Iraq war and occupationThe report says that the best outcome Iraq can hope for is "to muddle through an 18-month political transition that began when Washington formally handed over sovereignty on June 28." The report is titled "Iraq in Transition: Vortex or Catalyst?" The institute, informally known as Chatham House, says in the report, "'Kurdish separatism and Shia assertiveness work against a smooth transition to elections, while the Sunni Arab minority remains on the offensive and engaged in resistance. Antipathy to the US presence grows, not so much in a unified Iraqi nationalist backlash, but rather in a fragmented manner that could presage civil war if the US cuts and runs. Even if the US forces try to hold out and prop up the central authority, it may still lose control." The report also predicts that a three-way fragmentation, with autonomous enclaves of Kurds, Shi'a, and Sunnis each controlling their area of Iraq, is also possible. In an article in the New York Review of Books, former US ambassador to Croatia, UN official in East Timor, and current senior diplomatic fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Peter Galbraith writes that "It is a measure of how far America's once grand ambitions for Iraq have diminished that security has become more important than democracy for a mission intended not only to transform Iraq but with it the entire Middle East." Galbraith says the report's worst-case scenario is the most likely outcome. (Christian Science Monitor/Truthout)
2004 presidential electionsFranks, who says he would prefer to remain publicly neutral, is widely believed to have made his public endorsement, and his agreement to speak at the Republican national convention, in response to the prominent endorsement of John Kerry by 12 retired generals and admirals at the Democratic convention in July. Franks also challenges Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War in 1971. The Kerry campaign provides a conflicting quote from Franks on the August 3 Hannity and Colmes Fox News program: "I would say that the things that Senator Kerry said are undeniable about activities in Vietnam." And on ABC's This Week on August 8, asked if Kerry was qualified to be commander in chief, Franks responded, "Absolutely." Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade says, "General Franks has defended John Kerry's military service. Rather than join in the Madison Square Garden makeover, General Franks should admit that George Bush's miscalculations have hurt our troops, the mission isn't accomplished, and we can't afford what this Orwellian administration calls 'catastrophic success.'" Franks says that the charges and countercharges will become relevant for voters. "There are going to be dots about George W. Bush's decisions and weapons of mass destruction and the decision to go into Iraq -- good? Bad? There are going to be dots on there about the Swift Boat guys, too. And Americans are going to connect the dots." (Washington Post)
2004 presidential elections"On that terrible day, a nation became a neighborhood. All Americans became New Yorkers," he says. "so what I've wanted to do for a long time was say thank you -- in front of our country, and with our children watching. Thank you America, from the bottom of New York's heart." From that gracious and moving opening, he turns quickly into a slam of opponent John Kerry. "This is a candidate who has to Google his own name to find out where he stands" on issues, he says. Of Kerry's campaign slogan, "Hope is on the way," Pataki says it should be "Hype is on the way." He also blames Bill Clinton for creating the conditions that led to 9/11: "Osama bin Laden declared war on America -- and then came the attacks. The first World Trade Center, the embassies, the USS Cole -- hundreds dead, thousands injured. How I wish the administration at that time, in those years had done something." Pataki's grasp of recent history is tenuous at best, but the delegates lap it up, cheering and screaming and waving their purple-heart bandages, worn in mockery of John Kerry's Purple Hearts. "On September 11th, al-Qaeda attacked again," Pataki says. "But this time they made a terrible mistake. There's one thing they didn't bank on. They didn't bank on George W. Bush. He didn't run from history. He faced it."
2004 presidential electionsAmong the examples:
"Swift Boat Veterans" and campaign smearsLinda Allison recalls that her husband, a newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, received a phone call in the spring of 1972 from George H.W. Bush phoned his friend. The elder Bush wanted a favor: Could Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush? "The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Linda Allison recalls. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal." The official Bush campaign story is that Bush was given an "irresistable" offer to join the Senate campaign of Winton Blount to help him gain high-level political experience. Linda Allison recalls the situation quite differently. According to her, the younger Bush had become a political liability for his father, who was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the family wanted him out of Texas. "I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him," she says. Her husband fell out of favor with the Bush family for reasons Allison is not sure about, though she believes it was because Jimmy Allison opposed the elder Bush becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee under Richard Nixon. "something happened that I don't know about," she says. "But I do know that Jimmy didn't expect it, and it broke his heart." Allison tried to warn Bush from associating himself with Nixon, whom he did not trust. Instead, the Bushes shut the Allisons out.
