Highlights of This Page
Duelfer Report concludes Iraq had no WMDs, or WMD programs, at the time of the US invasion. Republicans compile illegal "caging lists" of black voters for Election Day challenges
See my Update Information page for an explanation of why this and other pages between September 2004 and September 2006 are not yet complete.
- October: Iraq's prime minister Iyad Allawi complains to Bush that it is unseemly for him to continue being ferried around Iraq in a big military aircraft with the words "US Air Force" stenciled on the side. It doesn't support the idea of a free and sovereign Iraqi government. Allawi wants his own plane. Bush says in an NSC meeting that he wants it done; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells his deputy General Peter Pace, "Make it happen." Weeks go by with nothing being done. NSC official Frank Miller calls some of his contacts on the JCS. "Oh, it's okay," he is told, "the Brits are flying him around now." I can't make this stuff up, Miller thinks to himself. "No, that's not the point," he says. "The point is not the Royal Air Force instead of the US Air Force." The point is to make Allawi's plane an Iraqi plane. "Oh. Got it." Weeks pass again, with the State Department now slowing the process because of its concerns about transferring sensitive US military technology to a foreign government. Three months after Allawi's request, in December, Allawi gets three C-130 transports with the Iraqi flag repainted on the tail. Not too bad, all in all, reflects Myers. Three months is something of an accomplishment. But Miller thinks three months to respond to a direct presidential request is outrageous. No one is taking responsibility for making anything happen. (Bob Woodward)
- October: As the presidential campaign comes to a head, national security advisor Condoleezza Rice decides that she or her deputy, Stephen Hadley, or NSC strategy head Robert Blackwill needs to travel with Bush everywhere he goes. Rice is giving her own speeches around the country -- a controversial decision for the presumably non-political security advisor -- and Hadley is handling most of the nuts and bolts of daily NSC operations, so Blackwill ends up accompanying Bush most of the time. His job is to scour the daily briefings, the PDBs, for anything that might impact the campaign. What might suddenly surface as an election issue, and how should it be handled? Blackwill focuses particularly on anything related to a terrorist attack within the US borders. The campaign is being driven primarily by Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, Bush's two main political advisors. Blackwill is struck by the fact that there is never any time to actually discuss policy. Everything -- everything -- is viewed through the prism of the campaign. What had John Kerry said that day about Iraq? What is happening in Iraq that might affect the campaign? Blackwill knows as much as anyone about how the war is going, but he is functioning completely as a political adjunct to the re-election campaign. Bush never asks Blackwill anything about what is happening in Iraq, or what should be done to improve the situation. Everything is politics, 24/7. Nothing else comes even close.
- The only thing Bush does to address the spiral of increasing violence is to modify his stump speech. Now he insists to one audience after another that the US is adapting to new conditions on the ground, and has always been so adaptive, a claim Blackwill finds laughable. "We have a strategy that says to our commanders, adapt to the ways on the ground," Bush tells audiences. "The way to prevail, the way toward the succcessful conclusion we all want, the way to secure Iraq and bring our troops home is not to wilt or waver or send mixed signals to the enemy. We can grieve, but we will not waver." Blackwill had taught strategy at Harvard; he knows that strategy involves a set of actions to achieve a goal and entails answering questions such as, what is going to be done? by whom? when? where? how? Instead, Bush talks of winning and goals. But as Blackwill taught in his classes, "Aspirations aren't strategy." Blackwill sees no real strategy for Iraq. He knows Rice won't challenge Donald Rumsfeld or anyone in the military, so he never forces the issue with her. But he wonders, fruitlessly, why Bush won't challenge them. He never asks anyone about their military strategy for victory. The question never arises. But the lack of a specific, winning strategy never becomes a campaign issue. The public knows about sporadic events in Iraq, mostly the more spectacular explosions and attacks. But the specifics of just how badly things are going -- the data and trends of the violence, the number and effects of the ever-increasing attacks -- remains classified, hidden away from the electorate. (Bob Woodward)
