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Giuliani's daughter backing Obama
1 hour, 27 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The daughter of Republican hopeful Rudy
Giuliani has signaled she's backing Democrat Barack
Obama for president.
According to her Facebook profile, Giuliani's
17-year-old daughter, Caroline, belonged to Democrat
Barack Obama's Facebook group "Barack Obama (One
Million Strong for Barack)." She left the group Monday
morning after the online magazine Slate sent an
Her profile can be viewed by Facebook users who have
access to New York City's Trinity School or Harvard
University networks. Caroline, who is Giuliani's
daughter with his second wife, Donna Hanover, recently
graduated from Trinity and will attend Harvard in the
Slate posted a screen shot of her profile, which uses
a slightly different last name. She lists herself as
having liberal political views.
Giuliani, a leading Republican candidate, has asked
for privacy to deal with strained relationships in his
family. Son Andrew, 21, has said their relationship
became distant after Giuliani's messy divorce from the
children's mother and his marriage to third wife
"There's obviously a little problem that exists
between me and his wife," Andrew Giuliani told The New
York Times earlier this year.
In May, Giuliani attended his daughter's high school
graduation but kept a low profile, sitting in a last
row balcony seat with his wife and leaving without
speaking to his daughter, the New York Daily News
Neither the Giuliani nor Obama campaigns had any
comment on Caroline's political preference.
Yepsen: Straw poll might mean more than you think
Even without front-runners, results could speak to
strength of message, organizational prowess.
By DAVID YEPSEN
REGISTER POLITICAL COLUMNIST
August 5, 2007
In the 1980 Republican presidential caucus campaign,
Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker said one function of the
Iowa caucuses was to "winnow the field" of candidates.
By that he meant Iowa caucus-goers in both parties
take presidential campaigns with large numbers of
candidates and cut the field to a more manageable size
for voters in other states to consider.
For Republicans, the Iowa scythe comes out Saturday.
That's when the state Republican Party stages its
colorful but controversial "straw poll" at Hilton
Coliseum in Ames.
With a $35 ticket, any Iowan who will be 18 on
Election Day 2008 can cast a vote for a Republican
presidential candidate. (You don't even have to be a
registered Republican, but you do have to show a
government-issued photo ID, or student photo ID from
an Iowa school, to prove your Iowa-ness.)
One week from today, some of the candidates who do
poorly will no longer be standing in the race. They
will be damaged goods contemplating a withdrawal from
the contest, because their fundraising will wither.
Is this fair? Is too much made of this poll? Could
there be surprises? And most important to political
observers, what's the handicap on how candidates will
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen.
John McCain, two of the national leaders in the race,
said they weren't going to compete in the event. They
might still get votes from their supporters, but the
two are not actively organizing to buy tickets and
turn out votes.
Some in the party once estimated 50,000 people would
show up, but that number has been scaled back to
35,000 or so following the withdrawals. Party
officials also say some rank-and-file Republicans are
unhappy with the party these days and might not
attend, although they hope a crowd in the thousands
will help boost morale.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to
win. He leads in opinion polls of Iowa Republicans and
has run a disciplined campaign in the state. Following
the withdrawal of Giuliani and McCain, Romney
announced he was cutting back his effort. He still
planned to win, he said, just not run up the score.
That looks like a wise decision - there's no point
paying for more tickets than you need. But he could
look bad if someone comes close to him because he
slacked off. An upset would stun his campaign.
The big battle is for the second- and third-place
finishes. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, former Arkansas
Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy
Thompson are competing hard for these "place" and
"show" positions. The outcome could knock one or more
from the race.
Brownback probably leads the competition, though
Thompson has waged an intense, 99-county campaign in
the state. Thompson indicated last week he would have
to reconsider his candidacy if he doesn't finish first
Brownback has courted social conservatives and
attacked Romney for flip-flopping on abortion by
moving from a pro-choice to a pro-life stance. Romney
has said he changed his mind on the subject, just as
Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did.
Brownback has also worked other groups in the party,
such as economic conservatives unhappy with the tax
All other candidates are expected to finish far
behind. None has much chance of winning the
nomination. Their efforts are considered to be more
protest or token candidacies than serious bids for the
White House. So, a poor showing in the poll isn't
likely to deter them from continuing their quixotic
The political community will be watching to see how
former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson does. He's not yet
announced and won't be at the event, yet there is
considerable buzz for his candidacy in GOP circles. A
recent KCCI-TV poll shows him running in second place
among likely GOP caucus-goers. A good showing from
straw-poll attendees could further boost his standing,
representing a spontaneous show of support.
Also, Giuliani and McCain might get some votes despite
their opting out of the competition to buy meal
tickets and votes. If their totals are good, that,
too, would boost their candidacies. As it is, they are
not expected to do well and can spin a poor showing by
saying they weren't engaged in the ticket buying.
Surprises could happen because a fair number of
attendees buy their own tickets or make up their own
mind. They aren't robots paid for by a campaign. Some
Romney supporters are worried about attendees mooching
a ticket off their man to go vote for someone else.
One surprise could come from Texas Congressman Ron
Paul, who is attracting a zealous following of
younger, libertarian supporters. Some of them are
promising a good showing in the voting.
The results could tell us something about social
conservatives and whether they are starting to rally
to one candidate or another. So far, they've been
dividing among several of the candidates, or are
remaining undecided, much to Giuliani's advantage.
About the only way he can win the caucuses and the
nomination is if this key constituency remains
The results also tell us something about a candidate's
message and organizational prowess, two things that
are often harbingers of success in the caucuses
Campaigns spend weeks looking for supporters, signing
them up, getting tickets in their hands and arranging
for bus transportation to and from Ames. It's
expensive and time-consuming, but campaigns that opt
to compete say it is a good organizational shakedown
for caucus night.
The exercise also says something about a candidate's
message. A candidate's followers must be inspired
enough to go to Ames for the voting.
Even if the candidate provides a free ticket and a
round-trip bus ride, supporters need a certain level
of dedication to devote a good chunk of a summer
Saturday to casting a vote. Candidates such as Paul,
who attract passionate supporters, can do well as a
The event might also be significant if Republican
candidates use it to put distance between themselves
and the Bush administration. President Bush is
personally popular with many rank-and-file
Republicans, but many of these same stalwarts are
unhappy with the large increase in federal spending
and the protracted Iraq war.
Candidates are given 20 minutes for speeches to the
crowd, and the event draws considerable national media
attention. It's an opportunity for the candidates to
signal to Americans how their administrations would be
different from the current one. Given the party's low
standing in the polls, that will have to happen sooner
Instead of any Bush-bashing, it's more likely the
speeches will give candidates an opportunity to unveil
new themes or attacks as they try to attract
straw-poll voters and reach a larger audience in Iowa
and around the country.
Role as harbinger
The straw poll may tell us something about who the
Republican nominee will be and who it won't be. In the
last three cycles in which Republicans had competitive
fights for the nomination, the eventual winner of the
nomination finished among the top three in the straw
For the 1988 race, nominee George H.W. Bush finished
third in the 1987 straw poll. For 1996, nominee Bob
Dole finished first in 1995's straw poll. The 2000
nominee, George W. Bush, finished first in the straw
poll in 1999.
The 1987 victor was Christian broadcasting executive
Pat Robertson. His win stunned the Bush forces and
prompted a shake-up in his campaign. It was a sign
Bush was in trouble in Iowa and foreshadowed his
third-place showing in the caucuses.
Robertson's win also confirmed the rising strength of
religious conservatives in the party, a group that's
been a force ever since.
The difference between those earlier straw-poll
contests and this one is the decision by front-runners
not to participate. What does a playoff like this tell
us if the leading teams in the league aren't playing?
Maybe not much.
Giuliani, McCain and Fred Thompson don't need a
straw-poll win to raise money or improve their
national name recognition. But by not competing, they
allow Romney, the expected winner, a boost of media
attention and a chance to develop momentum that might
be difficult to stop in later contests.
The poll has several limitations. First, people have
to pay to vote. Also, they must come to Ames. Those
two factors give an advantage to people living close
to Ames and those with enough money for a ticket. The
presidential campaigns pay for many of the tickets,
which makes this a pay-to-play proposition.
The event might give Iowa even more influence over the
nominating process of the Republican Party. Iowa
already hosts the caucuses, which winnow the field.
With emergence of the straw poll as an important test,
critics say Iowa gets "two bites at the apple."
The Iowa Republican Party defends the poll as a
grass-roots organizational effort that helps motivate
party faithful and raises money for state and local
campaigns. The money also helps defray the costs of
staging the caucuses.
Critics also say we media types over-blow the event.
August is often a slow news month, and the hoopla of
the straw poll, coupled with the colorful Iowa State
Fair at the same time, provide irresistible photo
DAVID YEPSEN can be reached at dyepsen@... or
August 8, 2007, 12:30 pm
First Presidential Votes Might Be Cast in 2007
Jackie Calmes reports on the 2008 presidental race.
CampaignThe first 2008 presidential votes may be
moving into 2007 after all, making a race that has
started earlier than ever even more intense.
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson
will announce that he is moving its primary date ahead
of Florida’s Jan. 29 vote, to reclaim his state
party’s “first in the South” presidential-nominating
banner. But he will do so in New Hampshire, home of
the first-in-the-nation primary. And he will be joined
by New Hampshire’s longtime Secretary of State Bill
Gardner, who alone has the power to set that state’s
date for both parties, now tentatively Jan. 22.
If both were to move their dates up, that likely would
force Iowa — always protective of its party caucuses
as the first nominating contests of any kind — to
consider moving its date from next Jan. 14 into
A prominent South Carolina Republican who spoke with
Dawson this week said that both South Carolina’s
Republicans and New Hampshire would make a change. But
another source suggested that only Dawson would
announce a change, while New Hampshire’s Gardner would
appear as a show of support for South Carolina
Republicans and remain mum on his plans for now. One
reason: The Democratic Party’s rules committee meets
later this month, and all of this state maneuvering is
in violation of both parties’ rules. Those rules have
sought to prevent the front-loading of presidential
nominating contests, but the threatened penalties —
forfeiture of convention delegates — have proven weak.
Traditionally New Hampshire and Iowa have coordinated
to protect their early-voting status — with the
support of the national parties, and presidential
candidates eager for their votes — but with each
presidential-election cycle, the pressure has grown
from other states coveting candidates’ attention to
them and their issues. By law, Iowa’s party caucuses
must be eight days before New Hampshire’s primaries,
and New Hampshire, by law, requires its primaries to
be a week before any state’s similar contest.
So New Hampshire had tentatively planned on Jan. 22
primaries, eight days after Iowa’s caucuses. South
Carolina Republicans had planned to hold primaries on
Feb. 2; state Democrats’ are on Jan 29. Speaking in
something of a riddle, Dawson told his fellow state
Republican this week that South Carolina’s Republican
primary would be at least 10 days before Florida’s
Jan. 29 primaries, but not on the same day as Nevada’s
caucuses, which are Jan. 19, and 12 days after New
That suggests New Hampshire ultimately could be moving
as early as the first week of January. Iowa would then
be certain to move up from Jan. 14. To avoid getting
caught in the holiday period, Iowans have said the
caucuses would have to be in mid-December.
While all the campaigns have braced for that prospect,
it still would wreak havoc in their Iowa operations.
Since Iowa’s unique caucuses require getting
supporters out to vote for an entire winter evening,
in unfamiliar living rooms or meetings halls across
the state, they pose an organizational challenge in a
typical year. But, lamented one campaign’s Iowa
operative, “How do you do this mobilizing around
Christmas? It would be a real challenge.”
“Nobody wants to go in December, but Iowa will be
first,” said Carrie Giddins, communications director
for the state Democratic Party.
Bush treated for Lyme disease
August 8, 2007 at 5:14 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — U.S. President George W. Bush was treated
for Lyme disease last August, the White House
announced Wednesday after failing to disclose the
problem for nearly a year.
Mr. Bush was treated for what his doctors described as
“early, localized Lyme disease” after developing the
characteristic bullseye rash.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection that, if left
untreated, can cause arthritis and other problems.
Symptoms can include lethargy, joint pain, fever,
limping and loss of appetite. A bacterial disease, it
can be eradicated with antibiotic treatment in the
early stages. It can recur in some patients, but Mr.
Bush's doctors say it hasn't with him.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the treatment
was not disclosed earlier because it happened after he
had his last physical, on Aug. 1, 2006. He said
doctors decided not to do blood tests to determine for
certain that he had Lyme disease because the treatment
worked and he never progressed to other symptoms.
“It was a rash,” he said. “It's not uncommon for the
president to have tick bites when he's out biking.”
Six Democrats at Candidate Forum Wear Shades of Gray
on Gay Marriage
By CQ Staff | 1:56 AM; Aug. 10, 2007 |
By Sara Lubbes, Josh Stager and Jesse Stanchak, CQ
Six of the candidates seeking the 2008 Democratic
presidential nomination participated Thursday in a
two-hour forum in Los Angeles devoted to issues of
concern to gays and lesbians. The event — moderated by
journalist Margaret Carlson and sponsored by the Human
Rights Campaign, a gay-rights activist group — was
broadcast live by co-sponsor Logo, a lifestyle cable
channel aimed at gay and lesbian viewers.
Taking questions separately in a talk-show-like
setting were front-running candidates New York Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and
former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Also
participating were New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson,
Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich and former Alaska Sen.
Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd and Delaware Sen.
Joseph R. Biden Jr., did not attend, citing scheduling
conflicts. Logo offered to hold a second forum for
Republican candidates, but the leading candidates for
the party’s nomination declined to participate,
Unlike several candidate debates held earlier this
year, the Democrats never appeared on stage together,
but took questions at 15-minute intervals from Carlson
and a panel made up of Human Rights Campaign President
Joe Solmonese, singer Melissa Etheridge and Washington
Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart. Candidates
were questioned in the order in which they agreed to
commit to the forum, with chief rivals Obama and
Clinton book-ending the discussion as first and last,
The questions covered a mix of topics, including
same-sex marriage, AIDS funding and employment rights
for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples.
