Saturday, October 21, 2006

Osama with a Bomb -- Republicans Go with the Dirty Daisy TV Commercial

Huffington Post
Blake Fleetwood
Osama with a Bomb -- Republicans Go with the Dirty Daisy TV Commercial:

This weekend the Republicans will go with their -- "Osama with a bomb" television ad.

Osama is Coming! Osama is Coming! Osama is Coming!

"These are the Stakes."

This ad harks back to the powerful anti-Goldwater ad of the 1964 presidential campaign: the message was that if you vote Republican, you will get blown up by an atom bomb. Republlican Barry Goldwater was successfully portrayed as a war monger and Lyndon B. Johnson won an overwhelming majority. The original Daisy ad received massive news coverage and has become an icon of negative political advertising. The transcript:

SMALL CHILD [with flower]: One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine, nine ....

MAN: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.

[Sounds of exploding bomb.]

JOHNSON: These are the stakes: To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the darkness. We must either love each other, or we must die.

ANNOUNCER: Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

The current message is, if you vote for the Democrats, you are going to get blown up by the boogeyman. The problem is Republicans have $100 million to drive home this message.

Democrats demounced this "fear and smear" attack ad and called it "A shameful ad invoking the image of despicable terrorists to scare the American people."

The Democrats must go to a more forceful rapid media response.

Political jujitsu is the art of taking the opponent's best issue and turning it against him,

So when the commercials scream:

Terror! Terror! Terror!

Democrats have to turn the word Terror into Bush Terror for the voters.

Headline the message that the Republicans have made this an unsafe world, that Bush, like Goldwater, is going to get us blown up.

The Democrats need to remind voters that Terror has gotten worse because of the Bush policies, that the threat of violence comes from Bush's provocative policies.

Make them think:

How come Bush didn't get Osama in the first place?

Every time the Republicans evoke fear by broadcasting a picture of Osama, the reaction should be:

How come Osama is still out there?

Is a bomb coming because of where Bush has taken us?


Calif. candidate's office raided over voter letter sent to Latinos saying it was illegal for immigrants to vote.

Calif. candidate's office raided over voter letter

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police on Friday raided the office and home of a Republican congressional candidate after an uproar over a letter sent to Latinos saying it was illegal for immigrants to vote.

Candidate Tan Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American who has campaigned against illegal immigration, canceled a news conference amid pressure from Republicans to withdraw from the November 7 race.

The letter, written in Spanish and mailed to 14,000 newly registered voters, put conservative Orange County back on the map as a battleground in the national debate over the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Nguyen, who fled Vietnam in a boat when he was 8, is seeking to unseat Orange County's only Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Loretta Sanchez. He has denied knowledge of the letter and fired an aide he said was responsible for it.

Illegal immigrants are not allowed to vote, but immigrants who become U.S. citizens may do so. Under California law, voter intimidation is a crime.

California state police on Friday arrived at Nguyen's campaign office with a search warrant shortly before the scheduled news conference. His home was also searched.

"They are looking for items. He is not going to come to the press conference unfortunately because of the intervention of law enforcement," Nguyen's lawyer David Wiechert told reporters.

"I have not talked to him about the ramification of today's events," Wiechert said.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican Party in Orange County, has urged Nguyen to "do the honorable thing" and withdraw from the race. Baugh said he had information that Nguyen was involved in the letter.

Sanchez, who is favored to win in November, has condemned the Spanish-language letter as an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, called the letter a "despicable act of political intimidation."

Orange County, south of Los Angeles, is home to the Minuteman Project border patrol group and spawned a 1994 California ballot measure seeking to curb public services to undocumented workers.


Democratic House staffer suspended over Iraq leak

Democratic House staffer suspended over Iraq leak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has suspended a Democratic staff member over a possible leak of a politically explosive intelligence report involving Iraq, officials said on Friday.

The action, taken three weeks before the November election battle for control of Congress, brought a protest from the committee's leading Democrat who accused Republicans of political retaliation.

The staff member, who was not identified, has not been accused of any wrongdoing, officials said.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the panel chairman, ordered his security clearance suspended after another Republican lawmaker raised suspicions about the staffer's handling of an April national intelligence estimate on global terrorism.

Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware said the staffer will not be allowed into the committee's secure areas or to view classified material until the committee completes an in-house review of the matter.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Friday declined to comment on whether the Justice Department would also investigate.

The classified intelligence estimate, which said the Iraq war was helping to drive the growth of the global Islamist movement, caused an uproar after its contents were leaked to the New York Times and other media outlets late in September.

The suggestion that Bush administration policy in Iraq had increased the danger of international terrorism put Republicans on the defensive over national security, a main issue in the election campaign.

Hoekstra acted after another Republican on the intelligence committee, Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois, pointed out that the Democratic staff member requested and received a copy of the document from the office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte just days before the leaks began to appear.

"This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply look bad. But coincidence, in this town, is rare," LaHood said in a letter to Hoekstra.

The committee's senior Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman of California, accused Hoekstra of abusing his power and said in a statement that the staff member had requested the document on behalf of a lawmaker on the panel.

Harman described Hoekstra's "unilateral" action as retaliation for her decision this week to release an internal panel report on a former Republican committee member now in jail for a bribery conviction.

Relations between Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committee have deteriorated sharply with the approach of the November 7 election, which analysts say could give Democrats control of the House for the first time since 1994.


Lieberman opens wide lead on Lamont in Conn. race

Lieberman opens wide lead on Lamont in Conn. race

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, running as an independent, has taken a wide 17-point lead over Democrat Ned Lamont in the Senate race in Connecticut, according to a poll released on Friday.

Lieberman, a three-term incumbent and the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who lost to Lamont in the party primary, held a 52 percent to 35 percent lead in the three-way race, said the poll, the first since a televised debate this week.

Republican Alan Schlesinger trailed with 6 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University poll of 881 likely voters. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Lamont, a millionaire businessman who beat Lieberman in the primary by attacking the longtime Democrat's support for the Iraq war, had trailed by 10 points in a September 28 poll despite digging deep into his own pockets to help fund the campaign.

Quinnipiac said only 3 percent of those who watched Monday's debate or read or heard about it said it had had changed their mind about who they would support.

"Ned Lamont needed to score a knockout in the debates to catch Sen. Joseph Lieberman, but he apparently didn't lay a glove on him," Quinnipiac poll director Douglas Schwartz said in the survey.

Schwartz said Lieberman leads Lamont 70 percent to 9 percent among likely Republican voters and 58 percent to 36 percent among likely independent voters, while Democratic voters back Lamont 55 percent to 36 percent.

The poll was conducted Tuesday through Thursday.

The race has drawn national attention for its emphasis on Iraq and Democratic anger at Bush. Lamont cast the race as a referendum on the war and urged voters to send a message to Bush and the Democratic establishment that was slow to embrace calls for a quick pullout of troops.

Lieberman has fought back, calling himself a reliable opponent of Bush's domestic agenda.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Grocery clerk charged in stadium terrorism hoax

Yahoo! News
Grocery clerk charged in stadium hoax
By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer

A Wisconsin grocery store clerk surrendered Friday on charges in an Internet hoax threatening a "dirty bomb" plot against U.S. football stadiums and told prosecutors he had posted the same message about 40 times over the past few weeks, federal authorities said.

Jake J. Brahm, of Wauwatosa, Wis., surrendered to the U.S. Marshal's Service on Friday morning and was scheduled to appear in court in Milwaukee later in the day.

He was charged in a sealed criminal complaint filed Thursday in Newark, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said. One of the seven stadiums allegedly targeted was Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Christie said Brahm admitted that between September and Wednesday he had posted the same threat about 40 times on various Web sites. Authorities would not discuss how or when they became aware of the postings.

"These types of hoaxes scare innocent people, cost business resources and waste valuable homeland security resources. We cannot tolerate this Internet version of yelling fire in a crowded theater in the post-9/11 era," Christie said.

Brahm was first taken into custody by police in Wauwatosa on Wednesday based on information authorities received that he was the source of the Internet threat, federal authorities said.

FBI agents interviewed him that night, and the FBI said Thursday it had determined the threat was a hoax.

A joint statement from the FBI and Homeland Security Department said fans "should be reassured of their security as they continue to attend sporting events this weekend."

An FBI official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation, told The Associated Press that the man acknowledged posting the phony stadium threat as part of a "writing duel" with a man from the Brownsville, Texas, area to see who could post the scariest threat.

The Texas man corroborated the story, the official said.

The threat, dated Oct. 12, appeared on the Web site "The Friend Society," which links to various online forums and off-color cartoons. Its author, identified in the message as "javness," said trucks would deliver radiological bombs Sunday to stadiums in Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Cleveland, Oakland, Calif., and the New York City area, and that Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility.