- October: The Bush campaign airs a tremendously dishonest television ad that exemplifies the campaign's appeal to fear among American voters. Known informally as "the wolf ad," it depicts a band of vicious-looking wolves lurking in a shadowy forest, the voiceover intones, "In an increasingly dangerous world.... Even after the first terrorist attack on America.... John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations by six billion dollars.... Cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm." As the wolves begin advancing menacingly towards the viewer, the ad ends, "I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message." The ad not only plays on the fear of terrorism among voters, and implies that Kerry will allow terrorists to attack the US without fear of reprisal, it misleads the viewer about Kerry's voting record. The reference to "the first terrorist attack on America" is deliberately vague, but obviously is meant to imply the 9/11 attacks. If so, the reference to Kerry attempting to cut $6 billion from intelligence spending is a lie. If it references the 1993 WTC bombings, then it may be referring to Kerry's 1994 proposal to reduce the country's deficit by, among other things, implementing a one-time $1 billion reduction in intelligence spending, a proposal exceeded by then-Representative Porter Goss, the current head of the CIA, to cut intelligence spending by 20% over five years. Of course, the key to the ad is the appeal to fear. Political commentator Al Franken writes, "The Bush campaign wanted Americans to believe that if John Kerry was elected president, their families would be killed by terrorists." The campaign distills this message into a simple and devastating choice: Bush or death. As Dick Cheney said on September 7, 2004, "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war." (Al Franken)
"Like the Democrats, Playboy just wants to liberate women to behave like pigs, have sex without consequences, prance about naked, and abort children." -- Ann Coulter, quoted by Joe Maguire from her October 2004 book How to Talk to a Liberal
- October 3: The Reverend Chan Chandler, the presiding minister at the East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina, tells his congregation that "If you vote for John Kerry, you need to repent or resign" from the church. A number of church members leave the church in response to Chandler's rhetoric. Chandler, who has frequently used his pulpit to preach in support of Bush and attack Kerry, later forces nine Democratic congregation members who support Kerry to leave the church. "He's the kind of pastor who says do it my way or get out," says Selma Morris, the former church treasurer. "He's real negative all the time." The head of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, says, "If these reports are true, this minister is not only acting extremely inappropriately by injecting partisan politics into a house of worship, but he is also potentially breaking the law." (The liberal religious group Americans United for Separation of Church and State will later ask the IRS to investigate Chandler for using his church for overtly political purposes.) Forty other members of the 400-member church resign in protest of Chandler's actions, the congregation splits, and Chandler resigns his post in May 2005. Doris Wilson, one of Chandler's neighbors and a member of First Baptist Church in Waynesville, says God doesn't play partisan politics. "I hate to see the church suffer like that," she says. "God doesn't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. It just hurts to see that going on." (CNN/Carpetbagger Report, ABC, Al Franken)
- October 5: Dick Cheney and John Edwards engage in the only vice-presidential debate scheduled, at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. (Commission on Presidential Debates
Duelfer Report concludes Iraq had no WMDs, or WMD programs, at the time of the US invasion
- October 6: Charles Duelfer, David Kay's successor to the WMD-hunting Iraq Survey Group, presents his group's report to Congress. The report, in the words of reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn, "further shredded Bush's primary rationale for the war." Kay had left the post in early 2004 after telling Congress he could find no weapons of mass destruction. Duelfer came in hard, shelved Kay's report, and gave the impression that he would find Iraq's WMDs no matter what. "There are weapons out there; we just have to find them," Duelfer was told by CIA director George Tenet, and Duelfer intended to do just that. But Duelfer's report is even more specific, and more damning, than Kay's. According to the report, Hussein's WMD capability "was essentially destroyed in 1991." Hussein had indeed wanted to recreate his weapons programs, but only after the sanctions were lifted and Iraq's economy had stabilized. The report concludes that Hussein's primary reason for wanting WMDs was to deter Iran, who presumably has WMDs of its own. At the time of the invasion, the report says, Hussein had no "plan for the revival of WMD." Bush and his officials had repeatedly insisted that Hussein had been a "gathering threat," but the Duelfer report proves Bush and his officials lied.
- The report also explains why Hussein had not completely cooperated with UN inspectors to prove he had no WMDs. According to Duelfer, Hussein had tried to convince the West that he had no WMDs, while keeping Iran off-balance and uncertain of his weapons capabilities.
