president won, the last thing you want to do is be aligned with [liberal advocate] Ralph Neas or groups like People for the American Way," said Keith Appell, a Republican strategist working with organizations supporting Alito's nomination.

Groups on both sides began mobilizing supporters hours after Bush announced Alito's nomination on Oct. 31. But the brewing battle has been largely obscured by the decorum of Alito's courtesy calls to senators, to whom he has offered reassuring words about his 15 years as an appeals court judge. The effort has earned praise from many senators, including some Democrats, who are impressed by Alito's intellect, judicial experience and professed respect for legal precedent.

But if the ritual visits to senators are mostly smiles, small talk and carefully calibrated promises to interpret the law, not make it, the street-level campaign is something else altogether. Both sides are framing their arguments in urgent and emotional words -- hoping to sway what polls suggest is substantial but hardly insurmountable sentiment for Alito to be confirmed. With a quarter to a third of Americans still uninformed or undecided, both sides are working hard to win converts.

"Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has a 15-year history of judicial decisions that are hostile to our rights," reads the opening line of a flier being circulated by anti-Alito activists here. It calls him a right-wing activist interested in undermining a positive role for government, sanctioning discrimination and "threatening our civil liberties."

Alito's supporters are hardly more nuanced in condemning the motives of opponents. "Their agenda is clear," intones an ad sponsored by a coalition of conservative groups. "They want to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance and are fighting to redefine traditional marriage. They support partial-birth abortion, sanction the burning of the American flag."

Rhode Island's other senator, Jack Reed (D), voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in September and is widely assumed to take the same stance toward Alito. That leaves Chafee as the real target.

He has said that he would wait for Alito's hearings, scheduled to begin Jan. 9, before deciding how to vote. The nature of his reelection challenge makes the decision on Alito tricky. The senator's Republican primary opponent, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, is unabashedly conservative. The likely Democratic nominee -- either former state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse or Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown -- will be more liberal than either Republican.

Chafee "does not have an easy calculation as to how to play this," said Darrell West, a Brown University political scientist. "The problem with being in the center is you end up getting attacked by all sides."

West added that the grass-roots campaign surrounding the nomination only increases the stakes. "I think advocacy campaigns make a big difference because they put the senator on guard that people are paying attention and that this is a vote that matters," he said.

During their meeting here, the fledgling activists started making plans to bring maximum pressure to bear. "I felt like we didn't have a chance with Judge Roberts," said Brooke Huffman, 26, a youth counselor who suggested the mobile phone idea. "But with Alito, he's such an extremist, there is going to be more opposition."

Social worker Lisa Reichstein, 35, said she rarely gets deeply involved in politics. But calling the Alito nomination a special case, she promised to arrange a happy hour or other social event in hopes of drawing more people for their cause.

"I'm scared. I'm very scared," she said, explaining that she worries most about protecting abortion rights and privacy generally. "Putting Alito in there will absolutely change the balance of the court. We have to stop him."


Warner Urges Public Openess From Bush

ABC News
Warner Urges Public Openess From Bush
Sen. John Warner Suggests Bush Use FDR-Style 'Fireside Chats' to Better Inform Public on Iraq
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sunday suggested that President Bush use an FDR-style presentation to update people on progress in the war in Iraq.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recalled that during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt often went on the radio in "fireside chats" to explain to the nation in detail the conduct of the war in Europe and Asia.

"I think it would be to Bush's advantage," said Warner, who served in the Navy during the end of World War II and during the Korean war.

"It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have, about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public," he said.

Bush plans a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on the fight against terrorism.

The Senate voted 79-19 on Nov. 15 to urge the Bush administration to explain publicly its strategy for success in Iraq and to provide quarterly reports on policy and military operations. A call for a plan to set a phased withdrawal of troops, which Bush opposes, was dropped from the nonbinding resolution when Republicans and some Democrats objected.

In an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Warner reiterated his opposition to a timetable for troop withdrawal. He sharply disagreed with Delaware Sen. Joe Biden's assertion that the military cannot maintain its baseline troop levels past next year, citing assurances from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace.

Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opposes an immediate withdrawal of troops. He did say the Pentagon would have to draw down forces next year, by as much as 50,000, or extend tours, deploy more National Guard members and take other measures.

Warner responded that Pace told him on Saturday that the military will maintain force levels in part by retraining certain segments of the Army and the Guard to perform basic fighting against the insurgents.

"Artillerymen can become infantrymen, artillerymen can become policemen," he said.

Nearly 160,000 U.S. troops are serving in Iraq. The Pentagon has said that level will drop below 140,000 after Iraqi elections on Dec. 15, if they are no longer needed for additional security.

Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said there was a need for more information about policy and success rather than a change in course in Iraq.

"Our committee hopes to provide a whole lot more so the debate might be enlightened," Lugar, R-Ind., told "Fox News Sunday."

"We want to hear from the administration," he said.

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who is on the committee, said a public timetable for withdrawal would show the Iraqi people that the U.S. is not set to occupy the country permanently.

