.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

 

NYT: Medicaid Hurdle for Immigrants May Hurt Others

By ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON, April 15 — More than 50 million Medicaid recipients will soon have to produce birth certificates, passports or other documents to prove that they are United States citizens, and everyone who applies for coverage after June 30 will have to show similar documents under a new federal law.

The requirement is meant to stop the "theft of Medicaid benefits by illegal aliens," in the words of Representative Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia, a principal author of the provision, which was signed into law by President Bush on Feb. 8.

In enforcing the new requirement, federal and state officials must take account of passions stirred by weeks of national debate over immigration policy. State officials worry that many blacks, American Indians and other poor people will be unable to come up with the documents needed to prove citizenship. In addition, hospital executives said they were concerned that the law could increase their costs, by reducing the number of patients with insurance.

The new requirement takes effect on July 1. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will save the federal government $220 million over five years and $735 million over 10 years.
Estimates of the number of people who will be affected vary widely. The budget office expects that 35,000 people will lose coverage by 2015. Most of them will be illegal immigrants, it said, but some will be citizens unable to produce the necessary documents. Some Medicaid experts put the numbers much higher, saying that millions of citizens could find their health benefits in jeopardy.

State officials are trying to figure out how to comply. Many said the requirement would result in denying benefits to some poor people who were entitled to Medicaid but could not find the necessary documents.

"This provision is misguided and will serve as a barrier to health care for otherwise eligible United States citizens," said Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington, a Democrat. Ms. Gregoire said the provision would cause hardship for many older African-Americans who never received birth certificates and for homeless people who did not have ready access to family records.

The new requirement is causing alarm in Indian country. Representative Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican whose district includes more than 145,000 Navajos and Apaches, is urging the Bush administration to let people qualify for Medicaid by showing "certificates of Indian blood" and other forms of tribal identification.

Full Story, New York Times.


Friday, April 14, 2006

 

Greenwald: A Resolute Fantasy World

By N.Y. Civil Rights Attorney Glenn Greenwald, on his blog

One virtually never sees any disagreement among Bush supporters with regard to Iraq or terrorism policies, but Powerline has a very brave and surprising post -- to which all three of its luminaries contributed -- which expresses disagreement with yesterday’s essay from world-renowned and esteemed military historian Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, who smeared the motives of the retired American Generals who are criticizing the administration’s war effort, by claiming that the Generals are only saying these things to sell books and enrich themselves. Powerline is having none of it.

According to Powerline, Dr. Hanson is wildly off-base. From them we learn that “those griping ex-Generals” are not motivated by a desire to sell books. Rather, they are voicing these criticisms because they are “mostly, in effect, Clinton appointees,” because they are simply “’old school’ generals who object to Rumsfeld’s pet theories” of military transformation, and because these are the rejects who got forced out of their jobs because they “didn’t fit with the new program.” Hanson was right, of course, that these Generals were operating from base and venal motives; he just got the specific smear wrong.

What is so notable (but unsurprising) here is the reaction of Bush followers to the extremely unusual and extraordinary event of seeing retired Generals criticize not just specific strategic decisions, but the overall mismanagement of the war, and in some cases, the wisdom of the war itself. As I pointed out yesterday, the fact that a bunch of generals hold a certain view does not, by itself, mean that the view is correct, including on military matters. But contrary to the deceitful attempt of Bush followers to pretend that this is some sort of commonplace event (“Generals are always griping about something”), it is remarkable, and significant on at least some level, for this many Generals to make these types of overarching and very public criticisms while a war is still ongoing.

In response, Bush followers have publicly speculated about every defamatory motive which could be fueling these Generals -- they have embraced every possible explanation except for the possibility that these Generals might actually hold these views sincerely. This behavior really illustrates, more than anything else, exactly how we were led into a war that has been a disaster on every front, and how we have stubbornly remained on the same course well past the time it became objectively apparent that this course was leading to nothing but abject failure.

The first objective -- which worked very well for a good couple of years -- was to prevent all dissenting views by labeling those who questioned the war or who opposed it as subversives, traitors, Friends of the Terrorists, America-haters, and crazed radicals. That took care of dissenting views for awhile, ensuring an echo chamber where the President’s views on the war were basically unchallenged. But the profound error of their judgments and the rank falseness of their claims could not be obscured forever, because the reality of the war slowly exposed the truth. But amazingly, facts do not deter them either.

Every fact that contradicts their initial premises is discarded as fiction or the by-product of malice. Every opinion that undermines their position can be explained only by venal and corrupt motives. Every event that transpires which deviates from what they predicted ends up being the fault of others. And any individual who questions their grand plan for epic and glorious triumph in a never-ending, all-consuming War of Civilizations is someone who is either weak-willed, weak-minded, or just plain subversive -- whether that be life-long public servants like Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson (both of whom were smeared by Powerline in a separate post yesterday, which quoted RealClearPolitics calling them “Political hacks” and “fools” who “espouse positions publicly that they know to be untrue”); life-long conservatives like William Buckley or George Will, and even American military generals, including those who actually led ground troops in Iraq as recently as 2004.

The number of people left who are sufficiently noble and brave to wage this Great and Glorious Battle is dwindling every day. There is no fact which can’t be dismissed away, no source whose motives are beyond reproach, no event which can’t be blamed on others. I wrote a post on C&L a couple months ago about this dynamic, when - in that one week alone -- there were multiple independent polls, events, and facts that all contradicted their world view, and each was just casually waved away as biased, fictitious lies. The war in Iraq was the Good and Right thing to do, and nothing will or can ever change that fact -- not the non-existence of the WMDs that primarily justified it, nor the emergence of a civil war, nor the installation of an Iran-controlled Shiite theocracy, nor the opinion of military generals. Their beliefs are in place forever and are to be defended against any fact.

