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BUSH WILL TURN U.S. INTO BRAZIL. ECONOMIC DISASTER PREDICTED. POLL (NEXT STORY) SUGGESTS AMERICANS GETTING THE DRIFT. "This administration always projects big budget improvement two years ahead; but every six months it marks its projection down another $140 billion or so, blaming outside events. Independent analysts, who take into account the stuff the administration pretends doesn't exist - the war, the alternative minimum tax, and so on - think we're looking at deficits of 3 or 4 percent of G.D.P., maybe more, for the next decade. And then it will get much worse.... . If the administration gets what it wants, within a decade - or perhaps sooner - the United States will have budget fundamentals comparable to Brazil's a year ago. The ratios of debt and deficits to G.D.P. won't be all that high by historical standards, but the bond market will look ahead and see that things don't add up: the rich have been promised low tax rates, middle-class baby boomers have been promised pensions and medical care, and the government can't meet all those promises while paying interest on its debt. Fears that the government will solve its problem by inflating away its debt will drive up interest rates, worsening the deficit, and things will spiral out of control." 02.14.03
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WITH ECONOMY AS TOP PRIORITY, 53% DISAPPROVE OF BUSH ECONOMY, 59% WANT WAR DELAY, 51% THINK BUSH IS POOR ON TERRORISM --POLL. "59 percent of Americans said they believed the president should give the United Nations more time. Sixty-three percent said Washington should not act without the support of its allies, and 56 percent said Mr. Bush should wait for United Nations approval Even after the administration's aggressive case for going to war soon in Iraq, a majority of Americans favor giving United Nations weapons inspectors more time to complete their work so that any military operation wins the support of the Security Council, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows....The public supports a war to remove Saddam Hussein. But Americans are split over whether the Bush administration and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell have made a convincing case for going to war right now, even though much of the public is inclined to believe that Iraq and Al Qaeda are connected in terrorism. The poll found that while the economy still commands the greatest concern among Americans, the prospect of combat in Iraq, fear of terrorism and the North Korean nuclear standoff are stirring additional anxieties. These worries may be taking a toll on Mr. Bush's support. His overall job approval rating is down to 54 percent from 64 percent just a month ago, the lowest level since the summer before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." 02.14.03
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BUSH "DRAGGING RELUCTANT PUBLIC INTO WAR" WITH "CRUDE PROPAGANDA BLITZ" "There is nary a mention that an overwhelming majority of Britons and Canadians oppose such an obsequious style of leadership as well as the substance of the issue at hand, an American-driven and American-led invasion of Iraq. Jean Chrétien is well-advised to keep ignoring the calls of American acolytes here. He should keep insisting that Canada would not join the war unless specifically approved by the United Nations. Canada's hands are cleanest, unlike Russia's or France's, which have economic interests in Iraq. With no colonial past, no pretensions to hegemony and no sizeable stake in Iraqi oil, our principled position can serve as a model for the world....But in its desire to march to its own drumbeat and in its need to drag a reluctant American public into war by exploiting its worst post-Sept. 11 fears, the Bush administration has concentrated less on conducting statecraft and diplomacy than on mounting a propaganda blitz, and a crude one at that." 02.14.03
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OFFICIALS ADMIT BUSH TERROR ALERT PARTLY BASED ON LIE "A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington and New York.The officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a "dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product of his imagination....It was only after the threat level was elevated to orange — meaning high — last week, that the informant was subjected to a polygraph test by the FBI, officials told ABCNEWS. "This person did not pass," said Cannistraro. According to officials, the FBI and the CIA are pointing fingers at each other. An FBI spokesperson told ABCNEWS today he was "not familiar with the scenario," but did not think it was accurate." 02.14.03
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UN INSPECTORS WILL GIVE IRAQ ONE LAST CHANCE "Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief nuclear weapons inspector, said he believed the Council would allow more time for inspections if Baghdad continued to do what it could for a peaceful outcome. He told Reuters news agency: "Iraq still has a chance to exonerate itself but time is critical. "They can't afford but to have 100% co-operation." Mr ElBaradei told the agency he had no evidence of atomic devices being developed in Iraq and his colleague, Hans Blix, had no evidence of chemical or biological weapons." 02.14.03
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SADDAM BANS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND MATERIALS TO MAKE THEM "Saddam Hussein issued a presidential decree Friday banning the importation or production of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or any materials that could be used to make them. The decree was announced shortly before the chief U.N. weapons inspectors were to present new reports on Iraq's disarmament to the U.N. Security Council. The decree was issued, apparently, in response to repeated U.N. demands that Baghdad outlaw weapons of mass destruction. ``All ministries should implement this decree and take whatever measures are necessary and punish people who do not adhere to it,'' the presidential order read. The decree banned individuals and companies from all sectors from importing or producing any material that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi government insists it possesses no such weapons ." 02.14.03
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SENIOR DEMS ACCUSE CIA OF LIES, SABOTAGING WEAPONS INSPECTIONS FOR BUSH "Senior democrats have accused the CIA of sabotaging weapons inspections in Iraq by refusing to co-operate fully with the UN and withholding crucial information about Saddam Hussein's arsenal... Led by Senator Carl Levin, the Democrats accused the CIA of making an assessment that the inspections were unlikely to be a success and then ensuring they would not be. They have accused the CIA director of lying about what information on the suspected location of weapons of mass destruction had been passed on." 02.14.03
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CANADA'S PRIME MINISTER SAYS U.S. IS NOT TRUSTED "As the threat of war grows, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien stood on U.S. soil Thursday night and warned the United States that it is not trusted in the world and needs United Nations legitimacy for a war on Iraq....But he told his audience that if the United States, without UN support, wages war against a Muslim nation, it would raise the spectre of a "clash of civilizations."Foreign Minister Bill Graham, speaking earlier in Ottawa, went further and said a unilateral attack on Iraq could lead to the toppling of unstable governments in the Middle East and Asia. "I see a destabilized Middle East; I see problems in Indonesia, in India, in Pakistan," Mr. Graham told reporters in Ottawa, referring to the risks of anti-Western violence and possible acts of terrorism raised by a war against Iraq. Mr. Graham said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and others in Washington know there are risks of an Iraq conflict spreading to countries where extremists threaten unstable governments. He said he had told Mr. Powell: 'The U.S. would be better served if it stayed within the UN process'" 02.14.03
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EX-SEC. OF DEFENSE CHENEY WILL BE CALLED ON TO KEEP THE MEDIA IN LINE DURING WAR "In 1991 American voters rallied behind President George Bush Sr for the seemingly bloodless confrontation with Saddam Hussein. Neatly hidden from a small army of journalists was the reality of war - a reality that can make these very same voters recoil in disapproval... His son is likely to use the same sort of tactics to blind one of the world's freest and most influential media establishments. Running the show for President George Bush is the man who manipulated global perceptions of the first Gulf war for Bush Sr: Dick Cheney. Then defence secretary and now vice-president, Cheney is likely to buffalo the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and others ready to bend to US government censorship." 02.14.03
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MEDIA PROPAGANDA WILL HIDE THE HORRORS OF "COLLATERAL DAMAGE" FROM US "Two days later, I flew home, my head still filled with the women's faces. I picked up a copy of Newsweek on the plane. On the cover was the jubilant General Norman Schwarzkopf. Inside was his description of their victory at the Basra Road. There was obscene detail of F16s and laser-guided missiles, and how they had trapped the fleeing Iraqi army from the air. He was reliving the highlights as if they were the final moments of a cup match...After 10 years of reporting wars in Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and East Timor, I believe passionately that war can only ever be the absolutely final option for humanity. Unfortunately, we have been so protected from its pain and horror by the impenetrable wall of censorship and euphemism - as we will continue to be - that war is allowed to prevail as a legitimate means of conducting human affairs. ." 02.14.03
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BUSH IS FLIRTING WITH NUCLEAR DISASTER "The U.S. Strategic Command has prepared a "Theater Nuclear Planning Document" listing Iraqi targets for a nuclear strike, according to The Los Angeles Times. Asked about the report, top administration officials growled in deep, macho voices that they were keeping all options on the table.... Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman launch officer who is better known as the president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, notes that by publicly lowering our threshold for using nuclear weapons, we're sending a dangerous signal to other countries....The equivocations are also unnerving because the Bush administration seems interested in "usable nuclear weapons." For example, it persuaded Congress to finance research this year into nuclear "bunker busters.'..Who could have imagined that the hawks would find a way to prepare for war that could legitimize nuclear weapons, leaving the world more dangerous than ever?" 02.14.03
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BLUES BROTHER BUSH ON "MISSION FROM GOD" --SENIOR STAFFER "The forecasts for when the assault will start range from the last week of February to the second week of March, with some saying it could be within a few days. "We're in the last stretch," said one senior defense official yesterday. A senior member of the general staff said, "Nothing will stop President Bush. He's like the Blues Brothers, on a mission from God." The chance the war will be averted at the last minute, by a sudden Saddam Hussein decision to leave Iraq, is practically nil." 02.14.03
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"ODD SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN BUSH AND BIN LADEN CONTINUES" "Each seems to need, even welcome, the behaviour of the other. Osama surely welcomes the U.S. war on Iraq as proving his point about America and the Muslim world. And didn't the U.S. government rather eagerly welcome Osama's latest verbal barrage via a tape this week, as proof of his connection to Iraq despite his denunciation of Saddam as an infidel? Do they both keep muttering: 'The enemy of my enemy is my enemy .'" 02.14.03
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SADDAM-AL QAEDA LINK? BUSH-POWELL SHOULD "STOP PEDDLING THAT LINE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE" "Nothing would make it easier for President Bush to overcome the nation's doubts about going to war with Iraq than proof that Saddam Hussein is in league with Osama bin Laden. Talk about an axis of evil! In truth, however, there is little hard evidence of such a connection, and the administration should stop peddling that line to the American people. There are legitimate reasons to confront Iraq. Imagining a full-blown Baghdad chapter of Al Qaeda is not one of them ." 02.14.03
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WAR ON IRAQ MAY CREATE THE SADDAM-AL QAEDA LINK THAT POWELL COULDN'T PROVE "So the world’s television screens will be filled with images of dead and dying, many of them women and children, as well as scenes of wretched refugees streaming in hordes from American bombs. And each picture will be a recruiting poster for al Qaida, the Muslim terrorist organization.Thus we will increase the likelihood of terrorism rather than reduce it. (The link between Saddam and al Qaida was perhaps the weakest part of Secretary Powell’s presentation but if there’s one thing that can bond those natural enemies in common cause, it’s a war against the United States.) Which brings us to what I thought was the most terrifying inference to be drawn from Powell’s information. It is now perfectly obvious that it is all but impossible to defend ourselves against an attack by terrorists using biological agents. When you can poison an entire city with a little vial of something, how do you keep that stuff out of the wrong hands? A war isn’t going to do it. Neither will killing Saddam. We’re pretty much helpless against a weapon like that. So why go out of your way to inflame the passions of the Muslim world? " 02.14.03
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SIX CONGRESSMEN FILE STOP WAR LAW SUIT AGAINST BUSH AND RUMSFELD "A group of U.S. soldiers, parents of soldiers and six U.S. House members filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday seeking to stop the president from launching a war against Iraq without a declaration of war from Congress.... Reps. John Conyers, D-Michigan, and the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit say a resolution passed by Congress in October did not specifically declare war and unlawfully ceded the decision to Bush....The other members of Congress named as plaintiffs are: Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Illinois; Jim McDermott, D-Washington; Jose Serrano, D-New York; and Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. " 02.14.03
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VATICAN'S GOD DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ON BUSH'S SIDE "But the most intriguing, and most futile, part of the US diplomatic offensive is being directed at the oldest institution in Old Europe, the papacy. The Vatican has resolutely refused to endorse either the notion of preventive war in general or an invasion of Iraq in particular....From the Pope down, every significant official in the Vatican has insisted, in accordance with a long tradition of Christian teaching about a just war, that the conditions for such a war cannot be said to exist in the standoff with Iraq.... The US response to the Vatican's opposition to a war has been to enlist a coterie of conservative Catholic intellectuals to try to persuade the Pope and his advisers to change their minds. War is no joke, but this initiative is about as funny as the war with Iraq is likely to get. George Bush obviously doesn't understand the kind of institution he is dealing with. The Catholic Church regards itself as, among other things, the custodian of a body of teaching on the just war stretching back to its first formulation by the theologians of the fourth and fifth centuries. The notion that it might tinker with this doctrinal tradition at the behest of the latest of many empires it has seen rise and fall is risible. It is perhaps not surprising that Bush doesn't understand this, given his evident failure to understand other things about the complex world beyond the Oval Office." 02.14.03
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ENRON "BRIBED TAX OFFICIALS "A crucial report into the collapse of disgraced energy giant Enron has discovered the firm's executives bribed tax officials. The energy giant - once the US' seventh largest firm - paid no income tax between 1996 and 1999 according to the investigation by the Senate Finance Committee. The outraged committee's chairman, Charles Grassley, described a week-long programme of wining and dining, tennis, fishing and golf as part of Enron's strategy to get its own way. Mr Grassley also said the report called into serious doubt the ethics of tax advisers and the "desperate" bankers, accountants and lawyers who helped Enron. "The report reads like a conspiracy novel, with some of the nation's finest banks, accounting firms and attorneys working together to prop up the biggest corporate farce of this century," he said. The investigation provides the first complete story of Enron's efforts to manipulate its taxes and accounting. The findings of the investigation, which have been kept tightly under wraps until now, have been described by senators as "eye-popping", "disturbing", and 'barn-burning' ." 02.14.03
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EUROPEAN ARTISTS, INTELLECTUALS BELIEVE AMERICA HAS LOST ITS WAY UNDER BUSH "European anti-Americanism is more than just straightforward opposition to the policies of the current administration. There is a growing sense here, reflected in interviews with writers, cultural figures and other intellectual leaders in Western Europe, that many of America's most admirable qualities — its respect for its great cacophony of voices, its belief in freedom, its proud democratic principles — have been so trampled in the debate over war as to have been rendered toothless or even nonexistent."Something has gone terribly wrong in America," said Jacqueline Rose, a feminist scholar in Britain. "America established a certain tradition of public dissent, with the civil rights and feminist and anti-Vietnam movements. But post-Sept. 11 there is a feeling that the American left has largely gone silent." In The Times of London last month, the author John le Carré went further, writing that 'America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember." Comparing the current crisis to the McCarthy era, he said, "The freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded.'" 02.14.03
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"COLLATERAL DAMAGE" TO U.S. DIPLOMATIC TIES MOUNTING DAILY ""The "collateral damage" of Bush's war drive is mounting daily - the cohesion of Nato, the chimera of a common EU foreign policy (and Blair's fantasy of being at the heart of Europe) and the post-1945 structure of international law included. All of this seems merely to be whipping the US political class into a still greater frenzy of bellicosity. How long before France is officially designated a "rogue state" and Gerhard Schröder becomes a card-carrying member of the 'axis of evil'?" 02.14.03
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RABBI SAYS SHARON SHOULD BE TRIED IN ISRAEL, NOT BELGIUM "The world community wants to put Sharon on trial for war crimes because of his role in the Sabra and Chatilla massacres, but we are the ones who should put him on trial, for desecrating the principles of the IDF, which were meant to prevent that horror then, and for the ongoing killing of the innocent now. Due to his subterfuge of the moral integrity of the Jewish people, Ariel Sharon stands accused in the court of Jewish decency. And to those of us who stand in silence, in the words of the great Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, 'Some are guilty, but all are responsible.'" 02.14.03
ha'aretz |related stories

BUSH LACK OF SERIOUSNESS ABOUT POLLUTION "TRANSPARENT" "In a transparent bit of salesmanship that should not be mistaken for a serious policy, the Bush administration announced Wednesday that it had persuaded several major industries to make voluntary reductions in the rate at which they produce carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. It was the administration's latest effort to show that voluntary controls will make unnecessary the mandatory reductions called for by many scientists, environmentalists and members of Congress — as well as by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that Mr. Bush rejected after taking office. There are two main problems with the Bush policy. First, he is asking almost nothing in the way of real sacrifice. A serious approach would request net reductions in emissions. Mr. Bush asks only for a decrease in what he calls "carbon intensity," under which emissions can grow as long as they increase more slowly than the economy itself. That of course misses the point. The atmospheric buildup of carbon, already alarmingly high, is cumulative. Thus the name of the game is to start reducing emissions, not merely to slow their rate of growth. Indeed, by Mr. Bush's own calculations, his program would translate into an actual increase in emissions of 14 percent over the next 10 years. Second, voluntarism won't do the job. The only strategy that makes economic and environmental sense, as the successful acid rain program has shown, is one that sets mandatory national limits on emissions and asks everyone to do his part ." 02.14.03
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D.C. PUNDIT REFUSES TO PUT BUSH IN HITLER CATEGORY, "BUT..." "By no stretch of the imagination am I putting Bush in the same category as Hitler. If anything, Hussein belongs there. But this reliance on providence, this tendency to see things in black and white, this contempt for the lives of the contemptible no matter what else may be at stake (capital punishment in Texas, for instance, or collateral damage in Baghdad), is hardly reassuring to those who are looking for reasoned judgment, not quasi-religious conviction. Rarely does Bush explain. Usually he just declaims -- quick sound bites of the "game is over" variety. This plays badly not only abroad but also at home, where Colin Powell has become the more trusted figure. More and more Bush is seen as inflexible -- rigid on the economy, on tax policy, on getting the judges he wants. What is increasingly missing is exactly the quality that once, especially in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, commended Bush to people like myself -- the absence of rigidity and shrillness, an open-faced easiness. He himself called it compassion, but no matter what it is called, it is a leader's greatest virtue. Recently it is nowhere to be seen. ." 02.13.03
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"I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is 'in the highest moral traditions of our country'. " --Sen. Byrd "This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal. In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This Administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, under funding scores of essential programs for our people. This Administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth. This Administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect our long and porous borders. In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This Administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, for all time, International order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO. This Administration has called into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United States as well-intentioned, peacekeeper. This Administration has turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling, and name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the intelligence and sensitivity of our leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come. ." 02.13.03
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BUSH BULLYING DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE WORKING ON THE WORLD STAGE "The Bush administration has contributed to this dangerous temptation to turn specific cases into abstract principles. The rhetoric of preemption muddied the clear legal framework that exists to force Iraq to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions on disarmament. The administration's failure to merge its confrontational approach to North Korea into a workable regional strategy now encourages China to balk and Japan to take a powder as tough choices loom...We are deep into confusion and turmoil when [the European Union], the Chinese and the South Koreans (for different reasons) misread Washington's intentions on North Korea so badly and the leaderships of France and Germany (more deliberately and spitefully) do the same on Iraq. The Bush administration must urgently review its diplomacy and provide new strategic clarity for American leadership in world affairs as it deals with the real challenges that Iraq and North Korea represent. Relying on overwhelming strength to get through the tectonic shifts in world politics that are underway will not long suffice. " 02.13.03
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"AP QAEDA HAS KILLED ENOUGH PEOPLE; WE MUSN'T LET THEM KILL THE CENTER-LEFT AS WELL "The potential victims of the war on terrorism are easy to imagine, impossible to number. They include ordinary Iraqi families who just happen to live in the wrong town, or the wrong block of flats; the unknowing, relaxed passengers of a 747 arriving at Heathrow, or any European airport; vilified asylum seekers on the streets; and equally innocent Americans going about their daily business anywhere in the world. It is quite a list. But we should add one more potential victim: progressive, liberal politics itself ." 02.13.03
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THE WORLD RALLIES AGAINST WAR SATURDAY "Up to 10 million people on five continents are expected to demonstrate against the probable war in Iraq on Saturday, in some of the largest peace marches ever known... Yesterday, up to 400 cities in 60 countries, from Antarctica to Pacific islands, confirmed that peace rallies, vigils and marches would take place. Of all major countries, only China is absent from the growing list which includes more than 300 cities in Europe and north America, 50 in Asia and Latin America, 10 in Africa and 20 in Australia and Oceania ." 02.13.03
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BUSH ADMIN EXPECTS WAR IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. DOESN'T KNOW HOW MANY COUNTRIES WILL JOIN ATTACK "The Bush administration has made clear that it expects to be at war with Iraq within the next several weeks. But senior officials acknowledge they have yet to determine how to get there with the least amount of damage to its international relations and the largest possible number of allies on the front lines. Much is riding on the assessment of Iraqi cooperation with United Nations weapons inspections that chief inspector Hans Blix will deliver to the Security Council on Friday. If Blix declares that Iraq has utterly failed to comply with the demands of last November's council resolution, as the administration is pressing him to do, U.S. officials see a relatively simple path forward ." 02.13.03
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"NOTHING MATTERS MORE TO BUSH THAN WAR WITH IRAQ. PROLIFERATION, LOGIC, REASON ARE ALSO-RANS." "Iraq, which wants nukes, gets invasion and occupation. North Korea, which has them, gets lectures from neighbors. But strangest of all, the third member, Iran, which is forging ahead with a nuclear factory, gets treated like a lodge brother or a fellow Kiwanian. A U.S. delegation visited Iranian counterparts in Europe recently and asked them to lend a hand with Iraq: Lie low while we invade, take in refugees and rescue downed pilots. And did our side ask, "Shall we put you down for a couple of tables at our spring victory fundraising gala?" 02.13.03
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"INITIAL GROUND PHASE OF A WAR" HAS ALREADY BEGUN "U.S. Special Operations troops are already operating in various parts of Iraq, hunting for weapons sites, establishing a communications network and seeking potential defectors from Iraqi military units in what amounts to the initial ground phase of a war, U.S. defense officials and experts familiar with Pentagon planning said. The troops, comprising two Special Operations Task Forces with an undetermined number of personnel, have been in and out of Iraq for well over a month, said two military officials with direct knowledge of their activities. They are laying the groundwork for conventional U.S. forces that could quickly seize large portions of Iraq if President Bush gives a formal order to go to war, the officials said. ." 02.13.03
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POWELL REACHING FOR AL QAEDA-SADDAM LINK COMES ACROSS AS PROPAGANDA Powell: "'Once again, he [bin Laden] speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorist states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored.' But, sir, bin Laden also has some harsh words on the tape for Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party regime. He calls them "infidels." He says, "The socialists [the Baath Party] and the rulers have lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden." It seems to me, sir, that this statement substantiates what many experts have long maintained: that bin Laden loathes the secular, hedonistic dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. That does not mean, of course, that he hates Hussein more than he hates the United States. That is not the case -- and he says so. It's just that to use this statement to establish some sort of "nexus" between bin Laden and Hussein seems to be a reach. In fact, to be perfectly frank, sir, parts of your presentation to the United Nations seem, in retrospect, to have overstated the case. The telephone intercepts and satellite photos were compelling, but the purported link -- and the word "purported" was not used -- between al Qaeda and Baghdad not only was not proved, but a gaggle of experts jumped all over it. This business of someone being somewhere (Baghdad, for instance) and then going somewhere else (rebel-held Kurdistan, for instance) is suggestive, not definitive. It didn't help either that the British intelligence report you cited was mostly lifted from magazines ." 02.13.03
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BLIX PANEL CONFIRMS IRAQI DISCLOSURE OF MISSILE LIMITS VIOLATIONS. "Iraq admitted in a recent declaration to the weapons inspectors that it had developed two missiles, the Al Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah, and that they narrowly exceeded the U.N.-imposed limit of 150 kilometers (93 miles) in dozens of tests flights. Iraq maintains that the missiles will not exceed the limit when they are weighted down with conventional explosives and guidance systems. "Iraq declared that the missiles are of a range of less than 150 kilometers," said Mohammed Douri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations. "If that's the case, no one can ask us to destroy them." Blix told the Security Council on Jan. 27 that the two missile programs "might well represent prima facie cases of proscribed systems." Blix ordered Iraq to freeze the programs until he could convene a panel of experts. The panel, which included missile experts from the United States, Britain, France, Ukraine, Germany and China, concluded that the Al Samoud is capable of exceeding the U.N. limit. But panel members were unable to agree on whether the Al Fatah -- a solid-fuel missile that Iraq admits reached 100 miles in a test -- is in violation of U.N. resolutions. The limit on Iraqi ballistic missiles was set under the terms of the 1991 cease-fire agreement that ended the Persian Gulf War. That agreement also barred Iraq from producing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The missile limit was intended to prevent Iraq from developing missiles capable of threatening its neighbors while enabling it to defend itself from attack. U.N. diplomats and missile experts maintain that the current ranges of Iraq's missiles do not significantly alter the military balance in the region. But U.S. and U.N. officials say they are concerned that the missile programs may be part of a long-term effort to significantly extend the range of Iraqi missiles." 02.13.03
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A SECOND WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST MAY BEGIN WITH THE IRAQ ATTACK "US plans to invade Iraq via Turkey, a key part of George Bush's war strategy, look increasingly likely to trigger a conflagration in Kurdish areas potentially involving Turkish, American, Kurdish, Iraqi and even Iranian forces. Turkey, which already maintains troops in northern Iraq, is moving heavy armour and reinforcements to its south-eastern border. Ankara says its aim is to protect ethnic Turkmens and stem a 1991-type refugee exodus. But it makes no secret of its intention to seize a large swath of Iraqi territory once war begins." 02.13.03
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THE IRAQ WAR COULD SHIFT POWER BALANCES THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE EAST "This Iranian advantage acts as a deterrent to the U.S., which has still not decided how to settle the contradiction of exporting democracy to Iraq and preventing the domination of the post-Saddam state by Shi'ites. But not only the U.S. is anxious about this possibility; so are the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Bahrainis and essentially every other state of the Gulf that has a large Shi'ite minority. They fear the possibility of another Shi'ite state coming into being in the region, one that would be liable to inflame ethnic aspirations in their countries, as well. Nor are they pleased that Iran, which until now has been held at a safe distance from the Arab states, would suddenly become a patron state wielding great influence in the Arab world ." 02.13.03
ha'aretz |related stories