- On October 7, Bush dourly admits, "Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there." He continues, "Based on all the information we have today, I believe we were right to take action. ...He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means, and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction." This assertion is just another lie. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- October 6: Bush tells an audience in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, "Because of the attacks of September 11, nearly a million jobs were lost in three months." This is a lie. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 125,637 jobs were lost because of the 9/11 attacks, 62% in the air transportation and hospitality industries. Satirist Al Franken writes, "I think it may have had something to do with his policy of borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars in order to provide his tax cuts to the rich, who then invested the money in a particularly non-economically stimulating fashion, by buying issues to pay for the tax cuts." (Bureau of Labor Statistics/Al Franken)
Republicans compile illegal "caging lists" of black voters for Election Day challenges
- October 8: John Wooden, the owner and operator of the satirical site GeorgeWBush.org, receives a number of e-mails from the Republican National Committee erroneously cc'd to him. Wooden immediately forwards them to the BBC and the researchers who work with investigative journalist Greg Palast. The intended recipients of the e-mails are Brett Doster and Randy Kammerdiner. Doster is the chief of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida, and Kammerdiner runs research operations for the RNC in Washington. Other recipients include Tim Griffin, the research director and deputy communications director for the Bush campaign. Attached to one e-mail, which contains a list of around 2,000 names, is a file called CAGING.XLS, an Excel spreadsheet file. Other e-mails contain other attachments; Wooden and Palast receive in total about fifty lists, with tens of thousands of names. The "caging lists" are comprised entirely of African-American voters who live in urban areas in Florida, including Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and even Plantation, Florida. Palast shows the lists to Ion Sancho, the relentlessly non-partisan elections supervisor in Tallahassee County, Florida. Sancho, one of the state's top experts on voting procedures, says of the list, "The only thing that I can think of -- African-American voters listed like this -- these might be individuals that will be challenged if they try to vote on Election Day." Sancho is visibly upset over the list. For years he has ensured that neither party used the challenge process to disrupt voting, and, with the expectation that many more black voters than usual will vote on November 2, such widespread challenges would wreak havoc with the entire voting process: "It would discourage and intimidate legitimate voters," Sancho says.
- It would also be a crime. Civil rights attorney Ralph Neas confirms to the BBC that any challenge of large groups of voters on a racial basis is illegal, even if some individual challenges have merit. No such challenges have been mounted since the days of the White Citizens Council's blocking of blacks from voting by using everything from literacy tests to beatings. Old-time Democrats did it in the South; Republicans did it in the West, with the GOP's 1958 "Operation Eagle Eye" discouraging black and Hispanic voters in Arizona by forcing them to "qualify" by interpreting passages from the Constitution to the satisfaction of GOP election monitors. Of course, all of these were rendered illegal by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But in 1981, the GOP tried creating caging lists of 45,000 black voters in New Jersey. They were caught and the national party promised never to do it again. So much for obeying agreements made in court.
- Palast's attempt to confirm the authenticity of the caging lists is sourly amusing. In Florida, Brett Doster refuses to see him, referring him instead to spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher. At first, Fletcher claims not to know anything about caging lists. After disappearing to consult with her superiors, she returns with an explanation -- actually, several of them. Flanked by several party officials, she claims that the lists are made up of potential donors to the Bush campaign. Palast shoots that down by asking how many potential Bush donors are black and homeless. Then the lists become newly registered voters who had campaign mailings returned for bad addresses. Palast shoots that down too, pointing out that campaigns don't send out mailers first class (with return privileges) unless they want to pay for a very expensive list of return addresses. Fletcher eventually confirms that the list were not created for the purposes of challenging black voters, but they can well be used for that purpose "where it's stated in the law." She also claims that voter challenges are routinely done during every election by both parties. Palast quickly confirms that no such challenges had ever been conducted in Florida since 1965.
- Other lists of black voters also turn up, including students from primarily black Edward Waters College, homeless shelters, soldiers -- anyone whose address can be "legitimately" challenged. One soldier's wife confirms that his address had changed because he had been posted to serve in Iraq.
