Anti-terrorism and homeland securityFederal prosecutors counted immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking among anti-terror cases in the four years after 9/11 even though no evidence linked them to terror activity. Overall, nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics on investigations, referrals and cases examined by department Inspector General Glenn Fine were either diminished or inflated, according to the audit. Only two of 26 sets of department data reported between 2001 and 2005 were accurate. A DOJ spokesman disputes the audit's conclusions, and even claims that prosecutors often underreported their terror-related prosecutions. The numbers, used to monitor the department's progress in battling terrorists, are reported to Congress and the public and help, in part, shape the department's budget. "For these and other reasons, it is essential that the department report accurate terrorism-related statistics," the audit concludes.
Iraq war and occupationThe precise wording remains unsettled, but one draft would restrict the soldiers in Iraq to combating al-Qaeda, training Iraqi army and police forces, maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity and otherwise proceeding with the withdrawal of combat forces. The plan is to attempt to add the measure to anti-terrorism legislation that scheduled to be on the Senate floor next week and the week following. Any such attempt to limit Bush's powers will undoubtedly would likely face strong opposition from Republican allies of the administration in the Senate and could also face a veto threat from Bush; earlier attempts to pass legislation that criticized Bush's foreign policies ended in gridlock after Senate Republicans blocked debate on two separate measures.
Iraq war and occupationCheney says that Democrats' opposition to Bush's escalation of troops in Iraq would "validate the al-Qaeda strategy." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fires back that Cheney is questioning critics' patriotism. "I hope the president will repudiate and distance himself from the vice president's remarks," she says. Pelosi says she tried to complain about Cheney to Bush but could not reach him. "You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country," Pelosi says.
US nuclear programThe tests have generated a flood of public opposition, most strongly from area residents in Utah and Nevada who worry that detonation of 700 tons of explosives could spew debris into the air, carrying radiation left over from Cold War nuclear weapons tests at the test site. "I have become convinced that it's time to look at alternative methods that obviate the need for this type of large-scale test," Defense Threat Reduction Agency Director James Tegnelia says in a statement announcing the cancellation of the test. "DTRA remains committed to help develop non-nuclear means to defeat underground targets. I am optimistic that we will succeed." The agency maintains the decision was not a result of any information that indicated the test might harm workers or the public.
George W. Bushfeatures the following interesting, and quite questionable, remark by Bush to Sharon regarding Osama bin Laden. If the Americans ever caught bin Laden, Bush reportedly said to Sharon, "I will screw him in the *ss!" (Ha'aretz)
Iraq war and occupationOn December 13, 1995, the House Republican Caucus, in opposition to Clinton's ultimately successful peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, voted 108-64 to cut off funding for Clinton's efforts and repudiated Clinton as commander in chief. The Republican Senate Minority Leader complained that the proposed resolution opposing the mission while supporting the troops sent "a dangerous, duplicitous message." Republican House member Sam Johnson said on the floor of the Congress, "Mr. Speaker, this is not about peace and war. That is what is going on over there, and they are not going to stop fighting just because we go in there. I wholeheartedly support withholding funds.... Although it is a drastic step and ties the president's hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The president has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders. But we, we are in a position to stop this terrible mistake before it happens. I know what those soldiers are feeling. I was in the military for 29 years.... Thirty years ago when I was sent to Vietnam in a similar situation, Vietnam started out as a peace type mission, no defined goal, no exit strategy, no idea whose side we were on, and a created incident to gain support of the Congress. A peacekeeping mission? Come on. Does this not sound just like a carbon copy? I think it is. What is going to happen when our guys get over there, and if the rules of engagement apply, and they get shot at, and we start shooting back, what are their people going to say when we start killing them...? We will do it, and we will get chastised for it."
US Attorney firingsChiara, who has held her post for more than five years, was asked to leave December 7, along with a number of other US attorneys who have clashed with the Justice Department. She will be replaced on an "interim" basis by Russell Stoddard, who just joined the Grand Rapids office. While Chiara refuses to comment, Robert Holmes Bell, the chief judge in Michigan's Western District, says that Chiara has an excellent reputation in Grand Rapids. "This is a very classy, distinguished, highly regarded public servant," says Bell, who was appointed to the bench during the Reagan administration. "She's one of the best United States attorneys we've had in this district, and all of my colleagues agree.... To have her suddenly disappear without warning catches us all flat-footed."