The agency alerted authorities Wednesday in the cities mentioned, as well as the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But the FBI and Homeland Security said there was no intelligence indicating such an attack might be imminent.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said stadiums are well protected through "comprehensive security procedures" that include bag searches and pat-downs.

Relatives of Brahm declined to comment Friday.

Brahm's attorney, Patrick Knight, said he has not seen anything to indicates Brahm meant any real harm.

"I think once it got out there, obviously you lose all control of the manner and the context in which the posting occurred," Knight said.

Brahm worked as a grocery clerk at Outpost Natural Foods, a co-op near his house, said Jeremy Layman, assistant store manager. He said Brahm made his shifts on time and was not a concern.

"He was a normal guy. That's all we're going to say at this time," Layman said.

Erik Vasys, spokesman with the FBI in San Antonio, said there would be no charges against the Texas man.

"I was advised he interacted with this gentleman in Milwaukee, just downloaded some things, but he was not part of the hoax writing," Vasys said.


Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan and Hope Yen in Washington, Emily Fredrix in Milwaukee, Colin Fly in Wauwatosa, Wis., and Lynn Brezosky in Harlingen, Texas, contributed to this report.


Countdown Special Comment: Death of Habeas Corpus: “Your words are lies, Sir.”

Huffington Post
Cenk Uygur
Fire the Editors -- UPDATE: Watch Olbermann

UPDATE: After I wrote this post this morning I saw Keith Olbermann put on a heroic performance on MSNBC on this very issue. He covers the Military Commissions Act in exactly the way that it deserves. This is true journalism! Brave journalism! You must watch him take on the Bush administration in a way that no one else on TV has done (not even Jack Cafferty).

Watch it here.

We fight this lawless, out of control Bush administration every day on our show -- but not this eloquently. So, God bless Keith Olbermann!

And obviously praise must go to the new management at MSNBC for putting this on-air. I know they just made cuts, but Olbermann survived the cuts and Dan Abrams and others clearly understand this is the one thing that is working on MSNBC. Credit where credit is due. Where I bash the other news directors, we must also give credit to the people who have the courage to do it right. Congratulations, MSNBC.

Now, finally, where is CNN? What have they done to cover the Military Commissions Act? What experts, lawyers or professors have they had on? What have their anchors said about this heinous Act? Let me guess -- neutered neutrality. Something like this: Some people say the bill strips away American freedoms (I doubt they even said this) and others say it is vital to protect us from the boogeyman (you know the one Bush never caught, though we never mention that on-air either).

CNN's cowardice is made all the more stark by MSNBC's new found bravery. Get a backbone, start covering reality or stop pretending you are giving us the real news.

Here's the original piece from this morning:

For a long time now, I have been attacking the mainstream press for not covering this administration properly, for being intimidated and cowered into a submissive neutrality. They are so wrong they have forgotten who they are.

The job of the press is not to be neutral, it is to be objective. There is an enormous difference.

Here's neutral: The Jedi rebels say the Death Star is a peril to the universe, but Darth Vader assures the universe that the empire is trying to protect us from the insurgent terrorists that seek to do us harm.

Here's objective: It's called the Death Star. Its objective is complete control. Darth Vader's tactics are brutal and dictatorial.

But, of course, it's even worse. The headline today would read: Vader Says He Will Keep Us Safe.

That's no joke. Watch me flipping out over a USA Today headline that says almost exactly that here.

People who disagree with me, including my co-host Ben Mankiewicz, say that I get all my information from the mainstream press. That almost all of my quotes are from articles from the major papers, magazines and news organizations. They are right.

I'm an open minded guy. Unlike the current environment where everyone must always be right and never change their opinion or their party loyalty, I can change. I was a Republican until five short years ago (no, five very long years ago). Clearly I am open to new facts and ideas. So, they are right. It's not the reporters. It's the editors. They're the ones who must be fired.

Perfect case in point: The Military Commissions Act. I have now read dozens of articles and even editorials clearly stating how outrageous this Act is. How it fundamentally changes our country. It is a bill that changes the very idea of America. They killed freedom in the middle of the night - and no one noticed.

Why? Not because it wasn't reported. Not because there weren't voices of dissent. But because MOST of the people never heard about it. The editors chose not to highlight it. No headlines. No leading stories. No prominent explanation of the rights that were taken away. No sense of the magnitude of the crime.

I can guarantee you that an overwhelming majority of Americans have no idea what their Congress just did to them. Would they really agree to give up their right to a fair trial? Or any trial for that matter? Would they really be in favor of stripping away core constitutional protections against arbitrary and indefinite detention and an all powerful executive? Would they really want to take down one of the founding principles of Western civilization - the writ of habeas corpus established in the Magna Carta in 1215? We'll never know because they don't even know.

All the public knows is what the headlines read - Bush Says He Will Keep Us Safe!

Oh, that explains it. The cowardice of so-called moderate Republicans, the appeasement Democrats (12 in the Senate, 32 in the House), and the timid, pathetic, putrid editors in the major so-called news organizations in the country will not be forgotten. These are the people who had no faith in the American public. They thought so little of them that they were afraid if it was explained to them, they were sure the people would vote against democracy. So, in their pathetic fear, they decided not to explain it at all.

I can smell the cowardice of the editors from here. If they bother to read this, they will be trembling with anger now. The kind of sweaty anger a coward has when he knows he's been caught. The indignant gasp before submission.

Fight me. Prove me wrong. Tell me the bill wasn't important. Show me how it doesn't undermine our principles. Tell me how Americans wouldn't have stood up for democracy even if you told them the truth. Tell me sweet little lies about how you accurately represented the gravity of the story. Tell me how you stood up for America when it counted.

It hurts, doesn't it? You know you can't tell me those things because they aren't true. Here's the reality. The right wing played you for the fools that you are. They complained and whined and bitched for thirty years about how you were liberal to the point where you were scared of your own shadow. You set out to prove them wrong. You were going to show them you weren't liberal - you were neutral. Neutral, right or wrong. And while you were trying to prove them wrong, you proved them right. If challenged, you would submit. You would report things that aren't true and hide things that were to show them you were neutral.

The facts aren't always neutral, and it's not your job to make them so. Your job is to report the facts, no matter what side they come out on.

The difference between critics of the press on the right and the left is that the right wants the press to report their side of the issues; we, on the other hand, don't demand that our side be covered, we demand that the facts be covered. We believe that the job of the press is invaluable. We don't want to destroy the press; we want to help them get back the courage they need to do their jobs.

Now, you can hate me. You can kill the messenger. I don't care. As long as you get your head out of your ass and start PROMINENTLY reporting what is true. They killed America in the middle of the night. It is now day time, will you run the right fucking headline already?!


Former Iraq Planning Chief: "The Iraq Situation Is Not Winnable In Any Real Sense Of The Word Winnable"...

The New York Times
Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — The acknowledgment by the United States Army spokesman in Iraq that the latest plan to secure Baghdad has faltered leaves President Bush with some of the ugliest choices he has yet faced in the war.

He can once again order a rearrangement of American forces inside the country, as he did in August, when American commanders declared that newly trained Iraqi forces would “clear and hold” neighborhoods with backup support from redeployed American forces. That strategy collapsed within a month, frequently forcing the Americans to take the lead, making them prime targets.

There is no assurance, though, that another redeployment of those forces will reduce the casualty rate, which has been unusually high in recent weeks, senior military and administration officials say. The toll comes just before midterm elections, in which even many of his own party have given up arguing that progress is being made or that the killing will soon slow.

Or Mr. Bush can reassess the strategy itself, perhaps listening to those advisers — including some members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, the advisory commission charged with coming up with new strategies for Iraq — who say that he needs to redefine the “victory” that he again on Thursday declared was his goal.

One official providing advice to the president noted on Thursday that while Mr. Bush still insists his goal is an Iraq that “can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself,” he has already dropped most references to creating a flourishing democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

Or, he could take the advice of Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is expected to run to replace him in two years, who argues in favor of pouring more troops into Iraq, an option one senior administration official said recently might make sense but could “cause the bottom to fall out” of public support.

But whatever choices he makes — probably not until after the Nov. 7 election, and perhaps not until the bipartisan group issues its report — they will be forced by a series of events, in Iraq and at home, that now seems largely out of Mr. Bush’s control, in Iraq and at home.

Every day, administration and Pentagon officials fume — privately, to avoid the ire of the White House — about frustrations with Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, for not confronting the country’s Shiite militias, meaning that there is no end to the daily cycle of attack and reprisals. Mr. Bush finds himself increasingly unable to make a convincing argument that, behind the daily toll in American lives, the Maliki government is making measurable progress, or even that the problems in Iraq are subject to a military solution.

