Friday, March 31, 2006

The Road to Dubai - New York Times
The New York Times

March 31, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

The Road to Dubai

For now, at least, the immigration issue is mainly hurting the Republican
Party, which is divided between those who want to expel immigrants and those
want to exploit them. The only thing the two factions seem to have in common
is mean-spiritedness.

But immigration remains a difficult issue for liberals. Let me say a bit
more about the subject of my last column, the uncomfortable economics of
then turn to what really worries me: the political implications of a large
nonvoting work force.

About the economics: the crucial divide isn't between legal and illegal
immigration; it's between high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants.
immigrants - say, software engineers from South Asia - are, by any criterion
I can think of, good for America. But the effects of low-skilled immigration
are mixed at best.

True, there are large benefits for the low-skilled migrants, who may find
even a minimum-wage U.S. job a big step up. Immigration also raises the
income of native-born Americans, although reasonable estimates suggest that
these gains amount to no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

But low-skilled immigration depresses the wages of less-skilled native-born
Americans. And immigrants increase the demand for public services, including
health care and education. Estimates indicate that low-skilled immigrants
don't pay enough in taxes to cover the cost of providing these services.

All of these effects, except for the gains for the immigrants themselves,
are fairly small. Some of my friends say that's the point I should stress:
is a wonderful thing for the immigrants, and claims that immigrants are
undermining American workers and taxpayers are hugely overblown - end of

But it's important to be intellectually honest, even when it hurts.
Moreover, what really worries me isn't the narrow economics - it's the
political economy,
the effects of having a disenfranchised labor force.

Imagine, for a moment, a future in which America becomes like Kuwait or
Dubai, a country where a large fraction of the work force consists of
illegal immigrants
or foreigners on temporary visas - and neither group has the right to vote.
Surely this would be a betrayal of our democratic ideals, of government of
the people, by the people. Moreover, a political system in which many
workers don't count is likely to ignore workers' interests: it's likely to
have a
weak social safety net and to spend too little on services like health care
and education.

This isn't idle speculation. Countries with high immigration tend, other
things equal, to have less generous welfare states than those with low
U.S. cities with ethnically diverse populations - often the result of
immigration - tend to have worse public services than those with more

Of course, America isn't Dubai. But we're moving in that direction. As of
2002, according to the Urban Institute, 14 percent of U.S. workers, and 20
of low-wage workers, were immigrants. Only a third of these immigrant
workers were naturalized citizens. So we already have a large
disenfranchised work
force, and it's growing rapidly. The goal of immigration reform should be to
reverse that trend.

So what do I think of the Senate Judiciary Committee's proposal, which is
derived from a plan sponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy? I'm all in
of one provision: offering those already here a possible route to permanent
residency and citizenship. Since we aren't going to deport more than 10
people, we need to integrate those people into our society.

But I'm puzzled by the plan to create a permanent guest-worker program, one
that would admit 400,000 more workers a year (and you know that business
would immediately start lobbying for an increase in that number). Isn't
institutionalizing a disenfranchised work force a big step away from

For a hard-line economic conservative like Mr. McCain, the advantages to
employers of a cheap work force may be more important than the violation of
principles. But why would someone like Mr. Kennedy go along? Is the point to
help potential immigrants, or is it to buy support from business interests?

Either way, it's a dangerous route to go down. America's political system is
already a lot less democratic in practice than it is on paper, and creating
a permanent nonvoting working class would make things worse. The road to
Dubai may be paved with good intentions.

Postd by Miriam Vieni

Ned Lamont: the unlikely insurgent

The Anti-Joe
by Marie Cocco
Ned Lamont found just the man to take on Joe Lieberman: himself.

Immigration Follies

Immigration Follies
by Robert B. Reich
One way to stem the flow of illegal immigrants would be to enforce existing labor laws.

What Bush knew, when he knew it

by Michael Scherer

Back in the summer of 2003, advisors to President Bush bent over backward to tell America that the boss knew nothing about intelligence disagreements over Saddam Hussein's (nonexistent) nuclear program. "The president of the United States is not a fact-checker," announced White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

That was the official line anyway. Today, the National Journal reports that Bush was "personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration."

The warning apparently came in the form of a one-page summary of the National Intelligence Estimate that Bush received in October 2002. It told the president about a dispute within the U.S. government about whether Iraq was using aluminum tubes for conventional or nuclear purposes. Nonetheless, Bush would mention the tubes as nuclear devices, without qualification, in his State of the Union address three months later.

Presidential advisor Karl Rove, according to the article, made it a priority to keep this fact secret until after the 2004 election.

Rove pulled it off.

"Saddam chose to deny inspectors"

Bush repeated this bald-faced lie recently. The cowering press still lets him get away with it, but the public is no longer fooled.
By Joe Conason

Mar. 31, 2006 Slowly but inexorably, as more and more information emerges, the conventional wisdom about the events leading to war in Iraq is shifting. The American public has joined the rest of the civilized world in questioning the arguments and motives of the war makers. Commentators who have habitually fashioned excuses for the White House seem to find that task increasingly burdensome and humiliating. The old lies no longer have much traction.
Yet even now, President Bush persists in blatantly falsifying the war's origins -- perhaps because, even now, he still gets away with it.

At his most recent press conference, that strange impulse to utter a ridiculous lie seemed to seize the president. It happened when he called on Hearst columnist Helen Thomas.

"I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime," said the venerable correspondent in her confrontational style. "Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war?"

Bush responded by denying that he wanted war, a pro forma assertion that nobody believes. He blathered on for a while about Sept. 11, the Taliban, al-Qaida and protecting America from terrorism.

And when Thomas reminded him that she had asked about Iraq, he said, "I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the [United Nations] Security Council; that's why it was important to pass [Resolution] 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose [emphasis added], then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it."

The official transcript notes "laughter" at that moment.

What was so funny? Were her colleagues laughing at Thomas, whose monopoly on testicular fortitude has shamed them all for so long? In the days that followed, the bully boys of the right-wing media enthusiastically abused Thomas, which was predictable enough. But have the rest of the reporters in the press room become so accustomed to presidential prevarication that they literally cannot hear a stunning falsehood that is repeated over and over again?

For the third time since the war began three years ago, Bush had falsely claimed that Saddam refused the U.N. weapons inspections mandated by the Security Council. For the third time, he had denied a reality witnessed by the entire world during the four months when those inspectors, under the direction of Hans Blix, traveled Iraq searching fruitlessly for weapons of mass destruction that, as we now know for certain, were not there.

But forget about whether the weapons were there for a moment. The inspectors definitely went to Iraq. They left only because the United States warned them to get out before the bombs started to fall on March 19, 2003. But for some reason the president of the United States keeps saying -- in public and on the record -- that the inspectors weren't there.

Keeping the facts segregated from the myriad falsehoods isn't easy with this regime, so let's review the two previous occasions when Bush made that startling claim.

The first incident was on July 14, 2003, at a White House press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who diplomatically declined to contradict him. At that time, the Bush administration was reeling from the impact of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed essay about the Niger uranium fiasco in the New York Times, which had appeared a few days earlier.

Asked by reporters about the questionable intelligence on Iraq that had distorted his speeches and decisions, the president bristled. He clearly believed such questions impertinent and unimportant. He preferred to talk about the big picture. In his concluding remarks that afternoon, Bush said: "The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in [emphasis added]. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful."