The following is a roundup of some of the forum’s key
Most Discussed Issue: Debate about same-sex marriage
dominated the forum. With only two candidates,
Kucinich and Gravel, supporting full marriage rights
for same-sex couples most of the scrutiny went to
Obama, Edwards, Richardson and Clinton: All of them
proclaimed their support for civil unions that provide
many partnership rights to same-sex couples but do not
constitute marriage under the law.
“The country isn’t there yet,” said Richardson of his
opposition to gay marriage. “Civil unions with full
marriage rights is achievable.”
Clinton described her opposition as “a personal
position,” adding that marriage laws should be
determined by state legislatures.
Obama, who served in the Illinois Senate for eight
years prior to his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate,
would not say if he would have voted for a bill to
legalize gay marriage. “It depends on how the bill
would’ve come up,” he said.
In one of the most direct moments of the night,
Edwards backtracked on recent comments that his
personal faith influenced his opposition to gay
“I shouldn’t have said that,” Edwards said, adding,
“My position on same-sex marriage has not changed. I
believe strongly in civil unions.”
The discussion also focused heavily on the Defense of
Marriage Act, or DOMA, a 1996 statute that was crafted
by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by a
Democrat, President Bill Clinton, who is married to
Hillary Clinton. The law prohibits the federal
government from recognizing same-sex marriage.
Edwards went the farthest in calling for an outright
repeal of the law. “We desperately need to get rid of
DOMA,” Edwards said. Edwards has said he would not
have voted for the bill if he had been in the Senate
Richardson was a member of the U.S. House in 1996 and
did vote for the DOMA bill. But he said he backed it
as part of an effort to block conservatives from
pushing through a more stringent measure, a
constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Richardson described DOMA as “a cheap political way to
decimate a bad initiative.”
Clinton, whose husband was heavily criticized by gay
rights groups for signing the law, gave a more
defensive response, saying it helped Democratic
candidates in 2004 deflect Republican efforts to brand
them as pro-gay marriage.
“DOMA provided great protection against the Republican
strategy to cynically use marriage as a political
tool,” she said. But she expressed support for
repealing the section of the law that defines marriage
as only between a man and a woman, leaving in place
only the section that gives states jurisdiction over
Most Uncomfortable Moment: Etheridge grilled
Richardson for using the Spanish word for the anti-gay
epithet “faggot” on the Don Imus radio show in March
2006, then asked Richardson pointedly if he believes
being gay is a personal choice or an inherent
Richardson voiced the most conservative view among the
candidates. “It is a choice,” he said quickly, looking
down. Etheridge repeated her question in a friendly
tone, wondering aloud if Richardson did not understand
her the first time.
“I’m not a scientist,” he answered. “I don’t see this
as an issue of science or definition. I see gays and
lesbians as people...I don’t like to answer
definitions like that that are grounded in science or
something else that I don’t understand.”
Most Impassioned Moment: Kucinich, one of the most
vocal supporters of gay rights among the candidates,
won high praise from the panel for his support of full
marriage rights for homosexuals. Carlson joked that
Kucinich is “so evolved” for a member of Congress and
asked how he got that way.
Kucinich said that, as mayor of Cleveland, he was
attacked for hiring a police chief who was sympathetic
to gay rights.
“To me, who cares? It really doesn’t matter,” he said,
over cheers from the crowd. “Every one of us taking a
stand has the potential to help any one of us evolve.
That’s the gift we give to each other.”
Most Nuanced Response: For the candidates who don’t
fully support legalizing same-sex marriage, the
challenge at the forum was to explain their positions
on issues in a way that made them palatable to the gay
constituency, while not alienating the majority of
voters who are not gay.
All the candidates endorsed repealing the ‘don’t ask,
don’t tell’ ban on gays in the military, but Clinton
had a little more to prove. She was first lady when
the law was signed by President Clinton in 1993, and
said she only came out against the policy in 1999.
Clinton said that at the time the law was enacted,
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was meant to be a defensive
bill designed to prevent more restrictive measures
that moderates as well as conservatives might have
been tempted to endorse.
Best Line: “Back then, mainstream media marginalized
me. Oh, I was a maverick. Oh, I was ‘Kooky Gravel.’
Well, I tell you what, all you gotta do is live long
enough that they look back and say, ‘My God, was he a
courageous leader.’” — Gravel, who was initially not
invited to the debate, playfully acknowledging his
role as an outsider candidate in the race.
Top Point of Agreement: All the candidates agreed that
federal marriage benefits should be extended to all
couples, regardless of sexuality. The disagreements
only b egan when candidates were asked what they would
call such a union and why. While candidates who
supported anything less than full marriage rights
didn’t impress the moderators, they all agreed that
homosexuals should be guaranteed equality under the law.
Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look
Aug 10 06:25 PM US/Eastern
By RICHARD LARDNER
WASHINGTON (AP) - Frequent tours for U.S. forces in
Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer
force and made it worth considering a return to a
military draft, President Bush's new war adviser said
"I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,"
Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with
National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
"And I can tell you, this has always been an option on
the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter
between meeting the demands for the nation's security
by one means or another," Lute added in his first
interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in
President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring
it, Lute said, would be a "major policy shift" and
Bush has made it clear that he doesn't think it's
The repeated deployments affect not only the troops
but their families, who can influence whether a
service member decides to stay in the military, Lute
"There's both a personal dimension of this, where this
kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in
living room conversations within these families," he
said. "And ultimately, the health of the all-
volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of
personal family decisions."
The military conducted a draft during the Civil War
and both world wars and between 1948 and 1973. The
Selective Service System, re- established in 1980,
maintains a registry of 18-year-old men.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has called for
reinstating the draft as a way to end the Iraq war.
Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national
security adviser with responsibility for ensuring
efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with
policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty
general, was chosen after several retired generals
turned down the job.
Romney wins, Huckabee in 2nd
THOMAS BEAUMONT AND JENNIFER JACOBS
REGISTER STAFF WRITERS
August 11, 2007
Ames, Ia. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney emerged on top at Iowa GOP’s straw poll
Saturday in Ames.
The win boosted the former Massachusetts governor’s
standing as the party’s frontrunner in Iowa, although
attendance at this first show of Iowa campaign
strength appeared to fall short of expectations.
Candidate Votes Pct.
1. Mitt Romney 4,516 31.6%
2. Mike Huckabee 2,587 18.1%
3. Sam Brownback 2,192 15.3%
4. Tom Tancredo 1,960 13.7%
5. Ron Paul 1,305 9.1%
6. Tommy Thompson 1,039 7.3%
7. Fred Thompson 203 1.4%
8. Rudy Giuliani 183 1.3%
9. Duncan Hunter 174 1.2%
10. John McCain 101 0.7%
11. John Cox 41 0.3%
Romney, who heavily outspent his opponents preparing
for the fundraising event, received 4,516 votes or
Roughly 30,000 to 33,000 Republicans attended the
state party fundraiser on the Iowa State University
campus, short of organizers’ goal of exceeding the
crowd of 38,000 who attended the most recent straw
poll in 1999.
A factor in the lower turnout was the absence of some
of the field’s better-known candidates — former New
York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of
Arizona, and likely candidate Fred Thompson, a former
U.S. senator from Tennessee.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had said his
campaign’s future depended on a strong showing in
Ames. He finished in second place, with 2,587 votes or
18.1 percent. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas placed
third with 2,192 votes, 15.3 percent after campaigning
aggressively to be the choice of the Iowa GOP’s
influential social conservatives.
“Obviously this was an incredible day and victory for
us,” Huckabee said. “What happened for us today was
Huckabee said he and his campaign staff had been
saying they had momentum and it proved true.
“We overperformed,” he said. “The bigger story is we
did it with not a dime of paid advertising.”
He said he hopes all the people who promised they’d
get behind him “if he got traction” will now step
Meanwhile, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who
said he would quit the race if he finished worse than
second place, finished sixth with 1,039 votes or 7.3
Thompson could exit the race as early as Sunday.
"Clearly it'll be difficult for the campaign to
continue," said Thompson's Iowa adviser, Steve Grubbs.
Grubbs said Thompson will likely go to church Sunday,
like he always does, and contemplate his future. An
announcement will come later Sunday or Monday, his
Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement
of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be
recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for
Republican Party of Iowa.
Two machines caused the problem, said State Auditor
David Vaudt. “What likely happened is someone
submitted their ballot too quickly after the other,”
he said. The ballots from those machines were hand
counted, then re-fed into the system to recalculate
the vote. A campaign poll-watcher said in one
instance, a black box contained 500 paper ballots but
the machine’s memory said it had scanned in 498.
Romney, the leader in recent Iowa polls, had said a
victory in Ames would ensure his place in his party’s
top tier nationally. He described himself Saturday as
the candidate of change that he argued the party
requires in order to win in 2008.
“Change begins in Iowa and change begins today,”
Romney told more than 10,000 Republican activists
during his speech at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum. “If
there’s ever been a time we need to see a change in
Iowa, it’s now.”
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who had banked much his
campaign on a strong straw poll showing, said the
results were his “ticket to the caucuses” and pledged
to continue the race.
“We’re still in this race, we’re still going to move
aggressively forward,” Brownback told a crowd of 50 in
his tent. “We’ve separated ourselves from the rest of
Brownback said his campaign, which has not yet used
televised ads, planned to begin buying air time.
Romney, Brownback, Huckabee and Thompson were among
eight candidates to attend the high-profile political
festival that marks the end of the first round of the
campaign for Iowa’s leadoff GOP nominating caucuses.
The straw poll votes are nonbinding, and voters are
free to choose another candidate in the official Iowa
Giuliani’s and McCain’s decisions in June to skip the
event altered the straw poll’s role. Typically seen as
a potential first measure of candidate strength in the
field at large, this year’s event was more of an
opportunity for a second-tier candidate to emerge.
Candidates also attending were U.S. Reps. Duncan
Hunter of California, Ron Paul of Texas and Tom
Tancredo of Colorado, as well as Chicago businessman
Brownback had sparred with Romney in the weeks leading
up to Saturday, challenging Romney’s commitment to
opposing abortion rights, a key issue to Republican
stalwarts in Iowa. Brownback, who opposes abortion
rights, had been conducting a telephone campaign
attacking Romney on his abortion position and other
“We win when we stand on principles and do not abandon
them,” Brownback said in an indirect reference to his
criticism of Romney, who supported abortion rights
until after his election to governor in 2002.
The event was expected to raise roughly $1 million for
the Iowa Republican Party, partly through sales of the
$35 tickets, but more through rental fees the
candidates and interest groups paid to set up tents
around Hilton Coliseum.
Participating candidates viewed the event as a
practice run for mobilizing their Iowa organizations,
a priority in the organization-heavy caucuses,
scheduled to launch the 2008 nominating contests in
Romney, Brownback and Huckabee had rented hundreds of
tour buses to deliver their supporters to the grounds
around Hilton Coliseum.
The campaigns bought up blocs of thousands of tickets
and handed them out to their supporters, with more
than just hope that they would vote for them at voting
stations in Hilton Coliseum and nearby buildings.
Romney’s campaign aides had asked people who received
a ticket from them to sign a pledge to vote for the
candidate, which annoyed at least one family. Voting
generally went smoothly, although the sweltering day’s
high humidity was a factor in some ballots sticking
together, which caused marginal delays, party
The grounds around the coliseum were transformed by
mid-morning into a scale model of the Iowa State Fair,
going on 40 miles south in Des Moines. A Ferris wheel
sponsored by FairTax, a group promoting tax reform,
spun while Des Moines rock band The Nadas jammed on a
stage set up in Romney’s compound outside Hilton
Hundreds of attendees streamed onto the grounds as
buses from all over the state unloaded.
With roughly 50 voting machines set up in sites in
Hilton and surrounding buildings, lines formed quickly
as balloting began at 10 a.m. Staff from the Story
County auditor’s office supervised the voting, and
state Auditor David Vaudt oversaw the ballot counting.
There were few complaints about the voting process.
Inside, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham was the
master of ceremonies, and the polished stagecraft
included candidate videos played on jumbo screens.
The nation’s political news media were focused on the
event, despite the high-profile no-shows. More than
400 members of at least 150 news organizations were on
hand covering the event.Dozens of satellite news
trucks crowded the parking area just south of the
Giuliani said in June that he would not participate in
the straw poll, suggesting his campaign could more
wisely spend the estimated $3million it would take to
prepare for Ames by investing in his early-state
McCain said his reason for giving up his straw poll
plan was that Giuliani’s absence diminished the
contest’s significance. Later, McCain slashed his Iowa
and national campaign organizations in light of
“I think anybody who is not in the straw poll made a
mistake,” U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa
Republican, told reporters. “They are losing an
opportunity to refortify their national position. And
particularly Giuliani, that’s for sure.”
Lorna Burnside, a rare undecided Republican attending
the event, said she doesn’t begrudge Giuliani or
McCain for skipping the event, but thinks they did
their Iowa campaigns a disservice.
“You can’t get this many people together and not make
an impact by staying away. You just can’t do it,” she
said. “There’s just too many people here.”
Staff writers Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Clayworth
contributed to this article.
August 11, 2007
Indicted Romney Finance Co-Chair Resigns
Lost amid the Ames Strawpoll activity today, Mitt
Romney's campaign has announced the resignation of its
national finance committee co-chairman, Alan B.
Fabian, who was indicted in Maryland for "allegedly
shady business dealings." Romney will return Fabian's
$2,300 campaign contribution.
"Federal prosecutors have charged Fabian with
defrauding companies out of $32 million. He was
indicted Wednesday by a Maryland grand jury on 23
counts, including mail fraud, money laundering,
bankruptcy fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice,
according to the Baltimore U.S. attorney's office."
It took less votes to win the straw poll than to win a state
representative seat. That's how "meaningful" the event was.
--- In email@example.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
> Romney wins, Huckabee in 2nd
> THOMAS BEAUMONT AND JENNIFER JACOBS
> REGISTER STAFF WRITERS
> August 11, 2007
> Ames, Ia. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt
> Romney emerged on top at Iowa GOP's straw poll
> Saturday in Ames.
> The win boosted the former Massachusetts governor's
> standing as the party's frontrunner in Iowa, although
> attendance at this first show of Iowa campaign
> strength appeared to fall short of expectations.
> Candidate Votes Pct.