It is a vexing quandary that military experts say they doubt that any study group — even the blue-ribbon group assembled under former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Representative Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana — can cut its way through.

At the Pentagon, several examinations of the current approach in Iraq are under way, including an effort ordered by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has asked the Army and the other services to identify officers who have recently returned from Iraq and to ask them to offer their views to the joint staff about whether adjustments in tactics or strategy are necessary, two military officials said.

“We are not able to project sufficient coalition and Iraqi forces to properly execute the strategy” of clearing, holding and rebuilding Baghdad and other areas of insurgents and hostile militias, said another veteran, retired Gen. Jack Keane, a former Army vice chief of staff. “General Pace is doing the right thing by reassessing our entire strategy.”

Mr. Bush says his resolve to win is unshaken. But a few of his aides were wondering aloud why Mr. Bush, asked to respond to a column by Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times that compared the Ramadan attacks in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive, said the comparison “could be right.”

“There’s certainly a stepped up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election,” he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News on Wednesday. “George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we would leave.”

For now there is no talk of leaving. But there is plenty of talk about pulling back.

“The Iraq situation is not winnable in any real sense of the word ‘winnable,’ ” Richard N. Haass, the former chief of the policy planning operations in the State Department during Mr. Bush’s first term, told reporters on Thursday. Privately, Pentagon strategists and some administration officials note that President Bush has talked often in recent months of changing his tactics, but not his strategy.

“Tactics are something you can turn on a dime,” said Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, and an Army veteran with close ties to the military. “Strategy takes time, and that’s the question. Do we have time for a new strategy?”

While members of the Iraq Strategy Group are cagey about the recommendations they are drafting, several say that Mr. Baker — who is in regular contact with Mr. Bush — is seeking to move away from Mr. Bush’s strategy of withdrawing Americans when the Iraqis are ready to replace them and toward one that sets a schedule.

“Jim’s problem is that he wants a way to make clear to Maliki that we’re leaving, but without signaling to the Shia and the Sunni that if they bide their time, they can battle it out for Iraq,” said one longtime national security expert who recently testified in front of the study group. “How do you do that? Got me.”

Then there is the recurring question whether a new strategy requires the exit of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Privately some Republicans say that the combination of a poor showing in next month’s midterm elections and the worsening violence could ultimately force Mr. Rumsfeld’s departure. Pentagon aides say Mr. Rumsfeld is not planning on going anywhere. “He serves at the pleasure of the president and has no intention to step down,” said Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary. And, officially, the White House says it has no intention of changing its strategy, either. Only its tactics.


U.S. reviews Baghdad strategy as troop deaths mount

U.S. reviews Baghdad strategy as troop deaths mount
By Ibon Villelabeitia

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Thursday it was reviewing strategy in Baghdad, where U.S. reinforcements have failed to halt spiraling violence, and expressed grave concern about mounting troop deaths.

The battle for control of Baghdad, which U.S. officials say will decide Iraq's future, and a spate of attacks across Iraq on Thursday that killed at least 38 people piled pressure on President Bush before the November mid-term election.

In Washington, a senior administration official said the latest Baghdad security strategy had not achieved its goal and the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, was expected to present a revised plan within weeks.

"Everybody understands you've got to have progress on the security issue in Baghdad," the official said.

The U.S. military will be looking at the "adequacy" of Iraqi forces deployed in Baghdad, whether to change the balance of Iraqi police and soldiers in the city, and the role of U.S. troops there, the official said.

Bush, whose Republicans are battling to retain control of the U.S. Congress, said he saw a possible parallel in the rise in violence in Iraq and the 1968 communist Tet offensive, which triggered a drop in Americans' support for the Vietnam War.

Asked in an ABC interview whether he agreed the violence in Iraq was the "jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive," Bush said: "(It) could be right. There's certainly a stepped up level of violence and we're heading into an election."

Bush said al Qaeda was very active in Iraq and trying to foment sectarian violence as well as kill U.S. troops.

"They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw," he said.

Later at a Republican fund-raising event, Bush said: "There is one thing we will not do. We will not pull out our troops from Iraq before the terrorists are defeated."


A spokesman said Casey had ordered the review of strategy in Baghdad, widely seen as crucial to bringing enough stability to Iraq to allow U.S. troops to eventually leave the country.

U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the number of attacks targeting security forces in Baghdad had risen since U.S. troops launched a crackdown designed to end sectarian violence killing dozens of people every day.

U.S. commanders have blamed the rise in U.S. casualties in Baghdad on more perilous patrolling by U.S. forces trying to defeat sectarian militias and Sunni Arab insurgents opposed to the Shi'ite-led government.

Caldwell said violence across the country had risen by at least 20 percent in the first three weeks of the holy month of Ramadan, compared to the previous three weeks.

He said civilian casualty levels in Baghdad stabilized in October, but added: "Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but it has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in ... violence.

"We are working very closely with the government of Iraq to determine how best to refocus our efforts," he said.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said Casey ordered the review last week. "U.S. casualties are a grave concern but that is not driving the review," Garver told Reuters.

The U.S. death toll rose on Thursday to 73 for October, which could become one of the deadliest months for U.S. forces since a massive offensive in Falluja two years ago.

In Mosul, six suicide bombers including one in a fuel truck blew themselves up near police stations and U.S. patrols, and insurgents fired mortar bombs and clashed with police in violence that killed at least 20 and wounded dozens.

A car bomb in Kirkuk killed at least eight people in an attack aimed at an Iraqi army patrol. In Khalis, a roadside bomb ripped through a busy market, killing 10 and wounding 20.

More than 2,780 U.S. troops have been killed since the March 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

Many more Iraqis have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled their homes in what some fear could lead to a sectarian partition of Iraq.

But the White House branded as a "non-starter" any suggestion of setting up semi-autonomous Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions, as a top-level commission worked on recommendations for Bush on strategy over Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Ziad al-Taei in Mosul, Claudia Parsons in Baghdad, Caren Bohan in La Plume, Pennsylvania, and Matt Spetalnick in Washington)


Bush sees possible Iraq-Vietnam parallel

Bush sees possible Iraq-Vietnam parallel
By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush says he sees a possible parallel in the increase in violence in Iraq and the 1968 Tet offensive that prompted Americans to lose support for the Vietnam War.

But the White House on Thursday said the president had not been making the analogy that Iraq had reached a similar turning point. Instead, he was saying that insurgents were possibly increasing violence to try to influence coming U.S. elections.

Bush was asked in an ABC News interview on Wednesday whether he agreed with an opinion by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that the current violence in Iraq was "the jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive."

Bush responded: "He could be right. There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."

Bush and other top U.S. officials have long resisted comparisons to the Vietnam War when critics have suggested that Iraq has turned into a quagmire.

They also have stepped back from adamant declarations of progress as sectarian violence ratchets up, with more than 2,750 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Bush has taken a more flexible tone on Iraq, saying he is open to adjusting policy, as the November 7 elections approach with his Republican Party facing the possibility of losing control of the U.S. Congress over an unpopular war.

Communist forces lost the Tet offensive, but it was a major propaganda victory and is widely considered a turning point of the war in Vietnam, prompting support for the conflict to deteriorate. President Lyndon Johnson's popularity fell and he withdrew as a candidate for re-election in March 1968.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the president was not trying to say that it was the turning point in Iraq, as the Tet offensive has come to symbolize for Vietnam.

"That is not an analogy we're trying to make," Snow said. "We do not think that there's been a flip-over point, but more importantly from the standpoint of the government and the standpoint of this administration, we're going to continue pursuing victory aggressively."

Bush has maintained that Iraq is not embroiled in civil war and continues to insist that U.S. troops will not leave until Iraqis can take over security for their country.

Bush told ABC that not every American soldier would be out of Iraq before he leaves office in about two years. There are about 144,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq.

"Look, here's how I view it," Bush said. "First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to foment sectarian violence.

"They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw," he said.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland)


Iraq propaganda program legal: Pentagon report

Iraq propaganda program legal: Pentagon report
By Kristin Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military acted legally when it hired a contractor to pay Iraqi news organizations to run pro-American stories, the Pentagon's inspector general has found.

An unclassified summary of results of the inspector general's probe, released on Thursday, said:

"We concluded that the Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Corps-Iraq complied with applicable laws and regulations in their use of a contractor to conduct Psychological Operations and their use of newspapers as a way to disseminate information."

The controversial propaganda program was made public in a Los Angeles Times report in November.

Early this year, the Pentagon confirmed that troops in an "information operations" task force were writing articles with positive messages about the mission in Iraq that were translated into Arabic and given to Iraqi newspapers to print in return for money.

The stories were planted with the help of Washington-based Lincoln group.

The inspector general, the Pentagon's internal watchdog agency, reviewed three Lincoln Group contracts.

