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November 2005.
Covering Up Torture? At Pentagon's Request the Washington Post Refuses To Report on Location Of Secret CIA Jails in Europe
Bush Fails to Revive Free Trade Talks in Latin America Amid Mass Protests

July - September 2005.
The quest for national security - In Hurricane Katrina's wake, some question whether battle against terrorism is the right fight
Politicizing Disaster Relief: How FEMA Overcompensated Florida Citizens in the Run-Up to the Presidential Election
Why FEMA Failed: The Bush Administration and Disaster Relief
Documents show clout of lobbyists with governor - Records of effort to weaken workers' right to meal breaks reveal influence of business
Anarchy, Anger, Desperation - New Orleans Sends an SOS in Wake of Hurricane
New Orleans in Chaos: Disaster proves warnings true
In drowned city, the stranded weep and wait for a rescue
20 Massacred in Port-au-Prince Soccer Stadium, Jailed Jean-Juste Mulls Presidential Run
Protest on the Range: Cindy Sheehan Calls for Mass Demos at Bush's Crawford Ranch
Landmark Decision Overturns Cuba 5 Convictions
Colin Brown: Blair Pressed to Isolate US Over Climate Change
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Sweet Victory: People Over Profits in Brazil

May -June 2005.
Following Years of Protests, U.S. & G8 Nations Agree to Cancel Debt for 18 of the World’s Poorest Countries
New Bolivian President Sworn in after Weeks of Mass Rebellion
Anti-Sweatshop Activist and Chief Nicaragua Negotiator on CAFTA Debate Central America Free Trade
Top Cuban official Ricardo Alarcon demands U.S. hand over terrorist Posada
Terrorist Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles seeking political asylum in U.S.
Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Blasts U.S. Nuclear Proliferation Policies
Students Occupy Univ. of Hawaii Building to Protest Construction of Military Center

January - February 2005.
Muzamil Jaleel: Village Without Casualties
Jon Carroll: Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Rapture Index
Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow
Barbara Lee: Erase the Darfur Blood Stain From California's Pensions
Fran Quigley: Human Rights Investigation Calls Haiti 'More Violent and More Inhuman'; Report Documents US Role in Chaotic Interim Government

October - December 2004.
The Bible tells me so - Religion in the Heartland is more complex than those of us in the blue states sometimes think
Losing U.S. jobs stuns Iranian pair - Lab researchers sue federal agencies that fired them over secret background checks
Congress jettisons nuclear bomb funds - President touted bunker buster
Experts fear nuke genie's out of bottle - Arms technology spreading
Unthinkable? - An attack on an American city by terrorists armed with a small nuclear device is an even bet within a decade, some experts say
Bin Laden lectures U.S. in new video - THE TAPE: In first appearance since 2003, he chastises Bush, describes origins of 9/11 attacks
  ~ Employees dig deeper to pay for insurance
  ~ Canada's way - What a universal health care system delivers
  ~ Retirees hit hard as benefits are lost

Air Force pursuing antimatter weapons

July - September 2004.
Museum of the American Indian Opens in Washington DC
U.S. Revokes Visa to Tariq Ramadan, One of Europe's Most Influential Islamic Thinkers
Trial Set to Begin Over Use of Pepper Spray-Soaked Cotton Swabs on Non-Violent Protesters in 1997
The Battle for New York: 500,000 March Against Bush in Historic Antiwar Protest    DemocracyNow!
Antiwar Voices Address March: Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson, Fernando Suarez, Charles Barron and More
Critical Mass: Over 260 Arrested in First Major Protest of RNC
Barbara Ehrenreich: To Defeat Terrorists, try Listening to Feminists
U.S. News Obtains all Classified Annexes to Taguba Report on Abu Ghraib