EXPERIENCED PLAYER SUGGESTS PLAN TO ELIMINATE TERRORISM "Last week, at the end of a brief visit to Jerusalem, Wilcox said he doesn't buy the Bush administration's story about a link between Iraq and Al-Qaida. When he headed the War on Terror Department at State, nobody was talking about Al-Qaida yet, he admits, but his office was well aware of what Al-Qaida represents. Their worldview, he emphasizes, as an extremist Islamic group of that has declared war on modern secular regimes, makes it impossible for them to line up with a secular ruler like Saddam Hussein. In general, Wilcox is skeptical of Bush's "axis of evil" theory, born after September 11, which turned the war against terror into a war against states that host terrorists. "Terrorists nowadays work independently and don't need sponsor states," says Wilcox. "Therefore, if you get rid of Saddam, you won't get rid of terror." He warns that a war in Iraq, especially if it is very bloody and the U.S. remains in Iraq for a long time, will actually increase terror in the region and around the world.... Wilcox's prescription for the war on terror is very different. He believes in long-term treatment, including a campaign against poverty, which inspires rage, tension, bitterness and exploitation. "Terrorists don't grow up in healthy, democratic, developed countries," he says. "Terror does not flourish under regimes that inspire a sense of trust and have respect for the individual. The process of encouraging states to move in that direction takes a long time and a lot of resources ." 02.13.03
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"A LARGE PORTION OF THE POPULATION IS IN DENIAL...YET THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION SEEMS TO BE [SAYING] 'DON'T TELL THEM TOO MUCH LEST THEY PANIC'" "We should be hearing from Ridge himself, not a variety of spokespeople. We want to know that the highest homeland security officer is telling us the truth. Trust is of the utmost importance. And so is one voice. One of the common themes at the bioterrorism conference was that fear itself is healthy -- it motivates us to take care of ourselves and others. Panic is not. The only way to avoid panic is to tell us the truth. We can take it, Tom. I promise. ." 02.13.03
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EXPERTS BELIVE IRAQ WAR WILL HELP THE STOCK MARKET "While political analysts and the news media debate how a war in Iraq might play out, many mutual fund managers, investment strategists and financial advisers have already come to the same conclusion: It will be short, and its effect on the market will be sweet. Wall Street's consensus seems to be that the first bombs over Baghdad, or a coup, or Saddam Hussein's self-imposed exile -- or any scenario that could herald a resolution to the confrontation -- will set off a relief rally ." 02.13.03
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BUSH TAX CUT PROPOSALS "FOOLHARDY" "THE CHAIRMAN of the Federal Reserve is taking some thumping from his Republican friends, but he deserves applause for his testimony before Congress this week. Speaking about as plainly as he ever does, Mr. Greenspan said that long-term deficits are bad; that deficits lead to higher interest rates, which in turn crimp economic growth; and that Congress ought not buy into President Bush's proposal to eliminate the double taxation of dividends without figuring out a way to pay for it. All of which would seem rather obvious were it not for the Bush administration's minimizing or outright disputing of all three propositions....Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) noted yesterday that one of Washington's favorite games is playing "capture the Fed," and all politicians will find their favorite quotes to pull from Mr. Greenspan's testimony. But to read his statements in their totality is to underscore the foolhardiness of the administration's proposals." 02.13.03
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CITIZENS "SHIVER IN DREAD" WHEN BUSH TALKS COMPASSION "The president said religious organizations had a responsibility to assist the poor and those who are suffering, and to help alleviate the "artificial divisions" of race and economics. "I welcome faith to help solve the nation's deepest problems," he said. If religious leaders take up the challenge they will have to do some awfully heavy lifting, because Mr. Bush's domestic policies — instead of easing suffering — are all but guaranteed to provide an ever-swelling stream of people in need of help. Everywhere you turn, support programs for the poor, the ill, the disabled and the elderly are under attack. Children's services are being battered. As Mr. Bush smiles and talks about compassion, funding for programs large and small is being squeezed, cut back, eliminated. The day after Mr. Bush's upbeat speech to the religious broadcasters, The Times's Robert Pear revealed that the administration was proposing a change in federal law that would result in rent increases for thousands of poor people receiving housing aid. The administration has proposed a restructuring of Medicare that would curtail, rather than enhance, delivery of health services to the elderly ." 02.13.03
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BUSH FAILING TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP TO GET STATES THE FUNDING TO PROTECT US FROM TERRORIST ATTACKS HE PROMISED OVER A YEAR AGO "Many state and local governments say they are unprepared to deal with a major terrorist attack because of Washington's delay in providing them with billions of dollars in emergency-response aid that was promised shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.The promised aid - a $3.5 billion package that President Bush announced more than a year ago, most of it intended to provide equipment and training to local police and fire departments - has been tied up on Capitol Hill since fall, a victim of partisan squabbles and Congress's failure to complete a 2003 budget....Because of the delay, many large police and fire departments that expected to receive the extra federal aid last year say they have been forced to postpone or cancel the purchase of protective suits, biochemical detectors and communications equipment that would be used to respond to an attack that included weapons of mass destruction. We find ourselves in a moment of history where we, as leaders, have to respond," President Bush said [over a year ago]. 'We've got to remember first responders. The first minutes or hours after an attack are the most hopeful minutes for saving lives.'" 02.13.03
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ONGOING DEM FILIBUSTER OF ESTRADA NOMINATION IS RIGHT "The Bush administration is missing the point in the Senate battle over Miguel Estrada, its controversial nominee to the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats who have vowed to filibuster the nomination are not engaging in "shameful politics," as the president has put it, nor are they anti-Latino, as Republicans have cynically charged. They are insisting that the White House respect the Senate's role in confirming judicial nominees. The Bush administration has shown no interest in working with Senate Democrats to select nominees who could be approved by consensus, and has dug in its heels on its most controversial choices. At their confirmation hearings, judicial nominees have refused to answer questions about their views on legal issues. And Senate Republicans have rushed through the procedures on controversial nominees. Mr. Estrada embodies the White House's scorn for the Senate's role. Dubbed the "stealth candidate," he arrived with an extremely conservative reputation but almost no paper trail. He refused to answer questions, and although he had written many memorandums as a lawyer in the Justice Department, the White House refused to release them ." 02.13.03
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SHARON COULD FACE WAR CRIMES TRIAL AFTER TERM IS OVER "Belgium's highest court said today in Brussels that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel could be tried for war crimes under the nation's laws, but not as long as he enjoyed the immunity of his office. The ruling, while blocking the case against Mr. Sharon, did allow a Belgian court to hear the case against Mr. Sharon's co-defendant, Amos Yaron, the former Israeli Army chief of staff ." 02.13.03
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CONGRESS STOPS THE BUSH-ASHCROFT-RUMSFELD SNOOPS. FOR NOW. "We're happy to note that the Senate and House conferees agreed to impose severe restrictions on Total Information Awareness, a Pentagon surveillance scheme concocted by John Poindexter that could have threatened the civil liberties of ordinary Americans ." 02.13.03
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PUNDIT REMEMBERS THOSE WHO SUPPORTED BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S TIA ATTACK ON PRIVACY "My even-tempered objection stirred the ire of uncivil anti-libertarians. "Blather, nonsense, piffle, and flapdoodle," argued the judicious Stuart Taylor in National Journal about my "hyperventilating." The Washington Post also thought my reaction a tad "fast-breathing." William Kristol's Weekly Standard sneered at "the ravings of privacy fanatics like the New York Times columnist William Safire, who triggered the anti-T.I.A. stampede." With the nation rightly worried about a new terrorist strike, and with Washington supermarkets stripped of duct tape and bottled water by residents dutifully following Homeland Security warnings, the privacy-be-damned crowd casting its electronic dragnet seemed invincible. "Strangling this new technology with a procedural noose is no answer to the threat of terrorism," intoned the Heritage Foundation ." 02.13.03
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REPUBS SET TO GUT OUR FED ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS AND OUR DUE PROCESS RIGHTS. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REPUB AND DEM PREZ. "Senate-House conference has now approved an omnibus appropriations bill loaded with destructive anti-environmental riders. Since President Bush has no intention of vetoing the bill - as President Clinton did in 1995 when presented with a similarly offensive measure....The worst of the amendments would open up much of Alaska's Tongass and Chugach forests for logging. One would exempt about 14 million acres in the two forests from protections granted by a Clinton-era rule, developed over three years and since upheld by the courts, prohibiting commercial development in roadless and largely unlogged areas of the national forest system. A second would resurrect and insulate from future legal challenge a faulty 1997 management plan for the Tongass, effectively rescinding a more protective plan approved in 1999. A third provision would shield from public appeals and judicial review what is expected to be an unfavorable administration decision regarding wilderness protection for parts of the Tongass. Potentially the most troubling amendment, involving not just Alaska but the entire forest system, would broaden the reach of the so-called forest stewardship program. Under this program, now in the pilot stage, timber companies are allowed to harvest trees as payment in kind for other projects like road clearing or the thinning of underbrush to prevent forest fires. Conservationists fear that open-ended, broadly drawn stewardship contracts will give the loggers license to cut huge tracts that would otherwise be spared. As threatening as these provisions are to the health of the forests, they are no less distasteful for their cavalier disregard of due process. In each case they either summarily overrule existing law or, even more ominously, seek to narrow or suspend rights of appeal and judicial review that Americans have long enjoyed under established environmental law." 02.12.03
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BUSH GREEN PROGRAM CONSISTS OF "ANTI-ENVIRONMENTAL" MEASURES "WITH BREATHTAKING insouciance, congressional Republicans slipped this week right into the role that their most vehement environmentalist detractors have been expecting them to play. Making use of the panic attending the final days of last year's budget appropriations process -- already four months overdue -- they took the opportunity to force a raft of what would be unpopular environmental (or rather anti-environmental) measures down their colleagues' throats. As of yesterday, the fiscal 2003 budget appropriations legislation contained riders that would open up areas of forest across the country to the logging industry, provide funding for the surveys needed in advance of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and, in a few cases, prevent anyone from objecting. One rider excludes the disputed 1997 Tongass forest management plan from judicial review; another excludes the public from commenting on the renewal of the Trans-Alaska pipeline system. ." 02.12.03
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WHY GO THROUGH 18 MONTHS OF DEOMCRATIC PUBLIC DISCUSSION WHEN ONE SENATOR CAN OINK, OINK IN SECRET? "Nowhere, for example, is it possible to find a sentence [in the Bush budget] stating that "Alaska forests shall be exempt from regulations which apply to forests in other states" or a phrase hinting that "people who object to government policy in Alaska forests shall be forbidden to take their case to the courts." Despite their absence from the published budget, despite the fact that they have never been debated or discussed on the floor of any legislative chamber, and despite the fact that they have nothing to do with the budget, these changes to Alaska forest regulation were nevertheless inserted into the bill last weekend by Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who happens to be chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And, if they have not already been removed by the conference committee that has been arguing, in secret, over this gargantuan piece of legislation for the past several days, they will soon become law. Reading this, Washington insiders will roll their eyes, knowing full well that this sort of thing happens all the time. Stevens has been doing it for years. Thanks partly to his skill at stuffing riders into appropriations bills, Alaska has the highest rate of pork per capita in the nation. This year's budget is no exception, containing not only some $35 million in subsidies for Alaska fishermen but -- according to Sen. John McCain's annual pork list -- $100,000 for the Alaska Sea Otter Commission, $200,000 for a people mover in Anchorage and $200,000 to study seafood waste at the University of Alaska. It's hard to maintain a consistent level of outrage about common, everyday legislative practice. It's also hard to maintain a consistent level of outrage if little information about the outrageous behavior is available. Perfunctorily, I called Stevens's office to ask about the riders, and, perfunctorily, I was told that the senator does not comment on any aspect of the appropriations process until it is over. Nor will the public hear about these last-minute debates. And the public is interested: Some 600 meetings were held and 2 million public comments were made during the 18-month public discussion of the "roadless rule," which protects the remaining unlogged, uncharted chunks of America's forests from loggers. Yet if this omnibus legislation passes with these riders, the roadless rule will no longer apply to Alaska. Many of the people who participated in that 18-month debate will be outraged by the change, but, as Stevens well knows, 72 hours is an awfully short time to orchestrate a national campaign. And that, in the end, is precisely the point. Why involve the public if you can make unpopular legal changes behind closed doors? ." 02.12.03
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GREENSPAN DELIVERS "SERIOUS BLOW" TO BUSH TAX CUT PLAN FOR THE RICH, ASSUMPTIONS BEHIND IT "Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, today rebutted many of President Bush's arguments in favor of big new tax cuts, saying that the economy probably does not need any short-term stimulus and warning that budget deficits could spiral out of control.Mr. Greenspan did not attack the specifics of Mr. Bush's $674 billion tax-cutting package, but he cast doubt on the need for a stimulus proposal in the first place.He also disagreed with the Bush argument that rising budget deficits have little link to higher interest rates. And he pointedly took issue with the administration's argument that the best way to balance the budget is by promoting faster growth.." 02.12.03
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DEMS WILL FILIBUSTER TO BLOCK BUSH ESTRADA NOMINATION TO SECOND HIGHEST COURT "Setting up what could be the boldest challenge yet to the Bush administration's drive to pack the nation's courts with conservative judicial activists, Senate Democrats have signaled that they will mount a filibuster to block a Senate vote on the nomination of Bush favorite Miguel Estrada to serve on the powerful U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia." 02.12.03
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ASHCROFT'S SEQUEL TO PATRIOT ACT CONTAINS "DANGEROUS... PROPOSALS" " THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S draft of a second round of law enforcement and domestic security authorities -- a kind of sequel to the USA Patriot Act of 2001 -- offers an unintended glimpse of additional powers that the Bush administration is coveting. The draft, labeled "CONFIDENTIAL -- NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION" and dated Jan. 9, was obtained last week by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit. Department officials quickly stressed that it is not a final version. But the document's proposals may become the next battleground in the struggle to preserve American liberties while enabling the domestic war on terrorism. The proposals range from constructive to dangerous....The draft contains many troubling provisions. It would further expand intelligence surveillance powers into the traditional realm of law enforcement. Like a Senate bill soon to be taken up by the Judiciary Committee, it would allow foreigners suspected of terrorism to be watched as intelligence targets -- rather than subjects of law enforcement -- even if they could not be linked to any foreign group or state. But it would go much further. It would allow intelligence surveillance in certain circumstances even when the government could not produce any evidence of a crime. It also would allow certain snooping with no court authorization, not only -- as now -- when Congress declared war but when it authorized force or when the country was attacked. The result of such changes would be to magnify the government's discretion to pick the legal regime under which it investigates and prosecutes national security cases and to give it more power unilaterally to exempt people from the protections of the justice system and place them in a kind of alternative legal world. Congress should be pushing in the opposite direction....Before the department asks Congress for more powers, it needs to disclose how it is using the ones it already has. Yet the Justice Department has balked at reasonable oversight and public information requests. In fact, the draft legislation would allow the department to withhold information concerning the identity of Sept. 11 detainees -- a matter now before the courts." 02.12.03
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DEMS LEAD HOUSE-SENATE CURB AGAINST POINDEXTER'S TIA, SUPPORTED BY "CRAZY PEOPLE" AT PENTAGON "House and Senate negotiators have agreed that a Pentagon project intended to detect terrorists by monitoring Internet e-mail and commercial databases for health, financial and travel information cannot be used against Americans. The conferees also agreed to restrict further research on the program without extensive consultation with Congress.House leaders agreed with Senate fears about the threat to personal privacy in the Pentagon program, known as Total Information Awareness. So they accepted a Senate provision in the omnibus spending bill passed last month, said Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican who heads the defense appropriations subcommittee.Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said of the program, "Jerry's against it, and I'm against it, so we kept the Senate amendment." Of the Pentagon, he said, 'They've got some crazy people over there.'...One important factor in the breadth of the opposition is the fact that the research project is headed by Adm. John M. Poindexter. Several members of Congress have said that the admiral was an unwelcome symbol because he had been convicted of lying to Congress about weapons sales to Iran and illegal aid to Nicaraguan rebels, an issue with constitutional ramifications, the Iran-contra affair. The fact that his conviction was later reversed on the ground that he had been given immunity for the testimony in which he lied did not mitigate Congressional opinion, they said....Publicly, most of the criticism of Total Information Awareness has come from Democrats." 02.12.03
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BIN LADEN TAPE MIGHT BE AN ATTEMPT TO LURE U.S. INTO WAR WITH IRAQ "The White House argued that the tape, if it really was Osama bin Laden, simply demonstrated that Iraq and terrorism were indeed somehow linked. But we couldn't help wondering if the expression of solidarity with Iraq might have been a canny way of luring the United States into an attack on Baghdad that would rally the Muslim world against the West, producing new converts to Al Qaeda. The fact that a gulf war may make Osama bin Laden happy is not a reason, in itself, to oppose an invasion of Iraq. But the American people want their government to concentrate on fighting domestic terrorism above all else, and there have been a number of moments recently when Washington seemed to be missing the main point." 02.12.03
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TRANSCRIPT OF BIN LADEN TAPE "The Muslims in general and the Iraqis in particular have to prepare for jihad against this unjust campaign, and have to make sure to load up on ammunition and weapons, for that is their duty....It's known that fighting to achieve victory for the infidels is not permissible. And you know the Muslim's belief should be clear when fighting that it should be for the sake of Allah. As the prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever fought to raise the word of Allah, then he's fighting for the sake of Allah." And it doesn't harm in these conditions the interest of Muslims to agree with those of the socialists in fighting against the crusaders, even though we believe the socialists are infidels. For the socialists and the rulers have lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden (ph). And this fighting about to take place resembles the fight with the Romans earlier and the collusion of interest doesn't harm, for the Muslims' fight against the Romans was due to the collusion of the interests with the Persians ." 02.12.03
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TAPE ASCRIBED TO BIN LADEN URGES MUSLIMS TO STAND WITH IRAQ. CALLS SADDAM REGIME "GODLESS." "The message stressed that no matter how distasteful it might be to believers, fighting on the same side of godless regimes like that of Saddam Hussein was justified by the greater good of battling the United States.... "This crusader war is mainly targeting Muslims, regardless of Saddam and the socialist party," said the speaker, believed to be Mr. bin Laden, in an apparent reference to Iraq's ruling Baath Party. "The fighting should be in the name of God only, not in the name of national ideologies, nor to seek victory for the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq," the speaker said. "All Muslims have to begin jihad against this unjust war'." 02.12.03
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"SO THE BUSHIES NO LONGER CARE IF OSAMA SENDS A CODED MESSAGE TO HIS THUGS AS LONG AS HE STAYS ON MESSAGE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE?" "Osama's disdain for Saddam still gleamed through. He barely mentioned the Iraqi leader and seemed to be holding his nose when he gave permission to his Qaeda brethren to fight "the Crusaders" alongside Saddam's Baath Party, "even if we believe and declare that the socialists are apostates," and whether Saddam remains in power or not.Still, the administration pounced on the tape, hoping it would prove to those epicene Old Europeans, with their poufy blue-helmeted U.N. force, that Al Qaeda and Iraq were "bound by a common hatred," as the State Department's Richard Boucher said. Mr. Powell was so eager to publicize Osama's statements that he broke the news himself at a Senate Budget Committee hearing, hours before Al Jazeera even acknowledged it had the tape. He said the tape showed that Osama was "in partnership with Iraq," and proved that the U.S. could not count simply on a beefed-up inspection force in Iraq. In the past, Condi Rice has implored the networks not to broadcast the tapes outright, fearing he might be activating sleeper cells in code. But this time the administration flacked the tape. And Fox, the official Bush news agency, rushed the entire tape onto the air. So the Bushies no longer care if Osama sends a coded message to his thugs as long as he stays on message for the White House? " 02.12.03
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BBC REPORTER DISAGREES WITH POWELL'S BIN LADEN-SADDAM LINK ALLEGATIONS "US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he had read a transcript of the alleged Bin Laden tape and that it confirmed links between the militant group, blamed for the 11 September attacks, and Iraq. Mr Powell last week sought to make a connection between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda during a presentation to the United Nations Security Council. But the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, said the figure on the tape voiced support for Iraq, but that in no way did it prove a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi leadership." 02.12.03
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BIN LADEN CALLS SADDAM AND HIS BA'ATH PARTY "SOCIALISTS" AND "INFIDELS." POWELL SEES A POSITIVE LINK "If the voice on the tape was that of Bin Laden, who has not been seen since he vanished in the Afghan mountains in late 2001, he was less than fulsome in his praise of Saddam and his Ba'ath party, who he referred to as "socialists" and "infidels" But he suggested a tactical alliance. "It does not harm in these circumstances that the interests of Muslims and socialists intersect in the battle against the Crusaders," the tape said. It urged Muslims everywhere to rise up against the US and its allies, and "apostates" in the Arab world who backed Washington. " 02.12.03
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CIA'S TENET SAYS AL QAEDA OPERATIVES IN IRAQ PROOF OF CONNECTION TO SADDAM. ALSO NOTES AL QAEDA PRESENCE IN U.S. "Mr. Tenet said the C.I.A. had carefully worded its accusations about Iraq, but he strongly supported the Bush administration's conclusion that an Iraq-Qaeda link had been firmly established even as some European officials, and some intelligence analysts within his own agency, have expressed skepticism about whether the information showed a direct Iraqi tie to Al Qaeda....Mr. Tenet seemed to be trying to rebut skeptics among the allies and within his own agency....In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, focused on the threat posed by Al Qaeda in the United States. He said several hundred Islamic militants linked to Al Qaeda were in the country, with some organized in cells that could be ordered to carry out terrorist attacks here." 02.12.03
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DUCT TAPE ADVICE SEEN AS A POOR SUBSTITUTE FOR PUTTING FED MONEY INTO BIOTERROR PROTECTIONS. (BUT, HEY, THE RICH WILL GET THOSE TAX CUTS, RIGHT?) "Washington is urging people to prepare for chemical attack by purchasing duct tape, while it fails to provide fire departments with funds for protective suits or bioterror detectors. The preparedness guidelines sounded a bit like those TV weathermen who mark every cold snap by earnestly instructing their viewers to wear more layers of clothing. Anyone who has been hit with chemical weapons probably...But given a choice between a well-equipped basement and a well-equipped fire department, we know which way we'd go." 02.12.03
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EVIDENCE SUGGESTS BUSH DECIDED TO REMOVE SADDAM IN 2001, WE WILL BE IN IRAQ "A LONG, LONG TIME," AND A TERRORIST ATTACK "HERE AT HOME" IS ONE OF HIS "ENORMOUS RISKS" "[Risks] are enormous. Already the level of threat of terrorist attacks here at home has been raised to the next-highest category. Al Qaeda will use a war with Iraq to recruit supporters and may launch another attack. Israeli-Palestinian tensions will increase, and more bloodshed may result. Divisions in NATO have become far more public and intense. The price of oil is increasing and could tip a shaky U.S. economy into trouble, jeopardizing Bush's reelection. ." 02.12.03
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BUSH "COALITION OF THE WILLING" IS "DANGEROUS NONSENSE" "The first rule of any Iraq invasion is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it. We break Iraq, we own Iraq - and we own the primary responsibility for rebuilding a country of 23 million people that has more in common with Yugoslavia than with any other Arab nation. I am among those who believe this is a job worth doing, both for what it could do to liberate Iraqis from a terrible tyranny and to stimulate reform elsewhere in the Arab world. But it is worth doing only if we can do it right. And the only way we can do it right is if we can see it through, which will take years. And the only way we can see it through is if we have the maximum allies and U.N. legitimacy.We don't need a broad coalition to break Iraq. We can do that ourselves. But we do need a broad coalition to rebuild Iraq, so that the American taxpayer and Army do not have to bear that full burden or be exposed alone at the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. President Bush, if he alienates the allies from going to war - the part we can do alone - is depriving himself of allies for the peace - the part where we'll need all the friends we can get. No question - Saddam never would have let the U.N. inspectors back in had President Bush not unilaterally threatened force. But if Mr. Bush keeps conveying to China, France and Russia that he really doesn't care what they think and will go to war anyway, their impulse will be to never come along and just remain free riders....France, China and Russia have to get serious, but so do we. The Bush talk that we can fight this war with just a "coalition of the willing" - meaning Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - is dangerous nonsense. There is only one coalition that matters to the average American and average world citizen. It is one approved by the U.N. and NATO. We may not be able to garner it, but we need to be doing everything we can - everything - to try before we go to war. Why? Because there is no war we can't win by ourselves, but there is no nation we can rebuild by ourselves - especially Iraq. " 02.12.03
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EXILE GROUP FAULTS U.S. PLAN FOR POSTWAR IRAQ "Iraqi exile leaders complained today that a U.S. plan to install a military governor for up to a year in postwar Iraq, as outlined by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, risks leaving in place an Iraqi administration dominated by the country's Sunni Muslim minority and veterans of President Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Leaders of the principal exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, said the administration plan, described by Khalilzad last week in Ankara, Turkey, seemed to reflect fears in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt that immediate democracy in Iraq could be destabilizing. The complaints also highlighted concern that the exiles' role in postwar Iraq could turn out to be less than they anticipated in months of lobbying against Hussein. "I think it's a bad policy," said an Iraqi National Congress official, Kanan Makiya. 'I think it's going to have the opposite effect that they want it to have.'" 02.12.03
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BLIX SKEPTICAL OVER FRENCH PEACE INITIATIVE "France, meanwhile, sought to build support for a proposal to reinforce the U.N. inspections. The French proposal, which is intended to stave off U.S. military action, calls for doubling or tripling the size of the U.N. inspection agency, increasing the frequency of surveillance flights and expanding the role of U.N. security guards in the monitoring of suspected weapons sites. The French proposal, which was outlined in a four-page paper distributed to reporters today, calls for the recruitment of accountants, archivists and teams of custom officers who would be granted the authority to monitor the goods entering Iraq to prevent the importation of weapons-related material. A new intelligence bureau, employing as many as 10 analysts, would be established to analyze reconnaissance imagery and to assess intelligence provided by national intelligence agencies. "Our approach is based on the need to compel Iraq to cooperate by taking the peaceful approach of intrusive inspections," the paper states. "They must be more intensive, more carefully targeted, more intrusive." Blix also expressed skepticism over the French initiative, telling Radio France International that many of France's proposals had already been proposed by the United States, in November. "Yes, we can use more inspectors," Blix said. 'But what is more important is cooperation on substance if Iraq declares, explains, presents documents, offers some witnesses. That's even more important.' " 02.12.03
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BUSH-RUMSFELD HAVE TURNED DIPLOMACY INTO MUD-SLINGING CAMPAIGN ATTACKS "The insults may have been carried to inventive heights by the American right-wing, but they began with the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and his jibe against "old Europe". What could have been a political and diplomatic argument between allies - with some right on both sides - has been turned into a parody of the worst kind of dirty US primary campaign. Opponents are not just opposed, they are vilified; they are destroyed by association with straw villains (in France and Germany's case, anti-Semitism and Nazism)... This is not the sole reason why France will refuse to toe the American line in the UN security council next week - but it is one of the reasons." 02.12.03
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Wimps, weasels and monkeys - the US media view of 'perfidious France' "The "petulant prima donna of realpolitik" is leading the "axis of weasels", in "a chorus of cowards". It is an unholy alliance of "wimps" and ingrates which includes one country that is little more than a "mini-me minion", another that is in league with Cuba and Libya, with a bunch of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" at the helm. Welcome to Europe, as viewed through the eyes of American commentators and newspapers yesterday, as Euro-bashing, and particularly anti-French sentiment, reached new heights. In a barrage of insults and invective which ranged from the basest tabloid rants to the loftiest columnists on the most respected newspapers, European-led resistance to America's war plans in Iraq was portrayed not as a diplomatic position to be negotiated as a genetic weakness in the European mindset which makes them reluctant to fight wars and incapable of winning them ." 02.12.03
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BUSH, "OUR FRIEND AND BROTHER IN CHRIST," SAYS BOMBING BAGHDAD WOULD BE "IN THE HIGHEST MORAL TRADITIONS OF OUR COUNTRY" "With war in Iraq looming, and much of the world opposed to his position, the president in recent weeks has adopted a strongly devotional tone. In a series of speeches -- a pair of remembrances for the Columbia victims, last week's National Prayer Breakfast and today's address to the religious broadcasters -- Bush has far more openly embraced Christian theology. Today's speech brought the most thorough linkage yet between Bush's worldly policies and Christian faith -- including a pronouncement that an American attack on Iraq would be "in the highest moral traditions of our country. " 02.11.03
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HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN IRAQ "WILL BE DEVASTATING" "Australian aid agencies know from previous experience that the true cost of war with Iraq will be a devastating humanitarian crisis. Aid agencies supporting humanitarian projects in Iraq and the region report that about 15 million Iraqis, out of an estimated population of 24 million, depend on food rations provided under an agreement between the UN and the Iraqi Government. Even with this aid, malnutrition is widespread, especially among women and children. Chronic malnutrition among children under five is 23 per cent. The health care system is no longer covering basic needs. Poor water quality is the primary reason for sickness and death among children, who make up almost half the population. Iraq's water and sanitation system is on the verge of collapse because it is dependent on electrical supplies crippled during the 1991 air strikes. Now, 11 years after the Gulf War, it is estimated that a third of the national power supply is still down, two-thirds of house-connected water is untreated. In cities, trucks that used to empty cesspits and septic tanks can no longer be used due to a lack of tyres, batteries and other spare parts, so sewage flows back into homes. Any military action that damages power supplies and other infrastructure will inevitably further damage this already fragile system, and increase the likelihood of preventable diseases such as cholera and hepatitis sweeping through the population. Attacks that affect roads, ports or railways will lead to the collapse of the distribution system for food aid. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisations representative in Iraq warns that a sudden loss of food distribution will force many over the brink of starvation. " 02.11.03
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KURT VONNEGUT SPEAKS OUT "I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs." 02.11.03
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POLL SAYS AMERICANS WANT TO "WIMP OUT" OF REBUILDING IRAQ, WILLING TO BOMB BAGHDAD WITHOUT U.N. BACKING "The survey also found that a majority of the public remain open to a postwar role for the United States in Iraq. But most Americans are unwilling to commit the United States to the kind of postwar rebuilding effort that many inside and outside the administration say will be essential to bringing economic and political stability to the country. Fifty-six percent said they oppose the postwar rebuilding efforts in Iraq if the United States would have to keep troops in the country for several years and spend $15 billion a year, the most conservative publicly available estimates of what it would take to stabilize a post-Hussein Iraq." 02.11.03
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EUROPEANS FEARFUL BUSH WILL "WIMP OUT" OF POST-WAR REBUILDING "Bush, for all his tough talk, unwilling to admit that going to war involves some hard choices? Unfortunately, that would be all too consistent with his governing style. And though you don't hear much about it in the U.S. media, a lack of faith in Mr. Bush's staying power - a fear that he will wimp out in the aftermath of war, that he won't do what is needed to rebuild Iraq - is a large factor in the growing rift between Europe and the United States. " 02.11.03
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IT'S STILL THE OIL, STUPID! "One of the founders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries described oil as the "excrement of the devil," and with good reason. Nearly every country with an economy dominated by oil is corrupt and dictatorial, whether in Latin America, Africa, the Caspian, Southeast Asia or the Middle East. The notable exception is Norway.Oil is unique. Great wealth, controlled by the government, is created without labor or risk. So rulers have no accountability to the people, because they do not need the consent of the governed. Control of the government means control of wealth. This is a predictably repeated formula for political and economic corruption and mismanagement....Finally, if victorious, the United States and its allies should remember the success after World War II, as well as the fiasco after World War I. Using oil revenue, some governments may want to collect old debts and impose reparations. This would be a mistake. Most of these debts were conscious political bets designed to cement relations with Hussein as well as to stimulate domestic employment from export sales. Many have been written off already. Mortgaging the future of Iraq, much as the allies did to Germany after World War I, would lead to deep resentment and virulent nationalism. Old problems would not be solved, and new ones would be created and compounded." 02.11.03
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IS THE FIGHT IN THE UN REALLY ABOUT IRAQI OIL? "France's Security Council veto essentially gives it the right to affect international policy unilaterally. But, in the end, it likely won't stand in the way of the American determination to invade. Like the British House of Lords, it'll delay legislation but won't stop it. Instead, Mr. Chirac's goal probably involves getting the best deal he can for a French abstention when the final vote comes, expected within weeks. That's a cynical game of long standing at the UN, and it's already begun. The United States blacklisted three Chechen rebel groups recently as it works to win Russia's support. Washington is increasing aid to Angola and Guinea and is easing some immigration restrictions involving Pakistan. All three have non-permanent seats on the 15-member Security Council. France's price? It wants guaranteed access to Iraqi oil, just as Russia does, and early commercial involvement in the rebuilding process. And possibly much else. Those with queasy stomachs should look away; the UN process that lies ahead will be as distasteful as watching hot dogs being made. Make that les hot-dogs. " 02.11.03
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ANTI-AMERICANISM GROWING IN EUROPE "Anti-Americanism, West European-style, is widespread, rising and migrating from its traditional home among left-wing intellectuals, academics and cafe society to the political mainstream, according to analysts, critics and public opinion polls. Countries such as France, Germany and Britain, which for more than five decades have been the closest allies of the United States, are beginning to drift away, propelled by a popular wave of concern, alarm and resentment. The immediate focus might be U.S. policy toward Iraq, but the larger emerging theme is an abiding sense of fear and loathing of American power, policies and motives....Polls suggest that anti-Americanism as practiced in Europe begins with disagreement with U.S. policies in Iraq and the Islamic world since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But the sentiment quickly broadens to include a more general sense of alienation from American society, which is seen as gluttonous and greedy. The Pew Research Center has reported that while most people say they admire American movies, music and television programs, they dislike the spread of American ideas and customs." 02.11.03
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REPLAYS SHOW POWELL DID NOT SCORE "Now, six days later, it seems there is much less to Powell's indictment than meets the eye. A British intelligence report that he used and praised is now revealed to have been a fraud, cribbed largely from the out-of-date work of a U.S. graduate student. Powell's satellite photos, while riveting, proved little — except to those who are convinced that every factory with a guard hut and truck is a chemical weapons dump. Even Powell's selective telephone intercepts are open to interpretation. Common sense suggests that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons hidden somewhere. But the Powell tapes neither prove nor disprove that. Nor do they address the more telling question: Does Iraq have the means to deliver these weapons any significant distance? (The conclusion of the U.N. weapons inspectors on this latter question, incidentally, is a qualified no.) But the real failure of Powell's case has to do with Iraq's alleged links to Al Qaeda terrorists. " 02.11.03
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FACTS SUGGEST WAR ISN'T NECESSARY "Will Hussein ever use weapons of mass destruction? I can only cite what the CIA has said, namely that he shows no signs of using them, because he knows we would retaliate with deadly force. The only circumstance under which he is likely to use them, the CIA said, is if we attack him. The administration has not answered that argument other than to speculate that he may be tempted to use these weapons against us even if we do not attack first. Following this argument to its logical conclusion, it seems clear that by attacking Iraq now we will substantially increase the likelihood that he will use or try to use weapons of mass destruction against us or his neighbors. Abandoning containment now has real consequences. Unfortunately, no one is asking whether containment has worked. The question being asked now: Has Hussein met all of his obligations under the U.N. resolution? He has not met all of his obligations, and he is never going to meet all of his obligations. Instead, the United States should be asking: What is the most prudent and effective policy to deal with a Saddam Hussein who is not meeting his obligations? To me, the question is not even close. Rather than go to war, we should apply a policy of "containment plus," which entails tightened sanctions, beefed-up inspections, support for opposition groups and the creation of a U.N. war-crimes tribunal. " 02.11.03
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U.S. BLOCKS POOREST COUNTRIES' ACCESS TO MEDICINES "When 144 nations assembled last December to provide the world's poorest countries with assured access to low-cost medicines, one country opposed the initiative, blocking it from implementation. That country was the United States, and what it did was to reject a declaration that members of the World Trade Organization, or WTO, believed was non-controversial and already agreed to in principle. Since the WTO operates by consensus, that single negative voice from the United States was enough to postpone implementation of a promise made to the poor countries by all WTO members, including the United States, at the launch of the Doha round of trade negotiations in November, 2001. Yet in a way the U.S. action should not have been a total surprise because U.S. pharmaceutical companies never have been happy about the idea. And with the Republican Party firmly in power in Washington, the big pharmaceutical companies have lots of clout. " 02.11.03
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"BUSH AND THE AMERICAN TALIBAN "Remember when Laura Bush (who may be-I am very sorry-the most cynically deployed first lady in our history) took to the airwaves in fall 2001 to assert that the war in Afghanistan was really about freeing women from the Taliban’s tyranny? Well, aren’t they lucky. Now they and the billions of other women around the world, especially in poor and developing countries, can be subject to our very own not kinder, not gentler Taliban: the U.S. Christian right. Laura Bush got a lot of play for her seemingly brief flirtation with feminism and her deep empathy for Afghan women. In August, to much less media fanfare, her husband decided to withhold $2.4 million in emergency funding authorized by Congress for programs to support women in Afghanistan, who suffer from one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the world. President Bush also withheld $200 million to combat AIDS/HIV in Afghanistan. Why? Any program around the world that promotes anything other than “abstinence only” approaches to AIDS-like, say, condom use-is immoral and must be squashed. Also under the media radar screen was Bush’s freezing of $3 million in funding to the World Health Organization because it conducts research on mifepristone, an early-abortion drug. And do women know that Bush opposes ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which requires signatories to remove barriers that discriminate against women? The United States is the only industrialized nation not to sign; 170 other countries have. What Team Bush has been doing is shrewd and lethal. They know that the news media-already swamped covering the Iraq story, the economy and male-pattern baldness-do not cover stories so minor as who gets appointed to the Reproductive Health Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration or who represents the United States (or what they say) at U.N. conferences on sustainable development and population growth. But like the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, these aliens have colonized a host of boards, panels and delegations at home and abroad. While they’re not always successful in getting the rest of the world to agree that the best form of population control is to tie women’s legs together, they do slow down or derail the proceedings at hand." 02.11.03
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BUSH AIDS PLAN QUESTIONED. STRESSES RECONVERY, NOT PREVENTION. "We don't want to be robbing Peter to pay Paul --also because a lot of the commitments to health issues and health infrastructure issues are important to continue those investments because of the need to strengthen that infrastructure, to strengthen programs, to combat, for example, tuberculosis, people who have AIDS often die of tuberculosis. So it doesn't make sense to de-fund existing programs in order to fund this initiative" 02.11.03
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BUSH AIDS PLAN ATTEMPTS TO WORK WITH CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES THROUGH SELECTIVE USE OF FUNDS, USING "FAITH-BASED" GROUPS "This isn't the first AIDS smoke-and-mirrors ploy from this Administration. In June Bush announced to great fanfare a $500 million initiative to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission in Africa. But just weeks earlier he had personally intervened to reduce the mother-to-child funds in a bill sponsored by, of all people, Jesse Helms. The treatment-access group Health GAP reports that this initiative has yet to receive any funding and is tied up in budget negotiations. Equally troubling is Bush's decision to bypass the multilateral Global Fund, instead earmarking 90 percent of new funding for bilateral aid agreements with fourteen African and Caribbean countries. " 02.11.03
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U.S. IS BEING DISHONEST IN ITS MANIPULATION OF THE U.N. "Donald Rumsfeld's insults aside, the EU and Europe (old and new) also had good reason to question US leadership long before this crisis erupted. Yet even if Europeans trusted and respected Mr Bush, that would not make his hastiness more supportable now. Similar considerations apply to his apparently cynical UN manoeuvrings. The US was wrong to dismiss out-of-hand the Franco-German proposals for expanded inspections. If Colin Powell believes inspections, enhanced or not, can never work, then why did the US back them last autumn? Perhaps it really is all a US charade, as Iraq suspects. It is dishonest to urge a second UN vote authorising force yet simultaneously vow to attack if one is not agreed." 02.11.03