"Culture Wars"Mary, who is an avowed lesbian, saying that homosexuality is "selfish hedonism" and that Mary Cheney is a sinner. When asked if that makes Mary Cheney "a selfish hedonist," Keyes responds, "Of course she is. That goes by definition." The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay and lesbian organization, denounces Keyes' remark. "In a political career defined by failures, this is a new low for Alan Keyes," says executive director Patrick Guerriero. "Attacking [a] politician's children is beyond the pale, even for an extremist like Alan Keyes." Keyes has attacked homosexuality for years, but consistently refuses to discuss his daughter Maya, who herself is a lesbian. (MSNBC, Diggers Realm)
2004 presidential electionsOver 100 radio hosts, including a paltry six leftist and liberal hosts, mostly from fledgling liberal talk radio network Air America, are broadcasting their shows from Madison Square Garden, making the venue into what CBS's David Paul Kuhn calls "an echo chamber of conservative ideology." Conservative talkers receive briefings and talking points from RNC and Bush-Cheney campaign staffers, and elaborate on these points for their listeners. When the hosts aren't talking about Zell Miller's "dream" speech or slamming John Kerry's military record, they're discussing why they believe liberal talk show radio "doesn't work." Nashville radio host and conservative activist Steve Gill says, "Liberals have failed in talk radio because a crucible of ideas is what talk radio is all about. Liberals have depended on emotion." Scott Hogenson, the RNC's radio director, adds, "Liberals are simply not wired intellectually and emotionally to be receptive to talk radio. It doesn't mean they are not smart. It means talk radio is not the sort of medium that is going to trigger their judgment and perception motivator." (CBS News)
2004 presidential elections"[T]he important thing isn't the falsity of the charges [of Democratic treason and lack of patriotism], which Republicans continue to repeat despite press reports debunking them. The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it's criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy. ...In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power -- the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics. Are you prepared to become one of those countries? When patriotism is impugned, the facts go out the window. You're not allowed to point out that Bush shifted the rationale for the Iraq war further and further from U.S. national security -- from complicity in 9/11 to weapons of mass destruction to building democracy to relieving Iraqis of their dictator -- without explaining why American troops and taxpayers should bear the burden. You're not allowed to point out that the longer a liberator stays, the more he looks like an occupier. You're not allowed to propose that the enormous postwar expenses Bush failed to budget for be covered by repealing his tax cuts for the wealthy instead of further indebting every American child. If you dare to say these things, you're accused -- as Kerry now stands accused by Cheney and Miller -- of defaming America and refusing 'to support American troops in combat.' You're contrasted to a president who 'is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.' You're derided, in Cheney's words, for trying to show al-Qaeda 'our softer side.' Your Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts are no match for the vice president's five draft deferments."(Slate)
Republican corruptionThe probe was disclosed to the public just last week. National security advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, were the officials informed of the probe. The probe is investigating several Defense Department officials for passing information to AIPAC as well as to the Iraqi dissident group led by Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Since then, both Bush and Rice have effusively praised AIPAC, with the president addressing the group in May and saying it was "serving the cause of America" by, among other things, highlighting "the threat posed by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons." In March 2003, Rice called AIPAC "a great asset to our country." AIPAC is using these and other statements as part of its attempt to vindicate itself. AIPAC says it has always enjoyed access to high-level Bush officials, and continues to do so.