April - June 2004.
Fear returns to Russia - campaign of 'precision terror'
Reagan and Race - Rev. Graylan Hagler: "He Maintained a System of Rich and Poor, a System of Black and White"  DemocracyNow!
Reagan and the Homeless Epidemic in America
Reagan, Class and Organized Labor - Dolores Huerta: "One of the Most Damaging Presidents in American History"
Allied with Apartheid: Reagan Supported Racist South African Gvt
Remembering Reagan's Invasion of Grenada
The Reagan-Saddam Connection: Alan Friedman: "We Create These Monsters and When It's Not Convenient We Cover Them Up"  DemocNow!
Reagan Armed Iraq and Iran in 1980s War That Killed Over 1 Million
Journalist Allan Nairn: Reagan Was Behind "One Of The Most Intensive Campaigns Of Mass Murder In Recent History"   DemocracyNow!
Charlie Litkey, Congressional Medal of Honor Winner: Reagan Was "An Accomplice to the Death of Literally Thousands and Thousands of People"
"Reagan Was the Butcher of My People:" Fr. Miguel D'Escoto Speaks From Nicaragua   DemocracyNow!
Remembering the Dead: Reagan Foreign Policy From the Target End
Robert Parry: Rating Reagan: A Bogus Legacy
Afghan Massacre: Eyewitnesses Testify that US Troops Were Complicit in the Massacre of up to 3,000 Taliban Prisoners during the Afghan War  DemocracyNow!
Jobs flying faster from U.S. -Estimate for 2006 raised by 40% -- to 800,000
In or Out - Should the U.S. pull out of Iraq? Three Views
Lori Berenson's Case Goes before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights    DemocracyNow!
Stanford experiment foretold Iraq scandal
Early alarm bells sounded, ignored - Abuse reports began almost at war's start
Plutonium Files: How the U.S. Secretly Fed Radioactivity to Thousands of Americans    DemocracyNow!
Rep. Maxine Waters Calls on Congress Not To Recognize New Haitian Government    DemocracyNow!
Colorado's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant    DemocracyNow!
Grand Jury Accuses Justice Department of Rocky Flats Nuclear Cover-Up
George Monbiot: Globalizing Democracy: Manifesto for a New World Order    DemocracyNow!
60 Years is Enough: Thousands Protest the IMF and World Bank   DemNow!
NYC Denies Permit for Huge Anti-War Rally During GOP Convention
Cheney Secrecy Case: Is the Supreme Court Allowing the US to Turn Into an Elected Dictatorship?    DemocracyNow!
Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism, and Destabilization
FBI to pay $2 million in Earth First suit - Activists were arrested, called eco-terrorists after bomb exploded in their car
9/11 records show warnings were urgent, persistent - Investigation discloses years of memos describing al Qaeda threat
Dark Matter - As the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the U.S. will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space
9/11 panelists call attacks preventable - Rice will likely face aggressive questioning by commission

January - March 2004.
Sibel Edmonds, Fmr. FBI Translator: White House Had Intel On Possible Airplane Attack Pre-9/11    DemocracyNow!
U.S. Takes First Step To Weaponize Space
In rush to defend White House, Rice trips over own words
9/11 Hearings: Fmr Counterterror Chief Clarke Blasts Bush on 9/11 Saying "Your Government Failed You"     DemocracyNow!
Condoleezza Rice Threatens Jamaica Over Aristide     DemocracyNow!
Antiwar Voices: Father of Soldier Killed in Iraq and Aunt of War Resister Speak Out Against Iraq Invasion     DemocracyNow!
Reining in our Weaponry - Is U.S. Air Force lost in space?
Jonathan Schell: The Empire Backfires
Aristide Lawyers Demand U.S. Prosecute "Kidnappers" Of Aristide and His Haitian-American Wife     DemocracyNow!
Aristide Speaks to DemocracyNow! in Most Exensive English-Language Interview since his Removal from Haiti
Haiti rebels linked to drug trade - Records show leaders' ties to Colombians