Every possibility is in play except for an acknowledgment that they might have been wrong about something. It is a resolute fantasy world that they cling to for dear life, because everything that matters to them resides in that world. And the most significant aspect of all is that the person most afflicted with this fact-immune syndrome is the person who resides in the White House and controls our Government, and will for the next 2 1/2 years. There are few situations more destructive and dangerous than for a volatile situation to be controlled by people for whom faith in one’s own rightness is infinitely more persuasive, and more sacred, than facts and reality.

Source: Glenn Greenwald blog.

 

Salon: The Slow-Motion Trap

His presidency was built on secrecy and, we now know, on lies. The more Bush struggles to free himself, the more his past deceptions bind him.

By Sidney Blumenthal - right

President Bush has been in search of himself for two and a half years. His voyage of self-discovery began on Sept. 30, 2003. Asked what he knew about senior White House officials anonymously leaking the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, he expressed his earnest desire to help special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald ferret out the perpetrators. “I want to know the truth,” he said. “If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.”


Bush didn’t stop there. He issued an all-points bulletin requesting help for the prosecutor. “And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.” The day before, the president had sent out his press secretary, Scott McClellan, to announce that involvement in this incident would be a firing offense: “If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.”

Last week, however, in a filing in his perjury and obstruction of justice case against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Fitzgerald revealed that Libby had been authorized by the president and vice president to leak parts of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to reporters.

The White House’s initial response was for an anonymous “senior administration official” to leak to the New York Times that Bush had played “only a peripheral role in the release of the classified material and was uninformed about the specifics,” as the Times reported. The White House source, trying to remove the president from the glare, fingered Cheney as the instigator.

On Monday, Bush appeared at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where a graduate student asked him about his role in the leak of classified information. The president, who had once perplexedly said, “I want to know the truth,” replied, “I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth.” Was blind but now he sees? Grace (or Patrick Fitzgerald) had led him home.


Bush acted in the beginning as an innocent injured party. He pretended to be utterly baffled by events. His feigned unawareness was intended to deflect attention from himself. His call to find those responsible was to ensure that the facts would never be known. When he was exposed, he donned a new guise. Instead of the seeker of truth, he became the truth teller.

But the classified information he authorized to be selectively leaked -- that Saddam Hussein was seeking to purchase yellowcake uranium in Niger for use in nuclear weapons -- was not the truth, and its release was intended to buttress a falsehood. Indeed, last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told journalist Robert Scheer that the notorious 16 words in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address concerning Iraq’s supposed efforts to buy uranium -- the claim that former ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate -- were bogus. “That was a big mistake,” Powell said. “It should never have been in the speech. I didn’t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn’t a Niger connection. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. I never believed it.” Thus, three years after the event, Powell finally admitted publicly that the president spoke falsely about the reason for war, that there were interested parties inside the administration determined to put false words in his mouth, and that the secretary of state, knowing this, lacked the power to stop it.

Bush as the man of truth offered a convoluted explanation of the declassification process. He retreated into technical legalisms that as the man of action he had disdained. “You’re not supposed to talk about classified information, and so I declassified the document,” he said at Johns Hopkins. “I thought it was important for people to get a better sense for why I was saying what I was saying in my speeches.”

Once again, he offered a misleading statement. The completely irregular process of Bush’s declassification, so unprecedented that Scooter Libby was unsure it was legal, was a badge of guilt. The declassification reflected a vengeful impulse against a critic and was an inadvertent confession of the fragility and tenuousness of Bush’s case for war.

Fitzgerald’s filing of April 5, the cue for Bush’s latest theater of the absurd, provides previously lacking details of the narrative. Through Fitzgerald’s further filings before the January 2007 trial of Scooter Libby, other crucial facts may yet emerge. In his prosecution of Libby, Fitzgerald is establishing indisputable facts about the history of the Bush presidency and its methods of operation.

Fitzgerald writes that the Office of the Vice President viewed Wilson’s revelation of his mission to Niger and what he didn’t find there “as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president (and the president) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq.” So, Fitzgerald continues, the White House undertook “a plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against” Wilson that included as one of its elements outing the covert identity of his wife. The “concerted action” against Wilson was centrally organized and directed. The prosecutor writes that he has gathered “evidence that multiple officials in the White House discussed her employment with reporters prior to (and after) July 14 [2003]” -- the date her activities tracking weapons of mass destruction for the CIA were compromised by being publicized by conservative columnist Robert Novak. (Full disclosure: Joseph Wilson and I became friends when we worked together in the Clinton administration.)

While one part of the “concerted action” was to attempt to damage Wilson by attacking him through his wife, another was to manipulate the press to undermine Wilson’s credibility. Cheney ordered Libby to act as the leaker. The plan, according to Libby’s testimony, was to “disclose certain information in the NIE” to New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Libby and Miller had worked this way before when she had published a series of stories asserting that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD based on leaks she received and that were in circular fashion cited by the administration as authoritative reports by the “newspaper of record.” Libby testified that he was directed to leak to her that the NIE “held that Iraq was ‘vigorously trying to procure’ uranium.”

In the setup for the leak, Fitzgerald writes, Cheney “advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE” and that that approval was a secret. Libby was a team player, but he was also anxious about a declassification that was “unique in his experience.”

The formal rules for declassification were amended by Bush’s Executive Order 13292 of March 25, 2003, on “Classified National Security Information.” Under any circumstances the president has the authority, as he always has, to unilaterally declassify official secrets and intelligence “in the public interest.” But a decision to declassify a document normally passes through the originating agency and then through the Office of the National Security Advisor. Then the document is stamped declassified and the declassified order is appended to the document.

None of these procedures was followed in this case, which is why Libby’s antenna was gyrating. He sought the advice of Cheney’s counsel, David Addington, Libby’s close ally. In approaching Addington, Libby must have known what he would hear. Addington is the foremost legal advocate in the White House of the idea that the president should be unbound, unchecked, unfettered in his authority, whether in the torture of detainees, domestic surveillance or any other matter. Unsurprisingly, Addington “opined that presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document.”