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"Schwarzenegger, whose ambitious reorganization of California's state government was heavily influenced by Chevron's army of lobbyists and attorneys, received $200,000 in donations to his own committees from Chevron; the firm also donated $500,000 to the California Republican Party, and helped finance Schwarzenegger's visit to the Republican National Convention. The easing of restrictions makes it easier for Chevron and other oil firms to gain permits for new construction and avoid worries about environmental damage caused by their operations. Mark Petracca, a University of California, Irvine political scientist, says Chevron's considerable influence on the CPR report may taint the whole review because the study was presented to the public as an objective and authoritative analysis of how to fix state government. "This is good old fashioned interest-group politics," he says. "Powerful people who have money can hire powerful people and use occasions like this report to set the agenda for policy beneficial to those interests." Chevron denies having any undue influence over the governor. (CorpWatch)
Conservative media slantBush has garnered political capital from his stories of his alcoholic "youth" (which lasted into his 40s), before, as he claims, he found Christ and stopped drinking. Actually, Estrich is not saying that she knows if the story is true or not, though she says it is widely reported in Washington, but she is angered that the story is getting no response from the media, while stories about Democratic candidates with much less strength of testimony received tremendous media play. (Estrich is not involved with the Kerry campaign.) She reminds readers of the 1988 allegations against Michael Dukakis: "Remember the one about Dukakis suffering from depression after he lost the governorship? We lost six points over that lie, planted by George W.'s close friend and colleague in the 1988 campaign, Lee Atwater. Or how about the one about Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an anti-war demonstration, another out-and-out lie, which the Bush campaign denied having anything to do with, except that it turned out to have come from a United States senator via the Republican National Committee? Atwater later apologized to me for that, too, on his deathbed. Did I mention that Lee's wife is connected to the woman running the Swift Boat campaign?" She does not need to go into detail about the blizzard of insane allegations against the Clintons. Estrich writes that the problem with Democrats is that they are "not mean enough." To win this election, she says that Democrats have to take the gloves off and use the dirt they have on Bush instead of playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules. She suggests they start with the fact that Dick Cheney is, indeed, a heavy drinker, perhaps an alcoholic, a fact that is roundly ignored by the media. And attacks on Bush's possible drinking are also fair game, Estrich suggests: "What if Bush were to fall off the wagon? Then what? Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?"
Iraq war and occupationBefore the invasion, Bush and others inflamed public opinion that the drones could be used to carry chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons into the US, but that assertion was challenged shortly after the war by the weapons inspections carried out by the David Kay investigation. Kay's successor, Charles Duelfer, attempted to revive the issue in April 2004 by telling Congress that his teams had found evidence of advances in the development of Iraqi drones that were not reported to the United Nations. Unfortunately for Duelfer, his claims have now been proven to be lies. Dimitri Perricos, acting chief of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), reports that while Iraq admitted pursuing a 1990 effort to convert a MiG-21 fighter jet into a remotely piloted vehicle capable of spraying biological warfare agents at a target, and that the the covert program "showed some progress," it was permanently halted by the beginning of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Although Iraq developed several other drones, including a converted short-range L-29, a Czech training aircraft, UN inspectors have "found no technical evidence" that Iraq built such aircraft "for the delivery" of chemical or biological weapons, according to Perricos. He also writes there was no proof that Iraqi drones were capable of traveling beyond the 150-kilometer (93-mile) range allowed by the United Nations. "UN inspection teams found no clear indication to show that Iraq had planned to develop the L-29 RPV [remotely piloted vehicle] to deliver a CBW [chemical and biological weapons] agent," the report states. Perricos writes that the information collected by his team suggests the drone was used "for conventional military purposes such as air defense training, data collection and surveillance."
9/11 attacksThe discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers "would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration," wrote Graham, who formerly chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee. Graham is a Democrat and former presidential candidate. Graham also says that details of the relationship between the Saudi government, the 9/11 hijackers, and the Bush administration were covered in the 27 (other sources say 28) pages redacted from his committee's final report, issued earlier in the year. Graham writes that the staff of the congressional inquiry concluded that two Saudis in the San Diego area, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan, who gave significant financial support to two hijackers, were working for the Saudi government. Al-Bayoumi received a monthly allowance from a contractor for Saudi Civil Aviation that jumped from $465 to $3,700 in March 2000, after he helped Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhdar -- two of the hijackers -- find apartments and make contacts in San Diego, just before they began pilot training. When the staff tried to conduct interviews in that investigation, and with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who also helped the eventual hijackers, they were blocked by the FBI and the administration. The administration and CIA also insisted that the details about the Saudi support network that benefited two hijackers be left out of the final congressional report. Bush had concluded that "a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account," Graham writes. "It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety."