Venezuela opposition takes hope from Haiti developments - Chavez foes watch fall of Aristide, look to U.S. for aid
House Members Blast Administration For Haiti Policies  DemocracyNow!
Rep. Maxine Waters Says Aristide Is Being Held Like a Prisoner
Rep. Barbara Lee Criticizes U.S. "Systematic Destabilization and Undermining of Democracy in Haiti"
Ramsey Clark On Haiti: "A Clear Demonstration of U.S. Regime Change By Armed Aggression"      DemocracyNow!
U.S. Psy-Ops Exposed, South Africa Rejects Washington's Claim Aristide Was Denied Asylum      DemocracyNow!
Black Caucus Vows to Find Out if U.S. Engineered Coup Against Aristide -
Aristide says 'I WAS KIDNAPPED' - 'Tell the world it is a coup'
     DemocracyNow! interview with Congressmember Maxine Waters and
     TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson: "He was abducted by the United States
      in the commission of a coup."
        TAKE ACTION!
Facing U.S. Pressure, Aristide Leaves Haiti
Tracy Kidder: Why Aristide Should Stay
Jobs and the Resurgent Economy - Outsourcing CEOs
Jobs and the Resurgent Economy - Another White House intelligence failure
Ruth Rosen: Why single women must vote
Sept. 11 panel seeks testimony from Bush
Bush Appoints Iran-Contra Figure To Head Up Iraq "Intelligence Probe" -
Clamor grows over Bush's military service
Who's to blame for 9/11? - Bush and Clinton administrations could be faulted
Prison guards' clout difficult to challenge - reward, punish lawmakers
Kevin Fagan: Chance to solve homeless crisis
Congress stalls Bush plan for nuclear weapons
Ruth Rosen: Leave no worker behind
Islam's new voices see faith with critical eye - Scholars, activists favor democracy, gender equality
Head of U.S. weapons search quits - doubts Iraq had stockpile
Arundhati Roy: The New American Century
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam   Delivered April 1967 at Manhattan's Riverside Church
Ruth Rosen: Universal health care -- why not?
Irshad Manji - A Muslim calls for reform -- and she's a lesbian
Embattled judge (Pickering) installed by Bush - President sidesteps Senate
NAFTA's legacy -- profits and poverty
What Would You Do? - Listen To This Great Song About 911
   Music, lyrics, produced, and performed by Paris
State of the World 2004 - Special Focus: The Consumer Society
Army War College article says invasion of Iraq was 'strategic error'
Fired Treasury secretary says Iraq war planning came long before 9/11
Who needs the U.N.? (The world does)
Quarantining dissent - Secret Service protects Bush from free speech
Torture by proxy - How immigration threw a traveler to the wolves












Bill Moyers: There is no tomorrow

Bill Moyers

Published January 30, 2005

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.

Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? My favorite online environmental journal, the ever-engaging Grist, reminded us recently of how James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Beltway elites snickered. The press corps didn't know what he was talking about. But James Watt was serious. So were his compatriots out across the country. They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true -- one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.

That's right -- the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed -- an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the rapture index stood at 144 -- just one point below the critical threshold when the whole thing will blow, the son of God will return, the righteous will enter Heaven and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -- "The Road to Environmental Apocalypse." Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming apocalypse.

As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total and more since the election -- are backed by the religious right.

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land." He seemed to be relishing the thought.

And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"

Because these people believe that until Christ does return, the Lord will provide. One of their texts is a high school history book, "America's Providential History." You'll find there these words: "The secular or socialist has a limited-resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "[t]he Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's earth ... while many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

It is hard for the journalist to report a story like this with any credibility. So let me put it on a personal level. I myself don't know how to be in this world without expecting a confident future and getting up every morning to do what I can to bring it about. So I have always been an optimist. Now, however, I think of my friend on Wall Street whom I once asked: "What do you think of the market?"I'm optimistic," he answered. "Then why do you look so worried?" And he answered: "Because I am not sure my optimism is justified."

I'm not, either. Once upon a time I agreed with Eric Chivian and the Center for Health and the Global Environment that people will protect the natural environment when they realize its importance to their health and to the health and lives of their children. Now I am not so sure. It's not that I don't want to believe that -- it's just that I read the news and connect the dots.

I read that the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared the election a mandate for President Bush on the environment. This for an administration:

• That wants to rewrite the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act protecting rare plant and animal species and their habitats, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to judge beforehand whether actions might damage natural resources.

• That wants to relax pollution limits for ozone; eliminate vehicle tailpipe inspections, and ease pollution standards for cars, sport-utility vehicles and diesel-powered big trucks and heavy equipment.

• That wants a new international audit law to allow corporations to keep certain information about environmental problems secret from the public.

• That wants to drop all its new-source review suits against polluting, coal-fired power plants and weaken consent decrees reached earlier with coal companies.

• That wants to open the Arctic [National] Wildlife Refuge to drilling and increase drilling in Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the last great coastal wild land in America.

I read the news just this week and learned how the Environmental Protection Agency had planned to spend $9 million -- $2 million of it from the administration's friends at the American Chemistry Council -- to pay poor families to continue to use pesticides in their homes. These pesticides have been linked to neurological damage in children, but instead of ordering an end to their use, the government and the industry were going to offer the families $970 each, as well as a camcorder and children's clothing, to serve as guinea pigs for the study.

I read all this in the news.

I read the news just last night and learned that the administration's friends at the International Policy Network, which is supported by Exxon Mobil and others of like mind, have issued a new report that climate change is "a myth, sea levels are not rising" [and] scientists who believe catastrophe is possible are "an embarrassment."

I not only read the news but the fine print of the recent appropriations bill passed by Congress, with the obscure (and obscene) riders attached to it: a clause removing all endangered species protections from pesticides; language prohibiting judicial review for a forest in Oregon; a waiver of environmental review for grazing permits on public lands; a rider pressed by developers to weaken protection for crucial habitats in California.