Only four people -- Bush, Cheney, Libby and Addington -- were privy to the declassification. It was kept secret from the director of central intelligence, the secretary of state and the national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, among others. Indeed, Hadley was arguing at the time for declassification of the NIE but was deliberately kept in the dark that it was no longer classified. Fitzgerald writes about Libby: “Defendant fails to mention ... that he consciously decided not to make Mr. Hadley aware of the fact that defendant himself had already been disseminating the NIE by leaking it to reporters while Mr. Hadley sought to get it formally declassified.” Having Hadley play the fool became part of the game.

On July 8, Libby met with Miller. In a dance of mutual deception, Libby misrepresented the contents of the NIE, which Miller apparently accepted at face value, as she had accepted such leaks in the past. With an air of mystery, telling Miller she should identify him in her story as “a former Hill staffer,” Libby vouched for a document some of whose information he knew to be false, failing to note that the NIE notably did not prove that Saddam was seeking uranium in Niger; on the contrary, the NIE contained a caveat from the State Department’s Intelligence and Research Bureau saying that the rumors “do not, however, add up to a compelling case.” For her part, Miller thought she was receiving classified, not declassified, material, as she wrote later in her post-prison account in the Times.

Ten days after their meeting, which did not result in a story, the already declassified NIE was formally declassified as though it had never been declassified. The date of its declassification in the official government record, in fact, reads July 18, 2003, not the date that Bush declassified it for the purpose of Libby’s leaking.

After the launch of the federal investigation, Libby became frantic. He knew that he had leaked Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity and that others had, too, and he wanted to be protected. Fitzgerald writes that “while the President was unaware of the role that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment, defendant implored White House officials to have a public statement issued exonerating him.” But there was no forthcoming statement. Libby implored Cheney “in having his name cleared.” But Cheney did nothing for his henchman. In a White House that demands impeccable loyalty, loyalty was not being returned.

Libby not only knew that Hadley had leaked Plame’s identity; he also knew that Karl Rove, the president’s principal political advisor, had leaked her name to Novak. Libby linked himself to Rove in his desperate coverup. He gave press secretary Scott McClellan a handwritten note, almost in the form of a haiku. It read:

People have made too much of the difference in
How I described Karl and Libby
I’ve talked to Libby.
I said it was ridiculous about Karl
And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story.
And he did not leak classified information.

On Oct. 4, 2003, McClellan informed the White House press corps that Rove and Libby (and National Security Council staff member Elliott Abrams) were innocent of the charges of leaking Plame’s name -- “those individuals assured me that they were not involved in this.”


Then Libby appeared before the grand jury, where he several times claimed under oath that he learned about Plame’s identity from reporters. On Oct. 28, 2005, he was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald’s filing demolishes Libby’s projected defense as a busy man with so many important matters of state on his mind that he just can’t remember exactly who told him what about Plame. Here, in his own words, Libby recalls precisely his anxiety about the “unique” declassification and the others who leaked Plame’s name. Libby may now wonder why he should play the fall guy, unless the scenario is to hope for a presidential pardon on the morning of Jan. 20, 2009, the day Bush leaves office.

President Bush, having previously play-acted as unknowing, is now engaged in the make-believe that he is helping people “see the truth.” Yet the White House refuses to declassify the one-page summary of the NIE used to brief Bush. Presumably, it contains the caveats from various intelligence sources on Saddam’s WMD, showing that the case remained unproved and shaky when Bush presented it as conclusive.

The White House also refuses to release the transcripts of Bush’s and Cheney’s testimony before the prosecutor. As witnesses they are not bound by any rule of secrecy and are free to discuss their testimony publicly. During the Watergate investigation, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Nixon had to turn over his secret audiotapes to the prosecutor. Fitzgerald obviously already has the White House transcripts. Only the public is uninformed of their contents. Why won’t the White House release them now? Indeed, there is a precedent. On June 24, 2000, then Vice President Al Gore made public his testimony to the Justice Department investigation into campaign finance. (While Bush and Cheney insisted on giving testimony without being sworn under oath, they remain legally liable. Under Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code, anyone who testifies falsely in a federal inquiry may be fined and sentenced to five years in prison.)

Bush is entangled in his own past. His explanations compound his troubles and point to the original falsehoods. Through his first term, Bush was able to escape by blaming the Democrats, casting aspersions on the motives of his critics and changing the subject. But his methods have become self-defeating. When he utters the word “truth” now most of the public is mistrustful. His accumulated history overshadows what he might say.

The collapse of trust was cemented into his presidency from the start. A compulsion for secrecy undergirds the Bush White House. Power, as Bush and Cheney see it, thrives by excluding diverse points of view. Bush’s presidency operates on the notion that the fewer the questions, the better the decision. The State Department has been treated like a foreign country; the closest associates of the elder President Bush, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, have been excluded; the career professional staff have been bullied and quashed; the Republican-dominated Congress has abdicated oversight; and influential elements of the press have been complicit.

Inside the administration, the breakdown of the national security process has produced a vacuum filled by dogmatic fixations that become more rigid as reality increasingly fails to cooperate. But the conceit that executive fiat can substitute for fact has not sustained the illusion of omnipotence.

The precipitating event of the investigation of the Bush White House -- Wilson’s disclosure about his Niger mission -- was an effort by a lifelong Foreign Service officer to set the record straight and force a debate on the reasons for going to war. Wilson stood for the public discussion that had been suppressed. The Bush White House’s “concerted action” against him therefore involved an attempt to poison the wellsprings of democracy.

-- By Sidney Blumenthal

 

AFP: Kerry joins generals calling for Rumsfeld ouster

Sen. Kerry
US Senator John Kerry, left, the Democratic contender at the last presidential election, and other top democrats have joined recent calls for a change of Pentagon leadership.  (AFP/File/Jim Watson)
 
President George W. Bush expressed full confidence in embattled US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld despite mounting calls for his resignation by retired generals who say his arrogant leadership led to critical mistakes in Iraq.
 