Medicare and Medicaid cutsBush doesn't mention the 17% premium increase as he touts his administration's Medicare fix. "We have done the job when it comes to improving healthcare for our seniors," he recently told one audience. John Kerry is providing more facts and his own take on the matter. "On the day after saying, 'We're going to strengthen Medicare,' Medicare premiums go up for senior citizens 17% -- the largest increase in Medicare premiums in 40 years. Let me ask you something: Who are they going to send the bill to? Are they going to send the bill to Halliburton? Are they going to send the bill to Ken Lay at Enron? You bet they're not. They're going to send the bill to our senior citizens." Even some Republicans are frowning at the sharp premium increases. Senator John McCain says that Medicare premiums are "just too high for low-income families to deal with. ...The Medicare increases are going to have to be discussed," McCain says to reporters as he appears with Cheney at a campaign event in Roswell, New Mexico. "We can't have continued increases along that level." Kerry says, "Whenever this president is given an opportunity to make a choice...that's a choice for the broad interest of the American people, he's chosen the narrower interest." (Los Angeles Times/Truthout)
Iraq war and occupation"Saddam Hussein will be tried by the Iraqi judiciary and it will issue its just sentence against him," says Iraqi Minister of State Kasim Daoud. Daoud refuses to answer questions about who will head the Saddam trial tribunal, whose former US-appointed administrator Salem Chalabi, the brother of INC chief Ahmad Chalabi, has been charged with murder. "There are many names being discussed and the head of the tribunal will be announced soon," he says. (Reuters/Truthout)
"Swift Boat Veterans" and campaign smearsThe highly unusual inquiry is to be carried out by the inspector-general's office of the United States Navy, for which Kerry served as a Swift Boat captain for four months in 1968, making two tours of duty, and won a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts in the line of duty. Though the organization officially requesting the investigation, conservative watchdog organization Judicial Watch, is asking that the Navy announce the results of its investigation before the election, the Navy has refused to provide any sort of timetable. Former Navy Secretary John Lehman's claim that he never signed off on the orders approving the award of the Silver Star to Kerry will be among the claims investigated; Lehman has publicly stated his approval of both the investigation and the SBVT slander campaign against Kerry. The Kerry campaign calls the investigation "a waste of taxpayer dollars." (Daily Telegraph)
"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." -- George W. Bush, September 6, 2004
9/11 attacksGraham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, raised the allegations in his new book Intelligence Matters. Kerry says, "These are serious allegations being made by a well-respected and informed leader. If the White House and the FBI did in fact block an investigation into the ties between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers, then this would be a massive abuse of power." In his book, Graham wrote that the FBI would not let his congressional investigators interview two alleged Saudi agents. The 9/11 commission has said it was able to interview one of the agents, and that it had not found any connection between the Saudi government and the hijackers. The connection "would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia," Graham writes. The Bush campaign's response is predictable. "John Kerry is flailing about, making baseless attacks grounded on the discredited assertions of a former presidential candidate," says campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel. "The Kerry campaign has added a lot of new people lately. I wonder if Michael Moore is their new foreign policy adviser." "Once again, the Bush campaign's approach is playing attack-dog politics," Kerry aide Phil Singer responds, "when it should be concerned about getting to the bottom of whether the Saudi government played a role in helping the 9/11 hijackers." (Chicago Tribune)
Iraq war and occupationA CNN tally reports that 1,129 coalition deaths have been reported. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledges the death toll, but tells reporters that going on the offensive against terrorism "has its cost." He adds, "It should be noted that the civilized world passed the thousandth casualty mark a long time ago. Hundreds were killed in Russia last week. And this week, of course, on September 11, 2004, we remember the 3,000 citizens of dozens of countries who were killed on September 11 in 2001." (CNN)
Islamist terrorism"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war." This is part of the Bush-Cheney campaign's naked attempt to spread fear among the American electorate, and convince voters that they have two stark choices: either vote for Bush, or vote for terrorist attacks. The strategy is simple, effective, and entirely specious. (Al Franken)
Election fraudThe biggest problem in the primary was with Florida's new, possibly unconstitutional voter identification law. The law says that while photo IDs are required to vote, voters without IDs can vote after signing an affidavit swearing to their identity. Such was not the case last week, when thousands of primary voters were challenged after failing to produce IDs. In Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, poll watchers saw voters being turned away after being told about half the law -- the photo-identification requirement -- but not the other half, the affidavit option. In some cases, poll workers insisted on identification even when they were shown voting-rights leaflets citing the state election law. Some people may never have cast ballots because they were not informed that they had the option to file affidavits. Osceola County's ballots had the phrase "Photo and Signature ID Required at Polls" printed on them, a blatant misrepresentation of the law. Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Republican, has supported the misreading of the law. The Times editorializes, "This fall, flaws in the enforcement of voter-identification requirements could disenfranchise a large number of voters. Many people do not have photo identification, particularly the elderly, poor people and nondrivers. Others may not have such identification with them when they vote. Someone who has waited in line for an hour or two, as could be the case in this fall's election, may not have the time or inclination to go home to get identification. In the weeks leading up to Nov. 2, we will hear many times that all Americans should exercise their right to vote. Election officials have an obligation to do everything they can to ensure that when citizens show up, misapplied voter-identification rules do not prevent them from casting a ballot." (New York Times/Truthout)