I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer -- pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?

What has happened to our moral imagination?

On the heath Lear asks Gloucester: "How do you see the world?" And Gloucester, who is blind, answers: "I see it feelingly.'"

I see it feelingly.

The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free -- not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma -- the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Believe me, it does.

Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly public affairs series "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS. This article is adapted from AlterNet, where it first appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.


© Copyright 2005 Star Tribune













In or Out - Should the U.S. pull out of Iraq?

Three Views
Sunday, May 16, 2004

Take the first flight out

by Gordon Livingston

Our president asks for "determination" in Iraq. Our sons and daughters continue to die. The Iraqi people resent and resist our occupation. And we are seeing photographs of American soldiers torturing prisoners.

When I returned from Vietnam in 1969 and began to speak out against that misbegotten war, I was often paired on talk shows with some representative of the government to present an "alternative view." Photographs of the My Lai massacre had appeared in the pages of Life magazine so that no one could plausibly deny that our soldiers had committed atrocities. We were an army of occupation and a determined indigenous enemy was bleeding us dry.

And yet the smug argument that I heard was, "Exactly how do you propose leaving?" How can we abandon our POWs in Hanoi? There will be a bloodbath if we leave. The dominoes will fall and all of Southeast Asia will become Communist. No government will ever trust our word again.

And so we persisted for four more years. Twenty-five thousand additional Americans died along with countless Vietnamese. What did this buy us? South Vietnam, as predicted, collapsed without us. Now we return there as tourists and trade with our former enemies.

Determination in the pursuit of folly is the indulgence of fools. We cannot persist without further incalculable harm to our place in the world and our sense of ourselves as a humane and decent people. We must not be intimidated by the cabal who took us there and who now stand on the ash heap of their mistakes and try to shift the onus to come up with a plan of disengagement.

We cannot win this war. What will follow our departure may well be an unfriendly Islamic state. We may leave behind "Afghanistan on steroids," a terrorist haven. We have sown the wind.

The answer to how we leave, now as with Vietnam, is the same way we came: ships and trucks and planes.

Gordon Livingston is a psychiatrist in Columbia, Md., who writes frequently for Insight.

San Francisco Chronicle


Pay now or pay later

by Christopher Layne

Nine viewpoints on whether America should stay the course or bring our troops home and let the Iraqi people try to rebuild their own country.

The administration's Iraq policy is in shambles. Iraq has become a geopolitical Humpty Dumpty that America cannot put back together, and the time has come for the United States to withdraw.

Where does U.S. policy go from here? There are three options: internationalizing the occupation, increasing U.S. troop strength and cracking down hard on the insurgency, or withdrawal. Internationalizing the occupation by bringing in the United Nations is a nonstarter -- pure political grandstanding. Iraq now is so dangerous and chaotic it is doubtful that the United Nations wants to step in and take responsibility for trying to fix things.

Increasing American troop levels and suppressing the insurgency is not a viable option, either. Although the United States has enough firepower to dampen down the insurrection -- at least for a while -- this would be a self-defeating policy because there no longer is a military solution in Iraq.

The United States has no good options in Iraq, but the least bad is this: Washington should transfer real sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30. It should tell the Iraqis to work out their own political future among themselves, and it should turn over full responsibility for Iraq's external and internal security to the new regime in Baghdad.

Simultaneously, the United States also should suspend all offensive military operations in Iraq, pull its forces back to defensive enclaves well away from Iraq's cities, and commence a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq that will be completed on Dec. 31 or Jan. 20.

There is no point in being Pollyannaish. In the long run, the United States will be better off leaving Iraq. In the short-term, however, there will be consequences -- not all of which are foreseeable -- if the United States withdraws. But that misses the point. Sooner or later, the United States is going to end up leaving Iraq without having attained its goals. Washington's real choice is akin to that posed in an old oil filter commercial that used to run on television: America can pay now, or it can pay later when the costs will be even higher.

Christopher Layne is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and a visiting fellow in international politics. This piece was excerpted from American Conservative magazine.

San Francisco Chronicle


Fight al Qaeda instead

by John Arquilla

It is ironic that the policy on which George Bush and John Kerry most strongly agree -- "staying the course" in Iraq -- is a wrongheaded idea whose political and military costs and consequences are spiraling out of control. Continued occupation of Iraq will only lead to more death and suffering in that tortured land, and to greater resentment of the United States throughout the world. We may win all the firefights, but every new encounter reinforces the point that we are losing the "battle of the story." Fewer and fewer people, anywhere in the world, see this as "liberation."