Election fraudThe results are not surprising, considering the partisan Republicans who led the audit (see earlier items). The audit was conducted after more than 18,000 ballots were cast in Sarasota County without a selection in the District 13 congressional race in November between Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings. Buchanan was the certified winner by 369 votes, but Jennings sued, alleging that the machines malfunctioned. Third-party voter advocate groups, along with Jennings, have been asking to examine the machines' source code or programming chips to find out whether they malfunctioned. The audit report released Friday said an independent study of the source code of the machines used in the election found no evidence of malfunction, but they refuse to release the source code for public examination. Buchanan was seated in Congress in January, but Jennings has yet to concede the race. Her spokesman David Kochman says that the audit was flawed. (Washington Post)
Secrecy of Bush administration(One of many reasons why this site chooses not to link to official White House Web pages -- they are unreliable in their content.)
War with IranUp to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack. "There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran," says a source close to British intelligence. "There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible." A source within the British defense ministry adds, "All the generals are perfectly clear that they don't have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them. There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations." A generals' revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. "American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired," says a Pentagon source. Defense secretary Robert Gates has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
War with IranMost intelligence given to the IAEA from the US has proved to be inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran. The officials say the CIA and other Western spy services had provided sensitive information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency at least since 2002, when Iran's long-secret nuclear program was exposed. But none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic Republic was developing illicit weapons. "Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that's come to us has proved to be wrong," says one IAEA diplomat. Another official describes the agency's intelligence stream as "very cold now" because "so little panned out." American officials privately acknowledge that much of their evidence on Iran's nuclear plans and programs remains ambiguous, fragmented and difficult to prove. The IAEA has its own concerns about Iran's nuclear program, although agency officials say they have found no proof that nuclear material has been diverted to a weapons program. "Most of [the US intelligence] has turned out to be incorrect," says one IAEA diplomat. "They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities. Now [the inspectors] don't go in blindly. Only if it passes a credibility test."
Islamist terrorismThe number of British-based Islamic terrorists plotting suicide attacks against "soft" targets in the United Kingdom is far greater than the Security Services had previously believed. Under the heading "International Terrorism in the UK," the document states: "The scale of al-Qaeda's ambitions towards attacking the UK and the number of UK extremists prepared to participate in attacks are even greater than we had previously judged." It warns that terrorist "attack planning" against Britain will increase in 2007, and adds: "We still believe that AQ [al-Qaeda] will continue to seek opportunities for mass casualty attacks against soft targets and key infrastructure. These attacks are likely to involve the use of suicide operatives." The document, which has been circulated across Whitehall to MI5, Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorist Command, the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defense, also reveals that al-Qaeda has grown into a world-wide organisation with a foothold in virtually every Muslim country in North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.
Iraq war and occupationAccusations that Congressional Democrats are attempting to "micromanage" the war is the latest talking point from the White House. "I would hope that Congress would recognize that it's very important for them to have the oversight role," she says. "But when it comes to the execution of policy in the field, there has to be a clear relationship between the commander in chief and the commanders in the field." She says that Democrats are attempting to disrupt the chain of command. "[Y]ou're going to have the worst of micromanagement of military affairs. And it's always served us badly in the past," she says. Switching talking points, she again insists that the war in Iraq is a key element in the global war against terrorism. "Some of these car bombs may indeed be the work of an organization like al-Qaeda," she says of the civil war that continues to engulf Baghdad and central Iraq. "I think it's best to leave the flexibility of what to do on the ground to commanders on the ground who understand the situation, who understand the intricacies and the relationship among these various tasks that the American armed forces have to do," she says. (AP/CBS News)
US Attorney firingsThe performance reviews, known as Evaluations and Review Staff Reports, show that the ousted prosecutors were routinely praised for playing a leadership role with other law enforcement agencies in their jurisdictions. The reviews, each of them 6 to 12 pages long, were carried out by Justice Department officials from 2003 to 2006. Each report was based on extensive interviews, conducted over several days with judges, other federal law enforcement agencies and staff members in each office. It had been known that the reports were mostly favorable, but the reports themselves had not been made public.
Conservative smear campaignsBut, as veteran political observer and liberal blogger Margie Burns reminds Howell, it became clear during the Lewis Libby trial -- and from information made public years before -- that the White House smear campaign against Wilson began a month prior to Wilson's July 6, 2003 article.