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DOES BLAIR HAVE THE COURAGE TO ADMIT HIS ERROR? "In one of the great books of the 20th century, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, Barbara Tuchman concluded that persistence in error was the great hallmark of folly. "There is always freedom of choice to change or desist from a counter-productive course if the policy maker has the moral courage to exercise it," she wrote. "He is not a fated creature blown by the whims of Homeric gods. Yet to recognise error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government."..That alteration of course, though, is the challenge that Blair now faces. It will not be easy. But if he shirks it or fails it, then yesterday's fine words about the future of progressive governance will have merely been written in water" 02.11.03
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OFFICIAL ANTI-WAR FORCES GROWING IN EUROPE "By forging a formal alliance, France, Germany and Russia - all members of the security council, two of whom can veto any UN resolution - have greatly strengthened the anti-war campaign. Their declaration proposed "the continuation of inspections and a substantial reinforcement of their human and technical capacities ... in liaison with the inspectors"... In an ill-concealed dig at recent undiplomatic remarks by increasingly frustrated US officials, the declaration requested that discussions 'might continue in the spirit of friendship and respect that characterises our relations with the United States.'" 02.11.03
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IN THIS WAR "COLLATERAL DAMAGE" WILL BE AMERICAN CREDIBILITY AND FUTURE AMERICAN DIPLOMACY "This truly is the season of "collateral damage". As everyone knows, that weasel phrase was coined by the Pentagon to hide the ghastly realities of war, of the killing of innocent civilians and the destruction of their means of living. But even before war with Iraq has started, it threatens to do massive collateral damage of another kind – to the international diplomatic and security structures of the modern world... The Iraqi crisis is poisoning transatlantic relations and relations within Europe " 02.11.03
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BUSH "WITH US OR AGAINST US" RHETORIC "FOOLISHLY APPLIED" TO ALLIES "It may well be true, as Pentagon hawks argue, that the United States can easily defeat Iraq without help from the anemic military forces of many of its European allies. Yet America very much needs broad European support in fighting terror and will need more of it in reconstructing Iraq. Forcing splits and quarrels within the Atlantic alliance isn't a wise policy " 02.11.03
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WHY U.S. IS ANGRY WITH FRANCE, GERMANY, BELGIUM "Those who were least excited yesterday about the NATO crisis were the Turks, which initiated the request to NATO. Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis made clear that the decision was only a procedural opposition and not an outright rejection of help. But it is difficult to distinguish between the procedural opposition that deals with the timing of the planned help and the reason for the request, meaning NATO readiness to take part, even passively, in the war against Iraq.American anger also is not about the essence, since European states are committed to protecting Turkey if indeed it faces a clear and present danger, as expressed in Article 5 of the NATO treaty. It was the possibility that the European veto would make it even more difficult for Turkey to allow American troops to deploy there that bothered Washington." 02.11.03
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DO MASS PROTESTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE? "For most people, Blair and Bush have simply lost the argument. Despite being in a hole, these two politicians can't stop digging. Every piece of compelling new evidence for the necessity of war turns out to be even more ludicrous than the last, so we've now arrived at plagiarised student theses and crackly intercepted phone calls that couldn't secure a conviction for possession of dope. And this to justify chucking around the armed might of the greatest superpower the world has known, the equivalent of a Bali bombing every night for as long as it takes." 02.11.03
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INTERNET BRINGS TOGETHER AMERICANS AGAINST THE WAR "This Saturday hundreds of thousands of Americans will be protesting in the streets against the possibility of war in Iraq and bombarding politicians with their views. One of the key organisations coordinating the protests is the brainchild of two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who saw the internet as a way of channeling political protest." 02.11.03
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OBSERVERS NEED TO MONITOR PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY "EFFORT TO END TERRORISM," "GUARD AGAINST ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS" "As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tries to piece together a majority in Israel's Knesset, polls show that a despairing public does not believe any new government is likely to stop violence with the Palestinians. The only viable plan is the so-called road map of the "diplomatic quartet." Yet there is no sign that this will soon become reality, as Mr. Sharon has criticized it and Washington is otherwise preoccupied with Iraq. In this vacuum of ideas, the greatest help Washington could give to Israel is, paradoxically, something the Palestinians have long wanted: an American-led delegation of observers in the territories, who would ensure that the Palestinian Authority is making a credible effort to end terrorism while also guarding against Israeli human-rights violations. The body would best be made up of former intelligence and law-enforcement officials from North America and Europe. " 02.11.03
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SENATE DEMS ARE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE IN LETTING BUSH PASS CONSERVATIVE FED JUDGES THROUGH THE SYSTEM "If more elected Democrats awaken to how their legislative powers are being snatched away by the federal judiciary the way Biden did, perhaps they too will resolve to fight harder against Bush's more radical conservative nominees. The key factor, after all, is the one Biden cited: The Supreme Court hears only about 80 cases a year, from all the circuit courts and state supreme courts combined. This compares with the tens of thousands of cases considered by federal appellate courts. And because of the extreme rarity of Supreme Court review, "one could argue that the powerful actors in the United States who have the fewest real checks on what they do are federal appellate judges," as Georgetown law professor David Vladeck puts it. One existing check is the U.S. Senate's advice and consent role, yet from Michael McConnell to D. Brooks Smith, Senate Democrats thus far have allowed conservative after conservative to reach the federal bench." 02.11.03
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SOMEONE, BLOW THE WHISTLE ON BUSH EXCESSIVE SECRECY "It is time for Congress or the courts to blow the whistle on the Bush administration's excessive secrecy. The secrecy is especially pernicious when set in the context of the administration's proclivity to spin. "Spin" is the fashionable word. "Twist," "distort," "deceive," or "cover up" would be more forthright....Perhaps most egregious of all, Mr. Bush has signed an executive order which gives the sitting president the right to control the release of the papers of any past president. That is, if Bush were so inclined, he could bar the release of the papers of George Washington. His White House counsel, in fact, did order the National Archives not to release 68,000 pages from Ronald Reagan's administration. These included papers from George H. W. Bush's vice presidency....The White House has issued another order permitting former presidents, vice presidents, their representatives, or surviving relatives to bar release of documents for a variety of reasons: "military, diplomatic, or national security secrets, presidential communications, legal advice, legal work, or the deliberative processes of the president and the president's advisers." This is an arrogant assertion of presidential power when applied to past presidents. It allows the president to determine what the people may know - or don't know - about what their own government does." 02.10.03
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"AMERICA IS ABOUT TO BEGIN A BAD WAR." CAN WE AFFORD IT? "Arguing against war with Iraq, as I have done for months, has ceased to have any practical point. America is going to war. The issue now is how to make sure it happens in the best possible circumstances. Nothing Saddam Hussein can do at this point will prevent his defeat. He could go into exile, but he won't. Weapons inspections buy him a few more weeks. If he produces the chemical or biological weapons he probably has, he disarms himself before the invasion, so we can rule that out. Saddam is finished and knows it, and the only question is whether he goes out with a bang or a whimper. This war didn't have to happen. Good wars are defined as ones that have to be fought, and this one clearly doesn't have to be fought. But good or bad, it's the war we have, so the question is how to proceed....Without council support, America will be exposed for years to come, and exposed alone. Our economy and markets have been paralyzed for months. Markets don't like a rising deficit, a falling dollar and an administration obsessed with war to the detriment of sensible domestic policies. Markets know that money spent on Iraq is money not spent on America." 02.10.03
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HOW THE BUSH BUDGET WILL DESTROY YOUR FUTURE. "THIS IS BREATHTAKING, THIS IS RADICAL, RADICAL STUFF." "Kent Conrad, ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee....couldn’t believe what he was seeing: mushrooming deficits that peak just when the baby-boom generation begins to retire. That means government spending on Social Security and Medicare will increase when government debt is at its highest. “It is nuts, stone-cold nuts,” Conrad said in an interview with NEWSWEEK. “And they’re not nuts, and they’re not stupid. They’re smart people, and they know what we know, that the deficit will explode when federal expenditures peak. And that’s when I had this revelation: the only rationale for what they’re doing is that they plan to fundamentally gut Social Security and Medicare.” Republicans are used to Democrats accusing them of heartlessness, of wanting to throw old people out in the snow and deny hungry children a meal. Democrats don’t have any new ideas of their own, Republicans say, so they resort to the old, tired charges. But Conrad represents one of the red states that Bush won by a large margin, and he’s never been a typical liberal. He was North Dakota’s tax commissioner before he was elected to the Senate, and he knows his numbers. His idea of fun is to watch a baseball game and calculate in his head how each player’s turn at bat changes his batting average. Conrad is convinced that the debt Bush is piling up will threaten the country’s long-term economic security, and that Social Security and Medicare will not survive. Privately, Republicans say Conrad is right, but with a caveat. Social Security and Medicare cannot survive in their current form. Under the guise of reform, both programs will have to adapt to the budget realities. Conrad’s prediction: That it will be reforming by cutting benefits. He has charts to illustrate the choices government will face if Bush’s tax cuts proceed as planned. They range from bad to worse. Record deficit spending means government borrowing crowds out entrepreneurial investment and hurts economic growth. To sustain benefits and keep the social contract as is would require an unprecedented tax increase to 30 percent of GDP (it’s now 20 percent). “Or we’ll have to eliminate the rest of government as we know it,” says Conrad. 'This is breathtaking; this is radical, radical stuff.'" 02.10.03
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BUSH BUDGET: "WE'RE HEADED FOR A CLIFF, AND THE PRESIDENT SAYS, 'FULL SPEED AHEAD!'" "Say nonpartisan experts, there appears to be no plan -- other than hoping the economy will grow and revenues will increase -- to free the nation from that ever ticking burden. "What's significant about this budget is that it appears to abandon any particular fiscal policy goal," says Bob Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition. "It's a return of deficits as far as the eye can see and a president trying to justify why that's OK." "It's truly remarkable: The president's budget doesn't ever balance. It's deficits forever," says Susan Tanaka of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). In the analytic appendix of the budget, under (perhaps ironically) "Stewardship," the graphs indicate that over the next decade, the budget never gets balanced, she says. 'There has been up until now a general political consensus that it's the right goal to aim for budget balance, if not year by year then at least over the business cycle.' " 02.10.03
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WE WILL BURY YOU...IN RED INK. BUSH'S UN-TAX AND SPEND POLICY "The government is fast running out of money to meet its bills. Treasury officials warn that the nation will bang up against the legal debt ceiling of $6.4 trillion before the end of this month. There is little doubt Congress will back into its duty and vote to raise the debt limit, even as President Bush blithely compounds the deficits deep into the decade with new untax-and-spend stratagems.... While much of the government has been getting ready for a war whose price tag has not been included in the presidential budget, the House Republican leaders quietly reinforced their political defenses. They passed a rule letting lawmakers raise the debt ceiling automatically with each spending resolution. Constituents can only wish their A.T.M.'s were so forgiving." 02.10.03
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HOW DUMB CAN TAXPAYERS GET? WE'LL ALL PAY FOR BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH ON THE FED, STATE, AND LOCAL LEVEL "If the military gets what it wants and if taxpayers get more relief on the federal level -- $674 billion over 10 years under the newest Bush proposal -- then we are going to have some sort of win-win-win scenario, right? Who loses? At the moment, it looks as if the biggest losers will be state, county and municipal governments, which have been crippled by revenue losses connected to the disappearance of 2.3 million private-sector jobs during the past two years. Unemployment is now at 6 percent, the highest in eight years. The federal government can cover itself by borrowing and borrowing as it spends and spends, but other levels of government are required to balance their budgets -- on taxpayers' backs. In his State of the Union message the other night, the president said, to ringing applause, "We will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents and other generations." Would that it were true, which would mean not only is lunch free, but you can have your cake and eat it, too. " 02.10.03
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AND HEAVEN HELP THOSE IN STATES RUN BY REPUBS "Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey has united lawmakers from both parties with his plan to make up the state's budget shortfall of $5 billion. All sides agree his solution is horrible. It cuts into health care for the needy and the elderly, whacks support for higher education and guts spending on the arts - the price for keeping the governor's promise not to raise income taxes. Mr. McGreevey's message, a combination of "Don't blame me," "I told you so" and "Read my lips," sounded more like an excuse than a real plan" 02.10.03
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BUSH GIVES THE NATION A SNOW JOB "During his 12-year tenure as chief executive at railroad giant CSX, [Bush's John Snow,] our new guardian of the Treasury helped himself to a vast array of corporate indulgences. If CEO perks were pills, Snow would have OD'd a long time ago. Let's start with the fact that he was paid a king's ransom -- $10.1 million in 2001 alone -- for doing a downright crappy job. With Snow at the helm, CSX's profits shriveled and its stock underperformed its competitors' by two-thirds since 1991. His reign is a case study in one of the greatest abuses of corporate America -- the anti-Pavlovian delinking of performance and reward. Snow was also the lucky winner of a $24.5 million sweetheart loan from CSX -- precisely the kind of insider loan made illegal by the corporate responsibility bill signed into law by the president last summer. But Snow's gravy train of good fortune didn't stop there. You see, Snow, team player that he is, used the 24 mil to buy stock in CSX. When the stock, under his sure hand, plummeted in value, the company board, not wanting to see its fearless leader suffer along with its beleaguered shareholders, promptly forgave the massive loan. During his confirmation hearing last week, Snow decried as "offensive" CEO loans used "to go out and buy yachts." But, in a free country, the problem should not be what you buy with a loan but whether you repay it. If Snow had bought a yacht, at least he could have given some of CSX's shareholders a ride around the harbor for their money. As if this weren't enough, Snow will also be rewarded for his mediocre tenure at CSX with an extremely generous pension agreement. No need to worry about him being forced to clip coupons on his $161,200 cabinet salary -- CSX will pay him $2.47 million a year for the rest of his life. He also has the option of taking a $30 million lump-sum payment instead. Unlike most workers, Snow's benefits won't be based on his salary alone -- but rather on his salary plus his annual bonuses plus the value of the quarter-million shares of CSX stock the company board gave him. And his retirement windfall will be greatly enhanced by a pension accounting scheme that gives him credit for having put in 44 years at the company, even though he's actually been workin' on the railroad for 25. I suppose he was thinking really, really hard about the company during those other 19 years. Let's just hope his relationship to numbers improves at the Treasury Department. " 02.10.03
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GINGRICH TOOK OUT A CONTRACT ON AMERICA, AND BUSH IS THE HIT MAN BROUGHT IN TO DO THE JOB "George W. Bush wants to take us where Newt Gingrich dared not go. The president's new budget is a dossier of conservative dreams the truest believers scarcely could have hoped to realize. The Contract with America, the 1994 Republican manifesto that caused moderate voters to recoil in horror once they saw the fine print, is, by comparison, a mere greeting card. Bush would effectively eliminate taxes on all income gained from stocks and other investments. Workers' wages would gain no such favor. Bush would end the federal government's commitment to finance a share of the actual cost of health care for the poor and replace it with grants to the states. When Medicaid costs spike, as they do at times of high unemployment, the feds would be mostly off the hook. States would pick up the tab, or governors would be the villains turning people away. Bush plans to turn Medicare over to the private insurance industry, which would be expected to hold down costs and expand benefits all at once. Gingrich, the Georgia Republican, envisioned much the same. But compared with Bush, the former speaker of the House's tax schemes look downright wimpy. The president has called for the elimination of taxes paid by individuals on stock dividends. Gingrich's contract didn't. The president would establish two new accounts in which investment income would be free of taxes. The Contract with America called for reducing, but not eliminating, capital-gains taxes and for expanding IRAs for high-income people. " 02.10.03
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BUSH TALKS BAND-AID FOR SEVERED ARM OF UNEMPLOYMENT "This is what the jobs picture is like in the U.S. in 2003. And no one thinks it will get much better soon. A front-page headline in The New York Times last Thursday said, "Hiring in Nation Hits Worst Slump in Nearly 20 Years." Two million jobs have vanished in the last two years. Joblessness is right up there with war and terror as an ingredient contributing to the high national anxiety. If you want to see desperation close up, look at the eyes of the increasing numbers of breadwinners who can't find work. As Tuesday's fiasco in Chicago demonstrated, the situation is much worse than official unemployment statistics would indicate. The government reported on Friday that the jobless rate had slipped to 5.7 percent in January, but few economists believed that was the beginning of any substantial improvement. The official jobless figures are deceptive because they don't count people who have stopped looking for work. The ranks of these so-called discouraged workers have grown by more than a million since last summer. Another enormously difficult problem is the hard core of jobless, undereducated young people, ages 16 to 24, who are roaming the streets with nothing constructive to do. There are 5.5 million of these out-of-school, out-of-work youngsters, and that number is growing. If the Bush administration has any real plans for dealing with the nation's employment problems, it is keeping them very carefully concealed. The president insists he's concerned and said again on Friday, "We will not be satisfied until this economy grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job." He's got a long way to go, and his only proposed remedy - ever more tax cuts for the wealthy - is not likely to get him there. " 02.10.03
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BUSH BUDGET FOR MILITARY MAKES LIE OF HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE "As a candidate, Mr. Bush rightly proposed skipping a generation of technology devised for cold-war battles. But that's not what he's proposing now. The administration is requesting roughly $135 billion for weapons development and production. Only about $15 billion of that will go to new military technologies and useful weapons systems like pilotless drones and submarines and advanced communications and information technology, along with an additional $9 billion for missile defense....If Congress were doing its job, it would reshape this budget to meet America's real defense needs. Unfortunately, legislators of both parties are addicted to military projects and nobody wants to face an opponent in the next campaign accusing him of cutting defense. With Republicans now controlling both houses, breaking that pattern will require the intervention of Republican defense experts like Senator John McCain and Senator Charles Grassley. By challenging the Pentagon's spending priorities, they can fortify America's defense." 02.10.03
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BUSH WAR MIGHT WRECK OUR ECONOMY AT HOME, DESTROY OUR CREDIBILITY ABROAD "The war will cost us between $100 billion and $200 billion. The president has not budgeted for that expense. The war and its likely effect on oil prices will certainly damage and could wreck our economy. Nobody is going to help us pay for it. The Arabs in the Gulf States are already saying to America about Iraq, 'You break it, you buy it.'" 02.10.03
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BUSH-POWELL PRACTICE "FEAR-MONGERING AT ITS WORST" "Mr. Powell could hardly be faulted for failing to bring some perspective to the debate. There is a history to be considered here, a history of Washington's chronic practice of exaggerating threats. One need only recall the McCarthyist Red Scare, the alleged missile gap in 1960, the domino theory to get the Vietnam War going, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, Grenada and the dreaded Sandinistas of Nicaragua who, as Ronald Reagan put it, could have led a charge right up through Mexico and lay siege to the American heartland. Mr. Powell did a fine job of keeping threat inflation alive and well....But for the Americans, who have faced real threats, to present him as some kind of immediate and dire threat -- who must be attacked before diplomacy can work its way -- is fear-mongering at its worst. Franklin Roosevelt, who faced giant powers such as Germany and Japan, had it right when he said something about there being nothing to fear but fear itself. Apparently, no one in the Bush White House has ever read the speech. They are the biggest peddlers of fear we have ever seen." 02.10.03
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WHAT ABOUT THE SADDAM GASSING THE KURDS STORY? "It's also, apparently, not true. " "Every war has its galvanizing image, aimed at rousing all decent people to take up arms. In the last Gulf War, it was the image of Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators. (Only afterwards did it come out that no such thing actually happened.) The galvanizing image of the upcoming invasion of Iraq has been the story that Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people." By constantly raising this 1988 atrocity — including in his recent State of the Union address — U.S. President George W. Bush has managed to paint an image of Saddam as so uniquely, horrifyingly evil that a war to dethrone him is justified. As a galvanizing image and call-to-arms, it's hard to beat. It's also, apparently, not true. Given its sheer centrality to the case against Saddam, one might have thought that a New York Times article late last month casting doubt on the "Saddam-gassed-his-own-people" story would have stirred a little interest, even prompted some skepticism about how much the Bush administration can be trusted on Iraq. What makes The Times story compelling is the source — Stephen Pelletiere, who served as the CIA's senior political analyst on Iraq throughout the 1980s and later taught at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania. So we're not talking pinko or Saddam-lover. Pelletiere says that the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq occurred as part of the fighting in the Iran-Iraq war, after Iranians seized the town. Both sides are believed to have used some form of gas on enemy troops, but the condition of the dead Kurds' bodies in Halabja indicated they were killed by a cyanide-based gas, which Iran had — and Iraq didn't. Pelletiere notes that an investigation by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency concluded it was gas released by Iran — not Iraq — that killed the Kurdish civilians. " 02.10.03
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WHY DIDN'T POWELL TALK ABOUT THE U.S. POLICY OF DEFENDING ISRAEL? "First, he fell short of convincing me that madman Hussein has either the intent or the near-term capability of attacking America -- although that was the implication of several of the exhibits, including the rather strained attempt to link Hussein to al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. The maps showing which countries lie within range of Iraqi rockets drove home again what seems to be the unspoken element of our official concerns: the damage Hussein could do to Israel.I'm not sure why we don't talk about this. Surely the case can be made that Israel is a sufficiently valuable ally that we would come to its aid militarily if it were attacked. Do we fear that saying so would drive Israel-hating Arabs into a frenzy? Or are we afraid that open acknowledgment would reduce support for "regime change" here at home? " 02.10.03
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SHARON NEEDS OPPOSITION PARTY IN HIS GOVERNMENT, SO HE MAKES GESTURE TOWARD PALESTINIANS "Israel and the Palestinians begin ceasefire talks today following a previously undisclosed meeting last week between Ariel Sharon and a close associate of Yasser Arafat, the highest level contact between the two sides in a year... Israeli officials have described the meetings as the start of a process that will lead to a lasting settlement with the Palestinians. But Mr Sharon's political opponents questioned whether the talks are a sincere attempt to revive the peace process or a ploy to pressure the dovish Labour party into his government, and to meet US demands for the Israeli prime minister to commit himself to dialogue." 02.10.03
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IRAQI NUKE SCIENTIST, IN CANADA SINCE '98, SAYS SADDAM HAS NEITHER SCIENCE NOR HARDWARE "Khadduri, 59, once an important member of Iraq's bomb-making team, left in late 1998. He quietly emigrated to Canada, lives in Markham with his wife and three children, and teaches computer network courses at Seneca College. He insists Iraq today has neither the scientific expertise nor the hardware to produce a nuclear bomb. That's in stark contrast to U.S. President George W. Bush's claim Iraq represents a credible nuclear threat — a claim Khadduri calls "ridiculous." "Bush gives the false image that Iraq is a huge, efficient machine," Khadduri says. "We have been torn apart." As to biological weapons of mass destruction, he says he cannot comment because he doesn't know. He says he's decided to speak out now to try to counter what he calls "misinformation" from U.S. intelligence sources. He says he's "distressed" at the fate of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis if a U.S.-led coalition strikes. " 02.10.03
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BUSH-RUMSFELD ATTACKING NATO THE WAY THEY ATTACKED THE UN: AGREE WITH US OR YOUR CREDIBILITY IS SHOT "France, Germany and Belgium blocked NATO efforts Monday to begin planning for possible Iraqi attacks against Turkey, deepening divisions in the alliance over the U.S.-led push to oust Saddam Hussein. " 02.10.03
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RUMSFELD RHETORIC SUGGESTS WORLD DOESN'T TRUST POWELL AS MUCH AS AMERICANS DO "What the US Defence Secretary's finger-wagging in Munich made clear was that Secretary of State Powell's slideshow at the UN was a failure. It did not change many hearts and minds, except possibly in America... And that is a grave problem, not for the UN or for Nato, but for the Bush administration. Disunity at the level of nation states does not simply hobble bodies such as the UN and undermine the idea of international law; it reflects profound divisions in public opinion across the world. Even in America, public opinion is not as solid for war as Mr Bush would like it to be." 02.10.03
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WITH RESPECT TO EUROPE, WHEN WILL BUSH LEARN THE SPIDER-MAN PRINCIPLE? "So has President Bush won the game? No, just one round. The Germans, who have defied Washington with the loudest "no" to the war, may lose for now because, as Mr. Schröder has conceded, he does "not know what the French will do." His good friend Mr. Chirac, leaving his options open, has dispatched the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Middle East. Once the first American cruise missiles hit the bunkers of the Iraqi Republican Guard, France will surely join in. Further down the road, however, the United States does face a problem: eventually the lesser nations aren't going to take it any more. What the administration fails to appreciate is the Spider-Man principle: "With great power comes great responsibility." The bigger Mr. Big gets, the more trust he must inspire in others. Just one practical point: once American power pushes Saddam Hussein out, who is going to win the peace in Iraq, if not a vast coalition of the willing ready to secure order and reconstruction? This French-German attempt to gang up on Mr. Big seems to have backfired - undermined by the inconvenient fact that there still are at least 18 other European countries determined to have a voice. Yet the other major players will break ranks again unless the greatest power since Rome learns to respect a simple maxim: To lead is to heed. This is not the counsel of wimpishness, but of wisdom. " 02.10.03
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BRITAIN'S PRINCE CHARLES AGAINST BUSH IRAQ WAR "A SERIOUS rift has opened up between Prince Charles and the government because he is seen to be AGAINST a war on Iraq and AGAINST America. Whitehall also believes the prince is sympathetic to the view of his Arab friends that war on Saddam Hussein is a bid by the US to grab a stake in the Middle East's oil. Yet despite being colonel-in-chief to 17 regiments, Charles has shown little public support for the soldiers, airmen and sailors who are about to risk their lives in a Gulf conflict. There are also worries that he makes no secret of his anti-American views in conversations with members of Arab royal families and their leading officials. A Whitehall source said: "Downing Street tries not to involve the prince in anything— because they have concerns over how he will react. 'He has this lunatic view he is the voice of the people.' " 02.10.03
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PRO-MILITARY PUNDIT SAYS "WE DON'T NEED TO INVADE IRAQ" "I'm extremely upset about our rush to war at the present moment. If there truly were an authentic international coalition that had been carefully built, and if the administration had demonstrated sensitivity to the fragility of international relations, I'd be 100 percent in favor of an allied military expedition to go into Iraq and find and dispose of all weapons of mass destruction. But most members of the current administration seem to have little sense that there's an enormous, complex world beyond our borders. The president himself has never traveled much in his life. They seem to think the universe consists of America and then everyone else -- small-potatoes people who can be steamrolled. And I'm absolutely appalled at the lack of acknowledgment of the cost to ordinary Iraqi citizens of any incursion by us, especially aerial bombardment. Most of the Iraqi armed forces are pathetically unprepared to respond to a military confrontation with us. These are mostly poor people who have a profession and a dignity within their country, and they're not necessarily totally behind Saddam Hussein's ambition to dominate his region. There's just no way that Saddam's threat is equal to that of Hitler leading up to World War II. Hitler had amassed an enormous military machine and was actively seeking world domination. We don't need to invade Iraq. Saddam can be bottled up with aggressive surveillance and pinpoint airstrikes on military installations." 02.10.03
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BUSH-BACKED HOMELAND SECURITY LAW PROTECTS POLLUTERS FROM ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRICTIONS "The law defines "information" so broadly that it will cover, and thus keep secret, virtually anything a company decides to fork over. A company might preempt environmental regulators by "voluntarily" divulging incriminating material, thereby making it unavailable to anyone else. Unless regulators could show they had obtained the material independently, it would be off limits to them. And the law prescribes criminal penalties for whistle-blowers who make such information public. The collective impact will be to put in the hands of a regulated party the power, simply by turning over information, to shield that information from legitimate law enforcement purposes and from public disclosure. Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) had negotiated a compromise that would accomplish the reasonable purpose without such broad harmful effects. It should be restored before the government finds its hands tied -- and the public finds itself out of the loop -- on important regulatory matters. " 02.10.03
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KERRY ASSAILS BUSH'S POLICIES ON ENVIRONMENT "Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday accused President Bush of dismantling decades of environmental protection by opening his administration to corporate polluters and embracing an energy policy that will lead to more pollution. " 02.10.03
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BUSH IS SLOWLY TURNING OUR NATION INTO A DUMP SITE, BUT AT LEAST THE GOLF COURSES WILL REMAIN GREEN "The Bush administration... has been able to slowly roll back a series of [environmental restrictions] in the past few years, with little notice, or outrage, from the public at large. For example, the administration has suspended or revoked rules against raw sewage discharges, dumping industrial waste in rivers and streams, and the use of snowmobiles and personal watercraft in national parks. It has suspended regulations giving watershed health and wildlife higher priority than timber sales as well as ones that required mining companies to clean up mine-related pollution. Bush is also considering new rules restricting the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. " 02.10.03
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HOW BUSH IS USING RELIGIOUS "EXPERTS" TO BATTLE DRUGS AND TO SIPHON MORE MONEY TO RELIGIOUS GROUPS WITHOUT THE CONTROL OF CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL "Finally there is the issue of oversight. Some religious counselors resist traditional training in drug treatment because they think it puts too much emphasis on disease and too little on sin. In the past few years, a growing number of states have granted these religious providers an exemption from the usual education and training requirements. Ms. Myles, for example, is a former drug addict and prostitute with no formal training in drug treatment. And the Department of Health and Human Services amended its grant rules last month to say that federal drug treatment money will defer to state laws on oversight. The lack of it doesn't mean the programs don't work, but it does mean there's no easy way to monitor them. A pastor becomes a drug counselor just by saying so; that could mean she has opted to get a degree, that she is trained by life wisdom, as in Ms. Myles's case, or that she is wholly inexperienced; there's really no way of knowing. John J. DiIulio Jr., who ran Mr. Bush's faith-based office, always complained that the conversion-heavy programs tended to wildly exaggerate their success rates.Slowly we are seeing Mr. Bush's new strategy for his faith-based initiative. Once, he tackled it head on, as the centerpiece of his compassionate conservatism. He did it by supporting, say, increased funding for faith-based groups or tax deductions for charitable contributions. Now he seems to have retreated to something more like a "reinventing government" strategy, using executive orders and rule changes. For him, this has the advantage of tackling bureaucratic hostility to faith-based groups. But for the nation, it has the great disadvantage of ducking debate on the thicket of central constitutional principles involved. " 02.10.03
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CHILDREN ARE "COLLATERAL DAMAGE" IN BUSH'S WAR ON THE POOR. BUSH HAS AN OVERALL PLAN TO SCREW THE POOR PERMANENTLY "President Bush has embarked on a far-reaching campaign to transform the federal government's relationship with the nation's poor, seeking to tip control over social services to the states, reduce the funding of some programs, and require more proof that low-income people are eligible for public help....Affecting many federal agencies, the changes Bush wants to make in anti-poverty efforts reveal a bold aspect of his vision of government that he seldom discusses publicly. The proposals were not among the positions he staked out during the 2000 presidential campaign.... Policy analysts across the ideological spectrum say that the changes imbedded in Bush's budget, if adopted, would be virtually unrivaled in scale and scope. "Just the sheer volume of proposals . . . across an array of low-income programs . . . is breathtaking," said Mark Greenberg, policy director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, a nonprofit group that specializes in family and welfare issues." 02.09.03
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MORE BUSH TAX CUT LIES "President Bush's tax plan includes dozens of small tax breaks for interests as disparate as insurance companies, elite private universities, operators of landfills and people of modest means who donate to their churches. These items have received little notice, because individually they are insignificant compared with the president's sweeping proposals to lower tax rates and make most people's returns on investments tax free. But altogether, the tax breaks for special interests could total hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue losses over the next 10 years.Many of these proposals are similar to the ones Mr. Bush scoffed at when they were proposed in the 2000 election campaign by his Democratic opponent, Al Gore. For instance, at a rally in Little Rock, Ark., about two months before the election, Mr. Bush made this criticism of Mr. Gore's tax proposals: "The tax code is too complicated as it is. My opponent's plan makes it more complicated with a lot of fine print. You get tax relief if you behave a certain way or only if you meet certain small categories. It's so targeted, it misses the target." Mr. Bush declared at the rally, "I believe that everybody who pays taxes ought to get tax relief," not just "the right people," as defined by Mr. Gore....Some of Mr. Bush's proposals this year fit with his social policies. ...Others would help particular lobbies or campaign donors." 02.09.03
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POWELL SAYS BUSH "SLEEPS LIKE A BABY" AS HE PREPARES TO BEGIN BOMBING BAGHDAD. DOES BUSH'S ATTITUDE WORRY YOU? "The debate over Iraq has focussed almost entirely on the before and the after. What has hardly been discussed is the war itself. The Administration's hawks and the op-ed falconers say it will be short and relatively bloodless. But wars seldom unfold as planned. Twelve years ago, Saddam's forces were massed in an empty desert. Today, though weaker, they are scattered throughout a thickly populated country the size of Germany. A war plan leaked last week to David Martin, of CBS News, calls for up to eight hundred cruise-missile strikes during the first two days-twice as many as during the forty days of the Gulf War. Martin quotes a Pentagon official as saying, "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad." The plan is called "Shock and Awe," and its goal is "the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight." Or perhaps that is merely the goal of the leak. But any campaign is likely to begin with bombs over Baghdad. Many people will die. And if Iraq's response to the bombing of its capital city is more like London's in 1940 or Hanoi's in 1966 than like Belgrade's in 1999-if its Army's will is stiffened rather than broken-then no one can say how much suffering and death might follow.The other day, Secretary of State Colin Powell was reminded that his boss is in bed by ten and sleeps like a baby. Powell reportedly replied, "I sleep like a baby, too-every two hours I wake up screaming." The President's serenity is more worrying than the General's anxiety is comforting. And the storm approaches." 02.09.03
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BUSH SET TO BEGIN WAR IN EARLY MARCH "On Friday, Mr. Blix is to report back to the United Nations on the progress of weapons inspections, an assessment expected to be negative. Then Mr. Bush will press his case into late February or early March - when Pentagon officials say they will be ready for war. As the president said at the White House on Thursday, 'The game is over.'" 02.09.03
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BUSH'S IRAQI TRIFECTA: THE CATASTROPHE OF PART THREE "The third phase of reconstruction is the most controversial and least planned: the establishment of a pro-American Iraqi government, ideally within two years, that eschews the nation's recent past and, of course, weapons of mass destruction. The latter is more controversial than it sounds, as chemical weapons have been a corner-stone of Iraqi military strategy for two decades.... The key unknown for the third stage is the state of Iraq after the war. A document prepared for the State Department predicts 'disruption of law and order, the food distribution systems and emergency healthcare'. Fear would be 'widespread,' says the government report. So, experts say, would 'score-settling'. A secret UN memo, leaked to the press, forecasts 'devastation'. Injuries and trauma could, says the report, 'devastate' the population, with up to 500,000 needing treatment. 'The outbreak of disease, in epidemic if not pandemic proportions, is very likely.'... The last Gulf war triggered an exodus of 1.5 million refugees. Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe. The current strategy is to try to contain refugees within the region....The likely costs of aid for Iraq are still being calculated. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates a peacekeeping force of 75,000 to 200,000 would cost between $17 billion and $46bn a year. Britain expects to contribute 5 per cent of the international bill. Given the parlous state of the oil infrastructure, it will be years before revenues from Iraq's own resources will be able to defray any costs. Yale economist William Nordhaus says that, even if the oilfields are intact and Iraq can produce three million barrels a day - its previous maximum - swiftly, this would produce only 'around $25 billion a year at prevailing oil prices'....All Washington's calculations depend on a quick war and an easy victory. 'There's an assumption that the Americans will be greeted as liberators, and very little consideration of the deep anti-American sentiment as the result of 10 years of poverty due to the sanctions', one UN official said." 02.09.03
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GERMAN-FRENCH DISARMAMENT PLAN GAINS SUPPORT FROM RUSSIA, ANGERS AMERICANS "Russia has said it will support a Franco-German plan aimed at averting war with Iraq. The plan reportedly calls for the tripling of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, banning Iraqi flights anywhere over the country and deploying UN peacekeepers. "I have no doubt that Russia will adhere to it" Sergei Ivanov, Russian Defence Minister German Defence Minister Peter Struck said the proposal would be presented to the United Nations Security Council on Friday - the same day the chief UN weapons inspectors present their second critical report on Iraqi co-operation. The plan seems certain to deepen a growing rift between the United States and European countries over how to ensure Iraq disarms. Russia and France both possess the power to veto a new resolution, reportedly being drafted by the UK, which would clear the way for military action against Iraq. " 02.09.03
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NO COOPERATION BY SADDAM WILL TRIGGER U.S. WARNING TO GET OUT WITHIN 48 HOURS "Britain and America are drawing up plans to give Saddam Hussein as little as 48 hours to flee Baghdad or face war, if UN weapons inspectors report this week that the Iraqi dictator is still refusing to disarm fully. The proposals will form the framework of a long-awaited second resolution, which could be put before the Security Council by next weekend. The deadline would be just long enough for Arab neighbours to make a last effort to persuade Saddam to leave the country, according to US officials, or for a coup to take place. The shortest timeframe to emerge from private diplomatic discussions has been two days.The phrasing of the new, deliberately concise UN resolution would deny Saddam a fresh chance to say that he will comply with Security Council demands. Britain will put forward the resolution because Washington "does not want to be seen to need it", according to a senior Security Council diplomat.Foreign Office officials confirmed that Saudi Arabia has offered to take Saddam if he goes into exile." 02.09.03
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BUSH RUSH TO WAR IN IRAQ MAY BACKFIRE "A) Hussein hasn't threatened the United States or anyone else for more than a decade. B) Iraq's links to terrorists aren't nearly as clear or numerous as those of its neighbors, which also happen to have bigger, nastier weapons. C) When Hussein is gone, we'll need soldiers on Iraqi soil for years to come at a cost that's impossible to calculate. They'll make great targets for every fanatic within 600 miles of Iraq. D) Memorial services will soon be coming to a town near you. Are you ready for a son or daughter to die in an unprovoked war when a far greater threat to Middle East stability is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the Bush administration conveniently ignores? E) Suicide bombers and other fanatics will have one more reason to come after us on American soil, so get used to heightened alerts like the one that was declared Friday. The founder of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has just put out a call for Muslims to "strike Western interests, and hit them everywhere" if the U.S. launches war on Iraq. F) To protect ourselves, we'll surrender even more of the freedoms we cherish, and we'll continue locking up anyone who looks or acts the least bit suspicious. G) Global conflict grows out of a staggering imbalance of wealth. As a nation that has 6% of the world's population and consumes 25% to 30% of its resources, what message do we send by marching the most powerful army in history into an oil-rich country? If I had the space, I could use the entire alphabet. " 02.09.03
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4 OUT OF 5 AMERICANS BELIEVE A WAR AGAINST IRAQ WILL PROVOKE ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK, MOST DUBIOUS THAT IRAQ WAR WILL CURB TERROR "Mr. Bush's presidency came into focus when he made his bullhorn vow to get "the people who knocked these buildings down." But we're not getting the creeps who knocked the buildings down. We're getting the creeps whose address we know.Most Americans are willing to give Mr. Bush his war even though they are dubious that it will curb terror.A CNN online poll shows that 82 percent think going to war with Iraq will provoke another attack on the U.S., as opposed to 13 percent who think it will prevent one.The orange alert was expected. We're about to invade and occupy an Arab country, so Islamic radicals all around the world are angry at us. That's also why the F.B.I. warned Jewish leaders on Friday that synagogues and Jewish-owned hotels might be especially vulnerable. The hawks say things have to get worse before they get better. "By setting up our military in Iraq," one said, "we can get rid of the weapons and squelch the sources of terrorism. And we can set an example to other countries: `If you cooperate with terrorists or menace us in any way or even look cross-eyed at us, this could happen to you.' " The Bush team is infatuated with solving old problems - Israel, terrorism, oil - in a bold new way. " 02.09.03
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IF BUSH'S GOP MALES ARE SO HOT ABOUT AN IRAQ WAR, WHY DIDN'T THEY SIGN UP TO FIGHT? "My constituents at home think I have lost my mind," [Congressman] Stark said. "They say, `Why do you want to give the military more soldiers?' I am supporting the draft as a way to oppose the war." Mr. Stark, a veteran who said the chief danger he faced in the military was getting his tie caught in a typewriter, is co-sponsoring a proposal by Representatives Charles B. Rangel of New York and John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, both Democrats. Those two lawmakers, veterans and senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, say the risks of combat losses should be spread more equitably among Americans. They have a Senate ally, Ernest F. Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina, who says he wants to give advocates of American military action in Iraq and elsewhere a little something to chew over. "One way to avoid a lot more wars to come is institute the draft," Mr. Hollings said. "You will find that this country will sober up, and its leadership, too." " 02.09.03
nyt |related stories