> 1. Mitt Romney 4,516 31.6%
> 2. Mike Huckabee 2,587 18.1%
> 3. Sam Brownback 2,192 15.3%
> 4. Tom Tancredo 1,960 13.7%
> 5. Ron Paul 1,305 9.1%
> 6. Tommy Thompson 1,039 7.3%
> 7. Fred Thompson 203 1.4%
> 8. Rudy Giuliani 183 1.3%
> 9. Duncan Hunter 174 1.2%
> 10. John McCain 101 0.7%
> 11. John Cox 41 0.3%
> Romney, who heavily outspent his opponents preparing
> for the fundraising event, received 4,516 votes or
> 31.6 percent.
> Roughly 30,000 to 33,000 Republicans attended the
> state party fundraiser on the Iowa State University
> campus, short of organizers' goal of exceeding the
> crowd of 38,000 who attended the most recent straw
> poll in 1999.
> A factor in the lower turnout was the absence of some
> of the field's better-known candidates — former New
> York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of
> Arizona, and likely candidate Fred Thompson, a former
> U.S. senator from Tennessee.
> Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had said his
> campaign's future depended on a strong showing in
> Ames. He finished in second place, with 2,587 votes or
> 18.1 percent. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas placed
> third with 2,192 votes, 15.3 percent after campaigning
> aggressively to be the choice of the Iowa GOP's
> influential social conservatives.
> "Obviously this was an incredible day and victory for
> us," Huckabee said. "What happened for us today was
> Huckabee said he and his campaign staff had been
> saying they had momentum and it proved true.
> "We overperformed," he said. "The bigger story is we
> did it with not a dime of paid advertising."
> He said he hopes all the people who promised they'd
> get behind him "if he got traction" will now step
> Meanwhile, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who
> said he would quit the race if he finished worse than
> second place, finished sixth with 1,039 votes or 7.3
> Thompson could exit the race as early as Sunday.
> "Clearly it'll be difficult for the campaign to
> continue," said Thompson's Iowa adviser, Steve Grubbs.
> Grubbs said Thompson will likely go to church Sunday,
> like he always does, and contemplate his future. An
> announcement will come later Sunday or Monday, his
> aide said.
> Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement
> of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be
> recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for
> Republican Party of Iowa.
> Two machines caused the problem, said State Auditor
> David Vaudt. "What likely happened is someone
> submitted their ballot too quickly after the other,"
> he said. The ballots from those machines were hand
> counted, then re-fed into the system to recalculate
> the vote. A campaign poll-watcher said in one
> instance, a black box contained 500 paper ballots but
> the machine's memory said it had scanned in 498.
> Romney, the leader in recent Iowa polls, had said a
> victory in Ames would ensure his place in his party's
> top tier nationally. He described himself Saturday as
> the candidate of change that he argued the party
> requires in order to win in 2008.
> "Change begins in Iowa and change begins today,"
> Romney told more than 10,000 Republican activists
> during his speech at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum. "If
> there's ever been a time we need to see a change in
> Iowa, it's now."
> U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who had banked much his
> campaign on a strong straw poll showing, said the
> results were his "ticket to the caucuses" and pledged
> to continue the race.
> "We're still in this race, we're still going to move
> aggressively forward," Brownback told a crowd of 50 in
> his tent. "We've separated ourselves from the rest of
> the field."
> Brownback said his campaign, which has not yet used
> televised ads, planned to begin buying air time.
> Romney, Brownback, Huckabee and Thompson were among
> eight candidates to attend the high-profile political
> festival that marks the end of the first round of the
> campaign for Iowa's leadoff GOP nominating caucuses.
> The straw poll votes are nonbinding, and voters are
> free to choose another candidate in the official Iowa
> Giuliani's and McCain's decisions in June to skip the
> event altered the straw poll's role. Typically seen as
> a potential first measure of candidate strength in the
> field at large, this year's event was more of an
> opportunity for a second-tier candidate to emerge.
> Candidates also attending were U.S. Reps. Duncan
> Hunter of California, Ron Paul of Texas and Tom
> Tancredo of Colorado, as well as Chicago businessman
> John Cox.
> Brownback had sparred with Romney in the weeks leading
> up to Saturday, challenging Romney's commitment to
> opposing abortion rights, a key issue to Republican
> stalwarts in Iowa. Brownback, who opposes abortion
> rights, had been conducting a telephone campaign
> attacking Romney on his abortion position and other
> "We win when we stand on principles and do not abandon
> them," Brownback said in an indirect reference to his
> criticism of Romney, who supported abortion rights
> until after his election to governor in 2002.
> The event was expected to raise roughly $1 million for
> the Iowa Republican Party, partly through sales of the
> $35 tickets, but more through rental fees the
> candidates and interest groups paid to set up tents
> around Hilton Coliseum.
> Participating candidates viewed the event as a
> practice run for mobilizing their Iowa organizations,
> a priority in the organization-heavy caucuses,
> scheduled to launch the 2008 nominating contests in
> Romney, Brownback and Huckabee had rented hundreds of
> tour buses to deliver their supporters to the grounds
> around Hilton Coliseum.
> The campaigns bought up blocs of thousands of tickets
> and handed them out to their supporters, with more
> than just hope that they would vote for them at voting
> stations in Hilton Coliseum and nearby buildings.
> Romney's campaign aides had asked people who received
> a ticket from them to sign a pledge to vote for the
> candidate, which annoyed at least one family. Voting
> generally went smoothly, although the sweltering day's
> high humidity was a factor in some ballots sticking
> together, which caused marginal delays, party
> officials said.
> The grounds around the coliseum were transformed by
> mid-morning into a scale model of the Iowa State Fair,
> going on 40 miles south in Des Moines. A Ferris wheel
> sponsored by FairTax, a group promoting tax reform,
> spun while Des Moines rock band The Nadas jammed on a
> stage set up in Romney's compound outside Hilton
> Hundreds of attendees streamed onto the grounds as
> buses from all over the state unloaded.
> With roughly 50 voting machines set up in sites in
> Hilton and surrounding buildings, lines formed quickly
> as balloting began at 10 a.m. Staff from the Story
> County auditor's office supervised the voting, and
> state Auditor David Vaudt oversaw the ballot counting.
> There were few complaints about the voting process.
> Inside, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham was the
> master of ceremonies, and the polished stagecraft
> included candidate videos played on jumbo screens.
> The nation's political news media were focused on the
> event, despite the high-profile no-shows. More than
> 400 members of at least 150 news organizations were on
> hand covering the event.Dozens of satellite news
> trucks crowded the parking area just south of the
> Giuliani said in June that he would not participate in
> the straw poll, suggesting his campaign could more
> wisely spend the estimated $3million it would take to
> prepare for Ames by investing in his early-state
> McCain said his reason for giving up his straw poll
> plan was that Giuliani's absence diminished the
> contest's significance. Later, McCain slashed his Iowa
> and national campaign organizations in light of
> financial trouble.
> "I think anybody who is not in the straw poll made a
> mistake," U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa
> Republican, told reporters. "They are losing an
> opportunity to refortify their national position. And
> particularly Giuliani, that's for sure."
> Lorna Burnside, a rare undecided Republican attending
> the event, said she doesn't begrudge Giuliani or
> McCain for skipping the event, but thinks they did
> their Iowa campaigns a disservice.
> "You can't get this many people together and not make
> an impact by staying away. You just can't do it," she
> said. "There's just too many people here."
> Staff writers Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Clayworth
> contributed to this article.
Italy probe unearths huge Iraq arms deal
By CHARLES J. HANLEY and ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press
Writers 1 hour, 21 minutes ago
PERUGIA, Italy - In a hidden corner of Rome's busy
Fiumicino Airport, police dug quietly through a
traveler's checked baggage, looking for smuggled
drugs. What they found instead was a catalog of
weapons, a clue to something bigger.
Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a
monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts,
into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as
Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more
than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the
bloodbath of Iraq.
As the secretive, $40 million deal neared completion,
Italian authorities moved in, making arrests and
breaking it up. But key questions remain unanswered.
For one thing, The Associated Press has learned that
Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal,
apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad
command — a departure from the usual pattern of
U.S.-overseen arms purchases.
Why these officials resorted to "black" channels and
where the weapons were headed is unclear.
The purchase would merely have been the most
spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet
for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons
stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003
U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war.
Some guns the U.S. bought for Iraq's police and army
are unaccounted for, possibly fallen into the hands of
insurgents or sectarian militias. Meanwhile, the
planned replacement of the army's AK-47s with
U.S.-made M-16s may throw more assault rifles onto the
black market. And the weapons free-for-all apparently
is spilling over borders: Turkey and Iran complain
U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to
anti-government militants on their soil.
Iraqi middlemen in the Italian deal, in intercepted
e-mails, claimed the arrangement had official American
approval. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.
"Iraqi officials did not make MNSTC-I aware that they
were making purchases," Lt. Col. Daniel Williams of
the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq
(MNSTC-I), which oversees arming and training of the
Iraqi police and army, told the AP.
Operation Parabellum, the investigation led by Dario
Razzi, anti-Mafia prosecutor in this central Italian
city, began in 2005 as a routine investigation into
drug trafficking by organized-crime figures, branched
out into an inquiry into arms dealing with Libya, and
then widened to Iraq.
Court documents obtained by the AP show that Razzi's
break came early last year when police monitoring one
of the drug suspects covertly opened his luggage as he
left on a flight to Libya. Instead of the expected
drugs, they found helmets, bulletproof vests and the
Tapping telephones, monitoring e-mails, Razzi's
investigators followed the trail to a group of Italian
businessmen, otherwise unrelated to the drug probe,
who were working to sell arms to Libya and, by late
2006, to Iraq as well, through offshore companies they
set up in Malta and Cyprus.
Four Italians have been arrested and are awaiting
court indictment for allegedly creating a criminal
association and alleged arms trafficking — trading in
weapons without a government license. A fifth Italian
is being sought in Africa. In addition, 13 other
Italians were arrested on drug charges.
In the documents, Razzi describes it as "strange" that
the U.S.-supported Iraqi government would seek such
weapons via the black market.
Investigators say the prospect of an Iraq deal was
raised last November, when an Iraqi-owned trading firm
e-mailed Massimo Bettinotti, 39, owner of the
Malta-based MIR Ltd., about whether MIR could supply
100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 10,000 machine guns
"to the Iraqi Interior Ministry," adding that "this
deal is approved by America and Iraq."
The go-between — the Al-Handal General Trading Co. in
Dubai — apparently had communicated with Bettinotti
earlier about buying night visors and had been told
MIR could also procure weapons.
Al-Handal has figured in questionable dealings before,
having been identified by U.S. investigators three
years ago as a "front company" in Iraq's Oil-for-Food
The Interior Ministry's need at that point for such a
massive weapons shipment is unclear. The U.S. training
command had already reported it would arm all Interior
Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own
three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought
701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with
$237 million in U.S. government funds.
Negotiations on the deal progressed quickly in e-mail
exchanges between the Italians and Iraqi middlemen of
the al-Handal company and its parent al-Thuraya Group.
But at times the discussion turned murky and nervous.
The Iraqis alternately indicated the Interior Ministry
or "security ministries" would be the end users. At
one point, a worried Bettinotti e-mailed, "We prefer
to speak about this deal face to face and not by
The Italians sent several offers of various types and
quantities of rifles, with photos included. The
negotiating focused on the source of the weapons: The
Iraqi middlemen said their buyer insisted they be
Russian-made, but the Italians wanted to sell AK-47s
made in China, where they had better contacts.
"We are in a hurry with this deal," an impatient
Waleed Noori al-Handal, Jordan-based general manager
of the Iraqi firm, wrote the Italians on Nov. 13 in
one of the e-mails seen by AP.
He added, in apparent allusion to the shipment's
clandestine nature, "You mustn't worry if it's a
problem to import these goods directly into Iraq. We
can bring the product to another country and then
transfer it to Iraq."
By December, the Italians, having found a Bulgarian
broker, were offering Russian-made goods: 50,000 AKM
rifles, an improved version of the AK-47; 50,000 AKMS
rifles, the same gun with folding stock; and 5,000 PKM
The Iraqis quibbled over the asking price, $39.7
million, but seemed satisfied. The Italians were set
for a $6.6 million profit, the court documents show,
and were already discussing air transport for the
weapons. At this point prosecutor Razzi acted, seeking
an arrest warrant from a Perugia court.
"The negotiation with Iraq is developing very
quickly," he wrote the judge.
On Feb. 12, in seven locations across Italy, police
arrested the 17 men, including the four alleged arms
traffickers: Bettinotti; Gianluca Squarzolo, 39, the
man whose luggage had yielded the original clue;
Ermete Moretti, 55, and Serafino Rossi, 64. If
convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 12 years
The at-large fifth man, Vittorio Dordi, 42, was
believed to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
where he apparently is involved in the diamond trade.
Italian authorities were seeking information on him
from the African country.
In the parallel Libya case, the Italians allegedly
paid two Libyan Defense Ministry officials about
$500,000 in kickbacks to speed that transaction for
Chinese-made assault rifles. It isn't known whether
such bribes were a factor in the Iraq deal. No Libyans
or Iraqis are known to have been detained in
connection with the cases.
Al-Handal's operations have caught investigators'
notice before. In 1996-2003, the company was involved
as a broker in the kickback scandal known as Oil for
Food, the CIA says.
In that program, Iraq under U.N. economic sanctions
bought food and other necessities with U.N.-supervised
oil revenues. Foreign companies, often through
intermediaries, surreptitiously kicked back payments
to officials of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government in
exchange for such supply contracts.
Those Iraqi middlemen also engaged in "misrepresenting
the origin or final destination of goods," said the
2004 report of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group, which
investigated both Iraq's defunct advanced weapons
programs and Oil for Food.
That report also alleged that during this period
Al-Handal General Trading, from its bases in Dubai and
Jordan, secretly moved unspecified "equipment" into
Iraq that was forbidden by the U.N. sanctions.
Reached at his office in Amman, Jordan, Waleed Noori
al-Handal denied the family firm had done anything
wrong in the Italian arms case.
"We don't have anything to hide," he told the AP.