As the Washington Post noted the following day, "the president's assertion that the war began because Iraq did not admit inspectors appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective." That was putting it rather blandly (as I suggested here). The POTUS had denied reality, and the press corps blinked. The New York Times didn't even report his bizarre statement, and the rest of the media followed along meekly.

(Let me pause here to note how the treatment of these incidents contrasts with that notorious occasion when Bush's predecessor uttered an obvious lie as the cameras rolled. Bill Clinton's denial of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was played back over and over and over again.)

Perhaps aware that he could put over this nonsense on a lazy and intimidated press corps, Bush did it again six months later. On Jan. 27, 2004, he met briefly with reporters, accompanied by the visiting Polish president, Alexander Kwasniewski. The subject of the absent arsenal came up again because David Kay, the administration's handpicked weapons inspector, had confessed that nine months after the invasion the Iraq Survey Group had found nothing, zip, zero, and that he no longer expected they ever would.

"Don't you owe the American people an explanation?" a reporter asked. "Well, I think the Iraq Survey Group must do its work," Bush replied. "Again, I appreciate David Kay's contribution. I said in the run-up to the war against Iraq that -- first of all, I hoped the international community would take care of him. I was hoping the United Nations would enforce its resolutions, one of many. And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution -- 1441 -- unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in" (emphasis added).

Is it necessary to mention that this falsehood again went unnoticed in the mainstream media (although I took exception)? Historians will wonder someday how a free press permitted the world's most important official to say such things without contradiction. Meanwhile we can hope that next time, Jon Stewart will play back the tape on "The Daily Show" while bugging his eyes in disbelief. Then we will be reassured that reality still exists, even when the media and the president prefer to pretend otherwise.

Five minutes to midnight

The New York Times

March 31, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Iraq at the 11th Hour

The fate of the entire U.S. enterprise in Iraq now hangs in the balance, as the war has entered a dangerous new phase. It is the phase of barbaric identity-card violence between Sunnis and Shiites. In the late 1970's, I covered a similar moment in Lebanon, and the one thing I learned was this: Once this kind of venom gets unleashed — with members of each community literally beheading each other on the basis of their religious identities — it poisons everything. You enter a realm that is beyond politics, a realm where fear and revenge dominate everyone's thinking — and that is where Iraq is heading.

Jeffrey Gettleman reported last Sunday in this paper about Mohannad al-Azawi, a quiet Sunni pet shop owner in Baghdad who was abducted from his store and found murdered the next morning. His skin was covered with purple welts, and his face and legs had drill holes in them. His brother Hassan, the story noted, "carries the autopsy photos with him, along with a pistol. 'I cannot live without vengeance,' he said."

Once embedded, this cycle of fear and revenge is almost impossible to break. People conclude that the only thing that can protect them is a militia from their own sect, not the police or the army. Then these militias, which come to life to protect the neighborhood, take on a life of their own. They develop protection rackets, feel the thrill of power and, as that happens, start to do all they can to prevent the government from restoring its authority. Finally, as the BBC noted in a recent report from Baghdad, some Iraqi politicians are now concluding that "they can gain more power and influence from building on sectarian loyalties than from appeals for national unity." When politicians decide they can get ahead by appealing more to fear than to hope, national reconciliation goes up in smoke.

A Baghdad blogger, the Mesopotamian, quoted by, gave a vivid description of his neighborhood: "The confusion and conflict between the Americans, the army and the Ministry of Interior is producing a situation where the citizens don't know anymore whether the security personnel in the street are friends, enemies, terrorists or simply criminals and thieves. Everybody is wearing the same uniforms. Whole sections of the city have virtually fallen to gangs and terrorists, and this is especially true for the 'Sunni'-dominated neighborhoods. People and businesses are being robbed and the employees kidnapped en masse in broad daylight and with complete ease as though security forces are nonexistent, although we see them everywhere.

"I don't know anymore what can be done to rescue the situation. At least, those who are supposed to be in positions of responsibility should stop lying and painting a false picture. ... I regret sounding so pessimistic, but the alarm must be sounded. ... What is happening is Baghdad is something really awful."

Donald Rumsfeld's criminally negligent decision not to deploy enough troops in Iraq to begin with created this security vacuum. But the insecurity was compounded by the unique enemy that emerged to take advantage of that vacuum — Sunni Islamo-nihilists. These are a disparate collection of groups with one common agenda: America and its Iraqi allies must fail; they must not be allowed to build Iraq into a Western-style, democratizing society. When you are up against an enemy whose only goal is that you must fail, and which does not care about how much death and destruction it inflicts on its own people, let alone on others, it is extremely difficult to establish order.

The Iraqi Shiite community showed remarkable restraint in the face of the murderous provocations by these Islamo-nihilist gangs during the past three years. But that restraint is over. It's now clear that some Shiite militias are ready to match the Sunni nihilists, killing for killing. So the slide into a medieval barbarism has begun.

Do not believe any of the Bush team's happy talk. It doesn't matter if Iraq is quiet in the south and quiet in the north. If Baghdad, the heart of the country, is being ripped apart, then there is no Iraq — because there is no center.

There is only one hope for halting this slide and that is the formation — immediately — of a national unity government in Iraq, with Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds sharing power, and the deployment on the streets — immediately — of massive numbers of troops and police, both Iraqi and American, to prevent more of these tribal killings. If a national unity government is not formed soon, and if these identity-card murderers gain more momentum, any hope for building a decent Iraq will vanish.

It is five minutes to midnight.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

Poll: Opposition to Gay Marriage Declining


WASHINGTON (AP) - The public backlash over gay marriage has receded since a controversial decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003 to legalize those marriages stirred strong opposition, says a poll released Wednesday.

Gay marriage remains a divisive issue, with 51 percent opposing it, the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found. But almost two-thirds, 63 percent, opposed gay marriage in February 2004.

``Most Americans still oppose gay marriage, but the levels of opposition are down and the number of strong opponents are down,'' said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. ``This has some implications for the midterm elections if this trend is maintained. There are gay marriage ballot initiatives in numerous states.''

Gay marriage got intense media coverage in 2004 after the Massachusetts court case, the decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to issue thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples and similar cases. But the intense focus on gay marriage has declined in the last year.

In 2004, opponents of gay marriage were able to pass ballot initiatives banning the practice in 11 states, from Georgia to Oregon. Those gay marriage initiatives also helped conservatives rally their voters to the polls.

The number of people who say they strongly oppose gay marriage has dropped from 42 percent in early 2004 to 28 percent now. Strong opposition has dropped sharply among senior citizens and Republicans.

People are now evenly split on allowing adoptions by gay couples and six in 10 now favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Legal challenges of laws on gay marriage could result in more court decisions that stir public opinion, but this midterm election year is starting with far less public anxiety about one of the nation's most volatile social issues.

The telephone poll of 1,405 adults was conducted March 8-12 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Moment of Truth

[posted online on March 29, 2006]

There is no immigration crisis--other than the one created by a small but vocal stripe of opportunist politicians, media demagogues and freelance xenophobes. So it has always been throughout the history of this country when anti-immigrant hysteria periodically reigns during low ebbs in our national sense of security and vision.