In one of those cases, it found that a military contracting office did not maintain enough documentation to verify expenditures under the program. Because of that, the inspector could not determine if the contract was awarded properly or if payments made were appropriate, the summary results stated.

"This Department of Defense report shows that the Pentagon cannot account for millions paid to the Lincoln Group for their propaganda program and that basic contracting rules were not followed," said U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who sought the inspector general's review.

"Broader policy questions remain about whether the administration's manipulation of the news in Iraq contradicts our goal of a free and independent press there," Kennedy said.


Top Republican testifies in sex scandal

Top Republican testifies in sex scandal
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. Republican testified on Thursday in the investigation of a Capitol Hill sex scandal, and afterward said the sordid affair was not hurting his party's chances of retaining control of the U.S. Congress in the November 7 elections.

"It does not appear to be affecting any of our races," House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said after emerging from a closed-door meeting with a congressional ethics panel. Boehner of Ohio said voters were more interested in such matters as taxes and national security.

Yet polls show Democrats making big gains nationally since the scandal broke on September 29 with the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley after it was disclosed that the Florida Republican sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage male interns, known as pages.

A Time magazine poll earlier this month found that most Americans believe Republicans tried to coverup the matter. Yet others found people saying it will not impact their vote.

Boehner said he told the ethics panel privately what he had earlier said in public -- that he first learned about contact between Foley and a former page several months ago, and believes he informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican.

Hastert, Boehner and other Republicans, however, insist they did not know about sexually explicit e-mails by Foley until they were disclosed on September 29 by ABC News.

On Thursday, ABC News quoted a Republican familiar with the investigation as saying former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl was believed to have testified earlier in the day that a top Hastert aide was informed of "all issues dealing with the page program."

ABC quoted the source as saying Trandahl planned to name Hastert aide Ted Van Der Meid as the person regularly briefed about the program, including "a problem group of members and staff who spent too much time socializing with pages outside official duties." One of whom was Foley, ABC said.

Trandahl became House clerk in 1998 and left the post for another job late last year. As clerk, he helped oversee the page program.

"Jeff Trandahl has cooperated fully with the investigation," his attorney, Cono Namorato, said after his client's private testimony. "He answered every question asked of him and stands ready to render additional assistance if needed."

But, the lawyer added, "On my advice, Jeff will continue his position of not publicly airing his recollections," pending completion of the probe.

A former top aide to Foley said earlier this month he told senior Hastert aides three years ago about Foley's troublesome behavior. Hastert's office denies it.

Hastert's office has said Trandahl was advised late last year of an "overly-friendly" e-mail from Foley to a former intern and Foley was told to end communications with him.


Calif. Republicans want candidate to leave race

Calif. Republicans want candidate to leave race

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Republicans in southern California asked one of their party's congressional candidates to quit his race because his office sent out a letter telling Hispanics it was illegal for immigrants to vote.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican party in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, called on Tan Nguyen to withdraw from his race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Loretta Sanchez because of the letter, which Baugh said Nguyen knew about before it was sent to 14,000 newly registered Hispanic voters.

"I've learned that Mr. Nguyen not only was aware (of the letter), but was also involved in making sure it got expedited," Baugh said.

"He has a chance to do the honorable thing and withdraw from the race."

But Nguyen, a Vietnamese-born investment advisor seeking to unseat the popular five-term incumbent in California's 47th congressional district, insisted he did not know about the letter before it was sent and had subsequently fired an aide responsible for it.

Sanchez, who is favored to win in November, has condemned the Spanish-language letter as an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site, immigrants who become U.S. citizens can vote in U.S. elections.

Nguyen said his office would cooperate with law enforcement agencies, including the California Attorney General's office, which are investigating the letter.

Republicans, including Nguyen, have made securing the U.S. border with Mexico a hot issue ahead of midterm congressional elections. The Republican-controlled Congress failed to revamp the nation's immigration law this year.

Nguyen's letter told recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time, and you will be deported for voting without having a right to do so."

The letter also urged noncitizens to refuse to "listen to any politician that tells you the opposite. They are only looking out for their own interests. They only want to win elections without any regard to what happens to you."


Thursday, October 19, 2006

U.S. October death toll in Iraq hits 70

Yahoo! News
U.S. October death toll in Iraq hits 70
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

Eleven more U.S. troops were slain in combat, the military said Wednesday, putting October on track to be the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the siege of Fallujah nearly two years ago.

The military says the sharp increase in U.S. casualties — 70 so far this month — is tied to Ramadan and a security crackdown that has left American forces more vulnerable to attack in Baghdad and its suburbs. Muslim tenets hold that fighting a foreign occupation force during Islam's holy month puts a believer especially close to God.

As the death toll climbed for both U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians, who are being killed at a rate of 43 a day, the country's Shiite-dominated government remained under intense U.S. pressure to shut down Shiite militias.

Some members of the armed groups have fractured into uncontrolled, roaming death squads out for revenge against Sunni Arabs, the Muslim minority in Iraq who were politically and socially dominant until the fall of Saddam Hussein.

There have been growing signs in recent days of mounting strain between Washington and the wobbly government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who felt compelled during a conversation with President Bush this week to seek his assurances that the Americans were not going to dump him.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Wednesday blamed American officials who ran Iraq before its own government took nominal control for bringing the country to the present state of chaos.

"Had our friends listened to us, we would not be where we are today," Zebari said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Asked which friends he was referring to, Zebari said:

"The Americans, the Coalition (Provision Authority), the British. OK? Because they didn't listen to us. The did exactly what they wanted to do. ... Had they listened to us, we would have been someplace else (by now), really."

It was an unusually harsh statement from Zebari, a Kurd, whose ethnic group owes much to the U.S. intervention in Iraq and for its virtual autonomy in the north of the country.

A report in Britain's Financial Times on Wednesday said the White House is now pressuring Iraqi authorities to give amnesty to Sunni insurgents. That would be a surprising change for the Bush administration, which has resisted amnesty because it could potentially include fighters who have killed American troops.

At the State Department, spokesman Tom Casey said a decision on amnesty would be left to the Iraqi government.

"I wouldn't describe our position as pressuring them to do this now or at any particular moment except at a point when they feel their national reconciliation process has gone through its appropriate steps and they're ready to move forward with it," Casey said.

Soon after taking office in May, al-Maliki proposed an amnesty for insurgents who put down their arms. But no insurgents took up the offer, and the proposal bogged down amid differences over who would be eligible. Al-Maliki said those "with blood on their hands" — either Iraqis' or American soldiers' — would not be covered.

Despite the climbing death toll, the U.S. military claims it is making progress in taming runaway violence in the capital as it engages insurgents, militias and sectarian death squads, rounds up suspects and uncovers weapons caches and masses of stockpiled explosives.

The latest American death took place Wednesday, when a soldier was killed after his patrol was attacked with small-arms fire south of Baghdad. Ten Americans were killed on Tuesday — nine soldiers and a Marine — the highest single-day combat death toll for U.S. forces since Jan. 5, when 11 service members were killed across Iraq. There have been days with a higher number of U.S. deaths, but not solely from combat.

October is now on track to be the deadliest month for American forces in Iraq since November 2004, when military offenses primarily in the then-insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, left 137 troops dead, 126 of them in combat.

"It breaks my heart because behind every casualty is somebody with tears in their eyes," Bush told ABC News in an interview. "I think the hardest part of the presidency is to meet with families who've lost their loved one."

With Iraq becoming an increasing issue in the Nov. 7 midterm elections in the United States, White House spokesman Tony Snow was asked if the rising toll would cause Bush to alter course.

"No, his strategy is to win," Snow said. "The president understands not only the difficulty of it, but he grieves for the people who have served with valor. But as everybody says correctly, we've got to win. And that comes at a cost."

The spiking American death toll has compounded a period of intense violence among Iraqis. If current trends continue, October will be the deadliest month for Iraqis since the AP began tracking deaths in April 2005. So far this month, 775 Iraqis have been killed in war-related violence, an average of 43 a day.

That compares to an average daily death toll of about 27 since April 2005. The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported.

Just north of Baghdad, in the city of Balad for example, at least 95 people died in a five-day sectarian slaughter that began Friday.

On Wednesday, key tribal, religious and government officials brokered a 20-day truce in the region, hoping to work through Sunni and Shiite grievances during the cooling off period. Balad is a majority Shiite town, but is surrounded by territory that is mainly populated by Sunnis.


AP News Research Center in New York contributed to this report, as did AP correspondents Christopher Bodeen, Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra.