Citing the names of "friends" in top U.S. military
ranks in Iraq, al-Handal said his company has
fulfilled scores of supply and service contracts for
the U.S. occupation. Asked why he claimed U.S.
approval for the abortive Italian weapons purchase, he
said he had a document from the U.S. Army "that says,
'We allow al-Thuraya Group to do all kinds of
In Baghdad, the Interior Ministry wouldn't discuss the
AK-47 transaction on the record. But a senior ministry
official, speaking on condition of anonymity because
of the matter's sensitivity, acknowledged it had
sought the weapons through al-Handal.
Asked about the irregular channels used, he said the
ministry "doesn't ask the supplier how these weapons
Although this official refused to discuss details, he
said "most" of the 105,000 weapons were meant for
police in Iraq's western province of Anbar. That
statement raised questions, however, since Pentagon
reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18
of Iraq's provinces, and say the ministry has been
issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398
machine guns for them and 28,000 border police.
A July 26 Pentagon report said 20,847 other AK-47s
purchased for the Interior Ministry have not yet been
delivered. Iraqi officials complain that the U.S.
supply of equipment, from bullets to uniforms, has
A Pentagon report in June may have touched on another
possible destination for weapons obtained via
secretive channels, noting that "militia infiltration
of local police remains a significant problem." Shiite
Muslim militias in Iraq's civil war have long been
known to find cover and weapons within the Interior
In fact, in a further sign of poor controls on the
flow of arms into Iraq, a July 31 audit report by the
U.S. Government Accountability Office said the U.S.
command's books don't contain records on 190,000
AK-47s and other weapons, more than half those issued
in 2004-2005 to Iraqi forces. This makes it difficult
to trace weapons that may be passed on to militias or
The Pentagon, meanwhile, has described the Interior
Ministry's accounting of police equipment as
Here in Italy, Razzi expressed puzzlement at the Iraqi
officials' circumvention of U.S. supply routes.
"It seems strange that a pro-Western government,
supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on
its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese
weapons through questionable channels," the anti-Mafia
prosecutor wrote in seeking the arrest warrant that
short-circuited the complex deal.
Thompson dropping out of presidential race
Campaign releases statement; ex-governor finishes 6th
in Iowa straw poll
MILWAUKEE - Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is
dropping out of the race for the Republican
presidential nomination, a campaign official said
His campaign released a statement saying the
Republican is leaving the campaign trail several hours
after WITI-TV in Milwaukee reported that Thompson told
one of its reporters he was withdrawing.
The campaign statement said Thompson intends to take
sometime off before returning to the private sector
and his nonprofit work.
It said the 65-year-old says he’s comforted by the
fact that he thinks he made a difference for people
during his campaign.
He finished sixth among eleven candidates in this
weekend’s GOP straw poll in Iowa. He had said before
the Iowa event that he would drop out of the race
unless he finished first or second.
The statement didn’t say whether he would endorse
A veteran of four successful campaigns for governor of
Wisconsin, had a good track record of winning
He quit during his fourth term as governor to serve as
President Bush’s secretary of Health and Human
Services from 2001 to the end of 2004.
He was first elected in 1966 at age 24 to the
Wisconsin State Assembly, not long after he graduated
from the University of Wisconsin. Twenty years later,
he won his first term as governor.
As governor, he earned a national reputation for
policies that moved many Wisconsin families from
welfare to work, gave minority families more options
on where they could send children to school by giving
religious and private schools up to $5,000 per student
and expanded health care to include thousands of the
working poor who had not previously qualified for
current government programs. He pushed for changes in
welfare laws before President Clinton and Congress
took up the issue on the national level.
Critics, however, charged the primary aim of
Thompson’s welfare reforms was merely to get people
off Wisconsin’s rolls and not necessarily to lift
families out of poverty
Born in Elroy, Wis., Thompson boasted about his
small-town background. His father ran a gas station
and a country grocery store.
Thompson’s time heading the Department of Health and
Human Services was marked by anthrax attacks, a flu
vaccine shortage and passage of the Medicare
prescription law. Thompson was a key player in Bush’s
AIDS initiative, a commitment of $15 billion over five
years for treatment and prevention of the disease that
was rapidly spreading overseas. Thompson traveled
frequently to Africa during his Cabinet service.
A fan of Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, Thompson has
long taken an annual motorcycle trip with lawmakers,
motorcycle enthusiasts and campaign supporters.
He touted his background as a Midwest governor and
former HHS secretary as valuable credentials for a
Karl Rove to resign at end of August
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent 16 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, President Bush's close friend and chief
political strategist, plans to leave the White House at the end of
August, joining a lengthening line of senior officials heading for the
exits in the final 1 1/2 years of the administration.
On board with Bush since the beginning of his political career in
Texas, Rove was nicknamed "the architect" and "boy genius" by the
president for designing the strategy that twice won him the White
House. Critics call Rove "Bush's brain."
A criminal investigation put Rove under scrutiny for months during the
investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name but he was never
charged with any crime. In a more recent controversy, Rove, citing
executive privilege, has refused to testify before Congress about the
firing of U.S. attorneys.
Bush was expected to make a statement Monday with Rove. Later Monday,
Rove, his wife and their son were to accompany Bush on Air Force One
when the president flies to Texas for his vacation.
"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House deputy press secretary
Dana Perino said. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a
brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn't be
going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to
his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one
of the president's greatest friends."
Since Democrats won control of Congress in November, some top
administration officials have announced their resignations. Among
those who have left are White House counselor Dan Bartlett, budget
director Rob Portman, chief White House attorney Harriet Miers,
political director Sara Taylor, deputy national security adviser J.D.
Crouch and Meghan O'Sullivan, another deputy national security adviser
who worked on Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced out
immediately after the election as the unpopular war in Iraq dragged on.
Rove became one of Washington's most influential figures during Bush's
presidency. He is known as a ruthless political warrior who has an
encyclopedic command of political minutiae and a wonkish love of
policy. Rove met Bush in the early 1970s, when both men were in their 20s.
Once inside the White House, Rove grew into a right-hand man.
Rove is expected to write a book after he leaves. He disclosed his
departure in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua
Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would
be obliged to remain through the end of the president's term in
"I just think it's time," Rove said in an interview at this home on
Saturday. He first floated the idea of leaving to Bush a year ago, the
newspaper said, and friends confirmed he'd been talking about it even
earlier. However, he said he didn't want to depart right after the
Democrats regained control of Congress and then got drawn into policy
battles over the Iraq war and immigration.
"There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd
like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family," said
Rove, who has been in the White House since Bush took office in 2001.
Rove's son attends college in San Antonio and he said he and his wife
plan to spend much of their time at their nearby home in Ingram.
Rove, currently the deputy White House chief of staff, has been the
president's political guru for years and worked with Bush since he
first ran for governor of Texas in 1993.
Even as he discussed his departure, Rove remained characteristically
sunny. This quality of unrelenting optimism about the president, which
matches Bush's own upbeat, never-admit-disappointment nature, has at
times gotten Rove into trouble. Up to the end of the 2006 midterm
elections, the political guru predicted a Republican win. That of
course was not to be, and there was grumbling that Rove wasn't on his
game during those elections as much as he had been before.
In the interview, Rove predicted Bush will regain his popularity,
which has sunk to record lows because of the war in Iraq.
Rove also predicted conditions in Iraq would improve and that the
Democrats would nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, calling
her "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate."
Rove testified before a federal grand jury in the investigation into
the leak of the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer whose husband was
a critic of the war in Iraq. That investigation led to the conviction
of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on charges of lying and obstructing
justice. Plame contends the White House was trying to discredit her
Attorneys for Libby told jurors at the onset of his trial that Libby
was the victim of a conspiracy to protect Rove. Details of any
save-Rove conspiracy were promised but never materialized.
The most explicit testimony on Rove came from columnist Robert Novak,
who outed Plame in a July 2003 column. He testified that Rove, a
frequent source, was one of two officials who told him about Plame.
Libby, with whom he seldom spoke, was not a source.
Rove, though, was not indicted after testifying five times before the
grand jury, occasionally correcting misstatements he made in his
The jury in Libby's trial did not hear that testimony, nor did it hear
that Rove is credited as an architect of Republican political
victories and has been accused by opponents of playing dirty tricks.
All that jurors heard is that Rove leaked Plame's identity and, from
the outset, got political cover from the White House. He was never
charged with a crime.
Padilla convicted on terrorism-support charges
One-time dirty bomb suspect, 2 others found guilty of
Updated: 1 minute ago
MIAMI - Jose Padilla was convicted of federal
terrorism support charges Thursday after being held
for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that
came to symbolize the Bush administration's zeal to
stop homegrown terror.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was once accused of being
part of an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive
"dirty bomb" in the U.S., but those allegations were
not part of his trial.
Padilla and his foreign-born co-defendants, Adham Amin
Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, were convicted by a
jury of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people
overseas, which carries a penalty of life in prison.
All three were also convicted of two terrorism
material support counts, which carry potential 15-year
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke set a Dec. 5
sentencing date for all three defendants.
The three were accused of being part of a North
American support cell that provided supplies, money
and recruits to groups of Islamic extremists. The
defense contended they were trying to help persecuted
Muslims in war zones with relief and humanitarian aid.
Padilla was first detained in 2002 because of much
more sensational accusations. The Bush administration
portrayed Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert,
as a committed terrorist who was part of an al-Qaida
plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the
U.S. The administration called his detention an
important victory in the war against terrorism, not
long after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The charges brought in civilian court in Miami,
however, were a pale shadow of those initial claims in
part because Padilla, 36, was interrogated about the
plot when he was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2
years in military custody with no lawyer present and
was not read his Miranda rights.
'He provided himself to al-Qaida'
Padilla's attorneys fought for years to get his case
into federal court, and he was finally added to the
Miami terrorism support indictment in late 2005 just
as the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to consider
President Bush's authority to continue detaining him.
Padilla had lived in South Florida in the 1990s and
was supposedly recruited by Hassoun at a mosque to
become a mujahedeen fighter.
The key piece of physical evidence was a five-page
form Padilla supposedly filled out in July 2000 to
attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan, which
would link the other two defendants as well to Osama
bin Laden's terrorist organization.
The form, recovered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan,
contains seven of Padilla's fingerprints and several
other personal identifiers, such as his birthdate and
his ability to speak Spanish, English and Arabic.
"He provided himself to al-Qaida for training to learn
to murder, kidnap and maim," said Assistant U.S.
Attorney Brian Frazier in closing arguments.
Defense lawyer: Student, not terrorist
Padilla's lawyers insisted the form was far from
conclusive and denied that he was a "star recruit," as
prosecutors claimed, of the North American support
cell intending to become a terrorist. Padilla's
attorneys said he traveled to Egypt in September 1998
to learn Islam more deeply and become fluent in
"His intent was to study, not to murder," said Padilla
attorney Michael Caruso.
Central to the investigation were some 300,000 FBI
wiretap intercepts collected from 1993 to 2001, mainly
involving Padilla's co-defendants Hassoun and Jayyousi
and others. Most of the conversations were in Arabic
and purportedly used code such as "tourism" and
"football" for violent jihad or "zucchini" and
"eggplant" instead of military weapons or ammunition.
The bulk of these conversations and other evidence
concerned efforts in the 1990s by Hassoun and
Jayyousi, both 45, to assist Muslims in conflict zones
such as Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and
Hassoun is a computer programmer of Palestinian
descent who was born in Lebanon. Jayyousi is a civil
engineer and public schools administrator who is a
naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Jordan.
Jayyousi also ran an organization called American
Worldwide Relief and published a newsletter called the
Islam Report that provided details of battles and
political issues in the Muslim world.
"It wasn't a terrorist operation. It was a relief
operation," said Jayyousi attorney William Swor.
Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts
Thu Aug 16, 9:31 PM ET
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A couple arrested at a rally after
refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President
Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the federal
government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties
Union announced Thursday.
Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas, were
handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally at
the state Capitol, where Bush gave a speech. A judge
dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an
order closing the case was filed Thursday in U.S.
District Court in Charleston.
"This settlement is a real victory not only for our
clients but for the First Amendment," said Andrew
Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West
Virginia. "As a result of the Ranks' courageous stand,
public officials will think twice before they eject
peaceful protesters from public events for exercising
their right to dissent."
White House spokesman Blair Jones said the settlement
was not an admission of wrongdoing.
"The parties understand that this settlement is a
compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses
and risks of litigation and is not an admission of
fault, liability, or wrongful conduct," Jones said.
The front of the Ranks' homemade T-shirts bore the
international symbol for "no" superimposed over the
word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said
"Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery
Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts
The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential
advance manual makes it clear that the government
tries to exclude dissenters from the president's
appearances. "As a last resort," the manual says,
"security should remove the demonstrators from the event."
My wife is from Holland and wants to learn about
American history, so we watched the movie "All the
President's Men" last night and, and as I was
explaining the significance of Watergate, I was struck
by how mundane the incident seems in the context of
the last 6 years. I think we are living through an
incomparable time in US history, where we have stories
like this one on almost a daily basis.
--- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:
> Feds pay $80,000 over anti-Bush T-shirts
> Thu Aug 16, 9:31 PM ET
> CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A couple arrested at a rally
> refusing to cover T-shirts that bore anti-President
> Bush slogans settled their lawsuit against the
> government for $80,000, the American Civil Liberties
> Union announced Thursday.
> Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi, Texas,
> handcuffed and removed from the July 4, 2004, rally
> the state Capitol, where Bush gave a speech. A judge
> dismissed trespassing charges against them, and an
> order closing the case was filed Thursday in U.S.
> District Court in Charleston.
> "This settlement is a real victory not only for our
> clients but for the First Amendment," said Andrew
> Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of West
> Virginia. "As a result of the Ranks' courageous
> public officials will think twice before they eject
> peaceful protesters from public events for
> their right to dissent."
> White House spokesman Blair Jones said the
> was not an admission of wrongdoing.
> "The parties understand that this settlement is a
> compromise of disputed claims to avoid the expenses
> and risks of litigation and is not an admission of
> fault, liability, or wrongful conduct," Jones said.
> The front of the Ranks' homemade T-shirts bore the
> international symbol for "no" superimposed over the
> word "Bush." The back of Nicole Rank's T-shirt said
> "Love America, Hate Bush." On the back of Jeffery
> Rank's T-shirt was the message "Regime Change Starts
> at Home."