BUSH, GUN, AND BIBLE: IMPERIALISM, GLOBAL CONTROL, AND GOD "'The international community cannot tolerate continued Iraqi defiance. There is too much at stake for the UN and the world.' That was George Bush Senior in 1992, deeming inspections a failure. But containment worked, however patchily, for 10 years more. What changed things? 11 September, Afghanistan, and a President with old scores to settle, oilfields to secure and the need for a scalp to flourish. Since Osama bin Laden's head could not be sourced, the substitute was Saddam, a monster with a pedigree and postcode. He turned out to be no closer to al-Qaeda than the network's 60 other mostly unwitting hosts, but at least Bush knew where he lived." 02.09.03
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BLAIR-POWELL "DECEPTION CAN ONLY CORRODE PUBLIC TRUST" "The Government has grudgingly admitted a failure to acknowledge sources - while insisting that the information remains valid. This misses the point. Plagiarism is not the main issue. The central issue is that of public trust. At best, this episode demonstrates incompetence and the failure to oversee the most important claims which the Government puts into the public domain. At worst, a deliberate attempt to hoodwink and mislead the public will undermine trust in anything the Government says about the Iraqi threat at this vital time." 02.09.03
guardian ed |related stories

INTELLIGENCE DOCUMENT POWELL PRAISED AS EVIDENCE CUT AND PASTED BY SECRETARY OF BLAIR'S SPIN DOCTOR AND GOFERS FROM PUBLIC SOURCES, MAJOR ONE 12 YEARS OLD "Late last Tuesday night, a three-page email started circulating among a select group of friends concerned about the impact of sanctions on Iraq... Full of academic outrage, it explained how the so-called 'secret spy dossier' published last week by the Government as a crucial plank in the argument for why the West should go to war was largely cribbed from an American postgraduate's doctoral thesis - grammatical mistakes and all - based on evidence 12 years out of date... And, to cap it all, the finished document appeared to have been cobbled together not by Middle East experts, but by the secretary of Alastair Campbell, the Government's chief spin doctor, and some gofers...One crumb of comfort is that with Blair's reputation for trustworthiness on the war already dented - a poll last week found that, while 81 per cent of Britons believe UN inspector Hans Blix, only 43 per cent trust Blair to tell the truth over the war and only 22 per cent trust Bush - the dossier debacle is unlikely to make it any worse." 02.09.03
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POWELL'S CLAIMS OF IRAQ-AL QAEDA CONNECTION NOT CREDIBLE "The Bush administration creates the impression that the US is still as wounded and ready to lash out as it was in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Centre. I am not sure that this is true of the majority of Americans, but the country's moribund political structure and the Democrats' horror of appearing unpatriotic combine to make effective opposition very difficult. The President may take comfort from the thought that Tony Blair's Gladstonian vision lends him some moral authority, but it does not wash over here. If the world has become a more dangerous place since 11 September 2001, it is not solely because of the activities of a bunch of Islamic terrorists. " 02.09.03
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POWELL'S "TERRORIST FACTORY" TURNS OUT TO BE RUINS, BAKERY "If Colin Powell were to visit the shabby military compound at the foot of a large snow-covered mountain, he might be in for an unpleasant surprise. The US Secretary of State last week confidently described the compound in north-eastern Iraq - run by an Islamic terrorist group Ansar al-Islam - as a 'terrorist chemicals and poisons factory.' Yesterday, however, it emerged that the terrorist factory was nothing of the kind - more a dilapidated collection of concrete outbuildings at the foot of a grassy sloping hill. Behind the barbed wire, and a courtyard strewn with broken rocket parts, are a few empty concrete houses. There is a bakery. There is no sign of chemical weapons anywhere - only the smell of paraffin and vegetable ghee used for cooking." " 02.09.03
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"BEHIND COLIN POWELL'S LEGEND: ARMS TO IRAQ?" (1996) "For the past five years, Gen. Colin Powell has basked in the glory of the Persian Gulf War victory. That fame elevated Powell to Washington super-star status, as his best-selling memoirs wowed the news media and his celebrity left many Republicans pining for his entry into the 1996 presidential race. But newly declassified documents suggest that in 1986, Powell was a player in the secret -- and possibly illegal -- policy to supply Saddam Hussein's military with American-designed equipment that boosted Iraq's air mobility, a capability that helped Iraq conquer Kuwait in 1990 and touch off the Persian Gulf crisis in the first place. Two notations written by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on Jan. 6, 1986, describe discussions between Weinberger and his chief military assistant, Powell, about shipments of Italian Agusta-Bell helicopters to Iraq, while Saddam's forces were fighting the Iran-Iraq war. "Saw Colin Powell - re Italian Agosta [sic] helicopters," Weinberger scrawled, "try to let them sell to Iraq." According to the notes Powell returned later that day with a response. "Colin Powell," Weinberger wrote cryptically in a barely legible hand, "all to add [unreadable] 110 million to get Italian helicopters." Though the precise context of the Weinberger-Powell discussion was unclear -- and neither man would agree to clarify the meaning -- the notes fit with other evidence showing that Weinberger and other top Reagan-Bush officials were working to ship military equipment secretly through third countries to Iraq. " 02.09.03
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BLAIR ASKS BRITS TO TRUST HIM WITH HALF-TRUTHS AND QUESTIONABLE INTERPRETATIONS "Tony Blair seeks the trust of a wary nation. With passionate sincerity he told BBC's Newsnight last week that he is leading Britain to a likely military conflict because this is "what I believe to be the right thing to do". Not for the first time since he became Prime Minister, he is pleading with voters to trust him... But Mr Blair undermines his plea by the unconvincing and slippery arguments deployed to prove his case. On page 12 we highlight his erratic presentation on Newsnight: half-truths and subjective interpretations of past events were paraded as grounds for war." 02.09.03
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PROTESTERS WILL CONTINUE TO BATTER BLAIR OVER WAR. BIGGEST CROWD SINCE VE DAY EXPECTED "The Rev Jesse Jackson, who will headline next week's anti-war demonstration in Hyde Park, London, said yesterday that the eyes of the world would be on the people of Britain in the hope that they could help to avert a military assault on Iraq... Organisers expect Saturday's march to be the biggest demonstration in British history, drawing the largest assembled crowd on to the streets of London since VE Day." 02.09.03
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U.S. PULLING DIPLOMATS OUT OF GULF AREA AS WAR SEEMS "INEVITABLE" "The United States has pulled out all but its most senior diplomats from countries surrounding Iraq, in preparation for a seemingly inevitable war... Diplomats' families are also being evacuated, and the Polish envoy who represents US interests in Baghdad has been withdrawn - raising the question of whether anything can now halt the planned US invasion, which is expected to start within a month. The US has ordered a fifth carrier group to the Gulf." 02.09.03
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Saudis Plan to End U.S. Presence After Present Actions. "Saudi Arabia's leaders have made far-reaching decisions to prepare for an era of military disengagement from the United States, to enact what Saudi officials call the first significant democratic reforms at home, and to rein in the conservative clergy that has shared power in the kingdom. Senior members of the royal family say the decisions, reached in the last month, are a result of a continuing debate over Saudi Arabia's future and have not yet been publicly announced. But these princes say Crown Prince Abdullah will ask President Bush to withdraw all American armed forces from the kingdom as soon as the campaign to disarm Iraq has concluded. A spokesman for the royal family said he could not comment. " 02.09.03
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Britain Admits That Much of Its Report on Iraq, Cited by Powell As Reason For War, Came From Magazines With Obsolete Data "The British government admitted today that large sections of its most recent report on Iraq, praised by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as "a fine paper" in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, had been lifted from magazines and academic journals.... The document, "Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation," was posted on No. 10 Downing Street's Web site on Monday. It was depicted as an up-to-date and unsettling assessment by the British intelligence services of Iraq's security apparatus and its efforts to hide its activities from weapons inspectors and to resist international efforts to force it to disarm. But much of the material actually came, sometimes verbatim, from several nonsecret published articles, according to critics of the government's policy who have studied the documents. These include an article published in the Middle East Review of International Affairs in September 2002, as well as three articles from Jane's Intelligence Review, two of them published in the summer of 1997 and one in November 2002. In some cases, the critics said, parts of the articles — or of summaries posted on the Internet — were paraphrased in the report. In other cases, they were plagiarized — to the extent that even spelling and punctuation errors in the originals were reproduced.... But critics of the government said that not only did the document appear to have been largely cut and pasted together, but also that the articles it relied on were based on information that is, by now, obsolete.... Critics of the British and American policy toward Iraq said the report showed how little concrete evidence the two governments actually have against Iraq, as well as how poor their intelligence sources were. " 02.08.03
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BLAIR DOSSIER NOT DRAWN UP BY INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS, WHO WERE IRRITATED BY THE USE OF THEIR INFO AS EVIDENCE FOR UNTRUE ALLEGATIONS "It was the refusal of Britain's spies to disclose what they knew about their Iraqi counterparts that led to the fiasco surrounding the latest British dossier. The dossier was drawn up in January, not by intelligence officials but by four government information officers, two from the Downing Street press office and two from the Coalition Information Centre (CIC). This is the organisation set up by Alistair Campbell, the Prime Minister's press secretary, to co-ordinate information sent out by Britain and the US during the Afghanistan War and re-formed to do the same on Iraq....Britain's intelligence services have pushed what they were prepared to release to the limits, despite very serious concern that sources would be identified and lost just at the moment they were most needed. They have also been irritated by the use of some of their material to prove points that are simply not true, such as the alleged firm links between al-Qa'eda and the Iraqi regime. " 02.08.03
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ASHCROFT ATTEMPTING TO EXPAND PATRIOT ACT. CITIZEN RESTRICTIONS DRAW CRITICISM Congressman " Conyers said: "This draft bill constitutes yet another egregious blow to our citizens' civil liberties. Among other things, the Bush administration now wants to imprison suspects before they are tried and create DNA databases of lawful residents who have committed no crime." The associate director of the national office of the A.C.L.U., Gregory T. Nojeim, said: "The initial U.S.A. Patriot Act undercut many of the traditional checks and balances on government power. The new Ashcroft proposal threatens to fundamentally alter the constitutional protections that allow us to be both safe and free." " 02.08.03
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Bill Moyers interviews Chuck Lewis on The Domestic Security Enhancement Act "I see a lot of opportunism here around the fear and paranoia in the wake of September 11th. And taking advantage of the insecurity that we all feel today. And that is, to me, incredibly offensive. And that's why a conversation about it, there's 40 sections in this thing. The public needs to have a sense what exactly are we getting here. There needs to be a chewing over. This should not jam through Congress. This should be out there and being - be talked about. I mean the realm between public and private, between foreign and domestic, all these things have morphed into the citizen against all of this out there - this morass of regulations and rules and intrusions. And at the same time they can come after you, get your credit card data, your library records, your Internet searching, everything. And they'll decide whether or not you're a suspect or not. Whether or not they like you. If you're a disfavored political group, or from the wrong ethnic background, then you might become on the radar screen of some folks that you don't know about, you can't find out about, and they can do things. They have - this is incredible power. " 02.08.03
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"WELL PLACED INTELLIGENCE SOURCE" SAYS BUSH ADMINISTRATION TAKES NATION TO ORANGE ALERT TO COVER ITS BUTT. WARNING COMES AMIDST "INTERNATIONAL RANCOR" OVER POSSIBLE U.S. IRAQ ATTACK "...Others with access to the intelligence upon which the alert was based said it was largely an effort to make sure government officials could not be blamed for not warning Americans, as they were after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "That's what this whole process is about," said one well-placed intelligence source. They said the information was voluminous but not specific.The warning comes amid international rancor over a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq and follows a wave of high-profile terrorism arrests throughout Europe in recent weeks. " 02.08.03
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LEVEL WITH US, MR. BUSH "SECRETARY POWELL has made a convincing case to the United Nations Security Council that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous and deceptive dictator, and is concealing weapons of mass destruction. We live in a dangerous world and Saddam must be disarmed. The question is, how to do it in a way that minimizes the risks to the American people at home, to our armed forces, and to our allies. Even after Secretary Powell's strong presentation, however, the president must still answer key questions before resorting to war. " 02.08.03
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IS BUSH'S WAR A "PERSONAL VENDETTA" AT A COST WE CAN'T AFFORD? "Just as important, the nation has yet to debate how closely Bush's rush to war mirrors Lyndon Johnson's. Without any proof of an imminent threat, it is fair to ask if Bush is foolishly dragging the nation into a personal vendetta against Saddam 12 years after Bush's father was criticized by the right wing for not destroying Saddam's army instead letting it flee home to rebuild after being driven out of Kuwait... ''If American taxpayers decline to pay the bills for ensuring the long-term health of Iraq, America would leave behind mountains of rubble and mobs of angry people. As the world learned from the Carthaginian peace that settled World War I, the cost of a botched peace may be even higher than the price of a bloody war.''' " 02.08.03
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France and China Rebuff Bush on Support for Early Iraq War "The leaders of France and China rebuffed efforts by President Bush today to line up support for the use of force against Iraq within the next month or two. Their continuing resistance made clear the difficulty the White House faces in its attempt to win explicit new authorization from the United Nations Security Council for military action....After phone conversations with Mr. Bush today, President Jacques Chirac of France and President Jiang Zemin of China both signaled that they wanted United Nations weapons inspections to continue for some time before they would support war. The French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, told reporters here that by his nation's count, there were 10 or 11 Security Council members in favor of giving the inspectors more time" 02.08.03
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Agency Ends Pursuit of Cheney Energy Panel Data "The General Accounting Office, Congress's investigatory arm, today abandoned its effort to get records of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force. Kenneth M. Walker, the comptroller general, announced that the agency would not appeal a Federal District Court decision handed down on Dec. 9 that found that Mr. Walker had suffered no "personal, concrete and particularized injury" and therefore lacked standing to sue for the names of the staff members and other people present at the group meetings, as well as the task force's costs. In a statement, Mr. Walker insisted that the judge, John D. Bates, had been wrong in his decision. But he said appealing "would require investment of significant time and resources over several years." Larry Klaiman, head of Judicial Watch, one of the private litigants also seeking information on the vice president's energy panel, issued a statement saying, "Now the Judicial Watch lawsuit stands as the critical legal action against the energy task force cover-up."" 02.08.03
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BUSH ED BUDGET REFLECTS "THE SOFT BIGOTRY OF LOW EXPECTATIONS" "George W. Bush's promise to end "the soft bigotry of low expectations" that allows poor children to fall permanently behind at school was one of his most popular campaign themes. Americans who view education as the country's top priority were further encouraged when Congress passed President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act one year ago, promising to erase the achievement gap between rich and poor students. But the presidential budget unveiled last week drops the ball. The money earmarked for aid to the country's poorest students is about 30 percent, or $6 billion, less than Congress called for last year. So many education reform plans have started out with high ideals and strict standards, then fallen apart after a year or two of oratory and good intentions. This is the time when the public will begin to see if No Child Left Behind follows that sad pattern. " 02.08.03
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BUSH EDUCATION DEPT. PUTS GREATER PRESSURE ON SCHOOLS THAT DO NOW ALLOW PRAYER "Schools that do not allow students to pray outside the classroom or prohibit teachers from holding religious meetings among themselves could lose federal money, the Education Department said today. The announcement reflects the Bush administration's push to ensure that schools give teachers and students as much freedom to pray as the courts have allowed.... The department also offered some significant additions, including more details on such contentious matters as moments of silence and prayer in student assemblies. And for the first time, the burden is on schools to prove compliance through a yearly report. " 02.08.03
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REMEMBER HOW EAST AND WEST GERMANY HAPPENED? BUSH WANTS TO TRADE "PART OF NORTHERN IRAQ" TO TURKEY IN RETURN FOR TURKISH AIR BASES (IT'S ALSO ABOUT OIL) "The plan, which is being negotiated in closed-door meetings in Ankara, the Turkish capital, is being bitterly resisted by at least some leaders of Iraq's Kurdish groups, who fear that Turkey's leaders may be trying to realize a historic desire to dominate the region in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. The Kurdish officials say they fear a military intervention by the Turks could also prompt Iran to cross the border and try to seize sections of eastern Iraq. American diplomats and senior military commanders, led by President Bush's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, are said to be encouraging the Kurdish leaders to accept the Turkish proposal. While Washington has strongly supported the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq over the past 12 years, it is eager to secure the permission of Turkey's leaders to use Turkey's bases for a possible attack on Iraq....But some Kurds are making it clear that they do not want the Turks crossing Iraq's northern border. "We have told the Americans and the Turks that any outside intervention would not be welcomed," said Safeen M. Dizayee, an official with the Iraq-based Kurdish Democratic Party, who took part in the talks. "I hope it would not get out of control. But it could be suicidal to get into something like this if it undermines political stability."...One element of the plan, the Kurdish official said, was to ensure that both Turkish and Kurdish forces left the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk to the American forces. Those cities are the centers of oil production in the region, and Washington plans to grab the oil fields before either Iraq destroys them or the Kurds seize them. " 02.07.03
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ARE ANY MORE OF POWELL'S INTELLIGENCE SOURCES AS SUSPECT AS BLAIR'S REPORT "PLAGIARIZED," IN PART, FROM A GRAD STUDENT'S PAPER? "The government's carefully co-ordinated propaganda offensive took an embarrassing hit tonight after Downing Street was accused of plagiarism. The target is an intelligence dossier released on Monday and heralded by none other than Colin Powell at the UN yesterday. Channel Four News has learnt that the bulk of the nineteen page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student. On Monday, the day before the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell addressed the UN, Downing Street published its latest paper on Iraq. It gives the impression of being an up to the minute intelligence-based analysis - and Mr Powell was fulsome in his praise.Published on the Number 10 web site, called "Iraq - Its Infrastructure of Concealment Deception and Intimidation", it outlines the structure of Saddam's intelligence organisations. But it made familiar reading to Cambridge academic Glen Ranwala. It was copied from an article last September in a small journal: the Middle East Review of International Affairs.In several places Downing Street edits the originals to make more sinister reading. " 02.07.03
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DOSSIER, CITED BY POWELL, CALLED "A SHAM" "Speaking to the United Nations on Wednesday, in an address that was broadly portrayed as a case for war with Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell argued that, "Iraq today is actively using its considerable intelligence capabilities to hide its illicit activities." To support that claim, Powell said, "I would call my colleagues attention to the fine paper that United Kingdom distributed yesterday, which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities." It turns out, however, that much of that "fine paper" - a dossier distributed by the office of British Prime Minister Tony Blair under the title, "Iraq - Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation" - was not a fresh accounting of information based on new "intelligence" about Iraqi attempts to thwart UN weapons inspections. Rather, the document has been exposed by Britain's ITN television network as a cut-and-paste collection of previously published academic articles, some of which were based on dated material. Substantial portions of the report that Powell used to support his critique of Iraq were lifted from an article written by a postgraduate student who works not in Baghdad but in Monterey, California, and who based much of his research on materials left in Kuwait more than a dozen years ago by Iraqi security services. " 02.07.03
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STUDENT'S DATA 10 YEARS OLD, JANE'S 1997 STORY USED, POWELL SAID BLAIR DOSSIER CONTAINED "EXQUISITE DETAIL" "Information included in a U.K. intelligence document was lifted uncredited from non-government sources, including a paper by a researcher in California using data more than 10 years old, it was reported....Powell on Wednesday mentioned the "exquisite detail" in the U.K. document outlining alleged deceptive practices by Iraq regarding suspected weapons programs...The news program [Channel 4] claimed that another six pages use information from articles that appeared in Jane's Intelligence Review in 1997 and late last year. [Cambridge Univ. political science lecturer Glen] Rangwala told Channel 4: 'Apart from passing it off as the work of its intelligence services, it indicates that the U.K. really does not have any independent sources of information on Iraq's internal policies. It just draws upon publicly available data.'" 02.07.03
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WITH EVIDENCE CREDIBILTY SUCH A PRIORITY, BLAIR DID NOT DO POWELL ANY FAVORS "Downing Street was last night plunged into acute international embarrassment after it emerged that large parts of the British government's latest dossier on Iraq - allegedly based on "intelligence material" - were taken from published academic articles, some of them several years old... Amid charges of "scandalous" plagiarism on the night when Tony Blair attempted to rally support for the US-led campaign against Saddam Hussein, Whitehall's dismay was compounded by the knowledge that the disputed document was singled out for praise by the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, in his speech to the UN security council on Wednesday. " 02.07.03
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BUSH "OUT OF CONTROL," FIXIN' TO DRAIN THE TREASURY, PASS ALONG ECONOMIC DISASTER TO NEXT ADMINISTRATION "But now the fiscal deterioration has reached catastrophic proportions. In its first budget, the Bush administration projected a 2004 surplus of $262 billion. In its second budget, released a year ago, it projected a $14 billion deficit for the same year. Now it projects a deficit of $307 billion. That's a deterioration of $570 billion, just for next year - matched by comparable deterioration in each following year. You know, $570 billion here and $570 billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money. Not my fault, says Mr. Bush. "A recession and a war we did not choose have led to a return of deficits," he declared. Really? Will the recession and war cost $570 billion per year, every year? Besides, Mr. Bush knew all about the recession and Osama bin Laden (remember him?) a year ago, when his projections showed a return to surpluses by 2005. Now they show deficits forever - even though they don't include the costs of an Iraq war. Anyway, isn't a leader supposed to solve problems, not look for excuses? But Mr. Bush proposes to make the problem worse. Contrary to all previous practice, he wants to cut taxes even further in the face of "wartime" deficits. Although financial reporters have started to realize that Mr. Bush is out of control - he has "lost his marbles," says CBS Market Watch - the sheer banana-republic irresponsibility of his plans hasn't been widely appreciated. That $674 billion tax cut you've heard about literally isn't the half of it. Even according to its own lowball estimates, the administration wants $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade - more than it pushed through in 2001. Another $575 billion or so will be needed to fix the alternative minimum tax - something officials have said they'll do, but haven't put in the budget. The administration has used gimmicks to postpone most of the cost of these tax cuts until after 2008 - and whaddya know, the Office of Management and Budget has suddenly stopped talking about 10-year projections and now officially looks only five years ahead. But there are long-term projections tucked away in the back of the budget; they're overoptimistic, but even so they suggest a fiscal disaster once the baby boomers start collecting benefits from Social Security and Medicare. ("We will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, other presidents, other generations," declared Mr. Bush in the State of the Union. And with a straight face, too.) " 02.07.03
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BUSH USES FUZZY MATH BUDGET, DEMS SAY "Several new programs that President Bush proposed in the buildup to his fiscal 2004 budget have turned out to be somewhat smaller than they first appeared. On topics including AIDS funding, mentoring and homeland security, Democrats have accused the president of misleading the public.... In his address, Bush proposed spending $15 billion to combat AIDS overseas over five years. He said $10 billion of that would be in new funds. But his 2004 budget plan called for spending $1 billion -- of which $450 million would be new funding, OMB said. The increase was partially offset by a reduced commitment to another foreign aid program. The budget proposal fell about $400 million short of the $1.7 billion that Bush had pledged for his Millennium Challenge Fund.... In his televised address, the president said his budget "will propose almost $6 billion" to build up antidotes to bioterrorism agents. But overall spending for the National Institutes of Health, which handles much of the government's bioterrorism research and which Bush visited Monday to highlight his budget, would receive no increase in funding in 2004 when adjusted for inflation...Democratic lawmakers accused the president of repackaging programs to conceal his preference for expanded energy drilling. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic presidential candidate, called the counting of existing funds "a shell game," adding: 'Rumors of this administration's commitment to hydrogen fuel cells are greatly exaggerated.'" 02.07.03
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BUSH, WHO PREFERS TAX CUTS TO THE RICH RATHER THAN FED MONEY TO THE STATES, PROPOSES FINANCIAL HELP BY ALLOWING THEM TO SCREW THE POOR OUT OF MEDICAID SERVICES "It is hard to feel much enthusiasm for what the administration appears to be proposing for Medicaid. The reform would change two crucial aspects of Medicaid -- both allowing governors who chose it far more flexibility to design their state programs and possibly limiting the amount of federal funds they would receive. According to the budget, the federal government's Medicaid expenditure would not drop but would be capped, in effect, over 10 years -- and thus would be harder to adjust if there was a surprise jump in poverty or in the cost of health care, as there has been over the past decade. According to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, greater flexibility might, for example, allow governors to offer narrower health care packages to more people, which might be a good thing. But it would also enable them to cut many recipients off the rolls, which could produce great hardship.Realistically, in a time of recession and state budget crises, it is hard to imagine that many governors would leap at the opportunity to expand their already expanded Medicaid services. And as Congress debates these proposals, the focus should be on what, realistically, would be likely to happen as a result of them. " 02.07.03
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VIRGINIA IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A STATE FOLLOWS BUSH'S LEAD "VIRGINIA, SHORT OF CASH these days, is cutting spending for nursing homes, mental health services, and colleges and universities. But that isn't stopping the legislature from handing a favor to the state's wealthiest residents by abolishing the estate tax, which applies only to holdings of $1 million or more. Lawmakers, meanwhile, refuse to contemplate any increase in the 2.5-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes, the lowest in the nation. As Del. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax) said Monday: 'We always say we're out of money and we're in a fiscal crisis. But we deceive nobody but ourselves. We take these tools off the table and then . . . we look at social services and we look at education and we're stunned to find we don't have the resources to fund them.' " 02.07.03
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WE KNOW CHURCHILL, AND HE'S NO CHURCHILL. BUSH SCREWS THE POOR IN TIME OF WAR "When democratic nations face foreign policy challenges, their leaders usually pursue domestic policies designed to promote social solidarity and national unity.Winston Churchill, to pick one of history's most important examples, was acutely aware of the need to rally Britain's poor and working classes and give them a stake in victory over Hitler. And so it was under the auspices of the last century's greatest conservative that the foundations of Britain's robust system of social insurance were laid. After Secretary of State Colin Powell's powerful presentation at the United Nations on Wednesday, it's hard to doubt that the United States is on the verge of war with Saddam Hussein. Although many Americans still have qualms about this war, most agree with Powell that Hussein is both inhumane and dangerous.But there is a great difference between Churchill's war leadership and President Bush's. Churchill recognized that a time of war places a special obligation on the governing classes to those who benefit least from a nation's social and economic arrangements. Bush, on the other hand, is doing all he can to benefit the economic elites and, through stealth, to undercut government's commitments to the least fortunate. " 02.07.03
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IS A BUSH WAR "REALLY THE BEST WAY TO SPEND THOUSANDS OF LIVES AND AT LEAST $100 BILLION"? "Even if Saddam manages to hide existing weapons from inspectors, he won't be able to refine them. And he won't be able to develop nuclear weapons. Nuclear programs are relatively easily detected, partly because they require large plants with vast electrical hookups. Inspections have real shortcomings, but they can keep Saddam from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then there's the question of resources. Aside from lives, the war and reconstruction will cost $100 billion to $200 billion. That bill comes to $750 to $1,500 per American taxpayer, and there are real trade-offs in spending that money. We could do more for our national security by spending the money on education, or by financing a major campaign to promote hybrid cars and hydrogen-powered vehicles, and taking other steps toward energy independence. " 02.07.03
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POWELL'S SPEECH WAS THE STARTING POINT FOR DICSUSSION, NOT AN ENDGAME "Is Saddam a threat to the United States, its interests, or its allies? Not a potential threat, but an actual threat warranting a full smackdown, with or without a UN green-light. There are plenty of potential threats in the region. Iran and Syria both have nasty weapons and the governments of each have histories of hobnobbing with terrorists to whom they could slip chemical weapons. Why does Saddam deserve all the attention? Last October, CIA chief George Tenet--who sat behind Powell at the UN--sent a letter to the Senate intelligence committee that reported CIA analysts had concluded Saddam was unlikely to mount a terrorist attack against the United States, unless he felt threatened by Washington. Days ago, a CIA official told The New York Times that the agency had not altered this judgment. At the United Nations, Powell did not offer a compelling argument that Iraq poses an immediate and direct threat. (In fact, during his State of the Union speech, Bush implicitly acknowledged that Saddam does not present a right-now danger when he said, " if this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions…would come too late.") Sure, Powell painted a grim portrait of a brutal regime that might still possess usable chemical and biological weapons and that may well be angling to create a nuclear weapon (apparently without yet getting too close). But in the absence of firm evidence that Saddam does maintain a deployable WMD arsenal and has a reason and ability to use it, why send in the Marines now? " 02.07.03
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POWELL NEEDS 6 OF 7 U.N. VOTES TO GO TO WAR AND FOUR OF SEVEN TO GET AN INSPECTION DEADLINE "In his presentation to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sought to convince the council of three things: 1) that his evidence was solid and damning; 2) that Iraq's current level of cooperation was unacceptable under Security Council Resolution 1441, thereby justifying war; and 3) that this failure to cooperate rendered inspections futile, clearing the way for an imminent war decision. After Powell spoke, representatives of the remaining 14 council members delivered their preliminary judgments of his presentation. Their comments on the three key questions, summarized in the table below, indicate that Powell succeeded on the first question and gained the upper hand on the second but failed to attract enough support on the third. The bottom line is that the council's sanctions on Iraq will stay in place, and if the United States can wait, the council (as presently constituted) will eventually authorize war. But if the United States insists on going to war now, it will have to do so without that authorization. " 02.07.03
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SEEMINGLY CONFIDENT, BUSH CALLS FOR SECOND U.N. RESOLUTION AS 101ST AIRBORNE SENT TO GULF REGION, FRANCE SHIFTS "American officials are weighing several possible formulas for a new Security Council resolution, including a text that would not explicitly call for "all necessary means" against Baghdad, the Council's most direct language for war. American and British officials have also considered including a ultimatum with a very short deadline - perhaps as little as 48 hours - that would give Arab nations an 11th-hour chance to persuade Mr. Hussein to step down peacefully. Consulting closely with Britain, the Bush administration would like to lay all the legal groundwork for military action by mid-March, the diplomats said. Pentagon officials have said the military would be best positioned to strike anytime after mid-February. " 02.07.03
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FOR BUSH, THE WAR WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY WILL NOT STAY OPEN LONG "The timetable is becoming clear. Despite assurances that US forces, with their air power and night-fighting capabilities, could wage war in any season, the Pentagon would vastly prefer to fight in the relative cool of late winter or early spring... And politically, a war cannot be delayed a year to early 2004. By then the presidential primaries will be in full swing. A war of self-defence is one thing. For George Bush to launch an unprovoked war months before he comes up for re-election is another. It is now or never." 02.07.03
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BUSH STRATEGY TO SPLIT EUROPE IS NOW CLEAR "The crisis over Iraq shows how the US will attempt to manipulate the latest adherents to the EU, the countries of central and south-eastern Europe. Nations that were once the vassals of the Soviet Union are now in danger of becoming vassals of the US. In addition to the three former members of the Warsaw pact which signed the "gang of eight" letter, on Wednesday a new group, a "gang of 10" - consisting of the three Baltic states, plus Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia - issued a strong statement of support for the US over Iraq." 02.07.03
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FRANCE, ENGLAND SAY "GOOD DRAMA," ISRAEL LOVES POWELL, RUSSIA SAYS "WHERE ARE THE FARIES?" "But was Powell persuasive? France's Libération said the presentation would convince "only those who were already convinced, because between the greatest probability and actual proof, there is a great deal of room for personal conviction. That is to say, political opportunity, not conscience, will be the criterion on which the speech is judged." " 02.07.03
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POWELL FAILS TO MAKE THE CASE "Powell's multimedia presentation contained many specific allegations but little new information or proof of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There was no smoking gun. Instead, nearly all of the evidence was largely circumstantial or speculative. (Indeed, hours before Powell spoke, UN weapons inspections chief Hans Blix denied or discounted four claims central to Powell's indictment.) Minor violations were offered to justify a major war. And evidence of Iraq's links to al-Qaeda was played up despite CIA and FBI officials' charges that evidence is fragmentary and inconclusive and that the administration is exaggerating information to make a political case for war. " 02.07.03
Vanden Heuvel |related stories

