Archive for December, 2003

17
Dec
03

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP – U.S. Headlines

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP – U.S. Headlines: “WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim McDermott, who drew headlines across the globe last year for criticizing President Bush while in Baghdad, is enmeshed in a new controversy over remarks he made about the capture of Saddam Hussein. In an interview Monday with Seattle’s KIRO-AM Radio, McDermott said the U.S. military could have found the former Iraqi dictator “a long time ago if they wanted.”

Asked by host Dave Ross if he thought the weekend capture was timed to help Bush, McDermott chuckled and said, “Yeah, oh yeah.”

McDermott went on to say, “There’s too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing.”

Asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: “I don’t know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they’ve been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they’d find him.

“It’s funny,” McDermott added, “when they’re having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something.”

State Republicans immediately condemned McDermott’s remarks, saying the Seattle Democrat again was engaging in “crazy talk” about the Iraq war.

“Once again McDermott has embarrassed this state with his irresponsible ranting,” GOP state Chairman Chris Vance said in a news release. “Calling on him to apologize is useless, but I call on other Democrats to let the public know if they agree with McDermott.”

Last year, Vance and other Republicans labeled McDermott “Baghdad Jim,” for comments he made, during a trip to Baghdad, that President Bush “would mislead the American people” but that Saddam could be trusted.

On Monday, criticism of McDermott was bipartisan.

“With all due respect to my colleague, that is a fantasy,” Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., told Ross after McDermott’s comments were aired. “That just is not right. … It’s one thing to criticize this administration for having done this war. I mean, that’s a fair question. But to criticize them on the capture of Saddam, when it’s such a big thing to our troops, is just ridiculous.”

McDermott, in a Monday telephone interview with The Associated Press, called the timing of Saddam’s capture suspicious, but said he did not mean it had been intentionally delayed.

“Everything was going wrong, and they got a real Christmas gift, if you will, in that the troops did a magnificent job and found” Saddam, McDermott said.

Asked again if he thought Bush timed the capture for political benefit, McDermott said, “All I know is people have got to be skeptical about what is happening here, because these (American) kids are still dying, and as long as that is happening we’re in a world of hurt.”

His earlier statements referred to the 12-hour gap between the time Bush learned of the successful raid and the announcement by the military the following day, McDermott said. The delay kept the news about Saddam out of the Sunday papers.

“It sounded like he knew about it on Saturday, but didn’t release it until Sunday. That had, apparently, to do with news cycles. That’s all I was talking about,” he said.”

16
Dec
03

U.S. Forces Repel Ambush, Kill 11 (washingtonpost.com)

U.S. Forces Repel Ambush, Kill 11 (washingtonpost.com): “By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 17, 2003; Page A37
BAGHDAD, Dec. 16 — U.S. troops repelling an ambush in the town of Samarra killed 11 Iraqis on Monday, then returned Tuesday and captured more than 70 suspected insurgents, military officials said.
Meanwhile, protests against the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein flared in the northern city of Mosul and for the second day in Fallujah, a center of resistance activity to the west of Baghdad. In Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, a roadside bomb wounded three U.S. soldiers.

In Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, a patrol from the Stryker Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division was driving through the city Monday afternoon in their 19-ton Stryker armored vehicles when soldiers noticed a large flock of pigeons take flight, the military said.

Moments later, the soldiers were attacked by two men on a motorcycle, who then took cover behind a group of schoolchildren. Because of the children, the military said, the soldiers limited their fire and the attackers escaped.

A short while later, the same patrol was attacked in rapid succession by two roadside bombs, automatic-weapons fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire. In the ensuing fight, the Americans killed 11 of their attackers, according to a military spokesman.

No U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attack, and their Stryker vehicles, deployed in Iraq only a few weeks ago to protect troops from such assaults, were undamaged, the military said. “

16
Dec
03

New Zealand News – World – Attempts to smear Howard Dean grow uglier

New Zealand News – World – Attempts to smear Howard Dean grow uglier: “Attempts to smear Howard Dean and thwart what looks increasingly like an unstoppable bid for the Democratic presidential nomination grew uglier yesterday, as an incendiary new television advert highlighted his lack of national security experience and a well-known internet gossip-monger hinted at possible campaign finance irregularities.
The new jabs at the frontrunner were murky in origin and certainly had no effect on the soaring morale of the candidate as he finished up a 48-hour swing through California with Democratic office-holders, show business entertainers and grassroots supporters falling at his feet like giddy teenagers in love.
Rather, the smears represented, on the Democratic side, a last-ditch attempt to break the aura of inevitability surrounding his candidacy and, on the Republican side, the opening salvos of what promises to a be a long and bruising fight for the White House. “

16
Dec
03

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush broke his own rule against being drawn into early political exchanges on Monday when he took his first direct poke at anti-war Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.
A presidential news conference, hastily arranged to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein, allowed Bush to use the White House bully pulpit to send Americans the message that he is in charge and wanting to keep his job next year.
He focused on the positive — Saddam’s capture — and glossed over the negative, saying he doubted Saddam would shed any light on the missing weapons of mass destruction and that the hunt was still on for the still-elusive Osama bin Laden.
Bush broke his own gag rule on campaign 2004 issues only briefly at the news conference, which was held less than two hours before Dean attacked Bush’s Iraq policy in a national security speech in California

Dean has riled Republicans in recent weeks by tossing out a theory that Bush had advance warning from Saudi Arabia of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, suggesting Bush knew what was going to happen and did nothing to stop it.

When asked about the theory, Bush at first stuck to his formulation that “there’s time for politics” later and that he has a job to do first. But then he could not resist rejecting the theory.