A Wake-up Call for American Voters - Iraq for Sale

Huffington Post
Francine Busby
A Wake-up Call for American Voters - Iraq for Sale

Ineffective measures, corporate cronyism and sheer incompetence set amidst an unnecessary war. On Oct. 6th, we sponsored a viewing of Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers for over one hundred people and it was a real eye-opener to see who's profiting from President Bush's fiasco.

We were honored to have with us Rick Jacobs, co-producer of the film, to speak about what we saw and answer questions, as well as Rudy Reyes who gave us the benefit of his first-hand experience in Iraq as a member of our special forces.

Iraq for Sale is a testament to the fact that this war was ill-conceived and horribly executed. Rather than build a shining example of democracy in Iraq with an infrastructure that was to be the envy of the region, the Bush administration left us with a terrorist breeding ground in an environment where corruption and crony-capitalism runs amok.

This film shines a bright light on how Congress abdicated its vital role in holding President Bush accountable for the conduct of this costly and wasteful distraction from the war on terrorism. The Iraq war will forever be known as Bush's disastrous adventure, and we can thank film makers like Robert Greenwald for documenting the fraud and incompetence as a wake-up call for American voters and a bitter lesson for this country's future leaders.

The campaign received 250 copies of "Iraq for Sale" from a generous donor. As part of the Busby campaign, each precinct captain is being given a given a DVD to help organize Get Out The Vote efforts. We have reached out to our activist community, provided them with copies of the film, and asked that they hold screening parties to educate potential voters. These combined efforts will help to spread the word.


The National Intelligence Estimate doesn’t say what Bush says it does. How will he handle upcoming secret reports on Iran and Iraq?

Selective Intelligence
The National Intelligence Estimate doesn’t say what Bush says it does. How will he handle upcoming secret reports on Iran and Iraq?
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

Sept. 27, 2006 - The White House’s release of a dire National Intelligence Estimate on global terrorism has illustrated once again how easy it is to publicly misrepresent intelligence-community findings—especially when almost all of the key documents remained shrouded in secrecy.

Only two days ago, while attempting to knock down stories by The New York Times and other publications about the NIE, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow insisted to reporters that the document’s conclusions were entirely consistent with the public statements of the president and other Bush administration officials.

News reports on the NIE “contain nothing that the president hasn’t said,” Snow told reporters in Riverside, Conn. “Obviously, we’re not going to go into what the classified report does say, but … the substance is precisely what the president has been saying.”

But the actual wording of the NIE contains sobering conclusions that, in tone and substance, are very different from what Bush and other administration officials have recently been saying about the government’s progress in the war on terror. Even more potentially problematic for the White House, intelligence-community officials say, there are at least two more secret studies underway that are likely to undercut the administration’s public positions on sensitive national-security issues.

The NIE, which is supposed to reflect the consensus judgment of the U.S. intelligence community, states that the global jihadist movement “is spreading and adapting to counter-terrorism efforts”; that the number of jihadists are “increasing in both number and geographic dispersion,” and that the war in Iraq had become “the cause celebre” for jihadis around the world, “breeding a deep resentment of U.S involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

None of these downbeat assessments could be found in President Bush’s speech just three weeks ago when he described the government’s war on terror since September 11 in largely upbeat terms.

“Together with our coalition partners,” Bush said, “we’ve removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, killed and captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in American and other nations and stopped many attacks before they’re carried out. We’re on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront.…”

While the president did warn that Al Qaeda “remains dangerous” and that there were more threats from “locally established terrorist cells,” he gave no indication that the intelligence community had concluded that the numbers of actual terrorists had increased, rather than declined, in recent years.

Even yesterday, after four pages of the NIE were declassified and released, White House counterterrorism adviser Frances Fragos Townsend continued to insist that the NIE tracked with other public statements from the administration.

In a briefing at the White House, she pointed reporters to a section of the administration's “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism”—released the same day as the president’s Sept. 5 speech on the subject—which warned that “terrorist networks today are more dispersed and less centralized.” Yet that document too gave no hint that the terrorist movement was now judged by the U.S. intelligence community to be larger than it was five years ago.

Townsend also noted that the White House-released terrorism strategy had stated that the “ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry.” Yet the public national strategy document left out the more significant finding from the secret NIE: that the terrorists’ attempt to use Iraq for their own purposes had apparently succeeded and that by fueling resentment throughout the Muslim world had allowed them to cultivate new supporters.

None of this necessarily undercuts the president’s argument that a U.S. defeat in Iraq would embolden the worldwide jihadi movement and make the country even more vulnerable to future attacks. But it does illustrate the perils for the White House when it mischaracterizes intelligence-community assessments in politically useful ways. Indeed, career intelligence officials this week expressed dismay that documents such as the NIE have been selectively used by policymakers—or leaked for political purposes. “It does get frustrating” to see such documents cited incompletely or quoted out of context, said one U.S. intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified because the matter is politically sensitive.

The potential for political misrepresentations may become even greater in the coming months as the U.S. intelligence community completes two more documents with a potential bearing on the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism and related national-security issues. One of the studies is a broad overview of the military and political situation in Iraq; the other is an up-to-date assessment of the progress—or lack thereof—that the government of Iran is making in its alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte's office began the Iraq study in the summer following demands by congressional Democrats that such an assessment be produced (although his spokesman maintained that the intelligence czar ordered up the Iraq study on his own and not in response to congressional demands). At the time the Iraq study was first proposed, intelligence sources said there was some pressure on agencies to produce the paper so it would be available before the November congressional elections—even if its contents remained classified, as is customary with such documents.

But as of this week, one official said, Negroponte's office was still exchanging messages with the agencies working on the paper about the document's "terms of reference"—the broad outlines of questions which the new estimate is expected to answer. Given that its structure has still not been agreed, the likelihood of the Iraq paper being completed before the midterm elections has become remote; officials now are talking about finishing it by next January.

Indications are that whenever the new Iraq NIE is complete, it will not offer much optimism for Bush administration policymakers. Like the newly released NIE on terrorism, the upcoming intelligence estimate on Iraq is likely to contrast with public pronouncements of progress from the White House. In secret papers and briefings over the last 18 months, intelligence professionals have repeatedly portrayed a bleak picture in which disorder in Iraq appears to be growing rather than receding.

More than a year ago, a classified CIA paper assessment reported that Iraq had become a venue where a new wave of Islamic militants, many of them from outside Iraq, not only could be indoctrinated in jihad but could practice and perfect urban-warfare skills under live-fire conditions, in some cases presumably before returning to their home countries to carry out planned terror attacks. Two counterterrorism sources said there is no reason to believe CIA analysts have changed their pessimistic assessment since the paper was produced.
In a series of closed-door briefings earlier this summer on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency painted what people familiar with the sessions described as an extremely gloomy assessment of the situation in Iraq; in the briefings, according to the sources, DIA officials described a situation in which insurgent groups are continuing to thrive and grow, increasingly influential sectarian militias are stoking intercommunal violence and the elected Iraqi government is showing itself, at least at the moment, incapable of curbing the violence.

A Defense official familiar with the briefings said that DIA also assessed that if Iraqi security forces could be trained and put into operation according to U.S. and Iraqi government plans then the violence conceivably could be curbed. One official who is familiar with the contents of the DIA briefings commented, however, that administration officials have made similar assertions in the past about Iraqi security forces that, so far at least, have not been validated by events.


A Question Bush Can't Answer
A Question Bush Can't Answer
By Dan Froomkin

There are a lot of questions -- about a lot of things -- that President Bush can't seem to answer.

But Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, of all people, asked Bush one of the most important ones in an interview aired last night.

This one was about torture.

Here's the transcript ; here's the video .

O'Reilly raised the issue of waterboarding, a particularly appalling technique that CIA interrogators reportedly used on terror suspects.

O'Reilly: "Is waterboarding torture?"

Bush: "I don't want to talk about techniques. But I do assure the American people that we were within the law and we don't torture. I have said all along to the American people we won't torture. But we need to be in a position where we can interrogate these people."

Then came the question I've been waiting for someone to ask.

O'Reilly: " But if the public doesn't know what torture is or is not, as defined by the Bush Administration, how can the public make a decision on whether your policy is right or wrong? " [My emphasis.]

Bush's ducking of such an important question, it seems to me, is highly newsworthy. Here's the president's response, in its entirety:

Bush: "Well, one thing is that you can rest assured we are not going to talk about the techniques we use in a public forum, no matter how hard you try, because I don't want the enemy to be able to adjust their tactics if we capture them on the battlefield.

"But what the American people need to know is we have a program in place that is able to get intelligence from these people and we have used it to stop attacks. The intelligence community believes strongly that the information we got from the detainee questioning program yielded information that made America safer, that we stopped attacks.

"Secondly, the courts. Yeah, I believe it is necessary to have military tribunals because I ultimately want these people to be tried. And it took a while to get these tribunals in place. The Supreme Court ruled that the president didn't have the authority to set up these courts on his own, that he needed to work with Congress to do so, and we did.