The script is as old as the Mayflower: A false alarm is sounded that the values, wages and safety of the current roster of credentialed Americans are jeopardized by the "flood" or "tidal wave" or "river" sneaking across our porous borders--be they Irish, Chinese, Jewish, Russian, Mexican or even the freed slaves seeking to earn an honest living in Northern cities after the Civil War. Any and all manner of societal problems are to be laid on these scapegoats, and the same simplistic solution offered: Find and deport them, and don't let any more in.

Luckily, although it sometimes takes years or even decades, saner voices eventually prevail, acknowledging that the continued influx of immigrants has always fueled America's astonishing economic and cultural rise ever since the original natives were bum-rushed off their turf. Immigration laws are liberalized, compromises are reached, amnesties are offered, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service bureaucracy grinds on.

Having intermittently covered this issue for the Los Angeles Times over thirty years, I can well recall the peaks of panic in which we reporters were dispatched to the border and out into the fields to witness the arrest of people desperate to find work--only to be embarrassed by the hunted eyes and clutched crosses of the enemy discovered.

Such frenzied attention was inevitably followed by a lull in which most Americans were quite happy to eat the food harvested by those same harassed and abused workers as well as entrusting the "illegals" with the care of American homes and children. On no other issue is there such an extreme disconnect between attitudes and actions.

When Wal-Mart was busted for hiring undocumented workers, did anybody boycott the company for it? Of course not; consumers value price and aren't concerned, for the most part, about how a company accomplishes cheapness. If, however, people do really care about keeping all jobs open to American citizens, then there is only one effective strategy: Level the playing field by enforcing labor laws.

Some 2 million immigrant workers now earn less than the minimum wage and millions more work without the occupational safety, workers' compensation, overtime pay and other protections legal status offers. Consequently, when the president says that immigrants perform work that legal residents are unwilling to do, he may be right--but we don't know. The only way to test that hypothesis is to bring this black market labor pool above ground.

That approach has been tried in California with some success. Jose Millan, who until this year ran such an enforcement program as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's labor commissioner and before that for Republican Governor Pete Wilson, told me that legalization of undocumented workers is essential to improving the situation for everybody.

"I am in favor of anything that brings these workers out of the shadows and into the sunlight; it's very easy to exploit a population when they're afraid," Millan told me Monday. "We would be a better country if we recognized the fact that there are 10 million undocumented workers in our midst, and we would be better off if they were granted the benefits and responsibilities of a legal existence."

This current xenophobia is no more warranted than it has been in the past. The number of claimed "illegal aliens" as a percentage of the population is clearly absorbable by the job market as our low unemployment rate demonstrates. Yet, the Republican Party and the Congress it dominates are currently teetering between driving undocumented workers further underground or taking a saner compromise approach.

The former, a draconian bill already passed by the House of Representatives, would legalize witch-hunts of undocumented workers, by reclassifying them as felons; their employers would be subject to a year or more in prison and punitive fines; as would even church and nonprofit organizations who offer succor to them.

Because employers are not trained to play cop, they will simply be driven to discriminate against job applicants based on "foreignness" determined by ethnicity or accent. The more reasonable alternative co-authored by Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, and embraced as the heart of the proposal adopted by the Judiciary Committee on Monday, shuns the criminalization of the undocumented, instead offering paths--albeit long, arduous and uncertain ones--to legal status for undocumented workers already here.

This is a moment of truth for America. It is time we acknowledged that we need the immigrant workers as much as they need us and began to treat them with the respect they deserve.

"Latino Giant" Awakens

Demonstrations Gaining Strength
by Juan Gonzalez

Massive protests by Latino immigrants have rocked more than a dozen major U.S. cities during the past few weeks in opposition to tough new immigration bills before Congress.

Not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s have street demonstrations spread so rapidly to so many cities - and never have Latinos turned out in such astonishing numbers.

"The sleeping Latino giant has finally awakened," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), who participated in several of the protests last week.

And New York City, which has been fairly quiet so far, could be next with Latino religious and immigrant leaders planning a protest march over the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

The largest rally until now has been in Los Angeles, where the new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke Saturday to a crowd estimated by police at more than a half-million Latinos.

Organizers claimed the L.A. turnout was closer to 1 million, but no matter whom you believe, everyone agrees it was the largest demonstration California has ever seen.

That same day, more than 50,000 Latinos gathered in Denver; 20,000 marched in Phoenix and Milwaukee last week, and an estimated 100,000 filled downtown Chicago on March 10.

The protests continued yesterday, as large gatherings were held in Washington, Boston and Detroit. Thousands of high school students also staged walkouts in California and Texas.

The mushrooming movement has been fueled by a little-noticed alliance among immigrant advocates, the Catholic and Pentecostal churches, and Spanish-language radio and television.

Latino leaders are furious at the Draconian immigration reform bill that passed the Republican-controlled House in December. That bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), would subject all illegal immigrants in the country to prosecution for a felony crime and to immediate deportation, and would permanently bar them from gaining legal status.

The bill would even make it a felony for family members, churches or nonprofit agencies to "assist" such an immigrant in any way.

There are so many punitive measures hidden in the Sensenbrenner-King bill, immigrant groups say, that it would spell devastation to an estimated 11 million low-wage, undocumented workers in the country, the largest number of whom are Hispanic. Under the bill's provision, for example, some 3 million U.S.-born citizen children of those immigrants could face separation from their parents.

The real battle, however, will come in the Senate, which is set to begin debate this week on its own version of immigration reform. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has vowed to produce a compromise that includes a guest worker provision heavily favored by President Bush and corporate America.

But the Republicans are deeply split on immigration.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is threatening to introduce his own version of the House bill if Specter gives up too much.

Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are pressing a version that has the most support from immigrant groups and labor unions. It would include the guest worker program and a way for those who are already in the country illegally to achieve legal status.

"People in our neighborhood are outraged by the tenor of the debate in Washington," said Bryan Pu-Folkes, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment in Jackson Heights, Queens.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), who's also a Pentecostal minister, has organized religious groups from around the metropolitan area for the Saturday march that will end at the Federal Building in lower Manhattan.

"We have to send a message to Peter King and those who want to criminalize hardworking immigrants," Diaz said yesterday.

As for our city's top leader, Mayor Bloomberg, he declined to say which of the competing bills in Congress he supports, even though the final legislation will have a major impact on the city's estimated 500,000 undocumented workers.

The mayor promised yesterday to make his stand clear over the next few weeks. Maybe Saturday's march will help him clarify his position.

Juan Gonzalez is a Daily News columnist. Email: jgonzalez@

Democrats To Unveil "Real Security" Plan

by georgia10
Wed Mar 29, 2006 at 07:53:39 AM PDT

This afternoon, Democratic leaders will unveil their national security agenda, a "comprehensive Democratic plan to protect America: Real Security." (Press release here, New York Times article here, WaPo article here ) Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will stand side by side (along with others, including Wes Clark and Madeline Albright) to present the Democratic vision for our national security--real security:

"We're uniting behind a national security agenda that is tough and smart and will provide the real security George Bush has promised but failed to deliver," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday.

Two key items of the plan are (1) eliminating Osama bin Laden (yes, the Democrats use the word "eliminate") and (2) and a "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces" from Iraq in 2006. Aspects of the plan include doubling the number of special forces and adding more spies to reinvigorate the hunt for Osama bin Laden, finishing the War in Afghanistan where security is deteriorating and the Taliban may be resurging, declaring energy independence by 2020, implementing all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, modernizing the military, increasing funding for port security and homeland security in general, and much more.