U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS DON'T AGREE WITH POWELL, AND NEITHER DOES BLIX "Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation wasn't likely to win over anyone not already on his side. He ignored the crucial fact that in the last several days (in Sunday's New York Times and yesterday's briefing of UN journalists) Hans Blix has denied key components of Powell's claims. Blix said UNMOVIC has seen "no evidence" of mobile biological weapons labs, has "no persuasive indications" of Iraq-Al Qaeda links, no evidence of Iraq hiding and moving WMD material either outside or inside Iraq, none of Iraq sending scientists out of the country, none on Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, none on UNMOVIC conversations being monitored and none on UNMOVIC being penetrated. Furthemorer, CIA and FBI officials still believe the Bush Administration is "exaggerating" information to make their political case for war. Regarding the alleged Iraqi link with Al Qaeda, US intelligence officials told the New York Times, "We just don't think it's there." " 02.07.03
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WHY ARE WE IN COLOMBIA? IS IT BECAUSE THE MAIN EXPORT OF COLOMBIA IS OIL? "The strongest remaining resistance to moving beyond anti-drug aid to more overt military assistance comes from human rights advocates concerned with the Colombian military's association with brutal right-wing paramilitary groups. To them, such links warrant punishment, not reward. Imagine their alarm when just last week the Colombian army commander, Gen. Carlos Ospina, leaving a meeting at the Pentagon, suggested that the critics of his forces are mouthpieces for guerrilla propaganda. Perhaps the new army leader is not wise to Washington's ways. But perhaps he is and feels that Washington is now more interested in warriors than reformers....If the budget President Bush proposed this week is any indication, his administration appears to be moving boldly toward establishing an outright and unabridged military relationship with Colombia -- exactly the kind Washington sought so long to avoid. The White House sent Congress a budget proposal for the next fiscal year that includes $110 million in good old-fashioned military assistance for the Andean nation. Unlike last year's proposal, the money would not be tied to a specific effort or locale. Rather, the Colombian military could use the funds for whatever counterterrorism effort it wanted, in whatever part of the country. That's not exactly a blank check, but it's pretty close. " 02.07.03
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ASHCROFT DIRECTS FEDS IN NEW YORK, CONNECTICUT TO EXECUTE MORE PEOPLE "Attorney General John Ashcroft has directed federal prosecutors in New York and Connecticut to seek the death penalty in a dozen cases in which they had recommended lesser sentences. Mr. Ashcroft's orders are a triumph of ideology over good prosecutorial practice. The Bush administration should reconsider them. " 02.07.03
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HOW BUSH IS SCREWING THE ENVIRONMENT, BIG TIME "His State of the Union oratory to the contrary, President Bush wants to spend less money on the environment and clean energy programs than Congress gave him two years ago. In a way, that's not surprising. Domestic programs generally took their lumps in a budget weighted toward tax cuts and military spending. Even so, some of the president's proposals — including a reduction in the Environmental Protection Agency budget from $8.1 billion in 2002 to $7.6 billion this year — seemed downright peculiar, coming as they did on the heels of Mr. Bush's ringing pledges for a cleaner environment and reduced dependence on foreign oil. " 02.07.03
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LAURA BUSH'S FEAR OF POETRY IMPLIES AN ANTI-WAR RAMPAGE IS HAPPENING ACROSS THE LAND "So much for democracy, free speech, vigorous discussion. In this most insulated and choreographed of administrations, the "American voice"--note the singular--is welcome only when it says what the White House wants to hear. And yet, as so often, censorship backfired. "They did us an extraordinary favor," Hamill told me. "They revealed that there are many, many poets opposed to the Bush regime. And they demonstrated their fear of the carefully chosen word--their fear of poetry." Still, according to press reports, invitees to these events arrived suspicious, went away charmed. That's how it usually works with the presidency--Bill Clinton beguiled an entire roomful of poets at a 1998 soiree, with only a few refuseniks. Proximity to power, a brush with history, the cachet of exclusivity and, in the case of Laura Bush, a private glimpse of perhaps the biggest contrast-gainer in the history of marriage--say what you like about the irrelevance of poets in today's world, if they're willing to forgo all that, antiwar feeling must be positively rampaging across the land " 02.07.03
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MEANWHILE, PICASSO GETS CENSORED AT THE U.N. ON POWELL'S BEHALF "Earlier this week, U.N. officials hung a blue curtain over a tapestry reproduction of Picasso's Guernica at the entrance of the Security Council. The spot is where diplomats and others make statements to the press, and ostensibly officials thought it would be inappropriate for Colin Powell to speak about war in Iraq with the 20th century's most iconic protest against the inhumanity of war as his backdrop. Why is Guernica such a powerfully controversial image after all these years, and how did it come to hang in tapestry form at the United Nations? " 02.07.03
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BUSH AIDS PLAN, LIKE SO MANY OF HIS PLANS, IS "SMOKE AND MIRRORS" "But for Bush's words to translate into an effective AIDS plan, the Administration will have to reverse course on a number of its policies. Of primary concern is the Administration's record of duplicity on AIDS funding. As Africa Action director Salih Booker points out, the White House uses "Arthur Andersen-style accounting methods, counting old money several times and using projections for sums that don't yet exist" when announcing "new" aid packages. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, Bush's "budget for 2004 would reduce by about the same amount the funding that aides had said would be sought for a separate development-aid initiative for poor nations." Moreover, Bush's new funding is spread over five years and begins in 2004 with only a modest increase over prior levels--less than what was authorized by the Frist-Kerry bill, which passed the Senate last year only to be scuttled by the White House. This isn't the first AIDS smoke-and-mirrors ploy from this Administration. In June Bush announced to great fanfare a $500 million initiative to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission in Africa. But just weeks earlier he had personally intervened to reduce the mother-to-child funds in a bill sponsored by, of all people, Jesse Helms. The treatment-access group Health GAP reports that this initiative has yet to receive any funding and is tied up in budget negotiations. Equally troubling is Bush's decision to bypass the multilateral Global Fund, instead earmarking 90 percent of new funding for bilateral aid agreements with fourteen African and Caribbean countries. Bush's announcement couldn't have come at a more critical time for the fund. Having just awarded $866 million in its second round of grants, the fund reports that it "lacks the resources to approve a third round of proposals." According to the fund's Anil Soni, it needs at least $6.3 billion over the next two years. AIDS activists have called on the United States to contribute $2.5 billion of that sum, but the Administration plan offers a mere $200 million a year. Bush's unilateralism and parsimony are all the more puzzling, since within days of his speech, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was appointed the fund's chair, putting him in charge of fundraising. Thompson's elevation is at odds with Bush's rebuff of the fund, but Asia Russell of Health GAP says it creates some leverage for activists. "Thompson is making a commitment as a public health official to devote energy and resources to combat the greatest health crisis of our time, and we're going to hold him to his words in terms of policy and funding." At best, Bush's plan creates a parallel and redundant funding mechanism that will compete with the Global AIDS Fund. At worst it will be modeled after existing USAID programs, opening the door for right-wing and Big Pharma lobbyists, who will pressure Bush to renege on his pledge to include generics and condoms in treatment and prevention programs, both of which are standard elements of Global Fund grants. As recently as this past December, US delegates blocked a WTO plan to allow developing countries to import generics for national medical emergencies, and USAID currently has a buy-American-only policy that will have to be revised or evaded if Bush truly intends to purchase generics with US dollars. Also of note, this past summer Bush stripped the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) of $34 million at the request of Republican House members who alleged that UNFPA supported coerced abortions in China--which UNFPA denies--and then shifted that funding to USAID. Many of the same lawmakers also wanted to deny USAID funding to the Population Council for not using abstinence-based HIV prevention programs. Right-wing abstinence groups, including those federally funded by Bush's domestic abstinence-until-marriage program, have taken a keen interest in prevention programs in Africa. They single out abstinence education as the key reason for Uganda's significant reduction of HIV incidence rates. However, Uganda's prevention program combines abstinence and behavior change with condoms, and the most comprehensive data suggest that all three were responsible for lower HIV rates and that abstinence was a negligible factor for those already sexually active. " 02.07.03
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NATION PAYING FOR BUSH SENATE WITH QUESTIONABLE JUDICIAL SELECTIONS "The nominees being whisked through [the GOP controlled Senate Judiciary Committee] all have records that cry out for greater scrutiny. One, Jeffrey Sutton, is a leading states' rights advocate who in 2001 persuaded the Supreme Court to rule against a nurse with breast cancer on the ground that the Americans With Disabilities Act does not apply to state employers. Another, Deborah Cook, regularly sides, as a state judge, with corporations. In one case she maintained that a worker whose employer lied to him about his exposure to dangerous chemicals should not be able to sue for his injuries. Jay Bybee, who was heard from yesterday, has argued that United States senators should be elected by state legislators, not the voters. Questions have also been raised about whether, as a White House aide, Mr. Bybee attempted to suppress a criminal investigation of financing of Iraqi weapons purchases. The committee's new leadership showed similar recklessness when it waved Miguel Estrada through on a straight party-line vote. Mr. Estrada, a conservative lawyer with almost no paper trail, refused to answer senators' questions on crucial issues like abortion. Meanwhile, the White House refused to hand over memos Mr. Estrada wrote as a government lawyer that could have shed light on his beliefs." 02.06.03
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BUSH SHOWS NO SIGN OF GIVING UP ON HIS SUPPLY SIDE BUDGET DISASTER "The cost of a war with Iraq is not included in this budget. The costs of Medicare and Social Security will outstrip their revenue by $18 trillion over the next 75 years, according to administration estimates. And, with a return to deficits, the government will be paying more and more interest on the national debt -- more than $1 trillion over the next five years. Pressed about this, the administration breezily asserts that tax cuts will spur economic growth that will take care of all these worries. President Reagan's tax cut was sold with the same logic -- and the nation spent the better part of two decades digging out. At least Mr. Reagan had the sense, when deficits started to pile up, to undo some of his tax cuts. Mr. Bush just wants to just plow in deeper. " 02.06.03
wp ed |related stories

UNDERSTANDING BUSH'S BUDGET: "THE STING" MEETS "THE GRIFTERS" "Dubya’s henchmen have designed a series of additional tax cuts and breaks for the top bracket that will continue to drain off hundreds of billions of dollars annually. What he doesn’t mention is that over the 10 years projected by his own accountants, these proposals will reduce federal revenues by $1.46 trillion, emptying the Treasury and leaving millions who depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with no visible means of support. Two-thirds of those costs won’t occur until after 2008.By then, of course, Dubya, Big Time and Boy Genius will have skipped town. As the credits roll, they ride off into the sunset, in their golf carts. " 02.06.03
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U.S. ECONOMY IN WORST HIRING SLUMP IN 20 YEARS "The economy has fallen into its worst hiring slump in almost 20 years, and many business executives say they remain unsure when it will end. The employment decline has become even worse than it was at a comparable point in the so-called jobless recovery of the early 1990's, according to recently revised statistics from the Labor Department. The economy has lost more than two million jobs, a drop of 1.5 percent, since the most recent recession began in March 2001, as layoffs have continued despite the resumption of economic growth more than a year ago. The decline was 1.3 percent at the same point in the business cycle a decade ago....In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush called the improvement of the job market his "first goal" for the coming year and asked Congress to pass a $670 billion, 10-year tax cut." He didn't make clear, however, how much unemployed workers will save by having their taxes cut. 02.06.03
nyt |related stories