"What's interesting about these votes that took place in the Congress is the number of Democrats that opposed questioning people we picked up on the battlefield. And I think that's an issue that they will have to explain to the American people."

So apparently that's his answer to O'Reilly's excellent and important question: Democrats are pro-terrorist.

(And let's not even get into the fact that he misrepresented the views of Democrats, all of whom to the best of my knowledge favor questioning suspects -- just not necessarily torturing them.)

O'Reilly unfortunately let the matter drop; and most of the other exchanges were predictably sycophantic. He certainly didn't challenge Bush's straw-man arguments. Here's one typical exchange:

O'Reilly: "Your administration has been accused of being fascist, violating human rights. . . . "

Bush chuckles

O'Reilly: " . . . ignoring the Geneva conventions. And it's been a fierce campaign against this policy. Why has it been so fierce?"

Bush: " . . . Look, after 9/11 I vowed to protect this country. . . . Now maybe there are some in this country who say, well, they are not coming again and therefore, all this is unnecessary. I believe they are coming again and I believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to protect our people."

And O'Reilly even got Bush to use a term the president has recently avoided because it's so inflammatory.

O'Reilly: "I think the bottom line is this crazy insurgency on the Islamofascists, as I call them, is never going to end in our lifetime."

Bush: "That's an interesting question, an interesting point. The question is how do you marginalize them?"

O'Reilly: "Right. How do you control them?"

Bush: "I think this is the big ideological debate of the 21st century, and that is extremists, Islamofascists as you call them, radicals, aiming to topple a modern people. And it is a massive challenge for the free world and for Muslims who want to live in peace. By far the vast majority of people they want to have a peaceful existence."

O'Reilly: "But they are scared. They will kill you and your family and every kid you have."

Bush: "In a minute! In a minute! And that fundamentally asks -- that means what is the U.S. role? Not only will they kill their families. They'll come and kill us. The biggest issue we face, for this country, is how do you protect yourself?"

O'Reilly's interview with Bush was on Monday, but the bombastic talk-show host is stringing it out over three nights. I wrote about the first installment in yesterday's column . And I'm sure looking forward to tonight's, when O'Reilly asks Bush about "the personal attacks" against him, how he sees them and how they affect his job.

Also tonight: The first excerpts from an interview Bush is conducting with ABC News's George Stephanopoulos.
A New Day for America

Richard B. Schmitt and Julian E. Barnes write in the Los Angeles Times: "President Bush signed new legislation Tuesday providing for the detention and prosecution of terrorism suspects, and the Justice Department moved immediately to request the dismissal of dozens of lawsuits filed by detainees challenging their incarceration. . . .

"The signing ceremony was part political rally for a GOP that is struggling to retain control of Congress three weeks before pivotal midterm elections. Republican leaders said the legislation showed that they were a party of strength and assailed Democrats for not supporting the measure.

"'The Democratic plan would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans' lives,' House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said."

David Savage writes in the Los Angeles Times: "The military tribunals bill signed by President Bush on Tuesday marks the first time the right of habeas corpus has been curtailed by law for millions of people in the United States.

"Although debate focused on trials at Guantanamo Bay, the new law also takes away from noncitizens in the U.S. -- including more than 12 million permanent residents -- the right to go to court if they are declared 'unlawful enemy combatants.'

"No one has suggested that the Bush administration plans to use its newly won power to round up large numbers of immigrants.

"But before Tuesday, the principle of habeas corpus meant that anyone thrown into jail in the U.S. had a right to ask a judge for a hearing. They also had a right to go free if the government could not show a legal basis for holding them. The Latin term for 'you have the body,' habeas corpus is considered one of an accused person's most basic rights."

Savage writes: "Many legal scholars predict the law's partial repeal of habeas corpus will be struck down as unconstitutional."

For instance: "The law does not qualify under any of the tests for suspending habeas corpus spelled out there, said John D. Hutson, a former judge advocate general of the Navy and dean of the Franklin Pierce Law School in New Hampshire.

"'This is not a time of rebellion. There has not been an invasion, and there's no evidence the "public safety" requires it,' Hutson said. 'Let's not kid ourselves. This is not about an invasion. It is about the embarrassment of holding people who, if they got to court, could show they should not have been held.'"

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times: "Leading Republican lawmakers, among them Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who balked at the initial White House version of the bill and forced a much-publicized compromise, were also on hand. But the third leader of that Republican rebellion, Senator John McCain of Arizona, was noticeably absent."

As for that supposed compromise, Tony Snow put an end to any pretense that there was any such thing at his briefing yesterday , a few hours after the bill became law:

"Q Do you think -- this has been described as a compromise. The President basically got everything he wanted, didn't he?

"MR. SNOW: Pretty much, yes."
No Signing Statement

Here's another sign of how pleased the White House was with this legislation.

Signing statements -- in which the president quietly asserts his right to ignore legislative provisions that he believes conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution -- have become a controversial tradition at the Bush White House.

But at Monday's briefing , Snow disclosed that there would be no signing statement issued for this bill.

Reporters were shocked, and asked why.

"Q Tony, was there any agreement with Congress that there would not be a signing statement?

"MR. SNOW: No.

"Q This just seems like the kind of bill where there are a lot of things to be interpreted and take a look at.

"MR. SNOW: They did a really good job this time.

"Q Wow. (Laughter.)"
Maybe No Order, Either

Reporters -- on behalf of the public -- are eagerly awaiting an executive order from the president that, as laid out in the new law, would put on the record precisely how he interprets the Geneva Conventions, and what sorts of conduct would be considered a breach.

But yesterday, Snow told reporters not to hold their breath.

"MR. SNOW: What [the law] says is the President is authorized to do an executive order. I'll read you the language in a moment. The President's senior advisors are going to make recommendations as to the appropriate steps. . . .

"Q So he does have to, then, publish an executive order, isn't that right?

"MR. SNOW: Well, again -- well, we'll see. This says he's authorized to do so."

One reporter asked Snow a variation of the O'Reilly question noted above:

"Q So how will the President convince Americans that the kind of interrogation and the kind of pursuit of terrorists is something they can be proud of?"

"MR. SNOW: Well, the question is -- it's interesting, if you live in an atmosphere where people are automatically going to assume that people who are serving their nation are doing so dishonorably -- and that would have to be the assumption here, the people doing the questioning, in fact, are rogue actors and not people acting scrupulously within the law and proud of what they do -- then there's absolutely no way to persuade somebody."

But the public, of course, is not so much concerned about rogue actors as it is about rogue memos from the White House. So Snow's answer was just as non-responsive as Bush's.
Opinion Watch

Andrew Cohen writes for "Long after both President Bush and Osama Bin Laden are gone from the scene, our successors-in-interest will look at this wretched law in particular, and the events upon which it is based, and wonder why Congress dramatically loosened the Bush Administration's legal leash at this time rather than severely restricting it.

"Reasoned voices will then ask: What did the White House do between 9/11/01 and 9/11/06 to earn the trust and added authority that the Congress now has given it? What did President Bush do along the terror law front since the Twin Towers fell to cause Congress to place so much faith in him and his Administration when it comes to tiptoeing the tightrope between security and freedom?

"The answer to these questions is nothing. So far, some legal experts say, the Bush Administration's track record when it comes to exercising unbridled power has been lame. To put it less mildly, as some legal experts have, it is actionable. Over and over again, they say, the executive branch has deceived Congress and the courts. Over and over again, the Administration has oversold its terror cases. Over and over again it has tried to hide its errors under the veil of 'national security.'"

Legal blogger Jack Balkin writes: "The President has created a new regime in which he is a law unto himself on issues of prisoner interrogations. He decides whether he has violated the laws, and he decides whether to prosecute the people he in turn urges to break the law. And all the while he insists that everything he does is perfectly legal, because, the way the law is designed, there is no one with authority to disagree.

"It is a travesty of law under the forms of law. It is the accumulation of executive, judicial, and legislative powers in a single branch and under a single individual.

"It is the very essence of tyranny."

Via the Crooks and Liars blog, Jonathan Turley tells Keith Olbermann on MSNBC: "The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It's otherworldly."
Lame Duck Watch

Peter Baker and Michael A. Fletcher write in The Washington Post: "On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible. As of 8 a.m. today, those clocks will read 825 days, four hours. But if the elections go the way pollsters and pundits predict, they might as well read 20 days.

"At least that would be the end of George W. Bush's presidency as he has known it. . . .