"The right thing for the United States right now is to refocus on the fight against terrorism," Feingold said on "This Week" on ABC. "Iraq has ended up being a real distraction. Actually, a problem. I think it's actually made us weaker rather than stronger."

Feingold, considered a presidential hopeful for 2008, voted against giving Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. He said that, unlike his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, he thought the administration was exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

"The Bush administration did a brilliant job, which has continued until today, not in getting us into the war and handling it correctly, but they did a brilliant job of intimidating us into somehow thinking that if we didn't vote for this, we weren't supporting the troops and we were soft on terror," Feingold said.

"I could tell that they were taking every piece of evidence, exaggerating it, pushing everything they could and twisting everything in favor of going into Iraq," he said.

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have rejected any suggestion that the administration intentionally misled the public as it made the case for invading Iraq and removing Saddam.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


2nd Time Reporter to Testify in Leak Case

The New York Times

2nd Time Reporter to Testify in Leak Case

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 - A second reporter for Time magazine has been asked to testify under oath in the C.I.A. leak case, about conversations she had in 2004 with a lawyer for Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, the magazine reported on Sunday.

The reporter, Viveca Novak, who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, about her conversations with Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, the magazine said.

The request for Ms. Novak's testimony is the first tangible sign in weeks that Mr. Fitzgerald has not completed his inquiry into Mr. Rove's actions and may still be considering charges against him. Mr. Rove has long been under scrutiny in the case but has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

So far, Mr. Fitzgerald has brought one indictment, on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, against I. Lewis Libby Jr., the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby resigned after the indictment was announced and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Fitzgerald's request for Ms. Novak's testimony follows a disclosure by The Washington Post on Nov. 16 that its best-known reporter, Bob Woodward, had testified under oath to Mr. Fitzgerald about matters that lawyers in the case said were unrelated to Mr. Rove.

In an article and a first-person account by Mr. Woodward, the paper reported that an unidentified administration official told Mr. Woodward about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the case in June 2003, making him the first reporter to learn of the intelligence officer.

Time magazine did not make clear what information the prosecutor hoped to obtain from Ms. Novak, whose name has not previously surfaced in the case. She has contributed to articles in which Mr. Luskin was quoted.

Another Time reporter, Matthew Cooper, testified this summer about a July 2003 conversation he had with Mr. Rove, but only after the magazine waged a lengthy legal battle.

Time disclosed the prosecutor's request in a two-paragraph article published on Sunday, reporting that Ms. Novak had been asked to discuss conversations she had with Mr. Luskin, starting in May 2004, when she was covering the investigation.

The article said Ms. Novak was cooperating with the inquiry. It is not known when she will testify; she has not been asked to appear before the grand jury but will instead give a deposition, said Ty Trippet, a Time spokesman.

On Sunday, Mr. Luskin declined to comment, but he has previously said he expects that Mr. Fitzgerald will decide not to prosecute Mr. Rove. Ms. Novak declined to comment, as did Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald.

The lawyers who discussed the case would do so only if they were not identified by name, citing Mr. Fitzgerald's requests to them not to publicly discuss matters that remain under investigation.

Ms. Novak is not known to have had discussions with Mr. Rove or other White House officials about the C.I.A. officer during the summer of 2003, the time that has been the focus of Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry.

Nevertheless, the summer and fall of 2004 was a significant time for Mr. Rove, according to lawyers in the case. It was then that Mr. Rove searched for and found an e-mail message he had written that led him to recall the July 2003 conversation with Mr. Cooper, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove's e-mail message was sent on July 11, 2003, to Stephen J. Hadley, who was then the deputy national security adviser. The message said Mr. Rove had spoken to Mr. Cooper about issues in the leak case.

After its discovery, Mr. Rove provided the message to Mr. Fitzgerald, who had not been aware of it. Mr. Rove testified about the conversation with Mr. Cooper in a grand jury appearance in October 2004.

Even so, Mr. Fitzgerald has investigated Mr. Rove's assertions that he had forgotten the conversation with Mr. Cooper, and why he made no mention of it in his earlier testimony and in meetings with investigators, the lawyers said.

In Ms. Novak's case, the magazine's apparently swift compliance contrasted with the legal battle waged by Time and Mr. Cooper, who for months resisted a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald for his testimony.

With his appeals exhausted, Mr. Cooper testified in July that he had spoken with Mr. Rove about Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who traveled to Africa in early 2002 at the C.I.A.'s request to investigate claims of Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium ore. Mr. Wilson later became an ardent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

After his grand jury appearance, Mr. Cooper wrote that Mr. Rove did not identify Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, by name, but told him that she worked at the Central Intelligence Agency on issues related to illicit weapons and might have played a role in sending her husband on the Africa trip.

Ms. Novak is not related to the columnist Robert D. Novak, who first disclosed Ms. Wilson's identity in a column on July 14, 2003.

John Files contributed reporting for this article.