- On October 26, the BBC breaks the story. Around the globe it becomes the most-watched news report among viewers, except in America, where all of the major news networks refuse to air the report. Only one network, ABC, reports on the story at all, and their take, on their Web site, is, "The entire BBC story was more or less incorrect." Their only source: Fletcher.
- On November 2, the GOP implements a "massive multi-million dollar campaign of mass challenges of voters in black precincts, concentrating on Ohio, where the GOP worked from a base of 35,000 names," Palast writes. Ohio's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell thwarts challenges from NAACP lawyers, saying that the 1981 court order preventing Republicans from using such lists of voters only applies to the national party, not to state parties. In Florida, Democratic lawyers threaten lawsuits if they find the lists have been used, so GOP operatives are more careful, but challenge thousands of voters anyway. Lists and challenges are used by Republican party officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin as well. "The United States hadn't seen such a mass challenge to dark-skinned voters since Martin Luther King was jailed in Birmingham," Palast observes. The responsibility of challenging the caging lists lies with the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who takes absolutely no action. (Side note: before Fletcher became spokeswoman for Bush-Cheney, she was the press representative for Ashcroft.) But not just blacks and Hispanics are targeted; in Florida's Palm Beach, thousands of elderly Jewish voters are also challenged. (Greg Palast)
- October 8: The second presidential debate between Bush and Kerry is held at Washington University in St. Louis, in a "town hall" format where the candidates take questions from the audience. During the debate, Bush makes the following nonsensical statement: "The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were the president of the United States, and the world would be a lot better off."
- Bush is asked to "please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision." Bush is nonplussed. He cannot think of one. He acknowledges that he might have made some "tactical decisions" that future historians might question, but on the big decisions -- Iraq, Afghanistan, domestic policies -- he insists that he was dead right on everything. "That's really what you -- when they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about," he says. "They're trying to say, 'Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?' And the answer is 'Absolutely not.' It was the right decision." Bush then makes the astonishingly brazen statement that the October 6 Duelfer report, which concluded that Iraq had no WMDs or WMD programs after 1991, proved his point. The report, he says, "confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program." That is not what the report concluded. The report had stated clearly that Iraq had no WMD programs and only had vague, unformed ambitions to pursue such programs in the far future. Bush concludes, "I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility." (Commission on Presidential Debates, AllHatNoCattle, Michael Isikoff and David Corn)/LI>
- October 10: The New York Times Magazine prints an extensive interview with John Kerry, conducted by reporter Matt Bai, which includes the following: "When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. 'We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,' Kerry said. 'As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life." Republicans take the word "nuisance" from Kerry's statement and twist it to claim that Kerry dismisses terrorism as "a nuisance." Fox pundits like Tony Snow (later Bush's press secretary) and Sean Hannity leap to criticize Kerry for being so dismissive, while Rush Limbaugh uses the misrepresentation to tell his listeners, "John Kerry really doesn't think 3000 Americans dead in one day is that big a deal." (New York Times Magazine/Al Franken)
- October 12: Former Bush and Clinton counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke appears on a PBS Frontline documentary, where he compares the two presidents. Of Bush, Clarke says, "He doesn't reach out, typically, for a lot of experts. He has a very narrow, regulated, highly regimented set of channels to get advice. One of the first things we were told was, 'Don't write a lot of briefing papers. And don't make the briefing papers very long.' Because the President is not a reader. He likes oral briefings, and he likes them from the national security advisor, the White House chief of staff, and the vice president. He's not into big meetings. And he's not into big briefing books." Clarke contrasts Bush's style to Clinton: "The contrast with Clinton was that Clinton would hold a meeting with you. And he read your briefing materials. But also, having read your briefing materials, he would have gone out and found other materials somehow. He would have directly called people up. Not people in the government, necessarily. Experts, outside the government. Or he would have found magazine articles, or -- or books on the subject. So that, when you were briefing him, frequently you had the feeling that he knew more about the subject than you did. And he wasn't showing off. He had just done his homework." (PBS/Al Franken)
- October 13: The third and final presidential debate is held at Arizona State University in Tempe. Bush asserts that he had a "comprehensive strategy" to "chase down the al-Qaeda," and and that he had "held to account a terrorist regime in Saddam Hussein." In a lukewarm rejoinder, John Kerry says that Bush had "rushed us into a war" and "we are not as safe as we ought to be."