"Around Washington, key figures in both parties have been trying to figure out what a Democratic victory would mean. Bush has been meeting privately with Cabinet secretaries in recent weeks to map out an agenda for his final two years in office. The White House says it is not making contingency plans for a Democratic win, but Bush advisers are bracing for what they privately recognize is the increasing likelihood. And Democratic leaders have been conferring about what they would do should voters return them to power. . . .

"Most worrisome to the White House is the subpoena power that Democrats would gain with a majority in the House or Senate. For years, Republicans have been mostly deferential in scrutinizing the Bush administration, but Democrats are eager to reexamine an array of issues, such as Vice President Cheney's energy task force, the Jack Abramoff scandal and preparations for the Iraq war."
Cheney and Limbaugh

Cheney called his favorite talk-show host yesterday for a chat. Here's the transcript from

Cheney was shockingly upbeat about Iraq -- even more so than his White House colleagues.

"If you look at the general overall situation, they're doing remarkably well," he said.

But he was somewhat less cheerful than either Bush or Rove about the mid-term elections: "I really think we're going to do reasonably well, and I think we'll hold the Senate, and I also think we've got a good shot of holding the House," he said.
Iraq Watch

Pretty much everyone else is more pessimistic about Iraq.

AFP reports: "Former US secretary of state James Baker was visibly shocked when he last visited Iraq, and said the country was in a 'helluva mess', the BBC reported.

"Baker is leading a review of the situation in Iraq by a bipartisan US committee of experts, and is expected to recommend a change in US strategy for rebuilding Iraq.

"Citing a unnamed close friend and ally of Baker's, himself a top politician, the BBC said that Baker added that 'there simply weren't any easy solutions'."

James Sterngold writes for the San Franciso Chronicle: "With the violence in Iraq flaring dangerously, a national consensus is growing, even among senior Republicans, that the United States must consider a major change in strategy in the coming months.

"But in a sign of the growing sense of urgency, a member of a high-powered government advisory body that is developing options to prevent Iraq's chaotic collapse warns that the United States could have just weeks, not months, to avoid an all-out civil war.

"'There's a sense among many people now that things in Iraq are slipping fast and there isn't a lot of time to reverse them,' said Larry Diamond, one of a panel of experts advising the Iraq Study Group, which is preparing a range of policy alternatives for President Bush.

"'The civil war is already well along. We have no way of knowing if it's too late until we try a radically different course,' said Diamond, an expert on building democracies who is at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and is a former adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq."

National security expert Anthony Cordesman recently declared Iraq to be engulfed in a civil war.

Thomas L. Friedman writes in his New York Times opinion column (subscription required) that "what we're seeing there seems like the jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive. . . .

"Total U.S. troop deaths in Iraq this month have reached at least 53, putting October on a path to be the third deadliest month of the entire war for the U.S. military. Iraqis are being killed at a rate of 100 per day now. The country has descended into such a Hobbesian state that even Saddam called on Iraqis from his prison cell to stop killing each other. . . .

"Bob Woodward quoted President Bush as saying that he will not leave Iraq, even if the only ones still supporting him are his wife, Laura, and his dog Barney. If the jihadist Tet offensive continues gaining momentum, Mr. Bush may be left with just Barney."
About Those Mid-Terms

Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times: "White House political strategist Karl Rove yesterday confidently predicted that the Republican Party would hold the House and the Senate in next month's elections, dismissing fallout from the sex scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley.

"At a luncheon with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, Mr. Rove -- who is widely credited as the architect of the party's historic 2002 midterm election gains -- said Republicans are beginning to make significant headway in defining their party's differences from congressional Democrats, especially on national security. . . .

"In the hourlong interview, Mr. Rove was upbeat, telling stories from the campaign trail and joking about skewed political coverage that disproportionately shows Democrats poised to take control of Congress."

Howard Fineman writes for Newsweek: "They are calling them 'pre-mortems' -- explanations in advance for what are expected to be Republican losses in the midterm elections next month. I heard a fascinating 'pre-mortem' over dinner the other night from no less a personage than Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"It went roughly as follows: The Democrats are running against George Bush and the Iraq war. To the extent that they succeed, it will largely be because of the president's low job-approval numbers -- which are at rock bottom mostly because voters can't see that he is leading us in a new and 'different kind of war, an insurgent war' against Islamic fascists."
Space Plan

Marc Kaufman writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone 'hostile to U.S. interests.'

"The document, the first full revision of overall space policy in 10 years, emphasizes security issues, encourages private enterprise in space, and characterizes the role of U.S. space diplomacy largely in terms of persuading other nations to support U.S. policy."

Bush actually signed the new policy on August 31. An unclassified version was released on October 6.

The Henry L. Stimson Center has background.
That's the Ticket

Daniel Yee writes for the Associated Press: "A woman who was ticketed for having an obscene anti-President Bush bumper sticker filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against DeKalb County and its officials.

"Denise Grier, 47, of Athens, Ga., got a $100 ticket in March after a DeKalb County police officer spotted the bumper sticker, which read 'I'm Tired Of All The BUSHIT.'"
Cheney Shorthand

John Aravosis of Americablog notes this passage from Mark Leibovich 's story on Cheney in the New York Times yesterday:

"He offers his standard homage to tax cuts, a warning about how terrorists are still trying desperately 'to cause mass death here in the United States' and a derisive cataloging of the various 'Dean Democrats,' congressmen including Charles B. Rangel of New York, Henry A. Waxman of California and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, whose influence would grow if the apocalypse came and Democrats took over Congress.

"The crowd boos.

"'Don't hold back,' Mr. Cheney urges."

Aravosis apparently doesn't think Cheney's choice of names was a coincidence. His headline for his blog post: "Dick Cheney: Did I tell you the one about the black guy, the Jew, and the fag?"
Cartoon Watch

Tom Toles on the last throes; Pat Oliphant on Preacher Bush; Jeff Danziger on the comma; Mike Luckovich on blame; Ben Sargent on lunacy.
'Clear Message'

In yesterday's column , I quoted Bush saying that the detainee bill "sends a clear message: This nation is patient and decent and fair, and we will never back down from the threats to our freedom."

I suggested that he might be mistaken about the "clear message" the bill really sends. I suggested a few alternatives, and asked you readers for more.

Here are a few of your responses:

* "My administration will stop at nothing to protect this nation during even-numbered years." (Patrick McGrath)

* "I do not value the advice of the military lawyers." (Jennifer Forsythe)

* "The terrorists have won." (Richard Panek)

* "The law sends a clear Orwellian message: in the name of justice we will deny justice." (Jon Krueger)

* "If you can't get away with it, and it won't go away, legislate it." (Mark Egit)

* "That I should be sending this anonymously." (Damian Walker)

* "To the Constitution: Your services are no longer required." (Craig Ostovitz)

* "Anyone detained by your government is a bad guy. Anyone tortured by your government is a bad guy. Anyone imprisoned secretly for life by your government deserves it because they were bad. The Constitution and its protections are just something bad guys use. If possible, the law should be expanded to cover U.S. citizens too, because the only people hurt by it are bad guys." (Anne L.H. Studholme)

* "Here's the clear message to me as a Canadian: I cannot visit the United States, because if some over-eager border guard thinks I'm a risk to national security, I could be locked up forever." (Kevin Longfield)

* "The clear message this sends to me is that our politicians fear our freedom much more than the terrorists hate it." (Gabriel Carbajal)

* "I think the 'clear message' of the torture-unlawful combatant-no habeas corpus law is its chilling effect on criticism. Since the law allows the president -- any president -- to name anyone he, alone, sees as a threat as an unlawful combatant (or someone who is aiding unlawful combatants), it is not a stretch to see how anyone speaking against the president or his policies could find himself detained without charges, a lawyer or a court date." (Bill Banks)

* "Clear Message to Charlie Savage and other signing statement watchers: 'The Senate did my signing statement for me this time.'" (Jane Savoca Gibson)

* "The Democrats still haven't learned to stand up to the President." (Tom Benthin)

* "L'État, c'est moi." (Louise Mowder)

* "One branch down, one to go." (Jim Magnant)

* "The Golden Rule is inoperative." (Vince Canzoneri)


Is This The October Surprise?

U.S. says threat to NFL stadiums not credible
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Department of Homeland Security warned officials on Wednesday in seven U.S. cities about a dirty-bomb threat to National Football League stadiums but does not believe the threat is credible, officials said.

The threat, posted on Monday on an Internet site, said bombs containing radioactive material known as "dirty" bombs had been smuggled into the United States and would be used to attack professional football stadiums this Sunday, the department said.

"We are looking at this with strong skepticism. We have judged that there is not a credible threat here. There is no evidence or intelligence that there is a credible threat of such attacks," said Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen.

"But out of an abundance of caution, we thought it necessary to notify federal, state, local and private sector partners," he added.