BUSH IGNORES GROWING DOMESTIC PROBLEMS IN THE NAME OF IRAQ, TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH "When you have 5 1/2 million young people wandering around without diplomas, without jobs and without prospects, you might as well hand them T-shirts to wear that say "We're Trouble." Without help, they will not become part of a skilled work force. And they will become a drain on the nation's resources. One way or another, the rest of us will end up supporting them. "It's just heartbreaking," said Jack Wuest, who runs the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, which commissioned the study. "These kids need a fair shake and they're not getting it." The Bush administration, committed to a war with Iraq and obsessed with tax cuts for the wealthy, has no interest in these youngsters. And very few others in a position to help are willing to go to bat for them. " 02.06.03
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MAINE SENATE OK'S RESOLUTION OPPOSING WAR IN IRAQ "The Maine Senate endorsed a resolution Tuesday that asks President Bush to pursue a diplomatic solution with Iraq rather than going to war. The House is expected to take up the proposal on Thursday at the earliest. The 18-15 Senate vote represents the first time nationally that a state legislative body has taken a stance against a war in Iraq. Sixty-three U.S. cities, including Portland, have voted to support similar resolutions. The Senate vote was partisan, with every Democrat supporting the measure and every Republican in attendance opposing it....News of the Senate's vote has inspired activists in Vermont to push for a resolution in their state legislature, said Karen Dolan, director of the Institute for Policy Studies. The Washington think tank runs a Web site,, to provide civic and legislative entities support for anti-war measures. Dolan said people are taking the issue of war to their local governments because they don't believe they have any other way to express themselves. "People are frustrated that their voices are not being heard at the federal level," she said." 02.06.03
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Australian PM Suffers Historic Censure for Sending Troops to Gulf "Prime Minister John Howard suffered a historic defeat here in an unprecedented no-confidence vote by Australia's Senate over his handling of the Iraq crisis. The Labor opposition, left wing Greens, Democrats and Independent senators used their upper house majority Wednesday to pass the motion by 34 votes to 31, following an emotional, 11-hour debate over the looming conflict. It was the first time in the 102 year history of the Australian parliament that the upper house has censured a serving prime minister with a vote of no confidence. Howard's conservative Liberal-National government was also censured in the motion, which condemned its decision to deploy troops to the Gulf without reference to parliament and contrary to public opinion. Australia and Britain have been the only countries to join the United States in deploying troops to the Gulf in preparation for war in Iraq. " 02.06.03
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LAURA BUSH CANCELS WHITE HOUSE POETRY CONFERENCE OUT OF FEAR OF ANTI-WAR CRITICISM "First Lady Laura Bush's decision to cancel a White House symposium on the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes because she feared antiwar sentiments might be expressed has provoked a pummeling of the Administration by poets who would have been part of the February 12 "Poetry and the American Voice" session....Actually, Mrs. Bush would have been lucky if her symposium had featured only contemporary criticism of US imperialism and conservative policies. A far greater danger for the Administration was the prospect that those attending the conference would have used the words of Dickinson, Hughes and Whitman against them." 02.06.03
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"IT'S ABOUT OIL AND PROFITS FOR U.S. COMPANIES" "I agree with Nelson Mandela. George Bush is a malevolent fool who is going to create unnecessary misery for the whole world. But having said that, he is the representative of the dominant forces within the United States polity who are highly intelligent, have a clear view of what they want and how to get it and, I assume, genuinely believe what they are doing is in America's long-term interests. In a nutshell, what they want is control of (not access to) Middle East oil in order to exert maximum leverage over Europe and Japan; and the destruction of OPEC as an effective cartel by replacing Saudi Arabia with Iraq as the swing producer to control world oil supply and prices. This will allow the US to continue its profligate consumption of low-cost oil while giving it the freedom to deal with the seat of September 11 terrorism - which is in Saudi Arabia, not Iraq - without causing a global oil supply crisis.At the same time, it will give the US access to oil reserves whose value is beyond the dreams of avarice for the mainly US-owned oil multinationals, who will once again vertically integrate the oil industry by retaking control of upstream activities from producer governments. At least that's the theory." 02.06.03
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GAS STATION PROTESTS QUESTION MOTIVE BEHIND IRAQ WAR PLANS "Demonstrators chanted "no war for oil" at over 100 gas stations across the United States Tuesday, hoping to pre-empt military action against Iraq, which they believe would be motivated as much by U.S. oil interests as by the need to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Many of the protestors charged that, while securing oil reserves is not the only reason the U.S. has threatened to wage war in Iraq, energy concerns have played a disproportionately large role in the decision-making of the administration of President George W. Bush. "It is not credible that there would be such a strong push for war if there were no oil in Iraq," said Ralph Nader , the Green Party's 2000 presidential candidate and founder of the grassroots activist group Citizen Watch, speaking at a Washington, D.C. press conference that launched the day of protest. 'Oil is power and this is in significant measure a struggle over that power.' " 02.06.03
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"THE WORLD SHOULD WATCH WITH SUSPICION GEORGE BUSH'S DECISION MAKING PROCESS" "Now, thanks to journalist Bob Woodward's record of the decision-making process in the White House, in his book Bush at War, we know more about the process by which the decision for war [in Afghanistan] was taken. It is not reassuring. Already on September 13 Secretary of State Colin Powell noticed that "Bush was tired of rhetoric. The President wanted to kill somebody." From then on, although there is occasional talk of the need for patience, Bush frequently pushes for quick action, saying things like, "Time is of the essence", "It's very important to move fast", and "We've got to start showing results". Bush himself told Woodward that in the days leading up to the bombing, he was "ready to go", "growing a little impatient", "fiery". And he also said: "I rely on my instincts. I just knew that at some point in time the American people were going to say, 'Where is he? What are you doing? Where's your leadership? Where is the United States? You're all-powerful, do something..' Is this the right mood in which to decide to go to war? " 02.06.03
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"MADNESS OF GEORGE DUBYA" A UK HIT "British theatre-goers are flocking to a new farce which mocks U.S. President George W. Bush as a pyjama-wearing buffoon cuddling a teddy-bear while his crazed military chiefs order nuclear strikes on Iraq. "The Madness of George Dubya" -- which mercilessly satirises British Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as Bush -- has proved such a success at a fringe theatre in London that it is moving to a larger venue next week for an extended run. "As war comes closer, the mood among audiences has changed," actor Nicholas Burns, who plays Blair, said after a performance this week. 'The audience is actually laughing more, but the tension behind their laughs has grown. People are scared.' " 02.06.03
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"POWELL HAD TO MAKE DO WITH...WORST-CASE INTERPRETATIONS" TO MAKE HIS POINT "It is unclear whether the United States can muster the nine-vote majority on the council to pave the way for military action against Iraq. Much will depend on how a resolution is worded. But there was little argument with Powell's central conclusion: that Hussein has failed to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors, as required by Security Council resolutions. " 02.06.03
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WE CAN'T AFFORD TO GO IT ALONE IN IRAQ "The Security Council, the American people and the rest of the world have an obligation to study Mr. Powell's presentation very closely and very seriously. Because the consequences of war are so terrible, and the cost of rebuilding Iraq so great, the United States cannot afford to confront Iraq without broad international support. " 02.06.03
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BYRD, PELOSI STILL AGAINST BUSH WAR, DASCHLE, KERRY SAY BALL'S IN SADDAM'S COURT "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council produced a generally positive reaction in Congress yesterday, with even some past critics of the administration saying the burden now is on President Saddam Hussein. But some lawmakers said the case Powell made does not justify going to war without U.N. backing. " 02.06.03
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POWELL DID NOT CHANGE MINDS IN EUROPE "-- Reaction to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council today appeared to indicate that he did not change many minds in Europe. Opponents of imminent military action in Iraq said Powell provided only more proof that U.N. weapons inspectors needed additional time, while U.S. allies in Eastern Europe contended that he gave compelling evidence that justified a military strike. " 02.06.03
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BRITS FEAR BUSH CURE COULD BE WORSE THAN SADDAM ILLNESS "In closing, General Powell asked the international community to understand that, in the light of all that we know about Saddam and all the intelligence that the Secretary of State shared with the UN, the United Sates government could not "run the risk" of allowing Saddam to remain in power. In turn, General Powell and the Bush administration must understand that much of the rest of the world is not ready to countenance the even more terrible risks involved in a war. Such an act of aggression by the US threatens to destabilise the whole region, would be a huge encouragement to fundamentalists from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and would virtually guarantee an upsurge in global terrorism. " 02.06.03
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ISRAELI MILITARY SOURCES SAY BUSH WILL GO TO WAR BY END OF MONTH "Despite Chinese, French and German opposition to America's plans to strike at Iraq, Israeli defense sources said last night they expect the U.S. to act before the end of the month, especially after Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council last night." 02.06.03
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"MUCH U.S. EVIDENCE MUST BE ACCEPTED ON TRUST" "This is the heart of the matter. Much of the US evidence must be accepted, if it is accepted at all, on trust. Mr Powell's sources were mostly anonymous defectors, detainees, third country spooks and US intelligence. His overall case was undercut by the recycling of old tales about al-Qaida "poison plotters" in Baghdad. He refused to accept the IAEA's conclusions on Iraqi nuclear bomb-making. His evidential interpretations were often harsher than those of Hans Blix. Mr Powell certainly did the UN a service in finally opening his Iraq dossier to public view. But the way forward must now be expanded, intensified inspections equipped with this new evidence, as France proposes. Iraq must disarm. The US and Britain must not jump the gun." 02.06.03
guardian ed |related stories

POWELL SPEECH REVEALS INTELLIGENCE TECHNIQUES, BUT TRUST IS THE ISSUE "Some information supplied by Iraqis came from defectors whose locations have never been disclosed. Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer, cautioned that it is impossible to judge the credibility of human sources from Powell's presentation. "I don't trust it without the whole context," said Baer, who recruited foreign agents for the CIA in the 1990s. "In the absence of that, you have to just trust the administration . . . They have all the marbles." If the human intelligence is so good, he added, why haven't the U.N. inspectors found a mobile chemical laboratory " 02.06.03
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BRITISH INTELLIGENCE CONTRADICTS POWELL. NO LINK BETWEEN SADDAM AND AL QAEDA, THEY SAY "There are no current links between the Iraqi regime and the al-Qaeda network, according to an official British intelligence report seen by BBC News. The classified document, written by defence intelligence staff three weeks ago, says there has been contact between the two in the past. But it assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideologies. That conclusion flatly contradicts one of the main charges laid against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein by the United States and Britain - that he has cultivated contacts with the group blamed for the 11 September attacks. The report emerges even as Washington was calling Saddam a liar for denying, in a television interview with former Labour MP and minister Tony Benn, that he had any links to al-Qaeda. " 02.06.03
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IRAQI TERRORIST GROUP POWELL IDENTIFIES AS LINK BETWEEN SADDAM AND AL QAEDA RULES KURDISH TERRORITY NOT CONTROLLED BY SADDAM AND TARGETS SADDAM AS THEIR ENEMY "As part of Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council today, he said there was a "sinister nexus between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network" — the nexus being a small, little known terrorist group called Ansar al-Islam, which is now at the center of the U.S. case. Powell showed a satellite photograph of what he said was a chemical weapons training center in Northern Iraq, used by al Qaeda and protected by Ansar al-Islam. "Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization, Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq," said Powell. The group, whose name means "Supporters of Islam," rules a remote portion of the autonomous northern Kurdish territories in Iraq near the Iran border, which is not controlled by Saddam Hussein. In fact, their leaders say they seek to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his government...In an interview with ABCNEWS, the man considered the leader of Ansar al-Islam, Majamuddin Fraraj Ahmad, who is also known as Mullah Krekar, denied all allegations that he is in any way linked to al Qaeda. "They are our enemy," he said, adding that his group opposes Saddam Hussein because, unlike Osama bin Laden, Saddam is not a good Muslim." 02.06.03
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"Colin Powell's New Version of His President's State of the Union Lie" "From time to time, the words "Iraq: Failing To Disarm - Denial and Deception" appeared on the giant video screen behind General Powell. Was this a CNN logo, some of us wondered? But no, it was CNN's sister channel, the US Department of State.Because Colin Powell is supposed to be the good cop to the Bush-Rumsfeld bad cop routine, one wanted to believe him. The Iraqi officer's telephoned order to his subordinate - "remove 'nerve agents' whenever it comes up in the wireless instructions" - looked as if the Americans had indeed spotted a nasty new little line in Iraqi deception. But a dramatic picture of a pilotless Iraqi aircraft capable of spraying poison chemicals turned out to be the imaginative work of a Pentagon artist.And when General Powell started blathering on about "decades'' of contact between Saddam and al-Qa'ida, things went wrong for the Secretary of State. Al-Qa'ida only came into existence five years ago, since Bin Laden - "decades" ago - was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present day director was sitting grave-faced behind General Powell. And Colin Powell's new version of his President's State of the Union lie - that the "scientists" interviewed by UN inspectors had been Iraqi intelligence agents in disguise - was singularly unimpressive." 02.06.03
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"ONLY BY SWALLOWING BIG LIES CAN POWELL JUSTIFY A WAR" "It took two decades for Powell, in his autobiography "My American Journey," to acknowledge that all the destruction brought down upon Indochina by the U.S. was based on an uneducated, unfocused and enormously costly policy that he and other military leaders had known to be "bankrupt." But duty, apparently, required they not tell the public the truth. "War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support," he wrote, summarizing Vietnam's lessons. Does anybody outside of the extremist claque of think-tank warriors bending the president's ear really think we are at the point of "last resort" with Iraq, a poor country half a world away that is already divvied up into "no-fly" zones, crawling with U.N. inspectors and still shattered economically and militarily from two previous wars? Or that the American people, so divided and apathetic in polls on the subject, "understand and support" why we would start a firestorm in Baghdad and then send our young men and women to fight in its streets? " 02.06.03
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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE U.N. ABOUT COLIN POWELL "There is a long list of lies and half-truths in Bush’s three major speeches on Iraq, as the Institute for Public Accuracy and others have shown. Each lie and half-truth merits its own investigation, to determine just how long that Powell and Bush have known it was all or partly false, yet continued to peddle it. It is bad enough to take unconfirmed rumors and pass them off on the public as certified facts. But it is unconscionable to knowingly, willfully mislead the American public and the community of nations in order to trick them into waging a war of aggression. " 02.06.03
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SMOLDERING GUN OF IRAQ'S NUKE PROGRAM MAY BECOME A MOVIE "In the summer of 1998, when Hamza first went public with his story about Saddam's relentless desire for the Bomb, much of the press ignored him. The country was transfixed by the saga of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. But in March 2001, the scientist found himself sitting next to an influential Republican named Richard Perle at a seminar at George Washington University. He briefed Perle, one of the earliest and most vehement proponents of regime change in Iraq, about his past. "I came away very impressed, thinking this is a sensible, sober fellow," says Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's advisory Defense Policy Board. Hamza said he'd been debriefed only by low-level "civil servants" in the Clinton years. Perle soon introduced the defector to the top tier of the Bush administration, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. " 02.06.03
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"Given its history, US intelligence should come with a health warning " "We know from experience that politicians about to go to war are not above manipulating information to heat up public opinion. They have manufactured international incidents - the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin "clash", for example, which President Johnson used to deceive the Senate into giving him a declaration of war against North Vietnam. They can be the simple peddling of "evil Hun" stories, as with the discredited accounts of Iraqi soldiers pulling Kuwaiti babies from incubators. History has revealed the truth about such episodes, but too late. On the few occasions we are allowed sufficient facts to form an independent assessment, the intelligence on offer is rarely persuasive. " 02.06.03
bennett+perman |related stories

QUESTIONED PENTAGON CLASSIFIED PHOTOS USED PRIOR TO FIRST GULF WAR REMAIN CLASSIFIED "The photographs, which are still classified in the US (for security reasons, according to Brent Scowcroft, President Bush senior's national security advisor), purportedly showed more than a quarter of a million Iraqi troops massed on the Saudi border poised to pounce. Except, when a resourceful Florida-based reporter at the St Petersburg Times persuaded her newspaper to buy the same independently commissioned satellite photos from a commercial satellite to verify the Pentagon's line, she saw no sign of a quarter of a million troops or their tanks." 02.06.03
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COMMERCE DEPT. DEMOGRAPHER CONTRADICTED CHENEY ON GULF WAR DEAD AND SHE WAS GONE (SO WAS HER REPORT) "Beth Osborne Daponte was a 29-year-old Commerce Dept. demographer in 1992, when she publicly contradicted then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on the highly sensitive issue of Iraqi civilian casualties during the Gulf War. In short order, Daponte was told she was losing her job. She says her official report disappeared from her desk, and a new estimate, prepared by supervisors, greatly reduced the number of estimated civilian casualties. " 02.06.03
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NORTH KOREA'S FOREIGN MINISTER TALKS PREEMPTIVE STRIKE "North Korea is entitled to launch a pre-emptive strike against the US rather than wait until the American military have finished with Iraq, the North's foreign ministry told the Guardian yesterday... Warning that the current nuclear crisis is worse than that in 1994, when the peninsula stood on the brink of oblivion, a ministry spokesman called on Britain to use its influence with Washington to avert war." 02.06.03
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BUSH BUDGET CALLS FOR RECORD DEFICITS, BUT ECONOMISTS SAY ITS UNREALISTIC ASSUMPTIONS AND OMISSIONS MEAN IT'S MUCH WORSE "In the economic vision laid out by U.S. President George W. Bush, there won't be a war with Iraq, growth will soar, taxes will fall and fewer Americans will be out of work. Even then, Mr. Bush presented the U.S. Congress yesterday with a budget that projects deficits as far as the eye can see, including a record $307-billion (U.S.) in 2004 on all-time high spending of $2.23-trillion....Roughly a third of the 2004 deficit, or $114-billion, and about $33-billion of the 2003 deficit is due to the tax cut....Mr. Bush's projections also count heavily on uncharacteristic spending restraint by Congress. He wants to limit overall spending growth to 4 per cent in fiscal 2004. That's less than half the 9-per-cent hike that Congress set for this year....Most importantly, however, a war with Iraq could cost as much as $400-billion, and the budget makes no provisions for it, in spite of sharp hikes in spending for the military and homeland security....Mr. Bush predicted the economy would grow 2.9 per cent this year, paced by consumer spending and business investment. That compares to a 2.8-per-cent consensus forecast among economists and a 2.5-per-cent estimate by U.S. Congressional forecasters. The White House also puts this year's jobless rate at 5.7 per cent -- less than the current 6 per cent and below the consensus forecast of 5.9 per cent." 02.05.03
g+m | related stories

BUSH BUDGET WRITER ADMITS TAX CUTS CONTRIBUTED TO 2002 DEFICIT "An economic slowdown began in 2001 and was exacerbated by the terrorists' attacks of September 11, 2001. The deterioration in the performance of the economy together with income tax relief provided to help offset the economic slowdown and additional spending in response to the terrorist attacks produced a drop in the surplus to $127.1 billion (1.3% of GDP) and a return to deficits ($157.8 billion, 1.5% of GDP) in 2002. " 02.05.03
bw | related stories

BUSH WANTS TIGHTER CLAMPS ON POOR TO PROVIDE MORE TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH "President Bush's budget proposes new eligibility requirements that would make it harder for low-income families to obtain government benefits....Critics, including some local officials, said today that the extra steps would deter eligible poor people from applying for needed assistance.The Bush budget would also replace one of the largest federal housing programs with a block grant to states, which could redirect some of the money away from working poor people in cities. Mr. Bush said he wanted to shift money and responsibility for this and other social welfare programs, including Medicaid, to the states....Local officials scorned the plan. "Who needs an extra layer of bureaucracy?" asked Elizabeth C. Morris, chief executive of the San Diego Housing Commission. 'States would take 5 percent to 10 percent of the money for administrative costs, so there might be less for low-income families.'" 02.05.03
nyt | related stories

"Bush Smiles At Environment, But His Teeth Are Fangs" The Bush budget document assumes profits from drilling in Alaska, but not expenses for a war with Iraq. "Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has referred to the Environmental Protection Agency as a 'Gestapo bureaucracy,'" but those who believe in environmental protections know where the real Gestapo resides. 02.05.03
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Bush Slips ANWR Oil Drilling Into New Budget "Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said on Monday the administration would still support a compromise that Republican lawmakers offered last year to limit drilling activities in ANWR to just 2,000 acres (809 hectares) at any one time in the 1.5 million acres that would be opened to exploration." Based on previous legislative language, those 2,000 acres do not have to be contiguous and those 2,000 acres do not include roads and back-up services. 02.05.03
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BUSH BUDGET PLANS TO PRIVATIZE MEDICARE SENIORS, CUTS CONSUMER PROTECTIONS TARGETED TO THEM "Democrats also continued to demand that the administration address a key question about its Medicare plan, which envisions a marketplace of private health plans competing for the elderly's business: Would the elderly have to leave the traditional Medicare program and join a private health plan to receive prescription drug benefits? "It's time for him to come clean on his proposals to force senior citizens into H.M.O.'s and other private insurance plans in order to get the prescription drugs they need," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. " 02.05.03
nyt | related stories

Bush Links NASA Budget To Search For Space Aliens "Researchers have found life in very harsh environments on Earth, which expands the possible kinds of places where life might exist. In our solar system, scientists have discovered evidence of currently or previously existing large bodies of water, a key ingredient of life, on Mars and the moons of Jupiter. Astronomers also have begun to find planets outside our solar system, identifying approximately 90 stars with at least one planet orbiting them. Perhaps the notion that “there’s something out there” is closer to reality than we have imagined. " 02.05.03
bw | related stories

GORE VIDAL INTERVIEW. BUSH "JUNTA" IS "UN-AMERICAN" "Why is the blue-collar middle-class, middle American more willing to accept massive taxation and military spending for vague regional objectives rather than reasonable spending on social domestic issues that concern the entire nation? I would suppose that it's because they are the most consistently lied to, and have less access to information. TV news is not very instructive. They know they're being lied to. They're puzzled and exploited....We are the United States of Amnesia, which is encouraged by a media that has no desire to tell us the truth about anything, serving their corporate masters who have other plans to dominate us....The long-term consequences [of a war with Iraq] will probably be catastrophic for us. We're already in depression. We have the largest deficit in our history. The price of oil will go crazy during the war, which is not good for us or anyone else. We have nothing to gain and we have our economy to lose, not to mention what suicide bombers might be doing to us....To invent a war means that you've become a wartime president, and you can suspend much if not all of the Bill of Rights. This is a totalitarian minded government, and they were ready in no time at all after 9/11 with the USA PATRIOT Act, which does in most of the Bill of Rights. Having more or less conquered Afghanistan we want to conquer Iraq, all with incredible powers for the junta in Washington. This is dangerous for our liberties....You can't tell what the junta has in mind, because this is the most secretive and probably illegal administration we've ever had. The Vice President will not tell Congress who he met with during the energy crisis meeting. They do everything to keep us in total darkness. They are un-American. " 02.05.03
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U.S. Official Says North Korea Could Sell Nuke Material To Rogue States, But Refuses To Answer The "Who Is More Dangerous?" Question "A senior Bush administration official warned today that North Korea, if allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel rods, could sell some of that fissile material to terrorists and other enemies of the United States who are seeking to build nuclear weapons.The official, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, told senators on Capitol Hill that North Korea's recent moves toward restarting a plutonium reprocessing facility could enable the country to build four to six new nuclear weapons within months....But Mr. Armitage also predicted that North Korea, which is struggling to feed its people, would have sufficient bomb-grade plutonium to sell or trade to 'a nonstate actor or a rogue state.'..Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, asked whether North Korea's potential capacity to sell raw materials for nuclear bombs to terrorists made it "far more dangerous" than Iraq.Mr. Armitage replied that "it's quite a different situation in Iraq," saying that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, wanted to "intimidate, dominate and attack" his neighbors. ." 02.05.03
nyt | related stories

WHILE NORTH KOREAN NUKE BUILDUP CONSTITUTES "THE MOST URGENT THREAT," BUSH SAYS IRAQ IS "North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program is the most urgent threat facing America today. Yet the administration, intent on dealing with Iraq first, has been reluctant to give diplomacy with North Korea the priority it warrants. Yesterday's reaffirmation by Washington that it recognizes the need for direct talks with North Korea is fine, but not good enough. Those talks will probably never take place unless the administration drops its preconditions....In the absence of active diplomacy, the Pentagon's decision to put 24 long-range bombers on alert for possible transfer to bases closer to Asia may do more harm than good. The intended message is twofold. Washington wants to signal North Korea that even as the United States mobilizes forces for imminent war with Iraq, it is still able to act in Northeast Asia. The other message is more menacing. While the administration has assured North Korea it has no intention of invading, it has left open the possibility of a pre-emptive air attack on North Korean nuclear plants. Alerting the long-range bombers sharpens that warning. Unfortunately, it does so in a way that could heighten tensions in an already alarmed region." 02.05.03
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POWELL, CIA TRY TO GET ON SAME PAGE, SINCE TENET WARNED THAT IRAQ WEAPONS SHARING WOULD BE CREATED BY U.S. ATTACK, NOT VICE VERSA "Secretary Powell was huddling on the evidence in New York yesterday with the C.I.A. director, George Tenet. Mr. Tenet was there to make sure nothing too sensitive was revealed at the U.N., but mainly to lend credibility to Mr. Powell's brief, since there have been many reports that the intelligence agency has been skeptical about some of the Pentagon and White House claims on Iraq. It was Mr. Tenet who warned Congress in a letter last fall that there was only one circumstance in which the U.S. need worry about Iraq sharing weapons with terrorists: if Washington attacked Saddam. " 02.05.03
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BUSH HAS HAD FIVE MONTHS TO GATHER WAR PROOF; YET, POWELL IS SCRAMBLING AT LAST MINUTE FOR EVIDENCE "This moment was clearly coming, and the administration should have prepared for it weeks ago. Throughout this long crisis there has been an unsettling sense of improvisation to the administration's explanations of its concerns, goals and post-war plans. That is particularly troubling since what is being talked about here is a preventive war, not instant retaliation for some Iraqi attack. Serious and consequential decisions lie ahead. The administration owes the world a more careful and consistent approach. Even the rationale for war seems to change from day to day. Bush ticked off a litany of accusations against Iraq in his State of the Union address, some more compelling than others. Few would quarrel with Bush's assertion that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a liar. The question that needs answering is whether he poses such an urgent danger to international peace that an invasion is required, even without the approval of the Security Council. " 02.05.03
star ed | related stories