Staying in Iraq also means that our military continues to keep its focus on nation-states rather than terror networks -- a fatal distraction that al Qaeda and its affiliates take advantage of to their great benefit. Last year saw 98 sizable terrorist attacks, the greatest number ever, and 2004 will easily beat that grim record.

Terror is metastasizing. We need to shift strategic focus back to al Qaeda.

For those who worry about "loss of face," remember that great powers often make strategic adjustments that entail embarrassment. The United States military retreated from Vietnam in 1973, Lebanon after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing there and Somalia after the 1993 Ranger debacle in Mogadishu. Yet we won the Cold War and enjoy unparalleled power and prosperity today.

The sooner we withdraw from Iraq, the better. Withdrawing now makes ethical, diplomatic and military sense. But this good idea is a hostage of our presidential politics in which two bitter rivals can only agree on doing the wrong thing.

John Arquilla is co-director of the Center on Terrorism at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

San Francisco Chronicle













In rush to defend White House, Rice trips over own words

Walter Pincus, Dana Milbank, Washington Post
Friday, March 26, 2004

Washington -- This week's testimony and media blitz by former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke has returned unwanted attention to his former boss, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The refusal by President Bush's top security aide to testify publicly before the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks elicited rebukes by commission members as they held open hearings this week. Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey governor Bush named to be chairman of the commission, said: "I think this administration shot itself in the foot by not letting her testify in public."

At the same time, some of Rice's rebuttals of Clarke's broadside against Bush, which she delivered in a flurry of media interviews and statements rather than in testimony, contradicted other administration officials and her own previous statements.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage contradicted Rice's claim that the White House had a strategy before Sept. 11 for military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban. The CIA contradicted Rice's earlier assertion that Bush had requested a CIA briefing in the summer of 2001 because of elevated terrorist threats. And Rice's assertion this week that Bush had told her on Sept. 16, 2001, that "Iraq is to the side" appeared to be contradicted by an order signed by Bush on Sept. 17 directing the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.

Rice, in turn, has contradicted Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that Clarke was "out of the loop" and his intimation that Clarke had been demoted. Rice has also given various conflicting accounts. She criticized Clarke for being the architect of failed Clinton administration policies, but also said she had retained Clarke so the Bush administration could continue to pursue Clinton's terrorism policies.

National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack defended many of Rice's assertions, saying that she had been more consistent than Clarke.

Rice so far has refused to provide testimony under oath to the commission that could possibly resolve the contradictions. Wednesday night, she told reporters, "I would like nothing better in a sense than to be able to go up and do this, but I have a responsibility to maintain what is a long-standing constitutional separation between the executive and the legislative branch."

The White House, reacting to the public relations difficulties caused by the refusal to allow Rice's testimony, asked the commission Thursday to give Rice another opportunity to speak privately with panel members to address "mischaracterizations of Dr. Rice's statements and positions."

Democratic commission member Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed this week that Rice had asked, in her private meetings with the commission, to revise a statement she made publicly that "I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center ... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." Rice told the commission that she had misspoken; the commission has received information that prior to Sept. 11, U.S. intelligence agencies, and Clarke, had talked about terrorists using airplanes as missiles.

In an op-ed essay Monday in the Washington Post, Rice wrote that "through the spring and summer of 2001, the national security team developed a strategy to eliminate" al Qaeda that included "sufficient military options to remove the Taliban regime" including the use of ground forces.

But Armitage, testifying this week as the White House representative, said the military part was not in the plan before Sept. 11. "I think that was amended after the horror of 9/11," he said. McCormack said Rice's statement was accurate because the team had discussed including orders for such military plans to be drawn up.

In the same article, Rice belittled Clarke's proposals by writing: "The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al Qaeda or 'roll back' the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to 'eliminate' the al Qaeda network." Rice asserted that while Clarke and others provided ideas, "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration." That same day, she said most of Clarke's ideas "had been already tried or rejected in the Clinton administration."

But in her interview with NBC two days later, Rice appeared to take a different view of Clarke's proposals. "He sent us a set of ideas that would perhaps help to roll back al Qaeda over a three- to five-year period; we acted on those ideas very quickly. And what's very interesting is that ... Dick Clarke now says that we ignored his ideas, or we didn't follow them up."

Asked about this apparent discrepancy, McCormack pointed a reporter to a Clarke background briefing in 2002 in which the then-White House aide was defending the president's efforts in fighting terrorism.