Full AFP News story.
 
      1. * UKG: US allies are behind the death squads and ethnic cleansing
      2. * Sheehan: Don't attack Iran
If those links don't work, try: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

UCS: Simulation showing why a nuclear "Bunker Buster" will not work

From the Union of Concerned Scientists.*

Click on the headline, or the link below, and pass it on to everyone:

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nuclear_weapons/nuclear-bunker-buster-rnep-animation.html

*From the UCS webpage: UCS is an independent nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists. We augment rigorous scientific analysis with innovative thinking and committed citizen advocacy to build a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world.

UCS's programs are the means by which we accomplish this. They are the pressure points translating vision into action. Through them, we connect the best scientific insights with the knowledge and support of an astute citizenry and apply them to the machinery of government at all levels -- with results that have set a standard for effective advocacy for decades.

UCS was founded in 1969 by faculty members and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who were concerned about the misuse of science and technology in society. Their statement called for the redirection of scientific research to pressing environmental and social problems.

From that beginning, UCS has become a powerful voice for change. Our core groups of scientists and engineers collaborate with colleagues across the country to conduct technical studies on renewable energy options, the impacts of global warming, the risks of genetically engineered crops, and other related topics. We share the results of our research with policymakers, the news media, and the public.

 

UKG: US allies are behind the death squads and ethnic cleansing

Iraq's American overlords at last seem to have grasped the danger posed by their friends' militias. But it may be too late

Jonathan SteeleBy Jonathan Steele in Baghdad, right -- Friday April 14, 2006 - Guardian

Much ink, as well as indignation, is being spent on whether Iraq is on the verge of, in the midst of, or nowhere near civil war. Wherever you stand in this largely semantic debate, the one certainty is that the seedbed for the country's self-destruction is Iraq's plethora of militias. In the apt phrase of Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador in Baghdad, they are the "infrastructure of civil war".

He is not the first US overlord in Iraq to spot the danger. Shortly before the formal transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis, America's then top official Paul Bremer ordered all militias to disband. Some members could join the new army. Others would have to look for civilian work.

His decree was not enforced and now, two years later, this failure has come back to haunt Iraq. "More Iraqis are dying from militia violence than from the terrorists," Khalilzad said recently. "The militias need to be under control."

His blunt comment came in the wake of over 1,000 abductions and murders in a single month, most of them blamed on Shia militias. Terrified residents of Baghdad's mainly Sunni areas talk of cars roaring up after dark, uninhibited by the police in spite of the curfew. They enter homes and seize people, whose bodies turn up later, often garotted or marked with holes from electric drills - evidence of torture before assassination.

Khalilzad's denunciation of the militias was an extraordinary turnaround, given that the focus of US military activity since the fall of Saddam Hussein has been the battle against foreign jihadis and a nationalist Sunni-led insurgency. Suddenly the US faces a greater "enemy within" - militias manned by the Shia community, once seen by the US as allies, and run by government ministers.

The new line, if it sticks, marks an end to previous ambiguity. Under Bremer there was a tendency to see some militias as good, that is -- on the US side, such as the peshmerga fighters that belong to the two large Kurdish parties, and others as bad, such as the Mahdi army of the Shia cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, who opposes the occupation.

A third militia, the Badr organisation, was also tolerated. It is the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a leading Shia political party which supported the invasion and is Washington's main interlocutor in the Shia coalition.

US officials paid lip service to the need to disband the militias, but never showed any sense of urgency. As a Pentagon report to Congress put it last year: "The realities of Iraq's political and security landscape work against completing the transition and reintegration of all Iraq's militias in the short term."

Iraqi leaders praised the militias, claiming they were subordinate to the defence and interior ministries, and therefore in no way a rogue element. The Badr organisation has even been put in charge of defending the home of the Shias' revered religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, described the Badr organisation last summer as a "shield" defending Iraq, while the president, Jalal Talabani, claimed the Badr organisation and the peshmerga were patriots who "are important to fulfilling this sacred task, establishing a democratic, federal and independent Iraq".

The flaw in the picture was that while the Kurds and Shias had two militias each, the Sunnis had none. Sunni chiefs could rustle up a few gunmen from extended family ranks, when necessary, as had been done for centuries, but there was nothing on the scale of Badr, the Mahdi, or the peshmerga. Many Sunnis welcomed the anti-occupation insurgents as a kind of surrogate militia.

Sunni anger increased with evidence of secret prisons, run by the interior ministry, where hundreds of men and boys, mainly Sunnis, were tortured, and of "death squads" operating against Sunnis. In response, Baghdad's Sunni neighbourhoods have started to form vigilante groups to defend their turf.

US officials now view the militias differently. Phasing them out by integrating their members into the official forces of law and order is seen as risky, unless the leadership changes. In February this year the new Pentagon line was that integration could result in security forces that "may be more loyal to their political support organisation than to the central Iraqi government", according to a new study, Iraq's Evolving Insurgency and the Risk of Civil War by Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Now the US is trying to ensure that political control over the interior and defence ministries is jointly managed by an all-party security council.

The encouraging signs are that Iraqi leaders are denouncing sectarian violence. Provocations such as last week's suicide attack on a Shia mosque in Baghdad appear to be the work of "outsiders". No one has claimed responsibility, but they were probably planned by agitators, foreign or Iraqi, who want to split Iraq's fragile society for their own political ends. There is also comfort in the fact that sectarian street murders stem from militias who are controllable rather than from unorganised mobs.

Just as generals do, diplomats and journalists tend to refight the last war. Schooled in Bosnia and Kosovo, Washington's officials came to Iraq with the notion that because some Iraqis were Shia and others Sunni, these identities were bound to clash. This simplification was accepted by much of the media, influenced by their own Balkan experiences. It gathered weight when people watched the sectarian behaviour of Iraq's religious leaders, particularly among the Shia. They had led the resistance to Saddam and saw no reason to retreat from politics once he was gone.