With this all-out offensive by a party that has literally closed the gap in national security polls, it's no surprise Republicans are scrambling to minimize the impact of the plan in the media. Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) claims the plan offers "nothing but platitudes." Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) tried to dismiss the plan, claiming "It's taken them all this time to figure out what we've been doing for a long time." And designated spinmeister for the day, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), writing for National Review Online, says "These are all efforts that the administration and Republican Congress have implemented, or that Democrats have delayed or otherwise blocked."

The problem for Republicans, of course, is that they haven't been doing it, they haven't offered Americans anything in terms of real security. The Taliban that we attacked as a response to 9/11 is still alive and well in Afghanistan, with Taliban insurgents yesterday launching a massive attack on coalition bases there, killing two soldiers, one American, one Canadian. In a government sting operation, radioactive dirty bomb materials were able to be smuggled into the United States. And one need look no further for evidence of a failed diplomacy strategy than the emaciated list of the "Coalition of the Willing."

Many in the press, including in the Washington Post, note that these proposals for security are the same ones advanced by Democrats before. That's true. Many of the proposals reflect what Democrats have presented in the form of bills and resolutions which have languished in committee or died on the floor. Yet the very fact Democrats have tried to implement their proposals before proves that claims of "lip service" or "empty platitudes" are simply false.

If they want to talk about Democrats implementing their ideas, they just need to glance at the the supplemental spending bill passed two weeks ago.
Democrats offered amendment after amendment after amendment to increase funding for Homeland Security by billions of dollars, especially in the areas of border and port security, chemical security, emergency preparedness and first responders. The same Republicans that are now scoffing at the Democrats' "Real Security" plan voted down each and every one of those amendments.

This plan, which will be unveiled at 1 PM ET today, puts the Republicans on the defensive. Democrats hold a historic 15 point lead in generic congressional ballot polls. They have, in recent polls, eliminated the "national security gap" between Republicans and Democrats. This plan for real security, as it is explained to the public and as Americans understand its effectiveness, may very well push the Democrats ahead of Republicans in the national security polling. And if that happens, Republicans will be struggling to secure their majority status in November.

Lieberman faces tough fight

The war Lieberman didn't want
Despised by Democratic liberals for his unrepentant support of the Iraq war, Joe Lieberman is facing a tough fight from antiwar newcomer Ned Lamont.
By Walter Shapiro

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Progressive vision for all of the Americas

Published on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by
Today's Immigration Battle - Corporatists vs. Racists (and Labor is Left Behind)
by Thom Hartmann

The corporatist Republicans ("amnesty!") are fighting with the racist Republicans ("fence!"), and it provides an opportunity for progressives to step forward with a clear solution to the immigration problem facing America.

Both the corporatists and the racists are fond of the mantra, "There are some jobs Americans won't do." It's a lie.

Americans will do virtually any job if they're paid a decent wage. This isn't about immigration - it's about economics. Industry and agriculture won't collapse without illegal labor, but the middle class is being crushed by it.

The reason why thirty years ago United Farm Workers' Union (UFW) founder Caesar Chávez fought against illegal immigration, and the UFW turned in illegals during his tenure as president, was because Chávez, like progressives since the 1870s, understood the simple reality that labor rises and falls in price as a function of availability.

As Wikipedia notes: "In 1969, Chávez and members of the UFW marched through the Imperial and Coachella Valley to the border of Mexico to protest growers' use of illegal aliens as temporary replacement workers during a strike. Joining him on the march were both the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. Chávez and the UFW would often report suspected illegal aliens who served as temporary replacement workers as well as who refused to unionize to the INS."

Working Americans have always known this simple equation: More workers, lower wages. Fewer workers, higher wages.

Progressives fought - and many lost their lives in the battle - to limit the pool of "labor hours" available to the Robber Barons from the 1870s through the 1930s and thus created the modern middle class. They limited labor-hours by pushing for the 50-hour week and the 10-hour day (and then later the 40-hour week and the 8-hour day). They limited labor-hours by pushing for laws against child labor (which competed with adult labor). They limited labor-hours by working for passage of the 1935 Wagner Act that provided for union shops.

And they limited labor-hours by supporting laws that would regulate immigration into the United States to a small enough flow that it wouldn't dilute the unionized labor pool. As Wikipedia notes: "The first laws creating a quota for immigrants were passed in the 1920s, in response to a sense that the country could no longer absorb large numbers of unskilled workers, despite pleas by big business that it wanted the new workers."

Do a little math. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 7.6 million unemployed Americans right now. Another 1.5 million Americans are no longer counted because they've become "long term" or "discouraged" unemployed workers. And although various groups have different ways of measuring it, most agree that at least another five to ten million Americans are either working part-time when they want to work full-time, or are "underemployed," doing jobs below their level of training, education, or experience. That's between eight and twenty million un- and under-employed Americans, many unable to find above-poverty-level work.

At the same time, there are between seven and fifteen million working illegal immigrants diluting our labor pool.

If illegal immigrants could no longer work, unions would flourish, the minimum wage would rise, and oligarchic nations to our south would have to confront and fix their corrupt ways.

Between the Reagan years - when there were only around 1 to 2 million illegal aliens in our workforce - and today, we've gone from about 25 percent of our private workforce being unionized to around seven percent. Much of this is the direct result - a Caesar Chávez predicted - of illegal immigrants competing directly with unionized and legal labor. Although it's most obvious in the construction trades over the past 30 years, it's hit all sectors of our economy.

Democratic Party strategist Ann Lewis just sent out a mass email on behalf of former Wal-Mart Board of Directors member and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Lewis noted that Clinton suggests we should have: "An earned path to citizenship for those already here working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar for becoming a citizen." Sounds nice. The same day, on his radio program, Rush Limbaugh told a woman whose husband is an illegal immigrant that she had nothing to worry about with regard to deportation of him or their children because all he'd have to do - under the new law under consideration - is pay a small fine and learn English.

The current Directors of Wal-Mart are smiling.

Meanwhile, the millions of American citizens who came to this nation as legal immigrants, who waited in line for years, who did the hard work to become citizens, are feeling insulted, humiliated, and conned.

Shouldn't we be compassionate? Of course.

But there is nothing compassionate about driving down the wages of any nation's middle class. It's the most cynical, self-serving, greedy, and sociopathic behavior you'll see from our "conservatives."

There is nothing compassionate about being the national enabler of a dysfunctional oligarchy like Mexico. An illegal workforce in the US sending an estimated $17 billion to Mexico every year - second only in national income to that country's oil revenues - supports an antidemocratic, anti-worker, hyperconservative administration there that gleefully ships out of that nation the "troublesome" Mexican citizens - those lowest on the economic food-chain and thus most likely to present "labor unrest" - to the USA. Mexico (and other "sending nations") need not deal with their own social and economic problems so long as we're willing to solve them for them - at the expense of our middle class. Democracy in Central and South America be damned - there are profits to be made for Wal-Mart!

Similarly, there is nothing compassionate about handing higher profits (through a larger and thus cheaper work force) to the CEOs of America's largest corporations and our now-experiencing-record-profits construction and agriculture industries.

What about caring for people in need? Isn't that the universal religious/ethical value? Of course.

A few years ago, when my family and I were visiting Europe, one of our children fell sick. A doctor came to the home of the people we were staying with, visited our child at 11 pm on a weeknight, left behind a course of antibiotics, and charged nothing. It was paid for by that nation's universal health care system. We should offer the same to any human being in need of medical care - a universal human right - in the United States.