San Francisco Chronicle






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Facing U.S. Pressure, Aristide Leaves Haiti

Rebels Threatened to Attack Capital Unless Leader Resigned

By Tim Weiner and Lydia Polgreen
Published: February 29, 2004

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 29 — President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left Haiti at dawn today, resigning under intense pressure from the United States, according to Haitian and American officials.

Mr. Aristide was the first democratically elected president in Haiti's 200 years of independence, following a long line of dictators, despots and military men. His presidency crumbled as armed rebels seized Haiti's north this month and Bush administration officials announced an "Aristide must go" stance this weekend.

The rebels, led by veterans of Haiti's army, disbanded by Mr. Aristide, had threatened to attack the capital unless the president left power.

Mr. Aristide flew from Haiti on a small jet that left Port-au-Prince about 6:45 a.m, according to a United States official here. There were conflicting reports on where Mr. Aristide was headed.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Boniface Alexandre, was sworn in as the head of a transitional government until elections in 2005.

"The task will not be an easy one," Mr. Alexandre said at a news conference. "Haiti is in crisis."

He added that the country "needs all its sons and daughters. No one should take justice into their own hands."

In the wake of Mr. Aristide's departure, gunfire was heard in the capital and smoke was seen rising from the city center.

Mr. Aristide was a radical Catholic priest when he rose to prominence in the 1980's as an opponent of military rule and political dictatorship in Haiti. He was expelled from his order for his politics in 1988 and became the leader of a political coalition seeking democracy. Elected president overwhelmingly in 1990, he was overthrown in a violent military coup in 1991 and fled into exile, first to Venezuela, then the United States.

He was returned to power in 1994 by a military invasion led by the United States. Haiti's constitution barred him from succeeding himself as president, but he won a second five-year term in 2000. Over the next three years, his power eroded as political corruption in his government and political anger in the street grew out of control.

Many of his former supporters became his sworn enemies. An armed rebellion erupted in Haiti's north on Feb. 5, and several hundred of the rebels quickly seized half the nation and threatened to storm the capital, sparking fear and havoc.

Roughly 100 Haitians have been killed in battles among rebels, police and Aristide supporters this month. Hundreds more have tried to flee in boats bound for Florida; most have been intercepted by the United States Coast Guard and shipped back to Haiti.

Mr. Aristide's fall was sudden. Barely 32 hours before he left, in his last address to the nation as president, he said, "I will be at my desk on Monday."

American policy toward Mr. Aristide shifted swiftly, too.

In July, Brian Dean Curran, then the United States ambassador here, said, "The United States accepts President Aristide as the constitutional president of Haiti for his term of office ending in 2006."

The Bush administration decided in the past three days, as a senior administration official said Saturday, that "Aristide must go," regardless of his constitutional authority. That message was communicated directly to Mr. Aristide hours before he left this morning. France, Haiti's colonial occupier, also called for the president to step down.

In a statement issued Saturday night and authorized by President Bush, the White House blamed Mr. Aristide for "the deep polarization and violent unrest that we are witnessing in Haiti today."

His departure enables a proposed international peacekeeping force to land in Port-au-Prince, secure the capital and enable desperately needed food and economic assistance to flow to Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

That force would try to stabilize Haiti — a task that could take years — and prevent a fresh flood of desperate refugees trying to reach Florida.

Luigi Einaudi, assistant secretary general of the Organization of American States and the group's point man on Haiti, who met often with Mr. Aristide and his opponents, trying to resolve Haiti's deepening political crisis, said in a telephone interview this morning that Mr. Aristide "did what he felt was right for his country, which is in a very polarized state."

"I hope that a succession can be handled constitutionally and peacefully, without excessive turmoil," Mr. Einaudi said. "I'm very concerned that the situation has so already undermined any state authority that things will be difficult in Haiti for a long time."

Robert Fatton Jr., a native of Haiti and chairman of the politics department at the University of Virginia, agreed.

"There are no functioning institutions in Haiti," he said. "Things could very easily unravel. I think we are in for a long crisis. You are going to have a hellish situation without an international peacekeeping force. The armed gangs could go wild. It looks to be a vacuum of power in the short term and that's very dangerous, if there is no center and the country cannot hold."

New York Times












Why Aristide Should Stay

By Tracy Kidder
Northampton, Mass., 2/26/04

In Haiti, a paramilitary group has been making coordinated attacks on towns and cities, overwhelming understaffed, underequipped and ill-trained members of the national police force. The group has been burning police stations and setting free prisoners, both ordinary criminals and people convicted of involvement in massacres. It has been looting and rounding up supporters of the elected government and, apparently, killing anyone who tries to oppose it.