> The ACLU said in a statement that a presidential
> advance manual makes it clear that the government
> tries to exclude dissenters from the president's
> appearances. "As a last resort," the manual says,
> "security should remove the demonstrators from the
How Rove Directed Federal Assets for GOP Gains
Bush Adviser's Effort to Promote the President and His
Allies Was Unprecedented in Its Reach
By John Solomon, Alec MacGillis and Sarah Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 19, 2007; A01
Thirteen months before President Bush was reelected,
chief strategist Karl Rove summoned political
appointees from around the government to the Old
Executive Office Building. The subject of the Oct. 1,
2003, meeting was "asset deployment," and the message
The staging of official announcements, high-visibility
trips and declarations of federal grants had to be
carefully coordinated with the White House political
affairs office to ensure the maximum promotion of
Bush's reelection agenda and the Republicans in
Congress who supported him, according to documents and
some of those involved in the effort.
"The White House determines which members need
visits," said an internal e-mail about the previously
undisclosed Rove "deployment" team, "and where we need
to be strategically placing our assets."
Many administrations have sought to maximize their
control of the machinery of government for political
gain, dispatching Cabinet secretaries bearing
government largess to battleground states in the days
before elections. The Clinton White House routinely
rewarded big donors with stays in the Lincoln Bedroom
and private coffees with senior federal officials, and
held some political briefings for top Cabinet
officials during the 1996 election.
But Rove, who announced last week that he is resigning
from the White House at the end of August, pursued the
goal far more systematically than his predecessors,
according to interviews and documents reviewed by The
Washington Post, enlisting political appointees at
every level of government in a permanent campaign that
was an integral part of his strategy to establish
Republican electoral dominance.
Under Rove's direction, this highly coordinated effort
to leverage the government for political marketing
started as soon as Bush took office in 2001 and
continued through last year's congressional elections,
when it played out in its most quintessential form in
the coastal Connecticut district of Rep. Christopher
Shays, an endangered Republican incumbent. Seven
times, senior administration officials visited Shays's
district in the six months before the election -- once
for an announcement as minor as a single $23
government weather alert radio presented to an
elementary school. On Election Day, Shays was the only
Republican House member in New England to survive the
"He didn't do these things half-baked. It was total
commitment," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), who
in 2002 ran the House Republicans' successful
reelection campaign in close coordination with Rove.
"We knew history was against us, and he helped
coordinate all of the accoutrements of the executive
branch to help with the campaign, within the legal
In the past few months, revelations about a few dozen
political briefings that Rove's team conducted at
federal agencies and several election-related slides
from those briefings have touched off investigations
into whether the White House improperly politicized
federal workers or misused government assets to win
Investigators, however, said the scale of Rove's
effort is far broader than previously revealed; they
say that Rove's team gave more than 100 such briefings
during the seven years of the Bush administration. The
political sessions touched nearly all of the Cabinet
departments and a handful of smaller agencies that
often had major roles in providing grants, such as the
White House office of drug policy and the State
Department's Agency for International Development.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the House
Government Reform and Oversight Committee are
investigating whether any of the meetings violated the
Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from
using federal resources for election activities. They
also want to know whether any Bush appointees
pressured government for favorable actions such as
grants to help GOP electoral chances.
"What we are seeing is the tip of a whole effort to
make the federal government a subsidiary of the
Republican Party. It was all politics, all the time,"
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the
oversight committee, said last week.
The White House has repeatedly said that Rove's team
stayed within the confines of federal law and that the
meetings were an effort to ensure the president's
agenda and those who supported it were fully promoted.
But the Office of the Special Counsel, which protects
whistleblowers, has concluded that the Hatch Act was
violated during one such briefing, conducted for
General Services Administration political appointees
by J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy
director of political affairs. Special Counsel Scott
J. Bloch said he hopes his investigation of political
briefings will have "an educational benefit and a
deterrent effect" in reminding federal employees about
their legal obligations. "Yes, people have their
political parties, and that is good. But they have to
check those affiliations at the door when you do the
people's business," he said in an interview last week.
'How We Can Work Together'
An invitation to a March 12, 2001, political briefing
for federal officials -- one of the Rove team's
earliest -- framed the mission this way: "How we can
In practical terms, that meant Cabinet officials
concentrated their official government travel on the
media markets Rove's team chose, rolling out grant
decisions made by agencies with red-carpet fanfare in
GOP congressional districts, and carefully crafted
announcements highlighting the release of federal
money in battleground states.
"We did that from Day One of the administration,
strategically utilizing the president's appointees to
sell his agenda," Drew DeBerry, the Agriculture
Department's liaison to the White House between 2001
and 2005, recalled in an interview last week.
The scope of Rove's ambitions was unprecedented.
"Karl's ability to see the chessboard and deploy all
of the various pieces to the maximum effect is
flat-out unrivaled," said Mark Corallo, a longtime GOP
operative who worked with Rove as a top Justice
Department communications official and later as a
private consultant. "At the same time, he was always
thoroughly aware of the limits and of the boundaries."
To lead the charge, Rove had his "asset deployment
team." It comprised the chief White House liaison
official at each Cabinet agency. The team members met
-- sometimes as often as once a month -- to coordinate
the travel of Cabinet secretaries and senior agency
officials, the announcement of grant money, and
personnel and policy decisions. Occasionally, the
attendees got updates on election strategies.
White House officials say Rove had two basic rules:
the first was to avoid meddling with grant and
contract decisions made by career government
employees; the second was to make sure they complied
with the Hatch Act. "What was surprising was how
adamant Karl and his whole team was that we involve
the lawyers in our discussions to make sure we didn't
come up with things that ran afoul of the law,"
DeBerry said. In March 2002, then-White House lawyer
Brett Kavanaugh gave such a briefing on the "do's and
don'ts regarding your participation in politically
related activities," according to the invitation.
Most of the political briefings, officials said, were
held at the White House or Old Executive Office
Building for the liaisons or the agency chiefs of
staff. But once or twice a year, Rove's team sought to
spread the message beyond this core team. Attendees
were presented a slide show with the latest polling
data, election talking points and maps identifying
competitive media markets, congressional races and
presidential battleground states.
The subjects for such meetings -- which involved at
least 18 agencies -- ranged from "a political update"
and "mid-term election trends" to "outreach" and
"coalition activities/organization," according to
invitations gathered by congressional investigators.
DeBerry requested one such meeting at the Agriculture
Department about five months before the 2004 election.
"We would like to hold a briefing for our political
appointees on the strategy we should focus on over the
next several months," he wrote on June 15, 2004, to
Barry Jackson, the White House chief of strategic
initiatives. "The briefing you gave the Asset
Deployment team about a year ago would be perfect."
DeBerry's e-mail captures what administration
officials said was the essence of Rove's approach:
making sure that political appointees at every level
of government pushed a uniform agenda in key media
markets and on behalf of White House-backed
candidates. That meant resisting the natural
tendencies of the federal bureaucracy to cater just to
congressional purse-string holders, officials said.
"I feel like people need to hear the message about
resisting the urge to travel to the districts of the
key committee chairmen and members for the sake of
building relationships . . . that the White House
determines which members need visits and where we need
to be strategically placing our assets," DeBerry
Some briefings targeted political appointees because
of their race or ethnicity. On Aug. 11, 2006, for
instance, Hispanic political appointees were summoned
to a meeting with Rove's team to discuss the
administration's accomplishments for Hispanic
Even agencies traditionally considered to be above the
elections fray sent representatives to such briefings.
A White House-arranged meeting that year for Justice
Department appointees at the Old Executive Office
Building included "a presentation about what the
Department of Justice is doing for Hispanic American
citizens," the department recently told Waxman's
During the Clinton administration, White House
officials made their own attempt to harness the
federal bureaucracy's grant announcements and travel,
but they were far less systematic. The White House
political office held two or three meetings in the 18
months before the 1996 election with each Cabinet
secretary and one or two top aides, deeming some
agencies such as Justice and State as off limits to
politics, former Clinton officials said.
"It was not a full-scale agency briefing. There were
no targets; we were not calling them in and giving
them lists of who to take care of and punish," said
Douglas Sosnik, White House political director in 1995
and 1996. "It was an overview of where we were headed
with the campaign."
Helping Endangered Republicans
Politically embattled Republicans such as Shays were
Between April 2006 and Election Day, Shays was able to
announce at least 25 new federal grants or projects
totaling more than $46 million, including a new
veterans medical facility and a long-awaited
installment of federal money for ferry service,
according to a Post analysis of his news releases.
Seven different Bush administration officials,
including two Cabinet secretaries and the chief of the
highway administration, visited his district during
In contrast, Shays announced just $39 million in
grants and got just one visit by a federal official in
the prior 15 months, the analysis shows.
No federal generosity was too small to tout. A top
official of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration was on hand with Shays when the NOAA
awarded a single severe-weather alert radio, valued at
$23, to an elementary school in Norwalk, Conn., two
months before Election Day.
Shays wrote Bush on Sept. 8, 2006, to seek the early
release -- before the election -- of heating
assistance money for low-income residents in his
state. Just four days later, the White House released
$6 million. Asked to comment on the administration's
help, Shays's campaign manager Michael Sohn said,
"Chris was grateful to be returned to office based on
his record of hard work and accomplishment."
Similar efforts to promote grants in key states took
place across the government. When the Department of
Health and Human Services, for example, released 22
grants totaling $35.7 million for community health and
disease-prevention programs in late September 2004,
The Post analysis found, half the awards went to
targeted election states or congressional districts,
the rest to noncompetitive areas that included
Democratic strongholds such as Boston and New Orleans.
The agency's news release about those grants, however,
detailed at the top just four recipients -- in
Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and an Oklahoma
congressional district -- that Rove's team identified
in earlier 2004 briefings as key to the GOP's
The White House briefings also frequently identified
key media markets where Republicans most wanted their
message out. A Post review of trips announced by
several Bush Cabinet members during the 2004 election
showed that their travel fell neatly into the markets
listed on a slide included in briefings that year.
Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao made 13 official visits
in the last two months of the election, never straying
more than 50 miles from the media markets on Rove's
office list, the analysis showed. That August, she
attended three local Fraternal Order of Police
meetings in the battleground states of Pennsylvania,
Ohio and Michigan to tout new overtime rules that
would soon go into effect. Likewise, she traveled to
Tampa -- another targeted media market -- to announce
grants for recipients who actually lived in
Jacksonville, Fla., a less competitive area.
Aside from her home town of Denver, Interior Secretary
Gale A. Norton visited just five cities in the first
two months of 2004, according to the public
announcements. But that pace changed between June and
November, when -- in visits to 37 cities -- she hit
the target election markets 32 times, the
Those visits occurred after Interior liaison William
Kloiber wrote to White House political affairs aide
Matt Schlapp to thank him for a briefing about the
political landscape. In an e-mail obtained by
congressional investigators, Kloiber wrote, "Sometimes
these folks need to be reminded who they work for and
how their geographic travel can benefit the President."
--- Julie Keller <julieannkeller@...> wrote:
> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> From: "Julie Keller" <julieannkeller@...>
> Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 15:40:29 -0600
> Subject: [utepprogressives] The War as We Saw It
> Seven members of the 82nd Airborne wrote this Op-Ed
> piece in today's NY
> Times, coming home from a 15-month deployment.
> VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month
> deployment, the political
> debate in Washington is indeed surreal.
> Counterinsurgency is, by definition,
> a competition between insurgents and
> counterinsurgents for the control and
> support of a population. To believe that Americans,
> with an occupying force
> that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can
> win over a recalcitrant
> local population and win this counterinsurgency is
> far-fetched. As
> responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers
> with the 82nd Airborne
> Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of
> recent press coverage
> portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable
> and feel it has neglected
> the mounting civil, political and social unrest we
> see every day.
> (Obviously, these are our personal views and should
> not be seen as official
> within our chain of command.)
> The claim that we are increasingly in control of the
> battlefields in Iraq is
> an assessment arrived at through a flawed,
> American-centered framework. Yes,
> we are militarily superior, but our successes are
> offset by failures
> elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space"
> remains the same, with
> changes only at the margins. It is crowded with
> actors who do not fit neatly
> into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists,
> Shiite militiamen,
> criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made
> more complex by the
> questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the
> Iraqi police and Iraqi
> Army, which have been trained and armed at United
> States taxpayers' expense.
> A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the
> death of one American
> soldier and the critical wounding of two others when
> a lethal armor-piercing
> explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army
> checkpoint and a police one.
> Local Iraqis readily testified to American
> investigators that Iraqi police
> and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped
> plant the bomb. These
> civilians highlighted their own predicament: had
> they informed the Americans
> of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the
> police or the local
> Shiite militia would have killed their families.
> As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine
> event. Reports that a
> majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable
> partners can be
> considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is
> that battalion commanders,
> even if well meaning, have little to no influence
> over the thousands of
> obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of
> command, who are really
> loyal only to their militias.
> Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in
> the new Iraqi armed
> forces, now find themselves forming militias,
> sometimes with our tacit
> support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee
> they may have against
> Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government
> is to form their own
> armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against
> Al Qaeda.
> However, while creating proxies is essential in
> winning a counterinsurgency,
> it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center
> that we claim to
> support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become
> effective surrogates, but the
> enduring question is where their loyalties would lie
> in our absence. The
> Iraqi government finds itself working at cross
> purposes with us on this
> issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni
> militias will turn on it
> should the Americans leave.
> In short, we operate in a bewildering context of
> determined enemies and
> questionable allies, one where the balance of forces
> on the ground remains
> entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this
> article, this fact became
> all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an
> Army Ranger and
> reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head
> during a "time-sensitive
> target acquisition mission" on Aug. 12; he is
> expected to survive and is
> being flown to a military hospital in the United
> States.) While we have the
> will and the resources to fight in this context, we
> are effectively
> hamstrung because realities on the ground require
> measures we will always
> refuse - namely, the widespread use of lethal and
> brutal force.
> More at the link:
Former Sen. Sam Nunn weighs run for White House
By JIM GALLOWAY /
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/19/07
Sam Nunn left the U.S. Senate more than 10 years ago.