In fact Iraq has no history of Balkan-style pogroms where neighbour turns against neighbour, burning homes and shops. But it could develop now. The rampaging by Shia militias and the rise of defensive Sunni vigilantes have launched a low-intensity ethnic cleansing. Up to 30,000 people have left their homes in the last few weeks.

The crucial question is whether the militias can be rolled back at this late stage. Having allowed them to defy their initial banning orders, as well as Iraq's new constitution, which outlawed them, can the US persuade or force its Iraqi allies to disband them? Confronting the Sunni insurgency means, in crude terms, confronting an enemy. Confronting the biggest militias, Badr and the Kurdish peshmerga, means the US must confront its friends.

Source: The UK Guardian.  Contact: j.steele@guardian.co.uk.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

AP: Bush, Reid Trade Barbs on Immigration

Republicans try to blame Democrats for the bill's felony penalties for illegal immigrants

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent -- Thursday, 10:59 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush accused Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, left, on Thursday of "single-handedly thwarting" action on immigration legislation, and got a brisk retort in return.

"President Bush has as much credibility on immigration as he does on Iraq and national security," shot back the Nevada Democrat.

Bush and Reid swapped charges as Republicans disclosed a Spanish-language radio advertising campaign designed to shoulder Democrats with the responsibility for legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House that would make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges. The ads are scheduled to air in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada — states with large Hispanic populations.

The exchange was the latest in a series of maneuvers among party leaders trying to assign blame for Senate gridlock over comprehensive immigration legislation. A pending measure would strengthen border security, create a guest worker program and offer eventual citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

Supporters claim the bill has more than enough votes to pass. It was sidetracked last week when Reid and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., could not agree on a procedure for voting on amendments.

Reid insisted on sharply limiting the number of amendments by conservatives who oppose the bill. Frist wanted to ensure that GOP critics of the legislation had more opportunities to seek changes.

The Senate has not voted on the issue of penalties. In the House, Republicans drafted legislation to make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges. Democrats say they were denied a chance to eliminate criminal penalties from the bill.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

Times: Coming Home — Disillusioned

By Christopher H. Sheppard* -- Special to The Seattle Times

Three years ago, I was a Marine Corps captain on the Iraqi/Kuwaiti border, participating in the invasion of Iraq. Awestruck, I heard our howitzers thunder and watched artillery rockets rise into the night sky and streak toward Iraq — their light bathing the desert moonscape like giant arc welders.

As I watched the Iraq war begin, I completely trusted the Bush administration. I thought we were going to prove all of the left-wing antiwar protesters and dissenters wrong. I thought we were going to make America safer. Regrettably, I acknowledge that it was I who was wrong.

I believed the Bush administration when it said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I believed its assertion that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa and refine it into weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb. I believed its claim Iraq had vast quantities of biological and chemical agents. After years of thorough inspections, all of these claims have been disproved.

I believed the administration when it claimed there was overwhelming evidence Iraq was in cahoots with al-Qaida. In January 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that there was no concrete evidence linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.

I believed the administration when it grandly proclaimed we were going to bring a stable, Western-style liberal democracy to Iraq, complete with religious tolerance and the rule of law. We never had enough troops in Iraq to restore civil order and the rule of law. The Iraqi elections have produced a ruling majority of Shiite fundamentalists and marginalized the seething Sunni minority. Iraq dangerously teeters on the brink of civil war. We have emboldened Iran and destabilized the entire Middle East.

I believed the administration when it claimed the war could be done quickly and cheaply. It said the war would cost only between $50 billion and $60 billion. It said that Iraqi oil revenue would fund the country’s reconstruction. I believed President Bush when he landed on the USS Lincoln and said “major combat operations have ended.”

The war has cost the American taxpayers $250 billion and counting. The vast majority — 94 percent — of the more than 2,300 United States service members killed in Iraq have occurred since Bush’s “Top Gun” proclamation. The cost in men and materiel has been far beyond what we were led to believe.

I volunteered to go back to Iraq for the fall and winter of 2004-2005. I went back out of frustration and guilt; frustration from watching Iraq unravel on the news and guilt that I wasn’t there trying to stop it. Many fine Marines from my reserve battalion felt the same and volunteered to go back. I buried my mounting suspicions and mustered enough trust and faith in my civilian leadership to go back.

I returned disillusioned by what I saw. I participated in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. We crushed the insurgents in the city, but we only ended up scattering them throughout the province. The dumb ones stayed and died. The smart ones left town before the battle, to garner more recruits and fight another day. We were simply the little Dutch boy with our finger in the dike. In retrospect, we never had enough troops to firmly control the region; we had just enough to maintain a tenuous equilibrium.

I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq — painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.

I will never trust any of them again.

Source: Seattle Times.

*Christopher H. Sheppard is a former Marine captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer. He currently is finishing his master’s degree in mass communication and lives in Marysville, Washington.


 

Sheehan: Don't attack Iran

Spier watches Haigler chat SheehanDon't Attack Iran By Cindy Sheehan (seen with Dave Haigler & Roger Spier, in Crawford, Aug. 11, left)
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    Fresh from a resounding victory in Iraq, George Bush swaggered onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and boldly and confidently declared victory. It was a pretty war, it was a clean war, it looked stunning in all of its shock and awe. Wow, never was there such a swift and amazing American victory and it all looked so damn glamorous on CNN!

    As fake as his codpiece was, so was his "cakewalk" of an invasion. Over two thousand dead soldiers, billions of wasted dollars, and thousands of maimed young people later, with innocent Iraqis dead by the hundreds of thousands and still no consistent electricity or clean water in their country, this swaggering imbecile of a "leaker in chief" has the nerve to be trying to sell all of us on a new war in Iran.

    Do the warped neo-cons with their puppet president think that we are all stupid? Fool us once, shame on us, fool us ... well, we just can't be fooled again.