- One of the debate's more memorable moments is when Kerry makes a clumsy reference to Dick Cheney's daughter Mary, who is gay. Mary Cheney is making six figures as a consultant for the Bush-Cheney campaign, but, as a sop to conservative voters, is keeping her homosexuality quiet for the moment, even refusing to be seen in public with her longtime partner, Heather Poe. Meanwhile, the anti-gay thread of the Bush campaign, as orchestrated by Karl Rove, is in full swing. Gay activists are enraged at Mary Cheney's hypocrisy, and have publicly pressured her to come out publicly, including setting up a Web site, Dear Mary, which implores Mary Cheney to use her position to make a statement supporting homosexuality. In the debate, Kerry actually lauds Mary Cheney, saying, "We are all God's children. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she is, she's being who she was born as."
- Predictably, the Republicans seize on Kerry's use of the word "lesbian" as a signal to attack. Lynne Cheney calls Kerry's reference to her daughter (who came out to her parents in junior high) "a cheap and tawdry political trick" and says, "The only think I can conclude is he's not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom." Dick Cheney, who ignored a savage attack by Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes on his daughter in September 2004, calls Kerry "a man who will do and say anything to get elected." The media leaps on the controversy and uses it as an excuse to excoriate the flummoxed Kerry, ignoring the fact that Mary Cheney had publicly admitted using her homosexuality to build a marketing career with Coors. The Cheneys' pretended outrage over Kerry's mention of their daughter's homosexuality is quite politically profitable for the campaign.
- In 2005, Mary Cheney publishes a book, Now It's My Turn, published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster run by Dick Cheney's political advisor Mary Matalin, who is brought into the publishing house specifically to deliver Mary Cheney. The book covers Mary's experiences on the campaign trail and what it is like to be a lesbian in the Cheney family. Despite a million-dollar advance and a huge publicity campaign, the book sells extremely poorly. (Commission on Presidential Debates, Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein)
- October 13: Judge Thomas Hogan holds Time reporter Matt Cooper in contempt for failing to answer special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's subpoena. Cooper had already testified before Fitzgerald's grand jury in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak case on August 23 (see the August item for more information), but his testimony was limited by legal agreement to his conversations with Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby. Fitzgerald had learned, to his surprise, that at least one more White House source had leaked Plame's name to the press, but under the agreement, he couldn't ask Cooper about the second source (who, unbeknownst to Fitzgerald, was Karl Rove). Fitzgerald subpoenaed Cooper again to testify about the second source, but Cooper and Time fought the subpoena. In the second subpoena, Fitzgerald wanted, according to Cooper, "everything in my notebook."
- At the same time, the New York Times is fighting a Fitzgerald subpoena for their former star reporter, Judith Miller, over the same subject. Miller had learned of Plame's name from Libby, but is resisting testifying before Fitzgerald's grand jury. The Times is vowing to take the battle to the Supreme Court, and Miller seems eager to reclaim her tarnished reputation by becoming a poster child for freedom of the press -- too eager, in the view of many of her colleagues. The entire situation with Miller is murky, partially because her editors never sat down with Miller and reviewed her notes on her conversations with Libby. They have no idea of how far Libby had tried to go with Miller in using her to justify the administration's prewar positions, nor how much information Libby had given her about Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson. "There was a lack of due diligence," one veteran Times correspondent later says. "They decided to fight a battle without having the basic information about what had happened.