Since then, the Georgia Democrat, who made his name
nationally as a defense-minded hawk, has watched
what's happened to the country, and he's more than a
bit ticked — at the "fiasco" in Iraq, a federal budget
spinning out of control, the lack of an honest energy
policy, and a presidential contest that, he says,
seems designed to thwart serious discussion of the
In an hourlong interview, in his small office on
Marietta Street on the edge of the Georgia Tech
campus, Nunn acknowledged that he — like former
Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich — is considering a
run for the White House next year.
But unlike Gingrich, Nunn would run outside the
traditional two-party structure.
"It's a possibility, not a probability," said Nunn,
now the head of a nonprofit organization out to reduce
the threat posed by nuclear, biological and chemical
weaponry. "My own thinking is, it may be a time for
the country to say, 'Timeout. The two-party system has
served us well, historically, but it's not serving us
The 68-year-old former senator, still considered one
of the foremost experts on national security,
confirmed that he's discussed a presidential run as
part of several conversations with Michael Bloomberg,
the New York mayor.
More important, Nunn said he's been in touch with
Unity '08, a group with a goal of fielding a
bipartisan or independent ticket for president.
Initial talks began with Hamilton Jordan, a co-founder
of Unity '08 and former chief of staff to President
Doug Bailey, a Republican strategist and another
co-founder, said Nunn was given "a more detailed
briefing" from the group this summer.
Nunn said he's not likely to make up his mind until
next year, probably after the early rush of
presidential primaries have produced de facto nominees
for both parties. He said the decision will depend
largely on what he hears from the current candidates.
The only certainty, he said, is that he won't be
anybody's candidate for vice president.
Former state lawmaker Larry Walker of Perry, a close
friend who replaced Nunn in the state House 35 years
ago, believes Nunn is even more serious than his
"I think he's determined to affect the debate in the
presidential race," he said.
Walker said Nunn is under no illusion — third-party
presidential candidates are historically poor
finishers. "But I also think he realizes the dynamics
have changed so much as a result of the Internet.
We're not in the Ross Perot era," Walker said.
In the interview, Nunn admitted he is also tempted by
the fact that a presidential run would offer him a
world stage to press for a revolutionary shift in U.S.
defense and foreign policy.
In January, Nunn joined with a coterie of defense and
diplomatic experts that include Henry Kissinger and
George Shultz to argue that the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the rise of terrorism have forever altered
the calculus of war.
In a new era in which the chief concern is Islamic
jihadism, a world security system built around a
nuclear stand-off between the United States and Russia
has become "obsolete," Nunn says.
Ultimately, he said, if there's to be any chance of
persuading smaller countries to give up nuclear
weapons technology — and keep it out of the hands of
increasingly sophisticated terrorists — world powers
will have to put themselves on a gradual, verifiable
path toward total nuclear disarmament. That includes
the United States.
"What I'm describing is a different world than the one
I was in during the Cold War," Nunn said.
A native of Perry who went to Washington at age 34,
Nunn abandoned national politics at the height of his
popularity in 1997, two years after Democrats lost
control of Congress and Nunn lost chairmanship of the
Senate Armed Services Committee.
In Democratic circles, Nunn served as a mainstay for
party centrists, but also developed an unusually
strong following among Republicans who liked Nunn's
independence and his emphasis on defense and fiscal
Though not as well-known as he once was, Nunn's
reputation in Georgia remains high. On Tuesday, the
Rome News-Tribune, responding to the first reports of
Nunn's interest in the presidency, promptly endorsed
Like Carter and Gingrich, who became U.S. House
speaker in 1994, Nunn was a center of Georgia
influence in Washington. Unlike Carter and Gingrich,
he has remained largely out of the limelight in his
post-Washington years. He's written no books, and — as
a man who still speaks in paragraphs instead of sound
bites — isn't a regular on high-paying talk circuits.
Instead, Nunn has remained quietly plugged into the
nitty-gritty issues of U.S. defense and foreign
policy. In July, he was one of four other Americans
corralled by Kissinger into private talks in Moscow
with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian
heavyweights on how to improve U.S.-Russian relations.
Next week, he returns to Moscow with U.S. Sen. Richard
Lugar (R-Ind.) to mark the 15th anniversary of the
Nunn-Lugar Act, which has provided U.S. funding and
expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard
and dismantle its stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and
Nunn is also CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a
private charitable organization originally bankrolled
by Ted Turner. The group's headquarters is in
Washington, but Nunn operates out of his office at
Tech, where he holds an honorary professorship.
Because of his well-mined expertise, for the past 20
years he has been a perennial possibility when
presidential tickets are discussed. Each time he's
quickly said no.
What's different this time?
"I am frustrated, and clearly frustrated, with the
fact that I think my children and grandchildren are
not going to have the kind of future they should be
having," Nunn said.
Political debate has been captured by the extreme
wings of both parties, he said, ignoring solutions
that can only be found in the middle.
"I do not see tough calls willing to be made by the
body politic," he said.
Nunn singled out the debate over energy and global
warming. Those most concerned with global warming
won't consider nuclear energy as an alternative, he
said. Those who advocate energy independence ignore
the fact that there is "no analysis whatsoever that
could lead you to believe we're going to be
independent in this country on energy," Nunn said.
"We'll have interdependence and security in energy,
but people aren't talking about that."
But if Nunn does decide to enter the race, Iraq,
terrorism and the increasingly strained state of the
U.S. military will also have their place as major
Though he has said little publicly, his frustration
over Iraq — he opposed the first Gulf War in '91 — can
barely be contained. "A fiasco, which we've basically
mishandled in all directions. We'll get over it,
because we're a strong country, and we're
indispensable in the sense that we're the [world]
leader. But right now,
it's going to take at least 10 years to rebuild U.S.
Nor has the Bush administration been able to create
the necessary climate to make it easy for the world's
Muslim population to isolate jihadist terrorists, Nunn
"We're in a race between cooperation and catastrophe.
And to get cooperation you have to have a vision, and
you have to listen. And we're not perceived as having
a vision in this country, and we're not perceived as
The question is whether the American center — or
what's left of it — shares his frustration.
Border Crackdown Has El Paso Caught in Middle
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A01
EL PASO -- Leaders of this sunny desert city peppered
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff during a
recent visit with complaints about trade-crimping
border-crossing delays, unwanted calls to enlist local
police in enforcing immigration laws and recent deaths
of immigrants at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol
"Second-guessers and hindsighters," Chertoff retorted,
defending such agents against critics who he said
"have no idea how difficult it is here at the border."
But to many in El Paso, it is Washington's
understanding of what it means to be on the border
that is increasingly in question. As the political
stalemate continues on how to revamp immigration laws,
the Bush administration has taken aggressive new
measures to tighten border security and deal more
harshly with illegal immigrants.
And that has El Paso, just a stone's throw across the
Rio Grande from the Mexican boomtown of Ciudad Juarez,
feeling even more caught in the middle. "Most people
in Washington really don't understand life on the
border," said El Paso Mayor John Cook. "They don't
understand our philosophy here that the border joins
us together, it doesn't separate us."
Although many residents here are as staunchly opposed
to illegal immigration as those elsewhere in the
country, El Paso's deep ties to its sister city across
the river generally make most of them leery of calls
to wall off the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico and of
crackdowns that might complicate border crossings and
harm a mutually beneficial way of life.
As the largest U.S. city on the border, El Paso has
long had a front-row seat to the complexities and
trade-offs of the nation's immigration laws. Founded
by the Spanish before the English settlement of
Jamestown and Plymouth, and with claims to creating
both the margarita and Thanksgiving, El Paso-Juarez is
an easygoing but hardworking region that has grown
into a "borderplex" of 2 million residents.
Now North America's fourth-largest manufacturing hub
-- after Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth --
El Paso and Juarez's surrounding state of Chihuahua
have 270,000 manufacturing jobs, three times as many
as Detroit, in 400 maquiladoras, or duty-free
factories, economic development officials said. About
78 percent of residents are Hispanic, and 25 percent
are foreign-born. Families send breadwinners across
the bridge daily to work, and children to study.
But that deep web of connections between the two
cities has been tested in recent weeks -- not only by
the anxieties of the unresolved political debate over
how to rewrite immigration laws, but also by the
complicated daily reality of Washington's new effort
to crack down on those violating existing laws. Many
local officials interviewed recently expressed little
enthusiasm for the increased security measures, and
civil liberties groups and Mexican authorities have
said that the harsher enforcement approach might have
contributed to recent fatal Border Patrol shootings
On Aug. 8, a Border Patrol agent shot and killed a
suspected smuggler who allegedly threatened him with a
rock and bolt cutters at a border fence just east of
downtown. The death of Jose Alejandro Ortiz Castillo,
23, was the fifth fatal Border Patrol shooting this
year and the third in El Paso since June. Before this
year, the last such local shooting happened in 2004.
The same day, U.S. authorities reported the deaths of
two immigrants in custody, including that of a
pregnant woman who died of a blood clot Aug. 7 at a
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention
center in El Paso. Rosa Isela Contreras-Dominguez, 36,
a legal U.S. resident and convicted marijuana
smuggler, was the sixth ICE detainee to die this year,
out of a detention population that has tripled over
five years to more than 283,000.
Mexico's foreign affairs secretary condemned what he
called an "excessive use of force" in the shooting of
Ortiz, and the state prosecutor in Chihuahua began a
"When there is an isolated event, you might understand
it," said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the
Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso. "But when
you have two or three . . . then that becomes
symptomatic that something is not right."
Advocates for immigrants here are asking whether
agents have been given permission to shoot first and
ask questions later, and whether the increase in the
number of Border Patrol agents and the detention of
more immigrants have overwhelmed the government's
ability to train and oversee officers. If so, there
could be "a very disturbing trend starting," said
Kathleen Walker, an El Paso lawyer serving as national
president of the American Immigration Lawyers
ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said that detention
officials have acted appropriately and that detention
deaths this year are running far below the 29
fatalities reported in 2004, 15 in 2005 and 16 in
2006. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said
that Ortiz had been caught crossing the border 28
times since 1999 and that Mexican police said he had a
criminal history related to narcotics and immigrant
Asked about the shooting in El Paso, Chertoff said
that it is under investigation but added that
increased violence is a sign that smugglers are
becoming desperate and that enforcement efforts are
succeeding. The Border Patrol reported 753 assaults
against officers between October and July, up 18
percent from the same period a year ago.
But amid the security crackdown, city officials said
the construction of security facilities and the
time-consuming screening of containers, shippers and
passengers have only worsened hours-long traffic jams
at border checkpoints. A DHS requirement that by 2009
those crossing the border by land must show passports
or similar identification documents is expected to
further stall traffic.
"Every major auto manufacturer in the world gets the
parts to their cars manufactured in Juarez or
Chihuahua, from the wire harness in the dash to the
lights in the overhead, the headlights, stereo system,
you name it. Just about every component is
manufactured here," said Richard Dayoub, president of
the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
"If we take it to a point where the application of
these laws in order to more secure our borders slows
down commerce from Mexico into the U.S. . . . we'll
all feel it throughout our economy," he said.
El Paso area law enforcement officials are divided
about the role that local authorities should play in
helping overstretched federal agents.
Although they say they take seriously the obligation
to fight drug smugglers, human traffickers and
criminals who prey on immigrants, El Paso's police
chief, Richard Wiles, and the El Paso County sheriff,
Lee Samaniego -- like many in the United States --
disagree about whether police should divert scarce
resources to track down immigration violators.
"I'm a law enforcement officer. I think people need to
follow the rules and the laws," said Wiles, 46, a
spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Association,
whose members lead 63 U.S. police departments. But, he
added, "the federal government is responsible to
control the borders, to control immigration, and so it
needs to step up to the plate and fulfill its
responsibility that it's neglected for years and
Wiles said city leaders fear that police enforcement
of immigration laws will discourage crime victims and
witnesses from coming forward and will expose
taxpayers to greater legal liability if inadequately
trained police officers violate the civil rights of
legal U.S. residents.
Samaniego, 70, the dean of a group of 27 county
sheriffs along the border from California to Texas,
disagrees. Since 2005, he has championed Operation
Linebacker, a $10 million, state-funded effort that in
his 1,054-square-mile county has paid about 10
deputies to support Border Patrol officers.
"There are no advocates for regular citizens who live
in fear, who are prisoners on their own farms and
ranches because of an insecure border," said
Samaniego's chief deputy, Jimmy Apodaca, who added
that a third of the 45,000 people arrested on state
crimes and booked into the county jail in 2004 were
Still, Samaniego retreated last year, halting the use
of vehicle checkpoints and the practice of referring
illegal immigrants accused of no crimes directly to
Border Patrol agents. The changes came after the
American Civil Liberties Union filed suit, saying
citizens' rights were violated, and after 3,000
residents signed a petition calling for the sheriff to
During his two-day trip to El Paso last week, Chertoff
acknowledged that he is pushing a new way to get
things done at the border, while insisting that he
knows that a "one-size-fits-all blanket approach" will
not work. "Piling on security by just putting a lot
more things on the border" won't resolve the situation
unless the United States also cuts down demand for
illegal workers in the interior and creates a legal
channel of temporary workers, he said.
"We don't want to destroy the border in order to save
it," he added.
Still, Chertoff said, steps that will cause
unhappiness or serious economic consequences are
needed to reestablish Washington's credibility after
decades of inaction. Doing nothing about enforcement,
he said, "is the approach that bred cynicism" among
the American public.
"I recognize we have a situation where we allowed
circumstances to develop over 30 years -- frankly with
the complicity of the American people, who have been
complacent," Chertoff said. Now, he said, "we have to
do something about it."
News researchers Aruna Jain and Bob Lyford contributed
to this report.
I'd appreciate any suggestions of movies that reflect
accurate portrayals of American history .. I can't
think of a single good movie about the American
Revolution or WW1, for instance. Any thoughts?