    "But our objective is to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon." (GWB on Iran, 4/10/06, at Johns Hopkins University.) So, let me get this straight, in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear, or "nucular" weapons, we will use tactical nuclear weapons on them! The continued hypocrisy of this regime is absolutely breathtaking!

    Even having nuclear weapons is crazy, but talking about deploying them is sheer insanity. Retired general Anthony Zinni said on CNN today that Iran would not just sit back and do nothing if attacked: they have the means and the capability to retaliate. Our young people in Iraq would be sitting ducks along with Israel, and our supply of natural gas and oil could be greatly compromised. I have an even scarier reason: I and others believe that using tactical nukes in Iran could start WWIII or IV. With all of the "Left Behind" religious fanatics praying for Armageddon, this thought is made even scarier by the fake believers in the White House who are exploiting the neo-Christian idea that Jesus was a warmonger and anything our great leader does is okay, because he is a Christian man!

    By putting the focus on nuclear strikes, we are also forgetting the appalling destructive power that conventional weapons wield. We must not, even for one moment, contemplate a conventional invasion in Iran, either. No matter how George Bush lies about how rosy things are in Iraq, they aren't, and Iraq is proof that war of any kind is a horribly tragic way to solve problems.

    We must not believe BushCo or anything they say about Iran. Bush has lied through his teeth so many times before: from WMD and terrorism in Iraq to the fact that no one could "anticipate" the levees breaking in New Orleans. He was the leaker of the documents that outed Valerie Plame, while he promised us that the leaker would be punished. We must not allow him to frighten us into this one.

    The doctrine of pre-emptive war is an abominable doctrine, especially when we have such a vacuum of leadership in this country that rubberstamps any maniacal thing that this president wants to do. We cannot allow our leaders to destroy the world by jousting with windmills that are no threat to our safety, or our way of life.

    We must elect leaders who will get at the root causes of terrorism and not pretend that every terrorist can ever be killed to satisfy some kind of primeval bloodlust that flows through the war machine's veins. When our leaders go terrorist hunting, they kill innocent men, women and children, and they themselves become the very thing that they are trying to teach us to loathe.

    Please go to "Don't Attack Iran" and sign the petition to our "fearless with other people's lives" leaders and tell them that you do not support an attack on Iran. We members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Code Pink Women for Peace, Traprock Peace Center, AfterDowningStreet.org, Democrat.com, Progressive Democrats of America, The Velvet Revolution, and Global Exchange urge you to sign the petition prohibiting our leaders from committing more war crimes and crimes against humanity in our names. We must loudly repudiate the crimes, lest we be accused of them also.

    We cannot allow an attack on Iran. We must restore sanity to our country, if it's not too late already.

Source: TruthOut.

If those links don't work, try: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

MMfA: Limbaugh says Dems want Al Qaeda immigrant votes

Limbaugh claimed Democratic Party is inviting Al Qaeda to "come on in over the southern border" so party can "take your votes"

Rush LimbaughDuring the April 11 broadcast of his nationally syndicated program, Rush Limbaugh, right, accused the Democratic Party of using the immigration debate as a "vehicle" to gain voters, proclaiming: "[I]f you're Al Qaeda, come on in over the southern border! The Democrats will take your votes as well!" In recent weeks, Limbaugh has frequently accused Democratic leaders such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (MA) of pandering to immigrants in the hope of gaining political power and support. Limbaugh posted a compilation (subscription required) of excerpts from his radio show on his website under the title "This Isn't About 'Immigration.' It's About Advancing Liberalism, Seizing Power and Hurting America."

Full Media Matters for America story.  M.C.: What is this man smoking?

 

UKG-AP: UK doctor court-martialed, says Iraq invasion like Nazis, sentenced to 8 months

By Richard Norton-Taylor - Thursday April 13, 2006 - The Guardian

An RAF doctor told a court martial yesterday he refused to serve in Iraq because he believed the actions of US armed forces there were "on a par with Nazi Germany".

Dr. Kendall-SmithFlight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, M.D., left, told the military court he was not prepared to take part in an "act of aggression" contrary to international law.

The 37-year-old officer, who has dual British and New Zealand citizenship and is based at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire, Scotland, has pleaded not guilty to five charges of disobeying orders, including a refusal to be deployed to Basra last year.

Yesterday, he told the court martial at Aldershot: "I have evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions. This is on the basis that ongoing acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."

Flt Lt Kendall-Smith said he considered the war in Iraq to be the equivalent of an "imperial invasion and occupation". He said he was extremely disturbed by America's "imperial campaign of military conquest", which was in direct conflict with his duties.

He added: "It struck me as incongruous and disturbing that the US air force published the phrase 'global power for America' on their documentation during the conflict. I found that the phrase 'global power for America' was imperial." Asked by David Perry, prosecuting counsel, whether he really believed that the actions of US forces in Iraq were comparable to those of the Third Reich, Flt Lt Kendall-Smith replied: "On the basis of active aggression and systematically applied war crimes, serious violations of international law - yes."

He denied trying to resign from the RAF because he had a grievance about being sent abroad at short notice.

Full U.K. Guardian story.

The Associated Press reports this morning that the military court convicted this British air force doctor of disobeying orders and sentenced him to eight months in prison after he called the Iraq war illegal and refused to return for a third tour of duty.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

AP: Iran plans 100X more uranium enrichment

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 55 minutes ago

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran intends to enrich uranium on a scale hundreds of times larger than its current level, the country's deputy nuclear chief said Wednesday, signaling its resolve to expand a program the international community insists it halt.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks in Torbate Heydarieh in Khorasan Razavi province, 890 km (530 miles) northeast of Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, April 12, 2006. Denouncing Iran's successful enrichment of uranium as unacceptable to the international community, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the U.N. Security Council must consider 'strong steps' to induce Tehran to change course. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency)President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, said Tuesday that Iran for the first time had succeeded on a small scale in enriching uranium, a key step in generating fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb. The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all enrichment activity because of suspicions the program's aim is to make weapons.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Acting speaker to convene Iraqi parliament

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 6:22 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The acting parliament speaker said Wednesday he will convene the Iraqi legislature next week to push forward the formation of a new government stalled over the issue of who will serve as prime minister.

Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni Arab who is the acting parliament speaker addresses a press conference Wednesday, April 12, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq.  Pachachi announced he will convene the Iraqi legislature Monday to push forward the formation of a new government, stalled over the issue of who will serve as prime minister, and to try to preserve the credibility of the democratic process. (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)Adnan Pachachi, left, a Sunni Arab, told a press conference he decided to convene the assembly because "it's my duty to the Iraqi people in order to preserve the credibility of the democratic process."

Pachachi added that Shiite politicians told him they hope to have the deadlock over the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari resolved in time for the session.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

If those links don't work, try: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

AP: Abramoff emails demanded results for donations

By JOHN SOLOMON and SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - When Jack Abramoff (right)'s lobbying team wanted to press Republican leaders for help with a tribal client, they minced no words. The help was deserved because Abramoff's clients overwhelmingly donated to Republicans.

E-mails that have become important evidence in the Abramoff corruption probe state the lobbyist's team bluntly discussed with a Republican Party official using large political donations as a way to pressure lawmakers and the administration into securing federal money for the Saginaw Chippewa of Michigan.

Abramoff's team ultimately prevailed in securing federal school building money for the Saginaw, overcoming opposition from a single Republican congressional aide and a federal agency along the way. And the lawmakers who helped get thousands of dollars in fresh donations.

Federal bribery law prohibits public officials from taking actions because of gifts or political donations and bars lobbyists from demanding government action in exchange for donations.
Abramoff's team repeatedly discussed donations as the reason Republican leaders should intervene for the Saginaw, the e-mails show.

"The tribes that want this (not just ours) are the only guys who take care of the Rs," Abramoff deputy Todd Boulanger wrote in a June 19, 2002, e-mail to Abramoff and his lobbying team, using "Rs" as shorthand for Republicans.

"We're going to seriously reconsider our priorities in the current lists I'm drafting right now if our friends don't weigh in with some juice. If leadership isn't going to cash in a chit for (easily) our most important project, then they are out of luck from here on out," he wrote, referring to political donation lists.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Monday, April 10, 2006

 

WaPo: Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows

By Alan Cooperman and Thomas B. Edsall, Washington Post Staff Writers -- Monday, Page A01

In an era when conservative Christians enjoy access and influence throughout the federal government, the organization that fueled their rise has fallen on hard times.

Coalition founder Pat Robertson resigned in '01.The once-mighty Christian Coalition, founded 17 years ago by the Rev. Pat Robertson, left, as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right, is more than $2 million in debt, beset by creditors' lawsuits and struggling to hold on to some of its state chapters.

In March, one of its most effective chapters, the Christian Coalition of Iowa, cut ties with the national organization and reincorporated itself as the Iowa Christian Alliance, saying it "found it impossible to continue to carry a name that in any way associated us with this national organization."

"The credibility is just not there like it once was," said Stephen L. Scheffler, president of the Iowa affiliate since 2000. "The budget has shrunk from $26 million to $1 million. There's a trail of debt. . . . We believe, our board believes, any Christian organization has an obligation to pay its debts in a timely fashion."

At its peak a decade ago, the Christian Coalition deployed a dozen lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Today, it has a single Washington employee who works out of his home. Its phone number with a 202 area code is automatically forwarded to a small office in Charleston, S.C.

The Christian Coalition is still routinely included in meetings with White House officials and conservative leaders, and is still a household name. But financial problems and a long battle over its tax status have sapped its strength, allowing it to be eclipsed by other Christian groups, such as the Family Research Council and the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Although some of those groups have begun moving into the coalition's specialty -- grass-roots voter education and get-out-the-vote drives -- none is poised to distribute 70 million voter guides through churches, as the Christian Coalition did in 2000.

The coalition's decline is a story that can perhaps best be told along biblical lines: It is the narrative of a group that wandered after the departure of its early leaders, lost faith in some of its guiding principles and struggled to keep its identity after entering the promised land -- in this case, the land of political influence.

From its inception, the coalition was built around two individuals, Robertson and Ralph Reed. Both were big personalities with big followings.

"After the founders left, the Christian Coalition never fully recovered," said James L. Guth, an expert on politics and religion at Furman University in South Carolina. "The dependence on Robertson and Reed was really disastrous."

Reed left in 1997 to become a Republican political consultant and is now seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Once a golden boy of GOP politics, he has recently had his reputation tarnished by his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Robertson resigned as the Christian Coalition's president in 2001 after defending China's one-child policy in a CNN interview that fellow conservatives viewed with horror. It was among the most damaging in a series of remarks that have hurt Robertson's standing among evangelical Christians -- and may have hurt the Christian Coalition as well.

Page 1 of this storyPage 2 of this Washington Post article.


 

AP: Thousands Rally for Immigrants Across U.S.

By MARTIGA LOHN, Associated Press Writer -- Monday, 1 hour, 29 minutes ago

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Wearing a bright green T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Mexico," 18-year-old Marco Tapia couldn't wait to join the biggest march for immigrants he had ever seen. The Mexican-born high school senior was among about 30,000 who marched through St. Paul in support of immigrant rights, and among more than half a million people who rallied Sunday in 10 states. Dozens more marches were planned nationwide Monday.

Demonstrators gather in downtown Dallas on Sunday, April 9, 2006, in support of fair immigration reform laws.  (AP Photo/Erin Trieb)Demonstrators gather in downtown Dallas on Sunday, left, yesterday, in support of fair immigration reform laws. (AP Photo/Erin Trieb)

"Hopefully this will change the way America thinks," said Tapia, a high school senior who is living illegally in Minneapolis with his mother and sister. "We're not criminals. We're just regular people like everybody else here."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.