But if I'd applied to that nation I was visiting for a monthly unemployment or retirement check, I would have been laughed out of the local government office. And if I'd been caught working there, I would have been deported within a week. Caring for people in crisis/need is very different from giving a job or a monthly welfare check to non-citizens. No nation - even those in Central and South America - will do that. And neither should the United States.

But if illegal immigrants won't pick our produce or bus our tables won't our prices go up? (The most recent mass-emailed conservative variation of this argument, targeting paranoid middle-class Americans says: "Do you want to pay an extra $10,000 for your next house?") The answer is simple: Yes.

But wages would also go up, and even faster than housing or food prices. And CEO salaries, and corporate profits, might moderate back to the levels they were during the "golden age of the American middle class" between the 1940s and Reagan's declaration of war on the middle class in the 1980s.

We saw exactly this scenario played out in the US fifty years ago, when unions helped regulate entry into the workforce, 35 percent of American workers had a union job, and 70 percent of Americans could raise a family on a single, 40-hour-week paycheck. All working Americans would gladly pay a bit more for their food if their paychecks were both significantly higher and more secure. (This would even allow for an increase in the minimum wage - as it did from the 1930s to the 1980s.)

But what about repressive régimes? Aren't we denying entrance to this generation's equivalent of the Jews fleeing Germany? This is the most tragic of all the arguments put forward by conservatives in the hopes compassionate progressives will bite. Our immigration policies already allow for refugees - and should be expanded. It's an issue that needs more national discussion and action. But giving a free pass to former Coca-Cola executive Vincente Fox to send workers to the US - and thus avoid having to deal with his own corrupt oligarchy - and to equate this to the Holocaust is an insult to the memory of those who died in Hitler's death camps - and to those suffering in places like Darfur under truly repressive regimes. There is no equivalence.

It's frankly astonishing to hear "progressives" reciting corporatist/racist/conservative talking points, recycled through "conservative Democratic" politicians trying to pander to the relatively small percentage of recently-legal (mostly through recent amnesties or birth) immigrants who are trying to get their relatives into this country by means of Bush's proposed guest worker program or the many variations thereof being proposed.

It's equally astonishing to hear the few unions going along with this (in the sad/desperate hope of picking up new members) turn their backs on Caesar Chávez and the traditions and history of America's Progressive and Union movements by embracing illegal immigration.

Every nation has an obligation to limit immigration to a number that will not dilute its workforce, but will maintain a stable middle class - if it wants to have a stable democracy. This has nothing to do with race, national origin, or language (visit Switzerland with it's ethnic- and language-dived areas!), and everything to do with economics.

Without a middle class, any democracy is doomed. And without labor having - through control of labor availability - power in relative balance to capital/management, no middle class can emerge. America's early labor leaders did not die to increase the labor pool for the Robber Barons or the Walton family - they died fighting to give control of it to the workers of their era and in the hopes that we would continue to hold it - and infect other nations with the same idea of democracy and a stable middle class.

The simple way to do this today is to require that all non-refugee immigrants go through the same process to become American citizens or legal workers in this country (no amnesties, no "guest workers," no "legalizations") regardless of how they got here; to confront employers who hire illegals with draconian financial and criminal penalties; and to affirm that while health care (and the right to provide humanitarian care to all humans) is an absolute right for all people within our boundaries regardless of status, a paycheck, education, or subsidy is not.

The Republican (and Democratic) corporatists who want a cheap labor force, and the Republican (and Democratic) racists who want to build a fence and punish humanitarian aid workers, are equally corrupt and anti-progressive. As long as employers are willing and able (without severe penalties) to hire illegal workers, people will risk life and limb to grab at the America Dream. When we stop hiring and paying them, most will leave of their own volition over a few years, and the remaining few who are committed to the US will obtain citizenship through normal channels.

This is, after all, the middle-class "American Dream." And how much better this hemisphere would be if Central and South Americans were motivated to stay in their own nations (because no employer in the US would dare hire them) and fight there for a Mexican Dream and a Salvadoran Dream and a Guatemalan Dream (and so on).

This is the historic Progressive vision for all of the Americas...

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show carried on the Air America Radio network and Sirius. His most recent books include "What Would Jefferson Do?" and "Ultimate Sacrifice" (co-authored with Lamar Waldron). His next book, due out this autumn, is "Screwed: The Undeclared War on the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It."


Rich Yet Broke

The New York Times

March 29, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Facts and Folly

I was leaving for a trip the other day and scooped up some reading material off my desk for the plane ride. I found myself holding three documents: one was the Bush administration's National Security Strategy for 2006; another was a new study by the Economic Strategy Institute entitled "America's Technology Future at Risk," about how America is falling behind the world in broadband. And the third was "Teaching at Risk," a new report by the Teaching Commission, headed by the former I.B.M. chairman Louis Gerstner Jr., about the urgent need to upgrade the quality and pay of America's K-12 teachers.

The contrast was striking. The Bush strategy paper presupposes that we are a rich country and always will be, and that the only issue is how we choose to exercise our power. But what the teaching and telecom studies tell us is that key pillars of U.S. power are eroding, and unless we start tending to them in a strategic way, we aren't going to be able to project power anywhere.

Because we've long been rich, there is an abiding faith that we always will be, and those who dare question that are labeled "defeatists." I wouldn't call Lou Gerstner a defeatist. He saved I.B.M. by acknowledging its weaknesses and making dramatic changes — beginning with scrapping I.B.M.'s arrogant assumption that because it was such a great company, it could do extraordinary things with average people. Mr. Gerstner understood that an extraordinary company could stay that way only if it had a critical mass of extraordinary people. This is the message of his Teaching Commission: We cannot remain an extraordinary country without a critical mass of extraordinary teachers.

"If teaching remains a second-rate profession, America's economy will be driven by second-rate skills," Mr. Gerstner says. "We can wake up today — or we can have a rude awakening sooner than we think."

The Teaching Commission notes that "our schools are only as good as their teachers," yet this "occupation that makes all others possible is eroding at its foundations." Top students are far less likely to go into teaching today; salaries are stagnant; nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave within five years. To remedy this, the commission calls for raising teachers' base pay, finding ways to reward the best teachers, raising standards for acquiring a teaching degree and testing would-be teachers, on the basis of national standards, to be certain they have mastered the subjects they will teach (

Meanwhile, the report by the Economic Strategy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, is equally harrowing. It notes that while the U.S. led the world in broadband Internet access in 2000, it has now fallen to 16th place. In 2000, 40 percent of the world's telecom equipment was produced in America. That share is now 21 percent and falling. The U.S. ranks 42nd for the percentage of people with cellphones.

In an age when connectivity means productivity, when communications infrastructure is at the heart of any innovation ecosystem, these things matter for job creation and growth. The lack of ultra-high-speed networks in the U.S. "makes it impossible for U.S.-based companies to enter key new business sectors" — one reason venture capitalists are moving their R.&D. start-ups to Asia, E.S.I. noted.

"The wealth and long-term economic growth of the United States," it added, "have long depended upon technological advancement as a means of competing with our foreign rivals. ... America's emphasis has always been on achieving such high levels of productivity that it could be the low-cost producer while still paying high wages." The study offers a variety of regulatory and investment prescriptions (

It's not surprising that the Bush strategy paper is largely silent about these educational and technological deficits, as well as about the investment we need to make in alternative fuels to end our oil addiction. Because to acknowledge these deficits is to acknowledge that we have to spend money to fix them, and the radical Bush tax cuts make that impossible. It would be one thing if we were going into debt to solve these problems that affect our underlying national strength. But we are going into debt to buy low-interest houses and more stuff made in China.