> Former Sen. Sam Nunn weighs run for White House
> By JIM GALLOWAY /
> The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 08/19/07
> Sam Nunn left the U.S. Senate more than 10 years
> Since then, the Georgia Democrat, who made his name
> nationally as a defense-minded hawk, has watched
> what's happened to the country, and he's more than a
> bit ticked — at the "fiasco" in Iraq, a federal
> spinning out of control, the lack of an honest
> policy, and a presidential contest that, he says,
> seems designed to thwart serious discussion of the
> looming crises.
> In an hourlong interview, in his small office on
> Marietta Street on the edge of the Georgia Tech
> campus, Nunn acknowledged that he — like former
> Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich — is considering a
> run for the White House next year.
> But unlike Gingrich, Nunn would run outside the
> traditional two-party structure.
> "It's a possibility, not a probability," said Nunn,
> now the head of a nonprofit organization out to
> the threat posed by nuclear, biological and chemical
> weaponry. "My own thinking is, it may be a time for
> the country to say, 'Timeout. The two-party system
> served us well, historically, but it's not serving
> The 68-year-old former senator, still considered one
> of the foremost experts on national security,
> confirmed that he's discussed a presidential run as
> part of several conversations with Michael
> the New York mayor.
> More important, Nunn said he's been in touch with
> Unity '08, a group with a goal of fielding a
> bipartisan or independent ticket for president.
> Initial talks began with Hamilton Jordan, a
> of Unity '08 and former chief of staff to President
> Jimmy Carter.
> Doug Bailey, a Republican strategist and another
> co-founder, said Nunn was given "a more detailed
> briefing" from the group this summer.
> Nunn said he's not likely to make up his mind until
> next year, probably after the early rush of
> presidential primaries have produced de facto
> for both parties. He said the decision will depend
> largely on what he hears from the current
> The only certainty, he said, is that he won't be
> anybody's candidate for vice president.
> Former state lawmaker Larry Walker of Perry, a close
> friend who replaced Nunn in the state House 35 years
> ago, believes Nunn is even more serious than his
> comments suggest.
> "I think he's determined to affect the debate in the
> presidential race," he said.
> Walker said Nunn is under no illusion — third-party
> presidential candidates are historically poor
> finishers. "But I also think he realizes the
> have changed so much as a result of the Internet.
> We're not in the Ross Perot era," Walker said.
> In the interview, Nunn admitted he is also tempted
> the fact that a presidential run would offer him a
> world stage to press for a revolutionary shift in
> defense and foreign policy.
> In January, Nunn joined with a coterie of defense
> diplomatic experts that include Henry Kissinger and
> George Shultz to argue that the collapse of the
> Union and the rise of terrorism have forever altered
> the calculus of war.
> In a new era in which the chief concern is Islamic
> jihadism, a world security system built around a
> nuclear stand-off between the United States and
> has become "obsolete," Nunn says.
> Ultimately, he said, if there's to be any chance of
> persuading smaller countries to give up nuclear
> weapons technology — and keep it out of the hands of
> increasingly sophisticated terrorists — world powers
> will have to put themselves on a gradual, verifiable
> path toward total nuclear disarmament. That includes
> the United States.
> "What I'm describing is a different world than the
> I was in during the Cold War," Nunn said.
> A native of Perry who went to Washington at age 34,
> Nunn abandoned national politics at the height of
> popularity in 1997, two years after Democrats lost
> control of Congress and Nunn lost chairmanship of
> Senate Armed Services Committee.
> In Democratic circles, Nunn served as a mainstay for
> party centrists, but also developed an unusually
> strong following among Republicans who liked Nunn's
> independence and his emphasis on defense and fiscal
> Though not as well-known as he once was, Nunn's
> reputation in Georgia remains high. On Tuesday, the
> Rome News-Tribune, responding to the first reports
> Nunn's interest in the presidency, promptly endorsed
> Like Carter and Gingrich, who became U.S. House
> speaker in 1994, Nunn was a center of Georgia
> influence in Washington. Unlike Carter and Gingrich,
> he has remained largely out of the limelight in his
> post-Washington years. He's written no books, and —
> a man who still speaks in paragraphs instead of
> bites — isn't a regular on high-paying talk
> Instead, Nunn has remained quietly plugged into the
> nitty-gritty issues of U.S. defense and foreign
> policy. In July, he was one of four other Americans
> corralled by Kissinger into private talks in Moscow
> with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian
> heavyweights on how to improve U.S.-Russian
> Next week, he returns to Moscow with U.S. Sen.
> Lugar (R-Ind.) to mark the 15th anniversary of the
> Nunn-Lugar Act, which has provided U.S. funding and
> expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard
> and dismantle its stockpiles of nuclear, chemical
> biological weapons.
> Nunn is also CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a
> private charitable organization originally
> by Ted Turner. The group's headquarters is in
> Washington, but Nunn operates out of his office at
> Tech, where he holds an honorary professorship.
> Because of his well-mined expertise, for the past 20
> years he has been a perennial possibility when
> presidential tickets are discussed. Each time he's
> quickly said no.
> What's different this time?
> "I am frustrated, and clearly frustrated, with the
> fact that I think my children and grandchildren are
> not going to have the kind of future they should be
> having," Nunn said.
> Political debate has been captured by the extreme
> wings of both parties, he said, ignoring solutions
> that can only be found in the middle.
> "I do not see tough calls willing to be made by the
> body politic," he said.
> Nunn singled out the debate over energy and global
> warming. Those most concerned with global warming
> won't consider nuclear energy as an alternative, he
> said. Those who advocate energy independence ignore
> the fact that there is "no analysis whatsoever that
> could lead you to believe we're going to be
> independent in this country on energy," Nunn said.
=== message truncated ===
Spy chief reveals classified details about
By Katherine Shrader / Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 08/22/2007 02:27:42 PM MDT
WASHINGTON -- National Intelligence Director Mike
McConnell pulled the curtain back on previously
classified details of government surveillance and of a
secretive court whose recent rulings created new
hurdles for the Bush administration as it tries to
During an interview with the El Paso Times last week,
McConnell made comments that raised eyebrows for their
frank discussion of previously classified
eavesdropping work conducted under the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.
A transcript was posted online on Wednesday:
# McConnell confirmed for the first time that the
private sector assisted with President Bush's
warrantless surveillance program. AT&T, Verizon and
other telecommunications companies are being sued for
their cooperation. "Now if you play out the suits at
the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these
companies," McConnell said, arguing that they deserve
immunity for their help.
# He provided new details on court rulings handed down
by the 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court, which approves classified eavesdropping
operations and whose proceedings are almost always
entirely secret. McConnell said a ruling that went
into effect May 31 required the government to get
court warrants to monitor communications between two
foreigners if the conversation travels on a wire in
the U.S. network. Millions of calls each day do,
because of the robust nature of the U.S. systems.
# McConnell said it takes 200 hours to assemble a FISA
warrant on a single telephone number. "We're going
backwards," he said. "We couldn't keep up."
# Offering never-disclosed figures, McConnell also
revealed that fewer than 100 people inside the United
States are monitored under FISA warrants. However, he
said, thousands of people overseas are monitored.
Even as he shed new light on the classified
operations, McConnell asserted that the current debate
in Congress about whether to update the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act will cost American lives
because of all the information it revealed to
"Part of this is a classified world. The fact that
we're doing it this way means that some Americans are
going to die," he said.
McConnell was in El Paso, Texas, last week for a
conference on border security hosted by House
Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas. The
spy chief joined Reyes for an interview at his local
McConnell appeared days after Congress passed a
temporary law to expand the government's ability to
monitor suspects in national security investigations
-- terrorists, spies and others -- without first
seeking court approval in certain cases. The highly
contentious measure expires in six months.
After Sept. 11, Bush authorized the terrorist
surveillance program to monitor conversations between
people in the United States and others overseas when
terrorism is suspected. Until January, no warrants
were required. But as the Democratic Congress took
over, the Bush administration decided to bring the
program under the oversight of the FISA court.
McConnell said the court initially ruled that the
program was appropriate and legitimate. But when the
ruling had to be renewed in the spring, another judge
saw the operations differently. This judge, who
McConnell did not identify, decided that the
government needed a warrant to monitor a conversation
between foreigners when the signal traveled on a wire
in the U.S. communications network.
McConnell said the government got a temporary stay on
the ruling, but it expired at the end of May. "After
the 31st of May, we were in extremis because now we
have significantly less capability," he said.
At the same time, the intelligence community was
wrapping up years of work on a National Intelligence
Estimate on threats to the homeland -- an analysis
that is considered its most comprehensive judgment. It
found the threat was increasing, McConnell noted.
Because he sees FISA as a major tool to keep
terrorists out of the country, McConnell said he
pressed Congress to change the law.
McConnell's interview raised concerns at the Justice
Department, where senior officials questioned whether
the intelligence chief had overstepped in discussing
the secret FISA court.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse referred
questions to McConnell's office, where his spokesman
Ross Feinstein declined to comment.
In a phone interview, Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra
said he never felt at liberty to discuss some of the
information that McConnell did, including the FISA
court rulings, but the executive branch gets to decide
what is classified. "What I think it tells you is how
important they believe it is to get this FISA thing
done right," said Hoekstra, the top Republican on the
House Intelligence Committee.
He said McConnell is hurt by the personal attacks on
him during the FISA recent debate. Among them,
Democrats have alleged that he negotiated in bad faith
and was too beholden to the White House.
In addition, Hoekstra said he thinks McConnell wanted
to push back on accusations that the legislation gave
the attorney general unprecedented new powers. "I
think they felt they had to become more public," he
Associated Press Writer Lara Jakes Jordan contributed
to this report.
Gen. Pace may urge U.S. troop cut in Iraq: report
Fri Aug 24, 4:39 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S.
military's Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to urge
President George W. Bush to cut U.S. troop levels in
Iraq next year, the Los Angeles Times said on Friday,
citing military and administration officials.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, whose term as chairman expires
at the end of September, is expected to contend that
keeping significantly more than 100,000 troops in Iraq
through next year would severely strain the military
and compromise its ability to respond to other
threats, the newspaper said.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David
Petraeus, is to give his much-awaited recommendation
next month on how to proceed with military operations
in Iraq in a report expected to spark a firestorm of
debate on the unpopular war.
The administration has been fending off calls to start
withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and has cited gains
from this year's increase of about 30,000 U.S. forces
that has brought troop levels there to about 160,000.
The Times said Pace will say it is strategically
important to reduce U.S. deployments in Iraq. It said
Pace will likely make that recommendation privately
instead of in a formal report.
A senior administration official told the Times that
the Joint Chiefs in recent weeks have voiced concerns
that the Iraq war has reduced the military's ability
to respond to other threats, such as Iran, the
While the focus has been on Petraeus' upcoming
recommendation, the Joint Chiefs' responsibility of
ensuring the military's long-term well-being means
Pace "by law, has a big role in that and he will
provide his advice to the president," the newspaper
quoted a senior military official as saying.
But the newspaper said given the pressure to defer to
Petraeus' report, the Joint Chiefs could weaken their
view to Bush.
Bush did not nominate Pace for a second term as
chairman and he is to leave the position at the end of September.
A Nunn-Lugar ticket, perhaps?
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> A Nunn-Lugar ticket, perhaps?
Senator pleads to disorderly conduct
18 minutes ago
MINNEAPOLIS - Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho pleaded guilty
this month to misdemeanor disorderly conduct after
being arrested at the Minneapolis airport.
A Hennepin County court docket showed Craig pleading
guilty to the disorderly conduct charge Aug. 8, with
the court dismissing a charge of gross misdemeanor
interference to privacy.
The court docket said the Republican senator was fined
$1,000, plus $575 in fees. He was put on unsupervised
probation for a year. A sentence of 10 days in the
county workhouse was stayed.
Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, which first
reported the case, said on its Web site Monday that
Craig was arrested June 11 by a plainclothes officer
investigating complaints of lewd conduct in a men's
restroom at the airport.
Craig said in a statement issued by his office that he
was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.
"At the time of this incident, I complained to the
police that they were misconstruing my actions," he
said. "I should have had the advice of counsel in
resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have
pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself
quickly and expeditiously."
Craig, 62, is married and in his third term in the
Senate. He is up for re-election next year. He was a
member of the House for 10 years before winning
election to the Senate in 1990.
Sidney Smith, a Craig aide in Boise, said Monday
afternoon that the senator was "in the (Boise) area"
but was declining to give interviews.
Minneapolis airport police declined to provide a copy
of the arrest report after business hours Monday.
Roll Call, citing the report, said Sgt. Dave Karsnia
made the arrest after an encounter in which he was
seated in a stall next to a stall occupied by Craig.
Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which
Karsnia said he "recognized as a signal used by
persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."
Roll Call quoted the Aug. 8 police report as saying
that Craig had handed the arresting officer a business
card that identified him as a member of the Senate.
"What do you think about that?" Craig is alleged to
have said, according to the report.
Last fall, Craig called allegations from a gay-rights
activist that he's had homosexual relationships
Mike Rogers, who bills himself as a gay activist
blogger, published the allegations on his Web site,
http://www.blogactive.com, in October 2006.
If Craig should resign, why not Vitter? Vitter was
caught by the media, instead of by the police, but
there's no doubt he committed a crime. Craig's
attempted sex would've been public; does that make the
crime heinous enough to require resignation, while
Vitter's private illegal sex acts don't merit it? I am
confused. Maybe McCain and these other people called
for Vitter's resignation so quietly that I never heard
GOP senators say Craig should resign
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent Wed Aug 29,
6:13 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's political
support eroded by the hour on Wednesday as fellow
Republicans in Congress called for him to resign and
party leaders pushed him unceremoniously from senior
The White House expressed disappointment, too — and
nary a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker,
who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge
stemming from an undercover police operation in an
airport men's room.
Craig "represents the Republican Party," said Rep.
Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the first in a steadily
lengthening list of GOP members of Congress to urge a
The senator's spokesman declined comment. "They have a
right to express themselves," said Sidney Smith. He
said he had heard no discussion of a possible
Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing and
shouldn't have pleaded guilty. He said he had only
recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case
that threatens to write an ignominious end to a
lifetime in public office.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of
Minnesota joined Hoekstra in urging Craig to step
down, as did Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida — and others
who joined them as the day wore on.
McCain spoke out in an interview with CNN. "My opinion
is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you
shouldn't serve. That's not a moral stand. That's not
a holier-than-thou. It's just a factual situation."