 

WaPo: Military Propaganda Plays Up Role of Zarqawi - April 10

Jordanian Overstated As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability

By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer -- Monday, Page A01

The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Abu Musab al-ZarqawiThe documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, right, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.


For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.

In a transcript of the meeting, Harvey said, "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will -- made him more important than he really is, in some ways."

"The long-term threat is not Zarqawi or religious extremists, but these former regime types and their friends," said Harvey, who did not return phone calls seeking comment on his remarks.

Full Washington Post story.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

 

AP: Specter, Kerry & Wilson demand Bush come clean on Plame leaks

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer -- Sunday, 55 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should speak publicly about their involvement in the CIA leak case so people can understand what happened, a leading Republican senator said Sunday.

Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, Nov. 19, 2004.  (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, FILE)"We ought to get to the bottom of it so it can be evaluated, again, by the American people," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a federal court filing last week, the prosecutor in the case said Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, testified before a grand jury that he was authorized by Bush, through Cheney, to leak information from a classified document that detailed intelligence agencies' conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A lawyer knowledgeable about the case said Saturday that Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebut Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Libby be the one to disseminate the information.

"I think that it is necessary for the president and vice president to tell the American people exactly what happened," Specter told "Fox News Sunday."

"I do say that there's been enough of a showing here with what's been filed of record in court that the president of the United States owes a specific explanation to the American people ... about exactly what he did," Specter said.

Libby faces trial, likely in January, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury and investigators about what he told reporters about CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did not say in the filing that Cheney authorized Libby to leak Plame's identity, and Bush is not accused of doing anything illegal.

"The president may be entirely in the clear, and it may turn out that he had the authority to make the disclosures which were made," Specter said. But, he added, "it was not the right way to go about it because we ought not to have leaks in government."

Joe WilsonThe investigation is looking into whether Plame's identify was disclosed to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, right, an Iraq war critic. Wilson had accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

John KerrySen. John Kerry, left, the Massachusetts Democrat who ran against Bush for president in 2004, said it was wrong for Bush to declassify information selectively "in order to buttress phony arguments to go to war " and to attack people politically.

"This was not a declassification in order to really educate America. This was a declassification in order to mislead America," Kerry said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "I think it's a disgrace."

Ambassador Wilson, Plame's husband, said Sunday that Bush and Cheney should release transcripts of their interviews with Fitzgerald.

"It seems to me that first and foremost, the White House needs to come clean on this matter," Wilson said on ABC's "This Week." "My own view of this is that the White House owes the American people and particularly our service people who have been sent into war, an apology for having misrepresented the facts."

The lawyer knowledgeable about the case said Bush instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details about disseminating the intelligence to him. The lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House, said Cheney chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide.

"I don't think there's any evidence that the president told the vice president to go leak information to the press," said Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz.

Kyl said on CNN's "Late Edition" that a better way for the administration to have tried to counter Wilson's claims in a New York Times op-ed would have been to "have all of the press be given" the declassified intelligence material.

It is not known when the conversation between Bush and Cheney took place. The White House has declined to provide the date when the president used his authority to declassify the portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

"There has to be a detailed explanation as to precisely what Vice President Cheney did, what the president said to him and an explanation by the president as to what he said," Specter said.

Source: AP-Yahoo News.


 

AP: More violence marks anniversary in Baghdad

By VANESSA ARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer -- Sunday, 40 minutes ago

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Five roadside bombs killed at least three people in Iraq on Sunday -- the three-year anniversary of the Baghdad's fall to U.S. forces. Iraq police and soldiers bolstered security in the capital to prevent attacks on "Freedom Day."

US troops secure the site of a bomb blast near a Shiite shrine Saturday April 8, 2006 in Musayyib about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq.  In a new attack on Shiite Muslims, a car bomb exploded Saturday near a Shiite shrine in Musayyib, killing at least four pilgrims and wounding 15 others(AP Photo/ALI AL-MAAMORI)US troops secure the site of a bomb blast near a Shiite shrine Saturday, left, in Musayyib about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq. In a new attack on Shiite Muslims, a car bomb exploded Saturday near a Shiite shrine in Musayyib, killing at least four pilgrims and wounding 15 others. (AP Photo/ALI AL-MAAMORI)

The holiday marks the April 9, 2003 event in which a huge crowd of Iraqis cheered as U.S. Marines hauled down the statue of Saddam Hussein on Firdous Square, marking the collapse of his regime.

American troops killed eight suspected insurgents in a pre-dawn raid north of the capital. Drivers in the capital were stopped and searched by Iraqi forces at extra checkpoints in the city.

"Iraqis are pleased and displeased," said Qassim Hassan, a soldier. "They are pleased because they got rid of tyranny and dictatorship, but they are displeased because they went from bad to worse. The Iraqi street is seething between sadness and terrorism."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Immigration, Wars Trouble Americans - April 9

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer -- 1 hour, 3 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Rising anxiety has pushed immigration close to the economy in the public's view of the most important problems facing this country, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. Those issues ranked slightly behind war in Iraq and elsewhere.

U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare illegal immigrants to be transported in Three Points, Ariz., Friday, April 7, 2006. Debates over illegal immigration has lead to several protest in Arizona and throughout the country. (AP Photo/Khampha Bouaphanh)U.S. Border Patrol agents prepare illegal immigrants to be transported in Three Points, Ariz., Friday, right. Debates over illegal immigration has lead to several protest in Arizona and throughout the country. (AP Photo/Khampha Bouaphanh)

Immigration's rise in the latest survey about the nation's top problems suggests the public is keeping close watch on the immigration debate in Congress and reaction around the country.

Efforts in the Senate to pass sweeping immigration legislation faltered Friday, leaving in doubt the prospects for passage of a measure that offered the hope of citizenship to millions of men, women and children living in the United States illegally.

When people were asked this past week to name the top national problem that came to mind, 13 percent said immigration -- four times the number who said that in January. Roughly the same number, 14 percent of those polled, named the economy, according to the poll of 500 adults conducted April 3-5. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


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