This group seems to be operating with the tacit approval of some of the politicians who oppose Haiti's government. But many of these rebels, as news reports call them, have unsavory records. Some are former soldiers from the disbanded Haitian Army, which in 1991 deposed Haiti's first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and ruled the country with cruelty and corruption for three years. Another was a ranking member of an organization that aided the army in terrorizing the country during that period. This rebel group seems to enjoy sanctuary within the Dominican Republic and free passage across the border between that country and Haiti.

For several years, the rebels have been making raids into Haiti, including a commando-style assault on the presidential palace in 2001 and, in 2003, an attack on a hydroelectric dam, during which they burned the control station, murdered two security guards and stole an ambulance. Clearly, they were just getting warmed up. Their leaders now boast that they will soon be in control of the entire country.

I first went to Haiti in 1994, for research on an article about some of the American soldiers sent to restore the country's elected government. I have spent parts of the past several years there, working on a book about an American doctor and a public health system that he helped to create in an impoverished rural region. The Haiti that I experienced was very different from the Haiti that I had read about back in the United States, and this disconnection is even stronger for me today.

Recent news reports, for example, perhaps in laudable pursuit of evenhandedness, have taken pains to assert that President Aristide and his Lavalas Party have been using armed thugs of their own to enforce their will on the country. The articles imply that the current crisis in Haiti is an incipient war between two factions roughly equal in illegitimacy. But I have interviewed leaders of the opposition, and can say with certainty that theirs is an extremely disparate group, which includes members of the disbanded army and former officials of the repressive regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier — and also people who were persecuted by both these groups.

This is an opposition that has so far shown itself unable to agree on much of anything except its determination to get rid of Mr. Aristide. Most important, the various leaders of this opposition have enjoyed little in the way of electoral success, the true measure of legitimacy in any country that calls itself a democracy. Mr. Aristide, by contrast, has been elected president twice, by overwhelming margins, and his party won the vast majority of seats in Parliament in the last legislative elections, held in May 2000.

Press reports generally date the current crisis to those elections, which they describe as flawed. In fact, they were flawed, but less flawed than we have been led to believe. Eight candidates, seven of them from Lavalas, were awarded seats in the Senate, even though they had won only pluralities. Consequently, many foreign diplomats expressed concern, and some went so far as to call the election "fraudulent."

But to a great extent, the proceedings were financed, managed and overseen by foreigners, and in the immediate aftermath many monitors declared a victory for Haiti's nascent democracy. Sixty percent of the country's eligible voters went to polling stations, many trudging for miles along mountain paths, then waiting for hours in the hot sun to vote. Moreover, those eight contested Senate seats didn't affect the balance of power in Parliament. Even if it had lost them all, Mr. Aristide's party would still have had a clear majority.

Citing the flaws in those elections, the United States and other foreign governments refused to monitor the presidential election that followed, later in 2000, which Mr. Aristide won handily. The opposition boycotted the affair and still claims that the election was illegitimate, but it does so against the weight of the evidence. This includes a Gallup poll commissioned by the United States government but never made public. (I obtained a copy last year.) It shows that as of 2002 Mr. Aristide remained far and away the most popular political figure in Haiti.

Again citing the flawed elections as its reason, the Bush administration also led a near total embargo on foreign aid to the Haitian government — even blocking loans from the Inter-American Development Bank for improvements in education, roads, health care and water supplies. Meanwhile, the administration has supported the political opposition. This is hardly a destructive act, unless, as Mr. Aristide's supporters believe, the aim has been to make room for an opposition by weakening the elected government.

They have a point. Over the past several years, the United States and the Organization of American States have placed increasingly onerous demands on Mr. Aristide. Foreign diplomats insisted that the senators in the contested seats resign; all did so several months after Mr. Aristide's re-election. Though Mr. Aristide called for new elections, the opposition demanded that he himself step down before it would cooperate. Last year, a State Department official in Haiti, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me that the United States wouldn't tolerate that kind of intransigence but also said that no support for new elections would be forthcoming until President Aristide improved "security." And yet by the time the diplomat said this, the administration had long since withdrawn support from Haiti's fledgling police force, with predictable and now obvious results.

Mr. Aristide has been accused of many things. A few days ago, a news report described him as "uncompromising." For more than a week now, American and other diplomats have been trying to broker a deal whereby the president would appoint a new prime minister acceptable to the opposition. Mr. Aristide has agreed. So far the opposition has refused, insisting again that the president resign.