Election fraudSecretary of State Kevin Shelley has said Diebold deceived California with aggressive marketing that led to the installation of touch-screen voting systems that were not tested or approved nationally or in California. "Lockyer determined sufficient evidence existed to go forward with a false claims lawsuit against Diebold," says a statement from Lockyer's office. In April, California's Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, called for a criminal probe into Diebold, the state's largest e-voting machine supplier. (Reuters/Verified Voter Foundation)
HalliburtonThe contract is worth approximately $13 billion. Halliburton and its subsidiary, KBR, have both been accused of massive overcharging since it won the no-bid contract in 2003. KBR may be allowed to bid on sections of the new contract. (BBC)
Oil profiteering and the "oiligarchy"Piggybacking on the cozy relationship between Riggs officials and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago, the oil companies paid for Obiang's son to attend Pepperdine University in southern California, formed business ventures with Obiang's partners and fellow government officials, and other sweetheart deals that has led Senate investigators to inquire about "concerns related to corruption and profiteering." The three oil companies most heavily involved are Exxon, Amerada Hess, and Marathon Oil, though others such as ChevronTecaco, Devon Energy, CMS Energy, and the Vanco Corporation, are also involved in possible illegal deals with the Obiang regime. Since 1997, the amount of oil produced in Equatorial Guinea has increased seven times, to about 360,000 barrels a day, making the country the third-largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Human rights activists say that the oil companies' payouts have helped prop up Obiang, a vicious despot who took power in a military coup in 1979 and who has maintained power by torturing and slaughtering his opponents. A 2004 State Department report concluded that most of the huge oil profits have not gone to the population itself, who survive on an average of $1 a day and of whom 75% suffers from malnutrition, but instead goes to fund the lavish lifestyles of Obiang and his family and colleagues. Obiang owns two houses in Potomac, valued at $1.3 million and $2.5 million; one of his sons, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, owns a $6.9 million house in Los Angeles. The oil companies have issued blanket denials of any wrongdoing in their dealings with Obiang, and have refused to comment on any specifics. "We take pride in the way we do business," says Jay Wilson, a spokesman for Hess. "We think we do business very ethically." Marathon's Stephen Guidry says, "[W]e think we have a positive affect on the conditions that exist in Equatorial Guinea."
George W. BushBush has repeatedly insisted that he served the entirety of his term in the Guard without a lapse, and that all the records of his service had previously been made available. The documents uncovered during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, filed by the Associated Press to force all the records to be made public, prove that both of Bush's contentions are lies. The Pentagon, which was forced to disgorge the documents, says that their previous failure to disclose the documents was an "oversight," and the documents were found "[o]ut of an abundance of caution." The spin from the Bush campaign is quick, with spokeswoman Claire Buchan telling the press that the documents "confirm that the president served honorably in the National Guard." Democratic National Committee communications director Jano Cabrera disagrees: "For months George Bush told the nation that all his military records were public. Now we know why Bush was trying so hard to withhold these records. When his nation asked him to be on call against possible surprise attacks, Bush wasn't there." Cabrera is referring to an alert answered by Bush's TANG unit, a "24-hour active alert mission to safeguard against surprise attack" in the southern United State beginning on October 6, 1972, an alert that Bush missed. The newly released records do not include any from five categories of documents Bush's commanders had been required to keep in response to the gaps in Bush's training in 1972 and 1973. For example, National Guard commanders were required to perform an investigation whenever any pilot skipped a medical exam and forward the results up the Air Force chain of command. No such documents have surfaced.
George W. BushShe also says that Laura Bush used marijuana in her youth. Kelley quotes Bush's former sister-in-law Sharon Bush, Neil Bush's embittered ex-wife, who claims, "Bush did coke at Camp David when his father was president, and not just once either." Other sources told Kelley that as a 26-year-old member of the National Guard, Bush "liked to sneak out back for a joint or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine." Kelley claims Bush started drinking before college and continued at Yale to overcome shyness. Former student Torbery George says in the book: "Poor Georgie. He couldn't relate to women unless he was loaded." Another says: "It's amazing someone you held in such low esteem later became president." The White House responds, "This book appears to be filled with the same trash discredited years ago." And Sharon Bush claims she never told Kelley any such thing: "I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David," she says in a prepared statement. "When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of, 'Who would say such a thing?' ...Although there have been tensions between me and various members of the Bush family, I cannot allow this falsehood to go unchallenged."