The seven cities were identified as Miami, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland, California, and Cleveland in a Homeland Security notice sent to federal, state, local and private security officials in those areas.

"They have not been asked to take any security measures," Agen said. "This is to inform them that the information is out there but we don't see it as a credible threat."

The Homeland Security notice said the threat was posted to an English-language Web site at and said dirty bombs in trucks would be detonated outside the stadiums during Sunday's NFL games.

"The content of the Web site, which requires registration to post, is sometimes crude and contains none of the hallmarks of jihadist Web sites," Homeland Security advised in the notice. An attempt to connect to the site was unsuccessful.

The National Football League issued a statement saying its stadiums were "very well protected" by measures that include perimeter security, bag searches and personal searches of people entering the facilities.

The FBI said it would include the threat in its regular security discussions with NFL officials this week. "The FBI routinely maintains a working relationship with the National Football League," the bureau said in a statement.

The warning, which was quoted in the government notice, predicted 100,000 dead from the initial blasts and said "countless other fatalities will later occur as result of radioactive fallout."

It said Sunday would mark the final day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Mecca and predicted al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility for the attack in a video message.

"In the aftermath, civil wars will erupt across the world, both in the Middle East and within the United States. Global economies will screech to a halt. General chaos will rule," the Homeland Security notice quoted the threat as saying.


McCain jokes about committing suicide if Democrats win Senate

McCain jokes about suicide if Democrats win Senate

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Arizona Sen. John McCain, a likely Republican presidential contender in 2008, joked on Wednesday he would "commit suicide" if Democrats win the Senate in November.

McCain, on a visit to Iowa to campaign for Republican congressional candidates, was asked his reaction to a potential Democratic takeover of the Senate in the November 7 elections.

"I think I'd just commit suicide," McCain told reporters, to accompanying laughter from Republicans standing with him. "I don't want to face that eventuality because I don't think it's going to happen."

Democrats must pick up six seats in the Senate and 15 seats in the House of Representatives to win control of both chambers.

Polls show Democrats within striking distance of reclaiming the Senate, and in a strong position to claim a majority in the House.

"I think it's going to be tough, but I think we'll do OK," McCain said of Republican prospects.


Bill Clinton preaches politics of "common good"

Bill Clinton preaches politics of "common good"
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President Bill Clinton urged Democrats on Wednesday to strive for an inclusive politics of "common good" and fight back against the divisive approach of Republican leaders.

Less than three weeks before November 7 elections to decide control of Congress, Clinton said U.S. political debate had been degraded by "ideological, right-wing" Republicans who demonized opponents and concentrated power in the hands of a privileged few.

Clinton said he longed for a politics that celebrated differences and disagreements without condemnation, and worked toward equal opportunity, shared responsibility and a sense of community.

"Ideological, divisive, demonizing, distracting politics, they may be very good for an election, particularly when people feel unsettled and insecure, but they don't do much to advance the common good," he said at Georgetown University, on the same stage where 15 years ago he called for a "New Covenant" in politics.

"This sort of politics, striving for the common good, for me stands in stark contrast to both the political and governing philosophy of the leadership in Washington today and for the last six years," he said.

Clinton, whose presidency from 1993 to 2001 was marked by pitched battles with Republican congressional leaders, including his impeachment, said there was nothing wrong with a hard-nosed fight over philosophy or issues.

"It's not that we want a bland, mushy meaningless politics. We like our debate," Clinton said. "But we want it to be connected somehow to the real lives of real people."

Clinton has teamed recently with former Republican President George Bush, the current president's father, on relief efforts for victims of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Clinton's wife, former first lady and New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a likely contender for the White House in 2008 and is running for re-election to the Senate this year.

Clinton said the growing strength in recent decades of the "ideological, right-wing" elements of the Republican Party had been realized in President George W. Bush's administration and the Republican-led Congress.

"This is the first time when on a consistent basis the most conservative and ideological wing of the Republican Party had both the executive and the legislative branch," Clinton said.

"They believe the country is best served by the maximum concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the right people -- right in both senses," he said.

"They favor unilateralism whenever possible and cooperation when it's unavoidable," he added.

He said the philosophy did not serve the country well.

"If you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up. You know all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time," he said.


Local protesters take issue with Military Commissions Act

Press Republican
Local protesters take issue with Military Commissions Act
By Kim Smith Dedeam

ELIZABETHTOWN, NJ — Some local residents are offended by the new Military Commissions Act, signed into law by President George Bush Tuesday.

"Magna Carta. We are talking centuries of creating a civilized way of treating people. This just blows it away," said Katharine Preston, a member of the Diogenes Society, a social-rights group based in Essex County.

"We espouse freedom and democracy, and then we shatter it at home. It doesn't make any sense."

In protest, a quiet group filled the courthouse porch and huddled under umbrellas on the lawn.

They read out loud a statement issued by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which said, in part:

"For the first time in our nation's history, legislation has now been signed into law that effectively permits evidence obtained by torture to be used in a court of law. The military tribunals that are trying some terrorist suspects are now expressly permitted to consider information obtained under coercive interrogation techniques, including degrading and inhumane techniques and torture."

Martha Swan, who organized Diogenes several years ago, was adamant about the threat the new laws make against human rights and freedom.

"George Bush signed a bill into law that, in short, legalizes torture. It's just a morally horrific thing to say this is what we as a people can abide by."

The argument that it happens elsewhere and terrorists use torture against Americans holds no credence with Swan.

We aren't terrorists, she said.

"We uphold ourselves as a beacon, as a nation that abides by a golden rule of 'compassionate conservatism'; it's what Bush ran on in 2000. It was very appealing rhetoric back then."

Swan, and others at the protest, believe the new law is hypocrisy.

"It doesn't solve the terrorist problem," said Monique Weston. "It's only going to make it worse."

Some said the new law poses added threats to military personnel in war zones.

Protestors also claimed the Military Commissions Act grants new, unilateral powers to the president.

"It allows him to decide what are acceptable methods of interrogation," Swan said.

"And, in the interests of this administration, which has nothing else to sell the American people, it sells a steady diet of fear. You can control a population by keeping them fearful."

"Top military brass testified that people under torture will say anything. It doesn't work. So, why then, did lawmakers approve this? Why did John McHugh sign his name to this?"

With that, Ted Cornell emphasized the last few sentences in the protest statement:

"Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed?"

About a dozen people had gathered in the first half-hour of protest; some brought red, white and blue signs that said "Bush Surrenders Our Freedom" and "Stand Up America, Before It's Too Late."

Another protester wore an Uncle Sam top hat festooned with a message: "Vote."


Big Oil v. Hollywood in California oil tax vote

Big Oil v. Hollywood in California oil tax vote
By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood is battling Big Oil over a California ballot initiative to fund alternative energy with a tax on the state's oil production.

The advertising battle over Proposition 87 has drawn a record amount of cash for a ballot question -- more than double that spent on the higher-profile governor's race. Californians vote November 7 on whether to adopt a tax similar to those levied by other oil-producing states.

"It's a staggering amount of money," said John Matsusaka, University of Southern California business and law professor and president of the USC-based and nonpartisan Initiative and Referendum Institute. "We're talking $107 million on a single measure in one state and we're not even done."

Stephen L. Bing, a movie producer and real estate scion, has pitched in more than $40 million in support of the proposal to tax oil output, which has been bolstered by the likes of Julia Roberts, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore.

On the other side, California-based Chevron Corp. alone has spent about $22 million to undermine the initiative.

Opponents warn that taxing domestic oil production could raise consumer energy prices, increase dependence on foreign oil, and spawn a wasteful state bureaucracy.

Supporters say the initiative will reduce the need for crude oil imports because tax money would bolster use and development of alternative energy sources.

California imports about 42 percent of its oil from foreign countries, with the rest coming state producers and Alaska, according to government figures.

The vote Yes campaign this week convened cameras to see Oscar-winner Julia Roberts visiting children suffering from asthma to highlight the ravages of air pollution. Former President Bill Clinton last week wagged a bent knuckle at a UCLA audience -- the backdrop for a Vote Yes commercial -- saying the oil tax won't raise gasoline prices at all.

Clinton and his former vice-president Al Gore are the main politicians in the vote Yes corner, with Gore adding environmentalist heft from his movie about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth."

If the initiative passes, the California government will get $200 million to $380 million a year in new revenue from a tax of between 1.5 percent to 6 percent on oil production, according to the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst. The sliding scale of tax rate would go up and down with the price of oil.

Oil companies have not fled other states that have an oil extraction tax, and they won't flee California either, Clinton told fans at UCLA.

Among the top oil-producing U.S. states, California is the only one with no tax for extracting oil. Similar taxes include Alaska, at 15 percent, Texas at 4.6 percent and Louisiana at 12.5 percent.