- Unlike Miller, Cooper doesn't want to go to jail to protect Libby and Rove, who had unquestionably used Cooper, Miller, and other reporters to out Plame -- and perhaps broken the law -- as part of their scheme to smear Wilson's credibility. But Cooper has a waiver from Libby allowing him to speak to Fitzgerald. Cooper could have asked for a similar waiver from Rove, but Time's lawyers and editors had decided not to ask Rove for a waiver, thereby unwittingly (?) protecting Rove, Cheney, and even Bush from investigation and possible prosecution. Time had compelling legal and First Amendment reasons for resisting the subpoena. But Time's managing editor, Jim Kelly, is also worried that the entire imbroglio will put Cooper in the position of influencing events, fundamentally changing his role as a supposedly objective, uninvolved journalist. Kelly worries that the issue will become an election issue. "There was a lot of concern about getting involved in the middle of the election," Cooper's lawyer, Richard Sauber, later says. Another source who participated in the discussion later adds, "There was an enormous reluctance to do that before the election. The idea of the magazine's White House correspondent asking Rove what he wanted of him was deeply troubling."
- Of course, Time's rationale has two sides. By refusing to ask Rove for the waiver, and by not cooperating with Fitzgerald, the magazine puts itself in the position of concealing damaging information that would strip the White House's credibility on the Plame leak. Reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write, "But the net result was a journalistic paradox: one of the country's most important news organizations -- whose core mission is telling the truth -- was concealing an important truth about the subject of a major criminal investigation involving the White House. Its silence was enabling Rove and the White House to maintain a false public position: that the most influential aide to the president had not leaked information about the identity of a CIA officer." And as long as Time keeps silent, Rove continues to publicly lie about his involvement in outing Plame to the press. By not cooperating, Time is just as involved in influencing events as it would be by cooperating. But now, their influence is to the White House's benefit. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- October 14: White House political advisor Karl Rove testifies for the third time to Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury about the Valerie Plame Wilson leak, and changes his story again. In his two February 2004 appearances (see the February 2004 page for more information), Rove had denied ever speaking with Time reporter Matthew Cooper. But now, with phone records and Cooper's own August 2004 testimony in Fitzgerald's possession, Rove cannot credibly continue his denials. So now he concedes that he did speak to Cooper -- but he can't remember anything of what he discussed with Cooper. Rove also hands over a copy of a July 11, 2003 e-mail he had sent to deputy national security advisor Stephen Hadley (see the July 2003 page for more information), where he indicated speaking with Cooper. But the preternaturally cautious Rove had not admitted to Hadley that he had outed Plame to Cooper during that conversation, which he did. Instead, he merely noted that he had talked to Cooper about welfare reform, and had spoken very briefly about Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, and his trip to Niger. Rove is forced to acknowledge that, at the very least, he had concealed information from the grand jury during his first two appearances.
- Fitzgerald hammers at Rove. Why hadn't Rove admitted talking to Cooper before? Why hadn't Rove, or Hadley or another White House official, provided the e-mail to Fitzgerald until now? Fitzgerald and the Justice Department had subpoenaed the White House for such information months beforehand, but the e-mail had not been turned over until now. Why? Fitzgerald has to determine if Rove directly lied to the grand jury the first two times. It seems clear that Rove only divulged this information in light of Cooper being held in contempt, and possibly being forced to testify about his contacts with Rove. To determine if Rove is indeed lying, Fitzgerald needs Cooper's testimony, and Cooper's notes.
- Fitzgerald also notes that the e-mail from Rove to Hadley had been printed out on November 25, 2003. A Rove assistant, B.J. Goergen, had searched the computer that day at the request of Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin. Fitzgerald wants to know why it took almost a year for the White House to turn over the e-mail after it had been printed out.