HOW POWELL WILL ATTEMPT TO CHANGE WHAT SOME CALL A SMOLDERING SLINGSHOT INTO A SMOKING GUN "What does a smoking gun look like? This shouldn't matter, since U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has already announced that there won't be any when he produces "straightforward, sober and compelling" evidence of Saddam Hussein's continued quest for weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations tomorrow....And since the Cold War, deterrence seems less reliable. After Sept. 11, the rules that have prevented a nuclear exchange or the use of other mass destruction weapons supposedly no longer operate. This is the heart of the U.S. argument against Iraq. A state's history of developing dangerous weapons, or its aggressive relationship with its neighbours, or maybe its brutal treatment of its own citizens, can constitute a "smoking gun." Powell will therefore try to show that Iraq's attempts to cheat U.N. inspections and preserve its capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction condemn it as much as if it were actually developing the weapons." 02.05.03
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PRO-AMERICAN BRIT CONCERNED ABOUT PROTECTING ISRAEL STILL HAS PROBLEMS WITH "PAINFULLY THIN" EVIDENCE "Most of the pro-war arguments remain so painfully thin. First, Blair says we have to get Saddam before he gets us. But the evidence of Iraqi aggression beyond its borders has been slim to non-existent for more than 12 years: the US and its allies have confined the Iraqi dictator to his cage." 02.05.03
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BLAIR SPEAKS FRENCH, CHIRAC TALKS TURKEY "Jacques Chirac delivered a blunt warning to Tony Blair yesterday that Britain and the US will have their work cut out to persuade France to back a military attack on Iraq... Laying bare Anglo-French divisions, the French president declared that war was the "worst possible solution" as he called for UN weapons inspectors to be allowed to continue their work." 02.05.03
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LEADING BUSH HAWK, DEFENDER OF ISRAEL, SAYS FRANCE "NO LONGER THE ALLY" AND GERMANY BEING RUN BY "DISCREDITED CHANCELLOR" "France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday. Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials. But while dismissing Germany's refusal to support military action against Iraq as an aberration by "a discredited chancellor," Perle warned that France's attitude was both more dangerous and more serious."France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor." " 02.05.03
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RICHARD PERLE'S CONNECTIONS TO JERUSALEM POST, MIDDLE EAST FORUM, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE "At a time when much of the world is confused by what it sees as an increasingly bizarre set of policies on the Middle East coming from Washington, to understand the neat little network outlined above may make such policies a little more explicable. Of course these people and organisations are not the only ones trying to influence US policy on the Middle East. There are others who try to influence it too - in different directions. However, this particular network is operating in a political climate that is currently especially receptive to its ideas. It is also well funded by its anonymous benefactors and is well organised. Ideas sown by one element are watered and nurtured by the others. Whatever outsiders may think about this, worldly-wise Americans see no cause for disquiet. It's just a coterie of like-minded chums going about their normal business, and an everyday story of political life in Washington. " 02.05.03
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WHILE AMERICANS THINK THEY'RE LOOKING AT GRANADA, BUSH INSIDERS ARE LOOKING AT POST-WAR JAPAN "It's time for the president to level with the American people about what will be required to make this war a success. Because ultimately it is the support of the American people - not the U.N., not France, not Poland - that will determine whether we have the means to see it through." 02.05.03
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PREVIOUS BUSH ACTIONS DO NOT SUGGEST EAGERNESS TO ESTABLISH DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ "What flight of the most grotesque fantasy can dream up the notion that a government led by the fanatical religious right in the US - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz - is eager to establish a democratic government in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter? Have they shown the slightest interest in imposing democracy in Burma, for example, or any of the feudal tyrannies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain or Kuwait, or any of the so-called "republics" in Africa or central Asia? Have they even mentioned the recent abrupt ending of democracy in Pakistan, and its replacement by a dictator there who has at his disposal weapons of mass destruction?" 02.05.03
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RIDGE ASKED TO INVESTIGATE WAR PROTESTERS BY REPUBLICANS SEEING "NEO-COMMUNISTS," DREAMING OF A NEW AGE OF MC CARTHYISM UNDER BUSH AND ASHCROFT . "Paul Weyrich, widely recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Christian Right, is advancing his own McCarthy-like "modest proposal," bridging the gap between the McCarthy period and TIA. Weyrich wants the Department of Homeland Security's Tom Ridge, or Congress, to launch an investigation into the funding sources behind the "neo-Communist" groups involved in the anti-war movement. While Weyrich's charge that Communists are leading the movement charge is nothing new -- the Center for the Study of Popular Culture's David Horowitz beat him to that by several months -- he is the first to openly call for widespread investigations into the peace movement that are eerily reminiscent of the dark days in the nation's history when the House Un-American Activities Committee ran amuck " 02.05.03
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U.S. PRESENCE IN RESTLESS AFGHANISTAN ERODES AS BUSH FOCUSES ON IRAQ "There's one sure bet about the statement to be made to the UN Security Council today by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell – or by General Colin Powell as he has now been mysteriously reassigned by the American press: he won't be talking about Afghanistan... For since the Afghan war is the "successful" role model for America's forthcoming imperial adventure across the Middle East, the near-collapse of peace in this savage land and the steady erosion of US forces in Afghanistan – the nightly attacks on American and other international troops, the anarchy in the cities outside Kabul, the warlordism and drug trafficking and steadily increasing toll of murders – are unmentionables, a narrative constantly erased from the consciousness of Americans who are now sending their young men and women by the tens of thousands to stage another "success" story." 02.05.03
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WRONG MESSAGE TO THE MUSLIM WORLD "On Jan. 28, two agents from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested me outside my office at the Brookings Institution. In a matter of moments I was transformed from research scholar at a venerable Washington think tank to suspect, from a person with a name and a face to a "body," a non-person. I was put in a car, taken to a detention center, locked in a cell, and stripped not just of my belt and shoelaces but of my pride and dignity -- all because of my nationality. " 02.05.03
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BUSH PAWNS OUR FUTURE TO GIVE HIS RICH FRIENDS MORE TAX CUT BUCKS, DEFENSE CONTRACTS "The $2.23 trillion budget unveiled by the Bush administration yesterday is the furthest thing from a fiscally conservative document. It shifts taxes from today's citizens to those of the future. Rather than truly giving state governments the power to be flexible, it sticks them with the responsibility for delivering the bad news to poor people who will be denied a health care safety net. The gargantuan defense budget is bloated with money for old-style weaponry needed only by defense contractors and military empire builders. President Bush's underlying budget philosophy can be seen in the contrast of two alarmingly aggressive proposals. In one, the administration invites states to slash Medicaid programs for many of the poor. It cynically eases the burden of deficit-ridden governors by offering them an initial budget sweetener along with the undoubtedly tempting management "freedom" to make severe cutbacks in health care benefits on their own. Meanwhile, the White House would significantly enlarge the amount of investment income that could be permanently sheltered from taxes in savings and retirement accounts. This is a switch that would benefit mainly higher-bracket Americans who have the surplus income to save more than current Individual Retirement Account programs allow. Since current workers might withdraw money from their existing I.R.A.'s, pay taxes and put the money in these more flexible accounts, the plan could create a one-time increase in tax revenue now, in return for sharply diminished revenue in the future. That's typical of so much of this administration's party-now-pay-later attitude toward the government's finances. " 02.04.03
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BUSH IS COMPASSIONATE TO THE RICH AND CONSERVATIVE TO THE POOR "With his budget blueprint for 2004, President Bush appears to have stepped back from his "compassionate conservatism" agenda and picked up the fallen standard of the Reagan Revolution. In the face of burgeoning budget deficits, the president has proposed new tax cuts that would cost the Treasury nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years, on top of the $1.35 trillion tax cut passed in 2001. The tax cuts' potential impact on government enterprises has caught many supporters and detractors by surprise. If enacted, they would end for the vast majority of Americans the taxation of inheritances and eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends. Those are tax changes Ronald Reagan could only dream of. On the spending side, the president would hold most domestic spending outside the military and homeland defense at or below inflation levels. Programs for rural development, family literacy, vocational education, environmental protection and public housing revitalization would be cut from levels the White House proposed last year. New controls would be placed on poverty programs, such as the earned income tax credit, school lunch subsidies and Medicaid, to ensure that billions of dollars in subsidies do not go to people not entitled to them. Two huge entitlement programs -- Medicare and Medicaid -- would be in for changes that would push millions of senior citizens into private-sector managed health plans while giving states far more control over their own health care spending. " 02.04.03
wp | related stories

RADICAL BUSH TRIES STEALTH TAX CUTTING FOR MONEY BUDDIES "IMAGINE THAT President Bush had a plan to dramatically reshape the federal tax system, eliminating taxes on investment income for most taxpayers, making the tax structure less progressive and providing a boon to the wealthiest Americans. You might think he would mention it during his State of the Union address. You might think he would call it by its name: radical tax reform. " 02.04.03
wp | related stories

WHITE HOUSE CONTINUES BUDGET DOUBLESPEAK "The budget differs from those of other recent presidents in two important ways. Nowhere does Mr. Bush make balancing the budget an important goal. And he makes no claim that the era of big government is over, or even nearing an end. "This is a president of big projects and big ideas," his budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., said today....Paying no heed to the notion of a balanced budget, Mr. Bush advocates deep tax cuts on top of the large ones enacted two years ago. By contrast, when big deficits began to appear after President Ronald Reagan drove tax cuts through Congress in 1981, Mr. Reagan approved offsetting tax increases....Mr. Daniels said this morning, "A balanced federal budget remains a high priority for this president." But unlike the submissions of recent predecessors, this budget describes no plans to reach that goal. " 02.04.03
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BUSH BUDGET HAS MADE THE ECONOMY IDEOLOGICAL. DOES NOT INCLUDE COST OF WAR "BUSH'S budget, beyond the essentials of day-to-day government, reveals the ideological core of his administration. He believes the wealthy pay too much in taxes and that Social Security and Medicare, bulwarks for the less affluent, should be privatized. Bush inherited from Bill Clinton a tax structure that was designed to eliminate the national debt in preparation for the time when the baby boomers would retire and force the government to redeem bonds in the Social Security trust fund. A federal government with little debt would also have been able to handle extra stresses in Medicare...Bush's tax cut approved in 2001 guarantees that deficits will linger beyond these immediate difficulties. He compounded his irresponsibility yesterday by urging that Congress make the cuts permanent and approve new reductions also aimed at the wealthy. " 02.04.03
bg ed | related stories

BUSH HAS SPENT OUR PAST SURPLUS, NOW HE'S SPENDING OUR FUTURE, ALL FOR HIS CASH CRONIES "When President Bush took office, his budget officials estimated the cumulative surplus for the years 2002-11 to be $5.6 trillion. Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its outlook for the next 10 years, in which it declared that the cumulative surplus for that 10-year period "has been all but eliminated." And that's before the president's proposed tax cuts or spending initiatives are factored into the budget....Last September, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said, "History suggests that our abandonment of fiscal discipline will eventually push up interest rates, crowd out capital spending, lower productivity growth, and force harder choices upon us in the future." The president's budget threatens just such negative consequences. It would drain the resources needed to meet our long-term commitments to Social Security and Medicare. It would reduce national saving and investment, drive up long-term interest rates for consumers and businesses, and stifle future growth. " 02.04.03
conrad+spratt | related stories

Bush's $2.2 Trillion Budget Proposes Record Deficits, Permanent Tax Cuts. Does Not Include Many Past Tax Cuts. "The budget included no projection of the cost of any war with Iraq, which administration officials have said could be as low as $50 billion and as high as $200 billion. If there is a conflict, officials said, Mr. Bush would ask Congress for the money as an emergency supplement. The budget calls for cuts in a wide range of domestic spending, including trims in Justice Department programs on juvenile delinquency and tribal courts and a halt in financing for the hiring of police officers. Money for a public housing program and aid to rural schools also would be cut. Over time, government-financed child care and children's health insurance would be reduced. Democrats immediately attacked the White House for the deficits and what they called the most fiscally irresponsible budget in decades. "The president's budget is worse than a bad movie that no one wants to see twice," Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate Democratic leader, said in a statement distributed by his office. 'It's a budget-busting epic disaster.' " 02.04.03
nyt | related stories

"BUSH IS FUDGING THE RUINOUS COSTS OF WAR" "LARRY LINDSEY was basically correct. The former White House economic policy chief, removed after last fall's elections for excessive candor in public, had tried to put the cost of an impending invasion of Iraq in broad outline and offered a range of $100 billion to $200 billion. The White House suggested that Lindsey's guesstimating was wildly excessive. " 02.04.03
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"The North Korean nuclear crisis is far more perilous than many people realize." "The White House, wanting to keep the focus on Iraq, did not even bother to tell us that satellite images show North Korea apparently taking steps toward reprocessing plutonium. It was left to my Times colleague David (Scoop) Sanger to alert the public a few days ago. Can you imagine if it were Iraq that had been spotted moving nuclear fuel around? The news that the Pentagon is reinforcing its preparedness on the Korean Peninsula suggests that it doesn't believe the White House lullabies either. When North Korea has reprocessed its plutonium and built five more nuclear weapons, probably by summer, it'll try to pressure us into a new package deal. To understand how dangerous the Korean Peninsula could become, consider one worst-case scenario: " 02.04.03
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RUMSFELD PLACES BOMBERS ON ALERT. WHITE HOUSE INSISTS NO CURRENT PLANS FOR NUKE FACILITY ATTACK "Administration officials, in private briefings to members of Congress, have confirmed that North Korea appears to be moving spent nuclear spent-fuel rods that have been in storage since 1994. If reprocessed into plutonium, those rods would provide the raw material for upwards of a half dozen weapons - about one a month once the reprocessing plant is in full operation, experts say. That gives Mr. Bush a window of what one senior official said today was "a few weeks to a few months to decide if he wants to do something about Yongbyon," the nuclear complex, before the plutonium production is under way, and any military strike would risk spreading radioactive pollution around the Korean Peninsula. Both White House and Pentagon officials insisted there were no current plans to attack the Yongbyon nuclear facility, the center of North Korea's plutonium project. But the forward deployment to Guam would cut the bombers' flying time to the Korean Peninsula, and consideration of the move suggests that the Pentagon and the White House are concerned that they may need more power on short notice, even as many forces ordinarily based in the Pacific have been sent to the Middle East. " 02.04.03
nyt | related stories

"Bush's blind obsession with Saddam risks not one war but two. " "Bush administration policy, compared with that of Pyongyang, is indeed inscrutable. It now transpires that the White House knew of proscribed nuclear activity in North Korea in November 2001, but did not tell Congress. It also knew but initially kept quiet about Pakistan's provision of uranium enrichment expertise in return for North Korean missile technology, because it needs (for now) to keep Pakistan on side. It backs North Korea's containment even as George Bush insists that containment is for cissies. It stresses diplomacy but, having undercut Seoul's and Tokyo's fence-mending, refuses direct talks. This confusion and deceit stems from Mr Bush's insistence on "doing" Iraq first, regardless of relative threat levels. But North Korea, exploiting the Iraq preoccupation, may not politely wait until the US is ready to attack. Its next gambler's throw could be a provocative nuclear or missile test. Thus does Mr Bush's blind obsession with Saddam risk not one war but two. " 02.04.03
guardian ed | related stories

NORTH KOREA SAYS IT'S READY FOR WAR WITH U.S. "The International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday that its board will meet Feb. 12 to discuss the situation. If the agency formally reports to the United Nations Security Council that North Korea is in noncompliance, it could lead to UN sanctions or other punitive measures. North Korea has said it would regard sanctions as an act of war. . " 02.04.03
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WE SHOULD END THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM --KRUGMAN "The sad truth is that for many years NASA has struggled to invent reasons to put people into space - sort of the way the Bush administration struggles to invent reasons to . . . but let's not get into that today. It's an open secret that the only real purpose of the International Space Station is to give us a reason to keep flying space shuttles. Does that mean people should never again go into space? Of course not. Technology marches on: someday we will have a cost-effective way to get people into orbit and back again. At that point it will be worth rethinking the uses of space. I'm not giving up on the dream of space colonization. But our current approach - using hugely expensive rockets to launch a handful of people into space, where they have nothing much to do - is a dead end. " 02.04.03
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ALONG WITH NASA'S "HIGH RISK" REPORT CAME THE SAME CONCLUSION ON EDUCATION, HOUSING, HOMELAND SECURITY, AND OUR GVT. COMPUTER SYSTEM "The striking thing to me is that the GAO report, which reiterated these criticisms of NASA operations for the 13th straight year, also identified 22 other major federal programs as equally "high-risk." And only seven of the 14 operations that were on that original 1990 "high-risk" list have been improved enough to warrant removal. Among the many areas of government where critical services are seriously deficient, or costs and inefficiencies are unacceptably high, according to the GAO, are many that directly affect the lives and well-being of the American people. Agencies on the watch list include the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. Several operations of the Defense Department are in the same category -- a signal to Congress and the White House that attention must be paid. The new Department of Homeland Security was given a "high-risk" rating at its birth, mainly because of the organizational challenges facing Secretary Tom Ridge and his associates and the concern that its vital functions could be lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. More worrisome is the "high-risk" label that has been applied since 1997 to the lagging performance of the government in securing the country's computerized information systems, including those of federal agencies themselves. The threat of cyber warfare -- or sabotage of communications -- continues to grow, the report says, while "we continue to report significant information security weaknesses in 24 major federal agencies." All this is ominously reminiscent of warnings of the growing threat of terrorism to people and property inside the United States that came from the commission headed by former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart -- an alarm bell that went unheeded until Sept. 11, 2001, and one that they say is still not being sufficiently addressed. . " 02.04.03
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"America is about to begin a bad war." Can the economy afford it without UN help? "This war didn't have to happen. Good wars are defined as ones that have to be fought, and this one clearly doesn't have to be fought. But good or bad, it's the war we have, so the question is how to proceed. It is essential the Bush administration wins Security Council backing. The nonsense we hear about our sovereign right to make war alone is patriotic blather. Vietnam proved that America is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and the idea of flipping off nations that might help is self-defeating. The difference between going in alone and going in with full 15-nation Security Council support is enormous. Security Council support legitimizes a bad war. International support in the first Gulf War was worth about $60 billion, and that was a relatively cheap war. This one will be far more expensive in lives, money and retribution, and we need to spread the pain. Unlike the 1991 war, this one will present big postwar obligations. With U.N. support, those obligations can be shared, as they have been with conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. America, with a sinking economy at home, needs to share the costs. Without council support, America will be exposed for years to come, and exposed alone. Our economy and markets have been paralyzed for months. Markets don't like a rising deficit, a falling dollar and an administration obsessed with war to the detriment of sensible domestic policies. Markets know that money spent on Iraq is money not spent on America. Sure, we can walk away from Iraq after the fighting dies down, but that's what we did in Afghanistan a decade ago, and look what happened. Council support is vital. Forget the Bush sophistry about not needing a second council vote and forget the insults directed at nations like France and Germany (Canada is next) that don't agree on Bush's rush to war.... People don't like Bush's war. They are not convinced a post-Saddam Iraq will be better than the present one. The single line in Bush's State of the Union message about postwar Iraq – "we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies and freedom" – showed how unprepared this government is for what is coming. Months ago I pointed out why Bush policy led inevitably to war. Bush would have preferred ignoring the Security Council and just having his war, but public opinion wouldn't let him. So he went to the council. But there was always a contradiction between his demand for "regime change" – which made weapons inspections irrelevant – and the council's demand for weapons inspections. " 02.04.03
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FORMER U.S. GULF WAR ENVOY SAYS BUSH WAR REASONS CONFUSING, BUSH TOOK AWAY SADDAM'S INCENTIVE TO COOPERATE "Wilson said President Bush has three objectives in going to war with Iraq: to disarm any possible "weapons of mass destruction," to thwart possible terrorism, and to liberate Iraqis from a tyrannical leader. He understands why some of those objectives could be difficult to carry out. "Bringing democracy to the people at the point of a bayonet is going to be all that much more difficult, and it does not necessarily enhance our security," he said. And he also said chances of averting a war now are low. "Saddam heard from President Bush's State of the Union address the following message; 'I am going to kill you whether you give up your weapons of mass destruction or not,' " Wilson said. 'It's hard to deter Saddam if you're telling him you're coming to kill him. It takes away his incentive to cooperate with the weapons inspectors.' " 02.04.03
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U.S. OFFICIALS SAY ATTACK ON IRAQ WOULD STIMULATE TERRORIST ATTEMPTS BY IRAQIS "CIA director George J. Tenet told Congress in October that U.S. intelligence agencies believed Hussein, if convinced a war was inevitable, "probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions." In a letter to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), then chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Tenet said Hussein "might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a WMD [weapons of mass destruction] attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him." A senior administration official said yesterday, "That remains the agency's judgment." The CIA analysis is based on the experience of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. When U.S.-led forces began their air attacks against Baghdad, one of Iraq's intelligence agencies attempted unsuccessfully to carry out terrorist bombings against U.S. embassies and other facilities, including targets in Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta, according to U.S. intelligence assessments. According to these assessments, Hussein sent pairs of agents to many countries where they were to pick up explosives or weapons that had already been sent abroad. The CIA's Counterterrorism Center put into operation a plan in 1991 very similar to today's in which U.S. and other intelligence services identified and watched Iraqis and their allies. After the war, former CIA director William H. Webster said, "At our request, these teams were picked up; they were interrogated; they were arrested where there was cause to do so; and when there were no legal grounds for arrest, they were deported." A U.S. intelligence official said last week that the administration expects Hussein 'to try to do this again, and we can't expect to be as successful this time as we were in 1991. We were lucky then and their agents can't be as inept as they were then.' " 02.04.03
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IRAQI WATER AND SANITATION COULD BE A MILITARY TARGET, BRITISH OFFICIAL WARNS "The Ministry of Defence yesterday admitted the electricity system that powers water and sanitation for the Iraqi people could be a military target, despite warnings that its destruction would cause a humanitarian tragedy. While military planners insist they have taken into account the humanitarian threat in the event of hostilities breaking out, a spokesman for the MoD admitted decisions may have to be made where a potential target had a "dual use". But any plan to bomb Iraq's electricity system will anger aid charities, whose warnings were repeated by the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, last week. Ms Short, who is to take up the matter with the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon later this week, said that "any bombing to take out electronic capacity and thus disarm anti-aircraft capacity could present a danger to electrics and damage water and sanitation facilities as a consequence". 'There would be the resultant danger that people would not have access to water and that sanitation facilities would be even worse than they are now. Clearly, preparations need to be made against that eventuality so that the health of the people of Iraq does not suffer.' " 02.04.03
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BLAIR VISIT TO BUSH CONSIDERED A FAILURE Mr Blair has utterly failed to engage the Bush administration on the Arab-Israel problem - a situation which poses a far greater and more imminent threat to British interests in the Middle East than Iraq, and a much more significant contributor to popular support, in the Arab and wider Islamic world, for al-Qa'eda. It may well be too late to revert to a policy of containing Iraq which we and the Security Council have followed - without undue risk or alarms - over the past 11 years. But the implications for security in the Middle East, and for Kurdish aspirations vis-a-vis their populations in Syria, Iran and Turkey, if we attempt to impose the American view of history on Iraq and her neighbours, makes this a potentially lethal point in the history of our own country. I just hope that Mr Blair will have been persuaded to point out some of these dangers to Mr Bush this weekend. 02.04.03
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Non, je ne regrette rien. BLAIR, CHIRAC WILL MEET. "The fact is that Britain and France have it in their power today to shape the outcome over Iraq, to re-energise the Middle East peace process, to set an agenda for aid to Africa, to shape the future of the enlarged EU, and to put themselves at the heart of a European counterbalance to the United States. Not a bad day's work, by any standards. Neither country could do any of these things alone. So why do they not set their sights on doing them together?" 02.04.03
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COLOMBIAN ARMY CHIEF VISITED PENTAGON TO GET MORE FUNDS FOR HIS "WAR ON THE POOR" "The United States has been at war in Colombia for over 50 years. It has, however, hesitated to explain precisely who it is fighting. Officially, it is now involved there in a "war on terror". Before September 2001, it was a "war on drugs"; before that, a "war on communism". In essence, however, US intervention in Colombia is unchanged: this remains, as it has always been, a war on the poor. " 02.04.03
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SHRON REJECTED BY LABOR PARTY LEADER OVER SETTLEMENTS "The leader of Israel's Labour party yesterday told Ariel Sharon he would not join a coalition government unless the prime minister agreed to shut Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and begin negotiations with the Palestinians. " 02.04.03
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We've got a bunch of right-wing wackos at the N.R.A. controlling everything." "A former senior firearms industry executive said in an affidavit filed in court in San Diego yesterday that gun manufacturers had long known that some of their dealers corruptly sold guns to criminals but pressured one another into remaining silent for fear of legal liability. It is the first time a senior official in the gun industry has broken ranks to challenge practices in the business. " 02.04.03
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BUSH'S MISGUIDED POT WAR "With the arrest of a medical-marijuana advocate who grows the drug for use by the seriously ill, the Bush administration's war on marijuana has escalated out of control. " 02.04.03
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BUSH BIZ CONNECTION TO EX-GOV. KEAN --9/11 BUSH-APPOINTED INVESTIGATOR-- IS THROUGH BCCI-BIN LADEN PLAYER "When George W. Bush's first choice to head an "independent" probe into the Sept. 11 attacks -- suspected war criminal Henry Kissinger -- went down like a bad pretzel, he quickly plucked another warm body from the stagnant pool of Establishment worthies who are periodically called upon to roll out the whitewash when the big boys screw up.Kissinger's replacement, retired New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, was a "safe pair of hands," we were assured by the professional assurers in the mainstream media....But now it seems that Kean might possess some unique insights of his own. Fortune Magazine reports this week that both Kean and Bush share an unusually well-placed business partner: one Khalid bin Mahfouz -- perhaps better known as "Osama bin Laden's bagman" or even "Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law." " 02.03.03
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FIVE DEGREES OF BIN LADEN "In December, President Bush named Thomas Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, chairman of an independent commission examining the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But FORTUNE has learned that Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network he's investigating--al Qaeda. Here's how the dots connect: Kean is a director of petroleum giant Amerada Hess, which in 1998 formed a joint venture--known as Delta Hess--with Delta Oil, a Saudi Arabian company, to develop oil fields in Azerbaijan. One of Delta's backers is Khalid bin Mahfouz, a shadowy Saudi patriarch married to one of Osama bin Laden's sisters. Mahfouz, who is suspected of funding charities linked to al Qaeda, is even named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by families of Sept. 11 victims. True, Hess is hardly the only company to cross paths with Mahfouz: He has shown up in dealings with, among others, ultra-secretive investment firm Carlyle Group and BCCI, the lender toppled by fraud in 1992. Kean, who was unavailable for comment, may not have been aware of the Mahfouz connection. But Hess spokesman Carl Tursi did reveal another interesting coincidence: Three weeks before Kean's appointment, Hess severed its ties with Delta. " 02.03.03
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MONEY MAN BEHIND BUSH RISE IN TEXAS IS TIED TO SEN. FRIST'S HMO FORTUNE "Richard Rainwater and George W. Bush - Rainwater, one of the founders of Columbia HCA in the 1980s, is a friend and business associate of Bush’s, who, as reported by the New York Times, is one of the main reasons Bush was able to make millions of his past business investments. Rainwater played a major role in the investment of Bush into the Texas Rangers baseball team, which netted Bush more than $10 million upon its sale. In 1995, soon after meeting with Columbia HCA President Richard Scott, then Governor Bush vetoed a Texas patient protection bill. The bill, which Columbia HCA was very much against, would have expanded the number of children and adults covered by the state’s health insurance program for the poor. (“Midas Touch Was Billionaire’s Gift to Bush”, Barry Meier, New York Times, October 30th, 1999; Center for Public Integrity News Conference, January 2000)
Tennessee Senator Bill Frist and George W. Bush -Senator Frist, who has held enormous stock in HCA, disclosing that in 1994 $13 million of his personal wealth of $20 million was in HCA stock, was on the short list of potential choices by Bush to be his Vice-Presidential running mate (Dick Cheney was eventually chosen). Frist's father and brother founded Columbia HCA. He has been called the Republican point-man in the Senate on Health issues and opposes the proposed patients’ bill of rights. (“VP horse race hitting the final pole: Decision time approaching for GOP’s George W. Bush” , Ron Fournier and Douglas Kiker, The Telegraph Online (AP Story), July 22, 2000) " 02.03.03
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BUSH COOKS THE BOOKS BY CHANGING BUDGET PROJECTION RULES TO FIT THE SITUATION "This administration knows how to play the numbers game to its advantage and doesn't hesitate to do so. During the last round of tax cuts, the administration used the 10-year window to make its figures look good. It promoted the projected surplus, two-thirds of which was forecast to be enjoyed in years six through 10, to help the tax cuts appear affordable. It also set the tax cuts to expire at the end of 2010, enjoying a year of savings that no one really expected to happen. Somehow, the administration wasn't quite so troubled about long-range forecasts then. Now that the administration wants -- surprise! -- to make the tax cuts permanent, that 10-year horizon doesn't look quite so rosy. According to estimates by the CBO, the cost of extending the tax cuts would be $600 billion in the first three years alone -- money that the five-year plan deals with by simply putting it off the books. Limiting the projection to five years would ...White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. is doing away with the practice of issuing 10-year forecasts of budgetary trends." 02.03.03
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ELEVEN AMERICANS KILLED IN AIR CRASHES LAST WEEK "LAST THURSDAY, on a high Afghan plain seven miles east of Bagram air base, a Blackhawk helicopter went down, killing the entire crew. The four U.S. soldiers who died in the accident, like the seven astronauts who perished Saturday, were volunteers, taking on risks they understood well in service of their country. Beyond their units and their families, their deaths attracted little notice -- a paragraph or two in some newspapers, not even that in others. " 02.03.03
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SOME TIE SHUTTLE LOSS TO IRAQ WAR "What happened yesterday further reinforces my belief that we should find diplomatic solutions instead of threatening other countries with invasion," Jason Rapps, an engineer with Motorola, said as he left a supermarket in Coral Springs, Fla. "The loss of the space shuttle should at the very least make us stop and think about thrusting ourselves into a conflict that will only make world relations worse, not better," Mr. Rapps said. For others, any idea that America is invincible vanished on Saturday when all the resources and science invested in the shuttle program could not save seven astronauts from death as their craft hurtled toward Earth. " 02.03.03
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WHITE HOUSE ACCUSED OF SHORTCHANGING SECURITY BUDGET "A study by the Brookings Institution last month called for an overall domestic security budget of $45 billion next year, nearly $4 billion more than the administration will seek. Members of a bipartisan commission led by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman have suggested that spending on domestic security be increased even more. "We should be talking about literally doubling the budget for these programs," said Stephen E. Flynn, the staff director of the panel, which was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. The commission warned in a report last October that the United States remained "dangerously unprepared" to deal with terrorist attacks. "I'm shocked that we're still having this conversation, especially since I think the threat of a catastrophic domestic strike is likely to peak with the prospect of a war with Iraq," said Mr. Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander. " 02.03.03
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BUSH SPEECH "SKIMMED ALONG EDGES OF REALITY," PARTICULARLY RE SADDAM AND AL QUEDA "As far as the connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq is concerned, one of the most prominent authorities on the deadly terrorist group remains unimpressed by the evidence offered up to date - including Bush’s stab at connecting those dots in the State of the Union, during which he insisted that "Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda." Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. (Free Press, 2001) and a fellow at the New America Foundation, told me after the speech that the Saddam/Osama connection "is really [the administration’s] default mode, isn’t it?" Bergen pointed me to his December article in the Nation, in which he pooh-poohs the Iraq/Al Qaeda link as "somewhere between tenuous and nonexistent." "Al Qaeda members live in 60 countries around the globe," Bergen wrote in the Nation, "so by the law of averages a few of them will show up in Iraq. Indeed, intelligence estimates suggest there are some 100 Al Qaeda members at large in the United States, although that is not an argument to start bombing Washington." " 02.03.03
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U.S. INTELLIGENCE AGENTS PUZZLED BY BUSH, POWELL CLAIMS OF SADDAM-AL QUEDA CONNECTION "Intelligence officials said they are puzzled by the administration's new push. "To my knowledge, there's nothing new," said a senior U.S. intelligence official who asked not to be identified. The expectation within the CIA regarding Powell's speech, the source said, "is that it's going to be more comprehensive than bombastic and new." Intelligence officials have discounted if not dismissed other information believed to point to possible links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The CIA said it can find no evidence supporting post-Sept. 11 reports that Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers in the attacks, met with an Iraqi agent in the Czech capital, Prague, in 2001. Similarly, intelligence officials described reports that Hussein is funding an Al Qaeda-connected extremist group in northern Iraq as "wildly overstated." There is no evidence so far to confirm that Iraq is arming, financing or controlling the group, known as Ansar al-Islam, one official said. "There isn't a factual basis for such assertions," the official said. " 02.03.03
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TURKISH COOPERATION KEY TO U.S. TAKEOVER OF KURDISH OIL "As the threat of war looms, tensions are growing in northern Iraq. Secret armies, spies, ethnic tribal militias and competing national interests are all desperately jockeying for position in the oil-rich, Kurdish-controlled area. U.S. Special Forces commandos and Central Intelligence Agency spies have already flooded into the region as the vanguard of an invasion force that will sweep south toward Baghdad.... Turkish newspapers say Washington has asked for permission to deploy up to 80,000 troops inside the country along with another 5,000 to 6,000 Special Forces units that would be inserted into northern Iraq to secure the region's oil wells in advance of a full-scale war. " 02.03.03
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BUSH GOAL IS TO RESHAPE THE WORLD...AND WIN THE NEXT ELECTION "If Bush wins in Iraq with 'acceptable' casualties, we will enter a more dangerous period than any in the last half century....One morning last week I heard a New York Times correspondent being asked on the radio if he believed war could be averted with Saddam Hussein in power. No, he said. The substance of the journalist's position was that George Bush would not go into the next election with Saddam shouting abuse from Baghdad. One can just visualise the Democrats' TV ads. They flash up a picture of Osama bin Laden and the commentary says: "George Bush promised to bring him in dead or alive." And then a picture of Saddam: "He promised to bring him in." And then a picture of George W: "Where are they George?" It is a prospect to chill the heart of the toughest campaigner. Mr Bush knows he will have little good news on the economic front to woo the electorate. There is muttering aplenty in the heartland about how he is the rich son of a rich father who cares too much for rich folks. If the President can't tell Americans that he's made their world (as distinct from "the world") a safer place, he has nothing at all to offer." 02.03.03
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BUSH IN BOX OF HIS OWN MAKING. IF CONTINUED, HISTORY WILL SEE HIM AS BULLY, NOT HERO "Now we have a relatively piddling enemy, whose "weapons of mass destruction" are not nuclear warheads with ICBMs capable of delivering them to the American mainland but suspected supplies of chemicals and germs that would virtually have to be FedExed to reach here. And we're saying the threat is so dangerous, and so imminent, that we must launch a unilateral war. And there's the box of the president's own logic, which seems to go something like this: Because Hussein is not only lying about his weapons of mass destruction but also intends to use them against us, the prudent course is for us to zap him now. But if Hussein believes that, wouldn't his prudent course be to use his weapons of mass destruction before we blow them -- and him -- to smithereens? I mean, if he believes what Bush has been trying to get us to believe -- that the Yanks are coming with or without the pusillanimous Europeans -- why should he die with his own gun holstered? And if Saddam doesn't believe it, and behaves accordingly, Bush is likely to see war as the only option. But even a war that ostensibly would be waged against terrorism would have the likely effect of generating new legions of anti-American terrorists throughout the Arab world, and maybe here as well. The final box is more or less speculation on my part: that Bush has been sold a scenario in which he gets to play hero thwarting a threat to civilization as we know it. It's like having had the prescience and the gumption to eliminate Hitler before the devastation of World War II. What's missing is that you cannot demonstrate before the fact that either Hitler or Hussein is such a menace to civilization. And to kill before that evidence is in may prompt history to remember you more as an international bully than as a hero. " 02.03.03
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WHO WOULD JESUS DESTROY? THE STORY THUS FAR "In reading Woodward’s portrayal of Bush and his advisers slowly groping toward a response to the terrorist attacks, you can see them arriving at an extraordinary position: that they will reserve unto themselves the right to go to war against anyone, at any time, for any reason as long as they can justify to themselves that it’s part of their ill-defined, open-ended war on terrorism. That explains a lot — their initial disdain for the UN, their contempt for Europe, their attitude of "trust us" when it comes to showing evidence to justify the adventure on which they are about to embark. " 02.03.03
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DOESN'T THE REST OF THE WORLD UNDERSTAND THAT BUSH KNOWS FOR A FACT THAT GOD IS ON OUR SIDE? "This religiosity, as we would describe it, suggests that in a way Americans consider themselves a chosen people. The British had the same delusion in the 19th century. But whereas we thought God had directed us to civilise the world, the Americans evidently believe themselves instructed to pacify it. This explains their astonishment that the rest of the world should fail to share their view of Iraq." 02.03.03
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ALTHOUGH BUSH IS DESTROYING HIS CREDIBILITY, HE SAYS IT'S SADDAM WHO CAN'T BE TRUSTED "George W. Bush has conferred an aura of inevitability to a war on Iraq. An American president does not tell his 150,000 troops waiting in the desert that "crucial hours lie ahead" and not give them something to do — soon. He does not have his secretary of state declare that "multilateralism cannot become an excuse for inaction" and not order action. The only questions are how and when and at what price for whom. The powerful always have their way. That's not new. The scandal here is that there is no longer even the pretence of a nod to the rule of international law. If the United Nations won't legitimize the war, the U.N. may be dispensed with. That's what the president said Tuesday. That's about what Colin Powell will say Wednesday when he gives the Security Council additional "evidence" against Iraq. Lost in the stampede for war is its Orwellian rationale. "Iraq is defying the will of the United Nations," says Powell, so there must be war — in defiance of the majority wishes of the United Nations. There must be war to bring democracy to Iraq — defying the democratic and popular will of the peoples and governments of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Far East. There must be war so Saddam Hussein and his murderous coterie can be charged with crimes against humanity, even if the U.S. does not recognize the International Criminal Court. There must be war because Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted, even if Bush loses his own credibility in the process. " 02.03.03
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ANTI-BUSH-WAR MOVEMENT ACROSS POLITICAL SPECTRUM, TOO DIVERSE FOR SINGLE LEADER "As President Bush moves the nation closer to a military confrontation to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction, an array of domestic opinion-makers have been raising their voices against war. The past few days alone have seen a spate of critical speeches from politicians of both parties, protests from religious leaders, peace rallies in Washington and other cities, and advertising campaigns attacking the drift to war. A group of 40 American Nobel laureates, including several Pentagon consultants, joined corporate chiefs, academics and former military officials in issuing statements opposing a unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States. The sound and fury on the streets and op-ed pages reflect deep divisions within the foreign policy establishment over the Bush administration's choice of Iraq as the next target of its war on terrorism. " 02.03.03
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CONSERVATIVE CATO THINKERS SAY NO TO BUSH IRAQ WAR "For months the Bush administration has been preparing the country for war with Iraq. The administration has argued that only a forcible regime change can neutralize the threat that Saddam Hussein is said to pose. But the assumptions that underlie the administration's policy range from cautiously pessimistic to outright fallacious. First, there is a prevalent belief that if Iraq is able to obtain nuclear weapons it will inevitably use them. Second, there is a notion that Hussein is totally irrational and cannot be trusted to act in a predictable manner; and, because of that, his leadership creates a substantial risk of instability in the Middle East. Finally, many people in the United States have come to believe that war in Iraq may be the only means of nullifying the threat posed by Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. There are less costly strategies for dealing with Hussein than conducting a war. Hussein, while he may not act morally, is rational in the sense that economists and political scientists use the term. An examination of his past actions indicates that his principal need is to maintain his own physical and political survival. Using that knowledge, Washington can develop a strategy that would allow the United States to deter Hussein from taking actions detrimental to U.S. national security, without engaging him in warfare. " 02.03.03
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BLAIR CONFIDENT OF FRENCH SUPPORT, DOWNING SOURCES SAY ""Downing Street is increasingly confident that the French president, Jacques Chirac, will eventually throw his weight behind a second UN security resolution authorising military action against Iraq... As Tony Blair prepares to attend tomorrow's Anglo-French summit, Downing Street believes Mr Chirac will repeat the tactics of his arch adversary, François Mitterrand, who supported the 1991 Gulf war at the last moment." " 02.03.03
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MUST CANADA FOLLOW BUSH INTO IRAQ? "Our two countries share a belief in democracy and freedom, we're told. But the notion that U.S. foreign policy is about promoting democracy and freedom in the world seems like more and more of a stretch. Of course, there's nothing new about the U.S. being aggressive in the world. Interfering in the affairs of other countries is as American as apple pie. But in the past, U.S. interventionism was held somewhat in check by the existence of another well-armed superpower. With the end of the Soviet threat, Washington hawks inside the elder Bush's administration, including Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, quickly spotted an opportunity and developed plans for asserting U.S. power more forcefully in the world - plans that were taken up with new zeal when those same hawks ended up in prominent positions inside the younger Bush's administration. And that was before 9/11 really gave them the all-systems-go. So Iraqis shouldn't take this personally. The upcoming invasion of their country is actually part of a larger shift in U.S. foreign policy that will likely bring more of these sorts of interventions around the globe in the future. " 02.03.03
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IS CLINTON IN THE WAY OF PROGRESSIVE CHANGE IN DEM PARTY? "If the Democratic Party in exile is ever to find a new voice and sense of purpose, it will first have to get around a peculiar obstacle left behind by the Clinton era: The man did not really go away. Other former Presidents went home gracefully when their terms ended and essentially disappeared from national politics. Bill Clinton is keeping his hand in, also his handsome face and savvy intellect, plus his insider influence as strategist and money-raiser. Many Democrats still hunger for Clinton's magic touch. Others loathe him like the dinner guest who won't leave at a polite hour. But Clinton's active presence and, more important, his concept of how Democrats should govern remain at the party's vital center. This is bad news for those who think a progressive overhaul is necessary for the Dems to again become the majority party." 02.03.03
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TEXAS PROFESSOR SUED BY CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES, INVESTIGATED BY ASHCROFT'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, BECAUSE HE INSISTS ON SCIENTIFIC THEORY OF EVOLUTION ""The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution," Dr. Dini wrote. "How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology expect to properly practice in a field that is so heavily based on biology?" That was enough for the lawyers' group, based in Plano, a Dallas suburb, to file a complaint on behalf of a 22-year-old Texas Tech student, Micah Spradling. Mr. Spradling said he sat in on two sessions of Dr. Dini's introductory biology class and shortly afterward noticed the guidelines on the professor's Web site ( Mr. Spradling said that given the professor's position, there was "no way" he would have enrolled in Dr. Dini's class or asked him for a recommendation to medical school. " 02.03.03
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Shuttle Disaster Stirs Already Unsettled Feelings Across the Country "For Americans already grappling with a confluence of threatening events, the instinctive reaction was, "What next?"...In the initial aftermath of the Challenger disaster, the national and official mood was numbness. Only later did it become apparent that NASA had long had evidence of the very vulnerability that caused that accident, the O-rings on the shuttle's solid fuel rockets, which tended to become brittle and shrink in cold weather like that on the morning of the Challenger's ill-fated launching. Engineers had warned of the possibility just hours before the launching. So, too, in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, there was national unity and great reluctance to question the government missteps or intelligence failures that might have left the nation vulnerable to such brutal attack."
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"WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS REJECTED" WARNING LETTER FROM NASA ENGINEER, "SIMILAR WARNING LAST APRIL," DEM SEN. SPOKE OUT "Fears of a catastrophic shuttle accident were raised last summer with the White House by a former Nasa engineer who pleaded for a presidential order to halt all further shuttle flights until safety issues had been addressed. In a letter to the White House, Don Nelson, who served with Nasa for 36 years until he retired in 1999, wrote to President George W. Bush warning that his 'intervention' was necessary to 'prevent another catastrophic space shuttle accident'. During his last 11 years at Nasa, Nelson served as a mission operations evaluator for proposed advanced space transportation projects. He was on the initial design team for the space shuttle. He participated in every shuttle upgrade until his retirement. "
beaumont | related stories