It was the United States that restored Mr. Aristide to power in 1994, but since his re-election our government has made rather brazen attempts to undermine his presidency. One could speculate endlessly on American motives, but the plain fact is that American policy in Haiti has not served American interests, not if those include the establishment of democracy in Haiti, or the prevention of the kind of chaos and bloodletting that has led in the past to boatloads of refugees heading for Florida.

One could also argue about the failings and sins of all the quarreling factions inside Haiti. But there are more important considerations. Haitians have endured centuries of horror: first slavery under the French, and then, since their revolution, nearly two centuries of corrupt, repressive misrule, aided and abetted by foreign powers, including the United States. All this has helped to make Haiti one of the world's poorest countries, and its people, according to the World Bank, among the most malnourished on earth.

The majority of Haitians have been struggling for nearly two decades to establish a democratic political system. It is important to this effort that Haiti's current elected president leave office constitutionally, not through what would be the country's 33rd coup d'état. Progress toward this difficult goal may still be possible, if the warring politicians within the country and the various foreign nations that have involved themselves in Haiti's affairs pull together now and put a stop to the growing incursions of terrorists. If this does not happen, there is little hope for Haiti. The result, I fear, will be a new civil war, one that will likely lead back to dictatorship and spill enough blood to cover all hands.

Tracy Kidder is the author, most recently, of "Mountains Beyond Mountains".

New York Times












Jobs and the Resurgent Economy

Another White House intelligence failure

Dean Baker
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

In his annual report on the state of the economy, President Bush predicted that the economy would create 2.6 million jobs in 2004. As Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., quickly commented, this jobs number must have come from the people who said that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

It is not that creating 2.6 million jobs is an especially impressive performance. The economy created 3 million jobs a year from 1996 to 2000. Furthermore, after three years in which the economy lost jobs, it would be reasonable to expect that there would be a sharp bounce back.

But the Bush economy continues to defy expectations, always surprising on the low side. To hit the 2.6 million jobs target, the economy would have to create 215,000 jobs a month. The average over the last two months has been just 115,000. If there was evidence that the economy was picking up steam, then it would be reasonable to believe that the economy would make up for some months of weak job growth at the beginning of the year.

Unfortunately, the evidence points in the opposite direction: The economy appears to be running out of gas. It went into the second half of 2003 turbocharged by the third round of Bush tax cuts, coupled with an unprecedented boom in mortgage refinancing. Mortgage debt increased by an incredible $940 billion annual rate in the third quarter of last year, as families rushed to take advantage of the lowest mortgage rates in almost 50 years.

Families didn't only use cheap mortgages to buy homes, they also borrowed against their homes to buy cars and appliances, or to pay for remodeling and vacations. This spurt of consumption led to the extraordinary 8.4 percent GDP growth in the third quarter.

But in spite of this growth, few jobs were created. With the fuel of the tax cuts and the mortgage refinancing boom past, the economy seems certain to slow in the months ahead. The economy was still growing at a healthy 4 percent at the end of 2004, but with minimal job growth and wages barely keeping pace with inflation, workers are running out of money to spend. Nevertheless, some economic analysts are banking on a big boost from tax rebate checks in the spring. This would be a sort of rebound from the tax cuts. The cuts were passed in June, but applied retroactively to the beginning of the year, so many workers had too much money withheld from their checks in the first six months of 2003.

While getting this money refunded will put some extra dollars in taxpayers' pockets, these refunds will be almost completely offset by higher capital-gains taxes. For the first time since 2000, many investors had stock gains in 2003 on which they will have to pay taxes. If capital gains tax collections rise just halfway to their pre-crash levels, it will mean an additional $40 billion in tax payments in the spring of 2004 compared to 2003. Without a boost from tax cuts, most other factors are likely to push the economy down.

Continuing budget shortfalls are forcing state and local governments to lay off workers and raise taxes. Huge overbuilding in commercial real estate has been pushing nonresidential construction downward for the last three years. It is only a matter of time before the bursting of the housing bubble brings residential construction down from its record highs.

Equipment investment may remain strong, but this will give more of a boost to the economies of East Asia than the U.S. economy.

In short, it is hard to see how President Bush is going to reach his target of 2.6 million jobs this year. It seems all but certain that Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose jobs on his watch. In setting goals for its economic policies, particularly as they affect jobs, this is an administration that strives for mediocrity and comes up short.

Dean Baker is co-director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

San Francisco Chronicle







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