We're like a family that is overdrawn at the bank just when the parents need to send their kid to college, buy a computer and a D.S.L. line, and replace a gas-guzzling furnace. Whatever "strategic plan" that family has for advancement, it won't get anywhere until it rebalances its books.

Maureen Dowd is on a book tour.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

McCain's embrace, Halliburton's profits and Tom Delay's gun

by Tim Grieve

With all of the focus on Andy Card's departure, other stories -- some that may have much more significant long-term consequences -- may not get a lot of attention today. Here are a few of them:

Iraq: The White House talks a good game about democracy and sovereignty in Iraq -- except when it doesn't. As the New York Times reports today, Shiite politicians are claiming that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq has told them to tell Ibrahim al-Jaafari that George W. Bush doesn't want him to continue on as Iraq's prime minister. "How can they do this?" asks a spokesman for Jaafari. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

John McCain's suck-up: Nobody ever said that running for president is pretty, and John McCain seems determined to show just how ugly it can be. First he wrapped his arms around George W. Bush. Now he's trying to make amends with the religious right. The Arizona senator, who once called Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance," has accepted an invitation to be the graduation speaker at Falwell's Liberty University. Falwell says that he and McCain have worked out their differences but that the man who would be president still has "a lot of fence mending to do."

The homeland security president? If the White House is serious about shifting its spin from George W. Bush as war president to George W. Bush as homeland-security protector, a new GAO report might be a bit of a problem. According to the report, investigators were able to smuggle enough material to make two "dirty bombs" across U.S. borders, and that they didn't break a sweat doing so.

Antonin Scalia's nonrecusal: The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Antonin Scalia was an active participant in the discussion. Consider it a sign that the associate justice won't be recusing himself from the case, as he was asked to do by five retired military generals. They said his recent public comments about the rights of detainees gave at least the appearance that he'd already made up his mind.

Immigration reform: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter succeeded in getting a compromise immigration bill out of his committee Monday evening. Now it's Bill Frist's turn. The Senate majority leader will have to figure out how to balance the Judiciary Committee measure against his own more punitive bill -- and either against the draconian anti-immigration measure the House of Representatives has already passed.

Halliburton: Rep. Henry Waxman is raising questions about another Halliburton contract in Iraq. This time, Waxman cites Halliburton's "overwhelmingly negative" performance on a contract for restoring Iraq's oil fields. Among his charges: Halliburton intentionally overcharged taxpayers by inflating bids and charging for concrete work the Iraqi Oil Ministry had already completed.

Tom DeLay's gun: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay lost his concealed-weapon permit after he was indicted on felony charges in Texas. He's still under indictment, but his lawyers are fighting for his right to carry a gun again. Why does he need one? Does he actually intend to carry one? DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty won't say: "As for whether or not he carries it -- that's the point of having a CHL (concealed handgun license) in Texas -- potential criminals should assume everyone is."

Rove, "Out of touch."

Republicans Revolt Against Rove...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fw: "I think we will be here forever", says a U.S. soldier - FCNL

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kathy Guthrie" <>
To: "Miriam Vieni" <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:42 PM
Subject: Iraq: "I think we will be here forever", says a U.S. soldier - FCNL

--Balad Air Base, Iraq -- The concrete goes on forever, vanishing into
the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that's
now the home of up to 120 U.S. helicopters

--At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq's western desert, the 17,000
troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town,
with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership

--At a third hub in the (stet) south, Tallil, they're planning a new
mess hall, one that will seat 6,000 hungry airmen and soldier
(To see the full map of the Iraq bases visit

These descriptions of U.S. bases in Iraq, from a reporter who visited
the country earlier this month, vividly illustrate why many Iraqis are
convinced the U.S. is planning to permanently occupy their country. And
it isn't only the Iraqis who have this perception. The Associated Press
reporter who visited these bases interviewed a 29-year-old soldier from
Wilkes-Barre, PA: "I think we will be here forever," the
soldier said. Read the full report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at

The perception that the U.S. intends to permanently occupy Iraq is
fueling the conflict in that country. In early 2005, FCNL crafted the
Iraq STEP (Sensible Transition to an Enduring Peace) Resolution as a
legislative tool that would allow the Congress to make a statement
declaring, "It is the policy ofthe United States policy to
withdrawal all U.S. military troops and bases from Iraq." Read the
STEP Resolution at

Your letters, phone calls, and visits with members of Congress over the
last year made a difference. Just in the last month, FCNL has recorded
thousands of letters sent from FCNL constituents to members of Congress
urging support for a clear statement that the U.S. will withdraw all
military troops and bases from Iraq. Over the St. Patrick's Day recess,
participants in the FCNL network took War Is Not the Answer signs to
demonstrations, vigils, and other events marking the anniversary of the
war. We received reports of events all over the country. Photos of
people carrying the War Is Not the Answer signs appeared in major
newspapers in Memphis, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

*Your message is being heard in Washington*

The House of Representatives voted earlier this month to bar the U.S.
from establishing permanent military bases in Iraq -- the first
positive step toward enacting FCNL's Iraq STEP resolution. In an
amendment to the administration's request for supplemental funding for
the war in Iraq, the House stated "None of the funds in this Act
may be used by the U.S. government to enter into a basing rights
agreement between the United States and Iraq." Read about the
House vote at

But the administration continues to insist, as the president declared
last week, that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for years to come. In fact,
the supplemental appropriations legislation that will be debated by the
Senate in mid-April includes hundreds of millions of dollars for
continued construction of military bases in Iraq. The Congressional
Research Service reports that U.S. spending on the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan is averaging about 44 percent more per month this fiscal
year than last. These are not the actions of a country preparing to
withdraw from Iraq.

*The Senate Must Act*

The U.S. House of Representatives has provided people in Iraq, the
international community, and within the United States the first step
toward a clear statement of U.S. policy. Now it is up to the Senate.
The Senate should attach a resolution to the Iraq war
"supplemental" spending bill stating "it is the policy
of the United States to withdraw all U.S. military troops and bases
from Iraq" and initiate steps for a withdrawal this year.

*Lobby Your Senators During Easter Recess*

Your senators will be back in your state during the congressional
Easter recess (April 8 to 23). This is an ideal time to contact your
senators and urge them to offer an amendment to the Iraq war
supplemental funding legislation. Check the FCNL website for details at


The Next Step for Iraq: Join FCNL's Iraq Campaign,

Contact Congress and the Administration:

Order FCNL publications and "War is Not the Answer" campaign
bumper stickers and yard signs:

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The White House shake-up that wasn't

by Tim Grieve

If George W. Bush were serious about making the sort of course change that events in Iraq and his poll numbers back home seem to require, he might have announced today that he was firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He didn't do that. He might have announced that he would replace White House chief of staff Andy Card with an outsider who could help bring fresh energy and perspective to the White House. He didn't do that, either. Instead, he replaced one White House insider -- Card -- with another -- Josh Bolten -- in a move that invited New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to make the inevitable "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" analogy.

What, exactly, was Bush trying to accomplish?