- But none of this is public knowledge. Luskin merely acknowledges to the press that Rove had testified to the grand jury, and tells reporters that Rove "has been cooperating fully from the beginning," a thorough lie. With three weeks to go before the election, the public has no idea that Rove is suspected by Fitzgerald of lying to the grand jury to conceal his role in the CIA leak. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
- October 14: ABC's Nightline journeys to Vietnam's Bay Hap river to interview Vietnamese witnesses to the 1969 firefight in which John Kerry won his Silver Star. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claim that, as part of his actions which won him the medal for conspicuous bravery, Kerry shot "an unarmed child wearing a loincloth" in the back while the child was fleeing for cover. Kerry, other sailors such as William Rood who accompanied Kerry on the mission, and US Naval reports all say that Kerry shot and killed an adult Viet Cong soldier who was not fleeing for cover, but looking for an open area to turn and fire a rocket launcher at the American swift boats in the river. Nightline's Ted Koppel interviews a 77-year old villager who witnessed the incident. The VC soldier, named Ba Thanh, "wore a black pajama," the villager recalls. "He was strong. He was big and strong. He was about 26 or 27." Was Ba Thanh alone, as the SBVT alleges? "When the firing started, Ba Thanh was killed," recalls another man, the Vietnamese commander of the Viet Cong unit firing on Kerry's boat and other US vessels in the river. "And I led Ba Thanh's comrades, the whole unit, to fight back. And we ran around the back and fought the Americans from behind. We worked with the city soldiers to fire on the American boats." The right-wing media responds to the statements from the Vietnamese witnesses by ignoring them and continuing to flog the SBVT allegations. (ABC/Al Franken)
- October 18: Making his latest reference to the 9/11 disaster, Bush tells a New Jersey audience, "I have a record in office, as well. And all Americans have seen that record. September the 4th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget." (AllHatNoCattle)/LI>
- October 19: Former Marine sergeant Kenneth Campbell sues the makers of an anti-Kerry film, saying that the producers libeled him by deceptively editing his statements. The film Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal, accuses Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War of making up stories of wartime atrocities that Kerry spoke of in his 1971 testimony to the Senate. The 62 affiliates of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group are ordered by that firm's owners to show the film; those owners are heavy financial donors to the Bush campaign. In the film, which is orchestrated to coincide with the attacks on Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization, Campbell is shown saying he was not at one of the massacres later discussed, and asking another veteran whether he could produce accounts of the massacre. Campbell's lawyer, David Kairys, says the film was edited to take out footage in which Campbell made clear that only soldiers who witnessed the atrocities firsthand would be allowed to testify at the hearings, and footage in which he recounted his military superiors ordering him to kill innocent civilians. "It edits little clips to make it look like they're just making up instances," says Kairys. Campbell has no connection to the Kerry campaign. Lawyers for Campbell have sent letters to Sinclair and to a theater near Philadelphia that was planning to show the film, warning them that the film was defamatory. The theater cancels the showing, citing "ending litigation." Meanwhile, Jonathan Lieberman, the Washington bureau chief for Sinclair's news division, tells CNN that he had been fired for publicly objecting to the decision to present the film as news, not commentary, and to run it so close to the election.
- Eventually, the controversy over the film, originally scheduled to run just before the elections as noted above, forces Sinclair to pull the broadcast and substitute a somewhat more neutral election special. (New York Times, Frank Rich p.140)
- October 27: James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, accuses the Bush administration of trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed. Hansen, speaking to a University of Iowa audience, says, "In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now." He says that the administration wants to hear only scientific results that "fit predetermined, inflexible positions." Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being of sufficient interest to the public. "This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster." But, Hansen says, warnings from throughout the scientific community about the imminent dangers of global warming are constantly being suppressed, while studies that cast doubt on such interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration. He also says reports that outline potential dangers of global warming are edited to make the problem appear less serious. "This process is in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science," he said. Hansen describes himself as moderately conservative, but says he will vote for John Kerry in the presidential election. "He certainly is not in denial of the existence of climate change problems," Hansen says. (AP/Space.com)
- Late October: An odd alliance of Democrats and administration neoconservatives have been calling on Bush to release oil from the US's Strategic Petroleum Reserves in a move to help counter soaring oil prices. A similar release had been undertaken by Bill Clinton in a move undertaken with the support of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who at the time was also the president of OPEC. But Vice President Cheney refuses to budge: "We keep the Strategic Petroleum Reserve available to deal with true emergencies, national crisis," he says. Cheney then authorizes a restricted release of oil from the SPR for one area only, Florida, just in time to create a short-lived dip in gas prices just before the November elections. During the rest of the Bush-Cheney term, Cheney actually added to the oil reserves even as oil prices spiked across the country; the 2005 energy bill will authorize the addition of 300 million more barrels to the already-swollen SPR. "In other words," writes investigative journalist Greg Palast, "Cheney dealt with higher oil prices by letting them go higher." (Greg Palast)