Bush Budget Document Claims "Inefficient Safety Upgrades" At NASA, But Cuts Bidget In Favor Of Tax Cuts "The proposed 2003 budget for NASA would scale back spending on the international space station and space shuttle but promote the development of nuclear technology in space. The space shuttle program, which Bush administration budget documents scold for inefficient safety upgrades, would receive about $65 million less than its $3.3 billion last year. In fact, the White House plan would consider outsourcing many shuttle jobs to private contractors, and even sell off some of the shuttle hardware.....Taking a politically risky position, the Bush plan would push the development of nuclear power and propulsion for future missions into space....But it could also set of storms of protests from activists who called into question the safety of past nuclear probes, citing the risks of accidental crashes should something go wrong at launch. "
cnn | related stories

ALTHOUGH BUSH GIVES ALL SIGNS OF GOING TO WAR, HE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE COST OF A WAR IN HIS BUDGET, NOR DOES HE INCLUDE THE COST OF HIS VARIOUS TAX CUTS "Not since the early days of Ronald Reagan's presidency has an administration harbored such bold ambitions and such a lack of concern about red ink. White House officials concede that deficits could top $300 billion this year and next, and the budget will probably not project a return to surpluses in the next five years.But as stark as that outlook will be, it will still leave out the costs for a long list of other measures.White House officials said this week that they would propose an increase of roughly $16 billion for military spending in the 2004 fiscal year, but they also conceded that they might ask for additional billions in the months ahead even if the country does not fight a war with Iraq...If the country does goes to war, Mr. Bush plans to ask Congress for additional billions to cover those costs as well. The president's budget will also leave out other big new liabilities linked to his tax plans....Nor will the budget include the huge costs of Mr. Bush's call to make his tax cuts from 2001 permanent. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that cost at $785 billion over 10 years, but almost none of those costs will show up until nearly the end of the decade. Mr. Bush's Democratic opponents in Congress are already starting to attack the budget as "reckless" and "irresponsible," and House Democrats have calculated that the sum total of Mr. Bush's tax plans would add $1.7 trillion in debt by 2011."
nyt | related stories

WILL SADDAM FOSTER A REGIME CHANGE BY FORCING A RECESSION? "Saddam Hussein of Iraq may have another weapon of mass destruction in his armoury - the economic effects of war. Changes in oil prices and the cost of conflict might just produce regime change in Saudi Arabia and recession for us all."
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INVESTMENT BANK PREDICTS OIL CRISIS CAUSED BY WAR ""The world will suffer a bigger oil crisis than that during the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1973 if the US declares war on Iraq, according to leading US investment bank Goldman Sachs." "
observer | related stories

BUSH AFTER FLIPPER AS PART OF AXIS OF ENVIRONMENTAL EVIL. BUSH WAR ON ENVIRONMENT RESORTS TO FRIDAY NIGHT ATTACK, DESTRUCTION OF THE DOLPHINS "Last Tuesday, as the world was gathering to hear what President Bush was going to say about war with Iraq, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) rose in the Senate to note that the commander in chief had already gone to war against the environment....She mentioned incursions against clean air and clean water, all announced in after-hours, Friday-night releases that proclaimed that in pursuit of cleaner air and water, present air and water standards had to be rolled back, while trees had to be chopped down to save forests. Most important, she pointed out a new and unforgivable target of the president's assault on the world of nature: the dolphin. Bush may rue the day. He is messing with one of the most undeniably delightful of God's creations, one loved by humans since the time of the Greeks. He might as well declare open season on golden retrievers."
mc grory | related stories

THE HYDROGEN CAR IS JUST ANOTHER BUSH BOONDOGGLE, CREATING AS MUCH POLLUTION AS THE GAS CAR AND BENEFITING THE GAS, OIL, AND COAL INDUSTRY "Bush's new initiative for fuel-cell research is not as Birkenstock-friendly as it might seem. In fact, the proposal, which will cost $1.2 billion over five years, could do much to benefit the fossil-fuel and nuclear power industries. That's because while hydrogen fuel cells produce nothing more than water vapor, the production of hydrogen itself can be environmentally harmful. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it doesn't exist naturally on earth in its pure form. "Just as the oil is locked up in the Middle East, hydrogen is all locked up in compounds," said Robert Rose, executive director of the Breakthrough Technologies Institute in Washington and a leading advocate of hydrogen fuel cells. Energy is required to produce hydrogen - and that energy, depending on its source, can create greenhouse gases. According to the Energy Department, 96 percent of hydrogen produced in the world today comes from natural gas, oil and coal - the same fossil fuels that environmentalists would like to abandon. These industries are not only poised to become the main producers of hydrogen, but they are also likely to control the networks that distribute it....'This is a way to appear to be doing something without doing anything about the cars on the road today.'" "
nyt | related stories

BUSH AND VENEMAN INEXCUSABLY REFUSE TO GET BEHIND LEGISLATION TO PROTECT US FROM BAD MEAT "A court ruling last week in Nebraska has dealt a devastating blow to the nation's program for policing meat safety. It calls into question the government's authority to shut down meat plants for repeatedly violating sanitary standards designed to combat bacterial contamination and outbreaks of food-borne illness. Even now, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman refuses to acknowledge the grievous damage inflicted on her department's food safety efforts by the courts' suggestion that the government has no authority to close a plant based on public health considerations. She still hesitates to get behind legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Richard Durbin of Illinois, Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and others that would close this and other gaping holes in the nation's food safety system. That is inexcusable"
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BUSH WANTS TO FIGHT AIDS BY CREATING MORE BUREAUCRACY, LEADING TO POOR USE OF AVAILABLE FUNDS "Congress should also direct the bulk of Washington's contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the organization that the international community has established. Yesterday Health Secretary Tommy Thompson was elected chairman of the Global Fund's board. Mr. Bush wants to channel only $1 billion of the $10 billion through the organization. That would be a serious blow to the fund, which has more good proposals from countries than it can finance, and would eliminate the chance to raise matching funds from other nations.The Bush administration's preference for unilateral solutions is likely to lead to a far less efficient use of the money. American conduits, such as the Agency for International Development, are not in a position to administer the funds, and it is counterproductive to build a parallel bureaucracy when an existing organization of proven efficiency and an identical mission desperately needs financing."
nyt ed | related stories

WILL BUSH BE HONEST ABOUT AIDS PREVENTION AND CONDOMS? "It is one thing to offer live-saving medicines to the dying, quite another to promote AIDS prevention, which involves discussions of multiple sex partners and condoms. This is, after all, the same administration that has insisted that AIDS prevention efforts in the United States stress abstinence until marriage and that banned aid to international family-planning programs if they happened to permit abortions....Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who has long argued for more money to combat global AIDS, said he was surprised last week to see the White House abandon its focus on mother-to-child transmission, which doesn't involve issues of sexual behavior. "That was the safest course to follow," Mr. Durbin said. "It was not politically charged. It didn't involve any reference to gay sex or the use of condoms." The new initiative almost certainly will. Aimed at 12 African nations, as well as Haiti and Guyana, its goal is to prevent seven million new infections, provide treatment and care for 10 million infected people and orphans, and offer anti-retroviral drugs for two million people. Slightly more than half the money will pay for drugs; 15 percent will pay for treatment and care; and the rest, White House officials say, will go toward prevention, including abstinence education, media campaigns and, yes, condom distribution....Conservatives have another reason to like Mr. Bush's approach: the White House says religious groups and faith-based organizations will be eligible for some of the money. "
stolberg | related stories

IS RICE A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING, OR IS SHE JUST HAVING PROBLEMS WITH ADMITTING HOW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION HELPED HER GET WHERE SHE IS TODAY? "There were several points at which her blackness (and her gender) doubtless helped to open doors that might well have remained closed to brilliance alone. To put it another way, her blackness and her gender added to her appeal, especially in the context of the white, mainly male foreign-policy boys' club....Some critics suspect Ms. Rice of working behind the scenes to kill off affirmative action while pretending to support it in public. It seems more likely to me that she is still struggling toward an understanding of the roles that race — and racism — have played in the life of Condoleezza Rice and the life of the nation. "
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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IS A WAY TO PAPER OVER THE FAILURE OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM "Diversity distracts us from a simple but painful truth, which is that persistent black educational failure (and Hispanic failure, to a lesser extent) has made it impossible for the most selective schools to become substantially integrated using their own traditional criteria of merit. The problem is minority access to elite institutions, not white access to minority students. And perhaps we should say that if an elaborate charade is the only way to guarantee such access, then we shouldn't make a fetish of transparency, or even honesty. Perhaps. But I wonder if eliminating that mechanism wouldn't force universities -- and the rest of us -- to do something about the educational failure that has made affirmative action necessary in the first place."
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BUSH EGO "GROWING FASTER THAN ECONOMY" " "Bush's ego seems to be growing much faster than the economy. Notice that he more and more uses the personal pronoun - "I" am sick and tired, he says, and "I" have no desire to watch the rerun of an old movie. This is an emperor talking, not the president of a republic. The relationship between two sovereign nations is not a matter of personalities. Bush's personal feelings and prejudices are not the basis on which U.S. government policy should be formulated. Bush doesn't seem to take criticism very well, and he tends to resort to name-calling when world leaders disagree with him, as if mere disagreement were a mortal sin. Well, Saddam Hussein is no Hitler; George Bush is no Winston Churchill. And this war will definitely not be our finest hour."
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IT'S OUR FOREIGN POLICY, STUPID ! "We are in this mess because the Bush administration foreign policy is based on lies. It is based on lies in order to avoid the politically incorrect truth that our problem with terrorism is solely the result of our outrageously unjust policy of blind support of Israel. Neither Bush nor Congress wants to admit this, so they come up with absurd lies that terrorists are jealous of our freedom and wealth....the state of Israel stands in open, stick-it-where-the-sun-don't-shine defiance of more than 60 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is able to do so because the United States refuses to allow any enforcement actions to be taken against Israel. You do see the contradiction, do you not? Enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq is OK, even if it means killing half a million Iraqi children, but no U.N. resolution can be enforced against Israel. It is not surprising that Arabs do not like that policy. Their dislike is quite rational and moral."
reese archives | related stories

ARE THE TERRORISTS SUCCEEDING? "In 1976 the renowned Harvard physicist Gerald Holton presented a paper, "Reflection on Modern Terrorism," to a conference at Stanford. Terrorism was not new; it had sometimes succeeded, sometimes failed. More was coming, "biblical scales of terror." How to respond? The first lesson, Holton wrote, was that terrorists "succeeded when they produced a drastic modification in the target group of its traditional perception of society and nature within which human life had previously been thinkable." Can we not grasp this? Do we want to teach our children you must be checked by an armed guard in order to read a book? Or gaze in wonder at a giant Christmas tree? There are indeed buildings that need to be secured. And not a few. But there are places in the public square that do not need that. Might something go wrong? Yes. Nothing new. But the stability of the American National Government is not served by an intimidated citizenry. Add that to the Principles. "
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BUSH WANTS SWIFT WAR TO SECURE OIL, WEAPONS, AND ARCHIVES "The American attack on Iraq that is now a few weeks away will look familiar in its opening hours. As they did in Iraq in 1991 and Kosovo in 1999, U.S. pilots will roar in without serious opposition to destroy remaining surface-to-air missile batteries and radars and to disrupt communications. But that will be prelude to a vastly different campaign, which is being shaped not only by the clear risks of confronting Iraq's chemical and biological weapons but also by a trio of goals that for now go unhighlighted by the Bush administration. "
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PENTAGON SAYS MASSIVE BOMBING WILL SHUT DOWN CITY WATER, ELECTRICITY BUT GOAL IS TO MINIMIZE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEMS "The Pentagon's war plan for Iraq calls for unleashing 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours of the opening air campaign, an effort intended to stagger and isolate the Iraqi military and quickly pave the way for a ground attack to topple a government in shock....The initial bombardment would use 10 times the number of precision-guided weapons fired in the first two days of the Persian Gulf war of 1991, and the targets would be air defenses, political and military headquarters, communications facilities and suspected chemical and biological delivery systems, military and other Pentagon officials say....The air war would be significant for what the targets will not be as much as for what they will be....The air campaign is intended to limit damage to Iraqi infrastructure and to minimize civilian casualties...The air campaign would shut down but not destroy important city services, like water and electricity, so they could more easily be restarted to minimize public health problems. "
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"I’ve never covered a president before who wanted a war." Thomas " American media and other institutions are accepting the inevitability of war, she says, as easily as shopping for groceries. Only the timing seems to be in question. “It’s not like going shopping for a loaf of bread,” she practically shouts. She is outraged at the Bush administration’s pattern of curtailing civil rights -- spying on e-mails, detaining suspects without charging them, checking up on library records, transporting prisoners in containers. Congress, the United Nations Security Council, the media and the American public have been cowed by George W. Bush. Americans fear terrorism and fear being called unpatriotic if they criticize the president, she says. “I think it’s unpatriotic not to dissent, not to protest against things that are wrong,” Thomas said. "
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War is Bush's fixed idea. From sea to shining sea, people reject it "It was 10 June when Thomas E Ricks and Vernon Loeb reported in The Washington Post that under this new doctrine, according to Pentagon officials, the US would consider using high-yield nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis. The use of such weapons would be reserved, according to these officials, for deployment "against biological weapons that can be best destroyed by sustained exposure to the high heat of a nuclear blast". Some bunkers in Iraq, the Post was told by Stephen M Younger, the director of the Defence Department's Defence Threat Reduction Agency, are in fact "so incredibly hard" that "they do require high-yield nuclear weapons". I never saw this mentioned again. I never heard anyone refer to it. Not even during the discussions of nuclear intentions that occurred six months later, after the administration released a reminder that the United States reserved the right, if it or its allies were attacked with weapons of mass destruction, to respond with nuclear as well as conventional force. But let's look at where we are."
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American publishers have been churning out glossy memorials to the Twin Towers and bullish pro-war propaganda. But do their arguments stand up? "The most recent and most meretricious contribution to this utterly fraudulent "debate" in the United States is The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, New York) by Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA spook and an ex-director for "Gulf affairs" at the National Security Council. It's the book that all America is supposed to be talking about and its title (the "Threatening Storm" is, of course, a copy-cat version of The Gathering Storm, the first volume of Winston Churchill's Second World War history) tells you all you need to know about the contents. Just as George W Bush last year tried to dress himself up as Churchill fighting appeasement, so Pollack twice pretends that the world is confronting the same dilemma that confronted Britain and France in 1938. "
fisk | related stories

Chicago, Philly, Detroit, Portland Among Cities Passing Resolutions Against Bush's Confrontation With Iraq "Spurred by local antiwar sentiment, dozens of cities and counties around the country have passed resolutions imploring President Bush to slow down his confrontation with Iraq. Some of the resolutions ask for more evidence that Iraq is hiding weapons. Some urge Mr. Bush to work more closely with the United Nations. Almost all oppose a unilateral strike. City and county councils in 20 states have passed such measures, from small towns like Woodstock, N.Y., to cities as large as Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Many have liberal leanings, like Berkeley, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; and Santa Fe, N.M. But others, like Des Moines; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and Blaine County, Idaho, have large numbers of Republican voters. This past week, resolutions were approved by the Board of Commissioners of Multnomah County, which includes Portland; and by city councils in Cleveland; Tacoma, Wash.; Nederland, Colo.; Amherst, Mass.; and Topanga, Calif., bringing to 57 the number of municipalities that have acted. Together, they represent about 13 million people. More resolutions may be on the way. Officials at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, a nonpartisan group helping to organize municipal campaigns against the war, said that nearly 70 other cities and counties — and one state legislature, Maine's — were considering similar resolutions."
nyt | related stories

POLL SUGGESTS REPUBLICANS WOULD BACK BUSH WAR WITHOUT UN, DEMS DON'T "For the first time in Post-ABC News surveys, about half of all Americans say the United States should take military action even without the endorsement of the United Nations...The poll suggests that the country has not reached consensus on key questions regarding a possible invasion. Half of those interviewed agreed with Bush that the United States should give U.N. weapons inspectors only a few more weeks to search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, while nearly as many are willing to give them a few months or more before going to war. About half the country is concerned that a war with Iraq would take money way from needed programs, but just as many are not concerned about the war's cost. Opinions regarding the possible invasion also continue to have a strongly partisan cast, with Republicans much more likely to support Bush's aggressive stance, which most Democrats oppose."
wp | related stories

BUSH HAS FAILED TO MAKE HIS CASE FOR AN IRAQ ATTACK "The State of the Union address was President Bush's opportunity to make the case for a unilateral invasion of Iraq. He failed to do so in a convincing manner. How we get rid of Saddam Hussein is as important in the long run as just getting rid of him. If we do it the wrong way, our action could seriously damage larger national interests."
bradley | related stories

BUSH WANTS TO USE UN TO "LEGITIMISE A DECISION...ALREADY MADE" BY HIM "President Bush said in the two leaders' depressing and illuminating joint press conference at the White House last week that he would like a second United Nations resolution authorising military action, but that he would go to war without one. So, if there is a second resolution there will be a war. If there is no second resolution there will still be a war. This farce is undermining the authority of the UN rather than enhancing it. The UN is being used by Mr Blair to make the war palatable to the Labour Party, and by Mr Bush to legitimise a decision that he has already made."
ind ed | related stories

BLAIR MISSED HIS CHANCE IN BUSH MEETING "This weekend, Tony Blair had an opportunity to set out a serious alternative to war with Iraq and to speak for the heart of Europe. Instead he has sided with the dangerous views of the Conservative hawks in Washington. In doing so, he has failed to articulate and to defend our own national interest and even, one might argue, the national interest of the United States itself. He has also diminished rather than strengthened the capacity of the international community to defeat terrorism and has missed an important opportunity to strengthen America's own voices of dissent. This marks a critical moment in Mr. Blair's premiership, for British foreign policy and for world peace."
observer ed | related stories

WHAT EUROPE COULD DO TO MORE FULLY INTEGRATE MUSLIMS INTO ITS SOCIETY "It is no surprise that the 15 million Muslims in the European Union should be ripe for recruitment by Al Qaeda. They live on the margins of European society, socially, economically and politically.''European nations like Britain need to end reflexive multiculturalism — for example, lax language and cultural education requirements for naturalization — that perversely discourages Muslims from learning the ways of their new countries, thus isolating them from the mainstream and fueling radicalization. Stricter requirements for citizenship may also dissolve racial or religious biases among majority populations."
stevenson | related stories

UNLIKE OTHER NATIONS, WE SURE FATTEN UP OUR KIDS IN SCHOOL "American children are among the fattest in the world, and the readily available junk food has plenty to do with setting up unhealthy eating habits. Meanwhile, other nations focus on the basics: appetizing yet healthful, these lunches offer children all the choice they need. "
shell | related stories

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