Coleman said in a written statement, "Senator Craig
pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a
For a second consecutive day, GOP Senate leaders
stepped in, issuing a statement that said Craig had
"agreed to comply with leadership's request" to
temporarily give up his posts on important committees.
He has been the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs
Committee as well as on subcommittees for two other
"This is not a decision we take lightly, but we
believe this is in the best interest of the Senate
until this situation is resolved by the ethics
committee," said the statement, issued in the name of
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, and
On Tuesday, the leaders jumped in ahead of Craig's
appearance before television cameras in Idaho to
announce they had asked the ethics committee to look
into the case.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "We are
disappointed in the matter," without specifying
exactly what was causing the discomfort.
He said he hoped the ethics committee would do its
work swiftly, "as that would be in the best interests
of the Senate and the people of Idaho."
In Craig's home state, Republican Gov. C.L. (Butch)
Otter said his longtime friend "is an honorable man
and I am confident that Larry Craig will do what is
best for him and his family and the state of Idaho."
For the most part, Democrats studiously avoided
involvement with an unfolding Republican scandal.
"We at least ought to hear his side of the story.,"
said Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, like McCain
a presidential contender who spoke on CNN.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said his party stood to
gain. "All of these people who (are) holier than thou
are now under investigations. ... I think the
Republican Party will find itself in a great peril
next year," he said.
McCain's call for a resignation was the first among
GOP presidential rivals.
Sen. Sam Brownback, also seeking the White House, said
Craig's declaration that he had pleaded guilty to make
the issue go away "doesn't work in these jobs." Still,
the Kansan said it was premature to call for Craig to
That wasn't how it was seen by Coleman, a senator
facing a potentially difficult re-election contest
next year, or by Hoekstra, who signaled a concern
about the impact on the party generally.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hoekstra
called Craig's explanations "not credible."
"I think it's important for Republicans to step out
right now and say, 'No, this behavior is not going to
be tolerated,'" he said.
Hoekstra, a conservative from western Michigan, said
he reached his decision on his own and had not
consulted with party leaders.
"It's not a judgment on gay rights or anything like
that. This is about leadership and setting a standard
that the American people and your colleagues in the
Republican Party can feel good about."
Other Republicans dwelt on Craig's guilty plea, but
Hoekstra's mention of homosexuality reflected a
"I am not gay. I never have been gay," the senator
said on Tuesday, but that stood in apparent
contradiction to the police report that led to his
guilty plea, submitted on Aug. 1.
Craig was arrested on June 11 in the Minneapolis
airport men's room after an undercover officer
observed conduct that he said was "often used by
persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual
Craig was read his rights, fingerprinted and required
to submit to a mug shot at the time of his arrest.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct,
and signed papers that included a notation that the
court would not accept a guilty plea from anyone
claiming to be innocent.
In his public appearance on Tuesday, Craig said he had
"overreacted and made a poor decision" after being
"While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct
in the Minneapolis Airport or anywhere else, I chose
to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making
it go away," he said.
Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, an
openly homosexual member of the House, said Craig was
a hypocrite on gay rights issues but he didn't think
the Republican senator should resign.
"This is the hypocrisy — it's to deny legal equality
to gay people, but then to engage in gay behavior,"
Associated Press writer Todd Dvorak contributed to
this story from Idaho. Matthew Daly, Ken Thomas and
Andrew Miga contributed from Washington, and Jim
Davenport from Columbia, S.C.
What Did Sen. Craig Actually Do?
08.28.07 -- 10:59AM
By David Kurtz
We've had lots of back and forth discussion here
internally about what conduct by Sen. Craig in that
Minneapolis airport restroom was actually illegal.
We've posted the arrest report, so take a look and
reach your own conclusions.
Leering stares, foot tapping, a lingering presence.
Are any of those, even taken together, what most
reasonable people would call criminal? Is it because
they happened in a bathroom? God knows they happen
every night in bars and other public spaces, among
gays and straights.
TPM Reader LA refines the point:
Sure, he's a hypocrite, sure he's probably gay or
bi or whatever, and sure, I despise his politics. The
problem is, I'm torn between the schadenfreude of
watching another one of the Family Values crowd being
shown up, and feeling really bad for the guy, because
he didn't do anything.
Look at the police report. Did he directly ask a
cop for sex? No. Did he expose himself lewdly (as
opposed to exposing himself to use the facilities)?
No. Did he do anything that was unambiguously sexual?
All he did was tap his foot, reach down (possibly
to pick up a piece of TP), wiggle his fingers, and put
his bag in front of him when he sat down. Oh, and he
waited in front of an occupied stall. Even if he did
everything the cop said he did, where was the lewd
conduct? No actual sex happened. No actual sex was
discussed. And if it wasn't for the sheer
embarrassment of the situation, you'd be writing about
the overzealous cop who arrested a sitting US Senator
for no apparent reason.
If Craig was looking for sex, I hope that he can
look into his heart and realize that it's 2007, and
gay people are allowed to be out, and even get
involved in meaningful relationships that don't begin
and end in a squalid men's room. I'd hope that he'd
recognize that there are even gay Republicans out
there (look at former Rep. Kolbe, for one), and that a
lot of the stigma and fear that still exists about
homosexuality in this society has to do with the
behavior of people who are in the closet.
But that, to me, is another issue entirely. The
issue here is, why is the Minneapolis Airport PD
arresting people for such flimsy reasons? Why do
judges and prosecutors still accept these cases? Why,
in 2007, 43 years after LBJ's chief of staff, Walter
Jenkins, got busted in the men's room YMCA in DC, have
we apparently moved no further in our analysis of
I think that's about right. Look, I wouldn't want to
bring my 4-year-old son into the airport bathroom and
stumble across two people having sex, gay or straight.
It's tough enough getting in and out of the john
without him touching every dirty surface or
contributing to the mess with an errant aim. But sex
didn't happen here. Even the propositioning is murky
at best. And short of a proposition involving sex for
money, what is illegal about inquiring about sex?
Tactless, maybe. But criminal?
The hypocrisy angle--conservative U.S. senator with a
voting record antagonistic to gay rights--is the one
just about everyone can hang their hats on here.
Paying a political price for that hypocrisy seems
reasonable. But clearly the hypocrisy is not just
political; it's deeply personal. The fractures and
fault lines in Craig's psyche must be something to
behold. It's hard not to feel some sympathy for the
guy. But hypocrisy, thank god for all of us, is not a
crime. Being gay shouldn't be either.
The difference is that Vitter let the GOP leadership
know it was coming before the story broke and followed
their plan of damage control by apologizing. Craig's
arrest took them by surprise and since many feel that
the Mark Foley scandal was the major reason for the
loss of Congress in 06, they are anxious to get this
story tamped down ASAP.
I find it interesting that Craig took more of a
arrogant victimized denial approach ala Gary Hart/
Bill Clinton, and not a contrite 'I have sinned" Jimmy
Swaggart style apology, followed by the now obligatory
stint in rehab.
--- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:
> If Craig should resign, why not Vitter? Vitter was
> caught by the media, instead of by the police, but
> there's no doubt he committed a crime. Craig's
> attempted sex would've been public; does that make
> crime heinous enough to require resignation, while
> Vitter's private illegal sex acts don't merit it? I
> confused. Maybe McCain and these other people called
> for Vitter's resignation so quietly that I never
> about it.
> GOP senators say Craig should resign
> By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent Wed Aug 29,
> 6:13 PM ET
> WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's political
> support eroded by the hour on Wednesday as fellow
> Republicans in Congress called for him to resign and
> party leaders pushed him unceremoniously from senior
> committee posts.
> The White House expressed disappointment, too — and
> nary a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker,
> who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge
> stemming from an undercover police operation in an
> airport men's room.
> Craig "represents the Republican Party," said Rep.
> Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the first in a steadily
> lengthening list of GOP members of Congress to urge
> The senator's spokesman declined comment. "They have
> right to express themselves," said Sidney Smith. He
> said he had heard no discussion of a possible
> Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing
> shouldn't have pleaded guilty. He said he had only
> recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case
> that threatens to write an ignominious end to a
> lifetime in public office.
> Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of
> Minnesota joined Hoekstra in urging Craig to step
> down, as did Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida — and
> who joined them as the day wore on.
> McCain spoke out in an interview with CNN. "My
> is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you
> shouldn't serve. That's not a moral stand. That's
> a holier-than-thou. It's just a factual situation."
> Coleman said in a written statement, "Senator Craig
> pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming
> For a second consecutive day, GOP Senate leaders
> stepped in, issuing a statement that said Craig had
> "agreed to comply with leadership's request" to
> temporarily give up his posts on important
> He has been the top Republican on the Veterans
> Committee as well as on subcommittees for two other
> "This is not a decision we take lightly, but we
> believe this is in the best interest of the Senate
> until this situation is resolved by the ethics
> committee," said the statement, issued in the name
> Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, and
> On Tuesday, the leaders jumped in ahead of Craig's
> appearance before television cameras in Idaho to
> announce they had asked the ethics committee to look
> into the case.
> White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "We are
> disappointed in the matter," without specifying
> exactly what was causing the discomfort.
> He said he hoped the ethics committee would do its
> work swiftly, "as that would be in the best
> of the Senate and the people of Idaho."
> In Craig's home state, Republican Gov. C.L. (Butch)
> Otter said his longtime friend "is an honorable man
> and I am confident that Larry Craig will do what is
> best for him and his family and the state of Idaho."
> For the most part, Democrats studiously avoided
> involvement with an unfolding Republican scandal.
> "We at least ought to hear his side of the story.,"
> said Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, like
> a presidential contender who spoke on CNN.
> Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said his party stood to
> gain. "All of these people who (are) holier than
> are now under investigations. ... I think the
> Republican Party will find itself in a great peril
> next year," he said.
> McCain's call for a resignation was the first among
> GOP presidential rivals.
> Sen. Sam Brownback, also seeking the White House,
> Craig's declaration that he had pleaded guilty to
> the issue go away "doesn't work in these jobs."
> the Kansan said it was premature to call for Craig
> That wasn't how it was seen by Coleman, a senator
> facing a potentially difficult re-election contest
> next year, or by Hoekstra, who signaled a concern
> about the impact on the party generally.
> In an interview with The Associated Press, Hoekstra
> called Craig's explanations "not credible."
> "I think it's important for Republicans to step out
> right now and say, 'No, this behavior is not going
> be tolerated,'" he said.
> Hoekstra, a conservative from western Michigan, said
> he reached his decision on his own and had not
> consulted with party leaders.
> "It's not a judgment on gay rights or anything like
> that. This is about leadership and setting a
> that the American people and your colleagues in the
> Republican Party can feel good about."
> Other Republicans dwelt on Craig's guilty plea, but
> Hoekstra's mention of homosexuality reflected a
> separate concern.
> "I am not gay. I never have been gay," the senator
> said on Tuesday, but that stood in apparent
> contradiction to the police report that led to his
> guilty plea, submitted on Aug. 1.
> Craig was arrested on June 11 in the Minneapolis
> airport men's room after an undercover officer
> observed conduct that he said was "often used by
> persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual
> Craig was read his rights, fingerprinted and
> to submit to a mug shot at the time of his arrest.
> He subsequently pleaded guilty to disorderly
> and signed papers that included a notation that the
> court would not accept a guilty plea from anyone
> claiming to be innocent.
> In his public appearance on Tuesday, Craig said he
> "overreacted and made a poor decision" after being
> "While I was not involved in any inappropriate
> in the Minneapolis Airport or anywhere else, I chose
> to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of
> it go away," he said.
> Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, an
> openly homosexual member of the House, said Craig
> a hypocrite on gay rights issues but he didn't think
> the Republican senator should resign.
> "This is the hypocrisy — it's to deny legal equality
=== message truncated ===
Judge: Same-sex couples can wed in Iowa
By DAVID PITT, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 1
DES MOINES, Iowa - A county judge struck down Iowa's
decade-old gay marriage ban as unconstitutional
Thursday and ordered local officials to process
marriage licenses for six gay couples.
Gay couples from anywhere in Iowa could apply for a
marriage license from Polk County under Judge Robert
Less than two hours after word of the ruling was
publicized, two Des Moines men applied for a license,
the first time the county had accepted a same-sex
application. The approval process takes three days.
Gary Allen Seronko, 51, was listed as the groom on the
form and David Curtis Rethmeier, 29, the bride.
"I started to cry because we so badly want to be able
to be protected if something happens to one of us,"
Deputy Recorder Trish Umthun said she took five calls
from gay couples after the judge filed his ruling
Thursday afternoon and expected a rush of applications
County attorney John Sarcone said the county will
appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court and immediately
sought a stay from Hanson that would prevent gay
couples from seeking a marriage license until the
appeal is resolved. The Supreme Court could refer the
case to the Iowa Court of Appeals, consider the case
itself or decide not to hear it.
A hearing is likely to be held on the stay motion next
week, said Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda
Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization.
House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City,
said the ruling illustrates the need for a state
constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
"I can't believe this is happening in Iowa," he said.
"I guarantee you there will be a vote on this issue
come January," when the Legislature convenes.
Massachusetts is the only state where gay marriage is
legal, though nine other states have approved spousal
rights in some form for same-sex couples. Nearly all
states have defined marriage as being solely between a
man and a woman, and 27 states have such wording in
their constitutions, according the National Conference
of State Legislatures.
Dennis Johnson, the lawyer for the six gay couples who
sued in 2005 after they were denied marriage licenses,
had argued that Iowa has a long history of
aggressively protecting civil rights in cases of race
and gender. He said the Defense of Marriage Act, which
the Legislature passed in 1998, contradicts previous
rulings regarding civil rights.
Roger J. Kuhle, an assistant Polk County attorney,
argued that the issue is not for a judge to decide.
Hanson ruled that the state law allowing marriage only
between a man and a woman violates the constitutional
rights of due process and equal protection.
"Couples, such as plaintiffs, who are otherwise
qualified to marry one another may not be denied
licenses to marry or certificates of marriage or in
any other way prevented from entering into a civil
marriage ... by reason of the fact that both person
comprising such a couple are of the same sex," he
Associated Press writer Henry C. Jackson contributed
to this report.
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