That's the question we've been pondering this morning, and it's one that the president doesn't seem particularly interested in answering. After all these years of intransigence, nobody should be surprised that Bush isn't making a real change now. What's a little surprising -- or maybe not, given all that we've seen -- is that Bush isn't even trying to offer the appearance of such a change.

Andy Card doesn't exactly loom large in the minds of most Americans, and we doubt that many folks can make connections between specific Bush policies or actions and the man who's leaving now. You dump Rumsfeld if you want to make a statement about the way the war is going. You dump Michael Chertoff if you want more distance from Katrina. Dump Michael Leavitt for the Medicare prescription drug debacle; dump Alberto Gonzales for warrantless spying; dump Karl Rove to make a show on Social Security and partisan nastiness. But what does dumping Card get you in the public's eye?

Maybe we'd have a better understanding if we got ourselves invited to one of those private chats with the president. But Bush's public pronouncement on the question isn't shedding a whole lot of light. Bush made a live television splash this morning by announcing the news that Card is leaving and that he's replacing him with Bolten, but he didn't use the moment to make any kind of point at all. Will we see a new direction, a new focus, a new effort to reach out, a new anything? "Earlier this month, Andy Card came to me and raised the possibility of stepping down as chief of staff," Bush said. "After five and a half years, he thought it might be time to return to private life, and this past weekend I accepted Andy's resignation."

That was pretty much it. Card is leaving, Bolten is moving up. That's the message we heard, and maybe -- all the talk of a "shake-up" notwithstanding -- that's the message Bush wanted to deliver. The band plays on.

Impeachment? Hell, no. Impalement.

by Will Durst

I don't know about you guys, but I am so sick and tired of these lying, thieving, holier-than-thou, right-wing, cruel, crude, rude, gauche, coarse, crass, cocky, corrupt, dishonest, debauched, degenerate, dissolute, swaggering, lawyer shooting, bullhorn shouting, infrastructure destroying, hysterical, history defying, finger-pointing, puppy stomping, roommate appointing, pretzel choking, collateral damaging, aspersion casting, wedding party bombing, clear cutting, torturing, jobs outsourcing, torture outsourcing, "so-called" compassionate-conservative, women's rights eradicating, Medicare cutting, uncouth, spiteful, boorish, vengeful, noxious, homophobic, xenophobic, xylophonic, racist, sexist, ageist, fascist, cashist, audaciously stupid, brazenly selfish, lethally ignorant, journalist purchasing, genocide ignoring, corporation kissing, poverty inducing, crooked, coercive, autocratic, primitive, uppity, high-handed, domineering, arrogant, inhuman, inhumane, insolent, know-it-all, snotty, pompous, contemptuous, supercilious, gutless, spineless, shameless, avaricious, poisonous, imperious, merciless, graceless, tactless, brutish, brutal, Karl Roving, backward thinking, persistent vegetative state grandstanding, nuclear option threatening, evolution denying, irony deprived, depraved, insincere, conceited, perverted, pre-emptory invading of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 911, 35 day vacation taking, bribe soliciting, incapable, inbred, hellish, proud for no apparent reason, smarty pants, loudmouth, bullying, swell headed, ethnic cleansing, ethics eluding, domestic spying, medical marijuana busting, kick backing, Halliburtoning, New Deal disintegrating, narcissistic, undiplomatic, blustering, malevolent, demonizing, baby seal clubbing, Duke Cunninghamming, hectoring, verbally flatulent, pro-bad- anti-good, Moslem baiting, photo-op arranging, hurricane disregarding, oil company hugging, judge packing, science disputing, faith based mathematics advocating, armament selling, nonsense spewing, education ravaging, whiny, unscrupulous, greedy exponential factor fifteen, fraudulent, CIA outing, redistricting, anybody who disagrees with them slandering, fact twisting, ally alienating, betraying, god and flag waving, scare mongering, Cindy Sheehan libeling, phony question asking, just won't get off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling, two-faced, inept, callous, menacing, your hand under a rock-the maggoty remains of a marsupial, oppressive, vulgar, antagonistic, brush clearing suck-up, showboating, tyrannizing, peace hating, water and air and ground and media polluting which is pretty much all the polluting you can get, deadly, illegal, pernicious, lethal, haughty, venomous, virulent, ineffectual, mephitic, egotistic, bloodthirsty, incompetent, hypocritical, did I say evil, I'm not sure if I said evil, because I want to make sure I say evil...EVIL, cretinous, fool, toad, buttwipe, lizardstick, cowardly, lackey imperialistic tool slime buckets in the Bush Administration that I could just spit. Impeachment, hell no. Impalement. Upon the sharp and righteous sword of the people's justice.

Rove "Cooperating"

Rove directed CIA leak prosecutor to Cheney office e-mails, sources say...

Rumsfeld and the Big Picture

Published on Monday, March 27, 2006 by the Boston Globe
by James Carroll

''Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on websites, or the latest sensational attack," Donald Rumsfeld wrote in a Washington Post op-ed column last week. ''History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure accurately."

Rumsfeld was arguing that any evaluation of the present catastrophe in Iraq should take a longer view, and I agree with him. Indeed, I have spent the last six years exploring two generations' worth of events and decisions that brought us here. I have written a long history of the Pentagon called ''House of War," which will be published in May. But contrary to what Rumsfeld hopes, such a ''bigger picture" in no way exonerates him or the Bush administration for its grave failures. The disaster in Iraq both recapitulates American mistakes of the past and worsens them immeasurably.

Let's begin with Rumsfeld himself. In 1975, he was Gerald Ford's secretary of defense when the USS Mayaguez was seized off Cambodia by the newly empowered Khmer Rouge, whose ascendance followed the destabilizing US ''incursion." The American crew of 38 was captured.

Rumsfeld shaped the response -- which was to ignore diplomacy, begin bombing a Cambodian port city, and dispatch a large force of Marines to rescue the crew. Bad moves based on bad intelligence. While untold Cambodian civilians were bombed, 40 American rescuers were killed in an attack on an island where the crew was thought to be held. In fact, the American sailors had already been released unharmed and set adrift on a Thai fishing vessel. The Mayaguez affair was a dress rehearsal for Rumsfeld's war in Iraq.

The Iraq war breaks with American tradition by being explicitly defined as ''preventive," but in other ways it fulfills the core tradition -- the eschewing of diplomacy in favor of war preparation, and wars, whose real purpose is to feed the insatiable appetite of the economic, political, and cultural behemoth on the Potomac. The Pentagon is 63 years old: Key moments in its lifetime cry out to be freshly understood.

Why, after the disappearance of America's Cold War enemy in the early 1990s, did Washington maintain its huge Cold War military? In what sense, for that matter, did the United States ''win" the Cold War, when its structures were overwhelmingly dismantled by the other side?

By what right did the United States come out of the energy crisis of the 1970s proclaiming, with the Carter Doctrine, its intention to use military force to protect access to Persian Gulf oil? Jimmy Carter, too, is a progenitor of the war in Iraq.

In reviewing an arms race that led, across 40 years, to the accumulation of more than 100,000 nuclear weapons, when will the United States reckon with the truth that Washington held the initiative at almost every stage of that escalation, with Moscow forever struggling to catch up? What does it say about America that the United States led the way up this mountain of horror, with Moscow, under Mikhail Gorbachev, leading the way down?