“It’s an absurd insinuation,” said Bush, his eyes narrowing.

There is a growing belief among Bush’s political advisers that Dean will emerge as the Democratic nominee and that the campaign should be ready for him when that happens.

But publicly Bush and his aides like to say he has not focused on his re-election campaign. The president jousted with reporters who asked him about politics.”

13
Dec
03

Howard Dean is no George McGovern – Bill Press, WorldNetDaily

As a candidate, McGovern was as far left as you could get on any issue. He not only opposed U.S. policy in Vietnam, which many Americans were beginning to question. He advocated legalization of marijuana, cutting the defense budget and amnesty for all war deserters.

And then, as icing on the cake, he proposed a guaranteed annual income for all Americans, whether they looked for a job or not. Add the fact that the media conveniently buried any news about Watergate until after the election and it’s a wonder McGovern even carried Massachusetts.

Compare that Keystone Cops operation with the well-oiled Dean machine. They are night and day. Howard Dean has run the most effective and impressive campaign in modern politics. He was the first to challenge President Bush on both the war in Iraq and the economy.

He has raised more money than any other Democrat, mainly on the Internet, and he is the only Democrat who can match Bush’s expected $200 million budget. He has recruited more volunteers. And he has surged to the lead in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and other key battleground states.

Plus, Dean never was, nor is today, as far left as McGovern. As governor of Vermont, he balanced the budget every one of his 11 years. He refused to raise income taxes. He supported the death penalty. And he received a “triple A” rating from the NRA. Some liberal.

Even on war, Dean is no extremist. He supported Desert Storm and the war in Afghanistan. On Iraq, he said simply there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction or was a threat to the United States, and that, in order to be legitimate, Desert Storm 2, like Desert Storm 1, should be fought under the flag of the United Nations. History has already proven him correct on both counts.

So let the White House try. Any effort to paint Howard Dean as George McGovern is bound to fail � and well could backfire. Once they start to “McGovernize” Dean, Democrats will start “Hooverizing” George Bush. It’s true. Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to end his first term with more Americans out of work than when he began.

It also reminds me of 1992, when the first President Bush’s advisers guffawed about the former governor of a third-rate state whose budget was smaller than Wal-Mart’s. They said they didn’t have to worry about him, either. Today we still call him President Clinton.

12
Dec
03

Bush: Halliburton Must Pay for Overcharge – ABC News

? President Bush said Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company should repay the government if it overcharged for gasoline delivered in Iraq under a controversial prewar contract.

“If there’s an overcharge, like we think there is, we expect that money be repaid,” the president told reporters when asked about the Halliburton contract controversy. Pentagon auditors say the company charged up to $61 million too much for delivering gasoline to Iraqi citizens under a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq’s dilapidated oil industry. Halliburton denies overcharging.

Meanwhile, an Army spokesman disclosed that companies from France, Germany, Russia and Canada won’t be eligible to replace Halliburton as the recipient of the oil reconstruction contract when it is opened for bidding.

At first we were told the reasoning why these countries where excluded were for security issues. Say what? We share one the world’s largest borders with Canada, who has also spilled blood with and for us, and we trust more in ex-USSR countries. My God, Canada helped us win World Wars and now this selected government is snubbing them? Let’s just pray we don’t need them soon again to fight the next World War….

12
Dec
03

You Are Going To Take It and Like It

VOANews.com: “President Bush is defending his decision to exclude some countries from lucrative U.S. financed reconstruction projects in Iraq, saying only nations that contributed troops to the war that toppled Saddam Hussein are entitled to bid on such work.
Anger in Europe over the U.S. decision to exclude countries, including France, Germany and Russia, from billions of dollars worth of Iraqi reconstruction contracts is not going away. Thursday, the European Union called the move unjustified and difficult to accept.
‘It does seem gratuitous and unnecessary,’ said Anthony Gooch, a spokesman for the EU’s delegation in Washington. He denounced the move as puzzling, especially since it comes at a time when President Bush has been telephoning the leaders of European nations asking for their help in forgiving Iraqi debt. “On a day when you see President Bush seeking the active support of three heads of government from Russia, Germany and France to help restructure Iraq’s debt, that while the left hand is doing one thing while the right hand is doing something else, it does suggest a certain incoherence,” he continued.

But the president, in his first public comments about the dispute, defended the decision in an exchange with reporters.

“Our people risked their lives,” defended Mr. Bush. “Friendly coalition folks risked their lives and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that and that’s what the U.S. taxpayers expect.”

But critics including Rania Masri of the anti-war group called the “Campaign to Stop War Profiteers” question whether this is really the best way to use American taxpayer money.

“If the objective of spending this money is to make sure Iraq is rebuilt in the best way possible, then the contracts should be given to the companies that are most effective and efficient in doing that and I think that would be the greatest award for taxpayer money,” said Ms. Masri.

European anger over the U.S. decision to shut some U.S. allies out of lucrative Iraqi reconstruction contracts comes at a sensitive time for the Bush administration. At the request of the president, former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker will travel next week to some of the European capitals that opposed the Iraq war to ask them to forgive billions of dollars in Iraqi debt.

But a White House spokesman says the administration has no intention of changing its policy, which is rooted in the trans-Atlantic rift that surfaced when some European nations blocked United Nations approval of the war. Still, the European Union is looking into whether this U.S. decision, which it says threatens to re-open trans-Atlantic wounds, violates rules governing world trade.”

Wow, I can wait to buy Bush’s new book, “How To Screw You Friends Over”.