What is revealed by the ''retirement syndrome," in Robert Jay Lifton's phrase -- the consistent phenomenon of men whose careers shaped the national security state, only to denounce its assumptions as they left power? This is true not only of legions of generals and admirals, but of statesmen like Henry L. Stimson and George Kennan, civilian hawks like Robert S. McNamara and Paul Nitze, and presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously decried the ''military-industrial complex" he had just created.

What does it say that, as pressures periodically built to rein in Pentagon budgets and influence, new threats and enemies were conveniently discovered, ''rescuing" the Pentagon, as Dean Acheson said of the North Korean invasion of South Korea? Ho Chi Minh, Manuel Noriega, and Saddam Hussein were such rescuers, and so was Osama bin Laden. Now comes Iran.

How did the impulse to demonize the enemy in Moscow paralyze American strategic and political thinking? This psychological imprisonment was so complete that the demonizing mindset carried over into the new century, when dreaded ''communism" was replaced by ''terrorism." George W. Bush did not invent this myopia.

Iraq shows how self-destructive were the responses of Americans and their government to the crisis of Sept. 11, 2001. They were not new, but flowed along a channel through which powerful currents had been running for 60 years.

The point of history's bigger picture, however, is to see that, as human choices shaped this terrible outcome, human choices can change it.

Detainees' Rights-Scalia Speaks His Mind


April 3, 2006 issue - The Supreme Court this week will hear arguments in a big case: whether to allow the Bush administration to try Guantánamo detainees in special military tribunals with limited rights for the accused. But Justice Antonin Scalia has already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter. During an unpublicized March 8 talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions, adding he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Gitmo.

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," he says on a tape of the talk reviewed by NEWSWEEK. "Give me a break." Challenged by one audience member about whether the Gitmo detainees don't have protections under the Geneva or human-rights conventions, Scalia shot back: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy." Scalia was apparently referring to his son Matthew, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Scalia did say, though, that he was concerned "there may be no end to this war."

The comments provoked "quite an uproar," said Samantha Besson, a member of the Freiburg law faculty who had invited Scalia to give his talk, which was mostly about his "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution. This isn't the first time Scalia has commented on matters before the court: two years ago he recused himself from a Pledge of Allegiance case after making public comments about the matter. "This is clearly grounds for recusal," said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a human-rights group that has filed a brief in behalf of the Gitmo detainees. "I can't recall an instance where I've heard a judge speak so openly about a case that's in front of him—without hearing the arguments."

Other experts said it was a closer call. Scalia didn't refer directly to this week's case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, though issues at stake hinge in part on whether the detainees deserve legal protections that make the military tribunals unfair. "As these things mount, a legitimate question could be asked about whether he is compromising the credibility of the court," said Stephen Gillers, a legal-ethics expert. A Scalia recusal (it's entirely up to him) would create problems; Chief Justice John Roberts has already done so in Hamdan because he ruled on it as an appellate judge. A Supreme Courtspokeswoman said Scalia has no comment.

Woman With Perfect Memory Baffles Scientists

Patient Remembers Every Day and Almost Every Detail of Her Life

March 20, 2006 -- - James McGaugh is one of the world's leading experts on how the human memory system works. But these days, he admits he's stumped.

McGaugh's journey through an intellectual purgatory began six years ago when a woman now known only as AJ wrote him a letter detailing her astonishing ability to remember with remarkable clarity even trivial events that happened decades ago.

Give her any date, she said, and she could recall the day of the week, usually what the weather was like on that day, personal details of her life at that time, and major news events that occurred on that date.

Like any good scientist, McGaugh was initially skeptical. But not anymore.

"This is real," he says.

Soon after AJ took over his life, McGaugh teamed with two fellow researchers at the University of California at Irvine. Elizabeth Parker, a clinical professor of psychiatry and neurology (and lead author of a report on the research in the current issue of the journal Neurocase), and Larry Cahill, an associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, have joined McGaugh in putting AJ through an exhaustive series of interviews and psychological tests. But they aren't a lot closer today to understanding her amazing ability than they were when they started.

"We are trying to find out, but we haven't hit 'bingo' yet," says McGaugh.

His initial hypothesis, like several others, has turned out to be wrong -- or at least incomplete.

McGaugh has spent decades studying how such things as stress hormones and emotions affect memory, and at first he thought AJ's memories were of such emotional power that she couldn't forget them.

But that hypothesis fell short of the mark when it became obvious that "the woman who can't forget" remembers trivial details as clearly as major events.

Asked what happened on Aug 16, 1977, she knew that Elvis Presley had died, but she also knew that a California tax initiative passed on June 6 of the following year, and a plane crashed in Chicago on May 25 of the next year, and so forth. Some may have had a personal meaning for her, but some did not.

"Here's a woman who has very strong memories, but she has very strong memories of things for which I have no memory at all," McGaugh says.
That became particularly clear one day when he asked her out of the blue if she knew who Bing Crosby was.

"I wasn't sure she would know, because she's 40 and wasn't of the Bing Crosby era," he says.

But she did.

"Do you know where he died?" McGaugh asked.

"Oh yes, he died on a golf course in Spain," she answered, and provided the day of the week and the date when the crooner died.

When the researchers asked her to list the dates when they had interviewed her, she "just reeled them off, bang, bang, bang."

She also told McGaugh that on the day after a particular interview, which took place several years ago, he flew to Germany.

"I said what? I went to Germany? I couldn't even remember what year I had gone to Germany," he says.

That level of recall suggests another hypothesis. Some people are able to recall past events by categorizing them. Certain events, or facts, are associated with others, and filed away together so that they may be easier to access. That's a trick that is often used by entertainers who use feats of memory to wow their audience.

AJ does have "some sort of compulsive tendencies. She wants order in her life," McGaugh says. "As a child, she would get upset if her mother changed anything in her room because she had a place for everything and wanted everything in its place.

"So she does categorize events by the date, but that doesn't explain why she remembers it."

Also, her degree of recall is so much greater than any other person's in the scientific literature that it seems unlikely to be the complete answer, McGaugh adds.

She is also quite different from savants who have surfaced from time to time with extraordinary abilities in music, art or memory.

"Some of them can remember every single detail about the particular hobby that they have, such as baseball or calendars or art, but they are very narrow," he says. McGaugh described one person who could memorize a piece of music instantly, and not forget it, but who "couldn't make change or couldn't take a bus because he didn't know where he was."

By contrast, AJ is a " fully functioning person," McGaugh says.

The researchers are preparing to take their work in a new direction in hopes of understanding what is going on here. It's possible AJ's brain is wired differently, and that may show up through magnetic resonance imaging. Testing is expected to begin within six months.

"We will be looking at her brain, using brain scanning techniques, to see if there's anything that is dramatically different that we can point to," McGaugh says.
Those of us with normal, very fallible memories function somewhat like a computer in that different areas of our brains are interconnected and thus better-suited for general memories. We know where we live and how to get to work, but we may not know what the weather was like on this date four years ago.

It's possible that AJ's brain has some "disconnections" that help her recall past events from her memory bank without interference from the parts of her brain that act as general processors. But the problem is that even if they find some interesting wiring through brain scans, the researchers will be limited in their conclusions by the fact that AJ seems to be unique.

So unique, in fact, that the Irvine team has given her condition a new name. They call it hyperthymestic syndrome, based on the Greek word thymesis for "remembering" and hyper, meaning "more than normal."

Some day, the researchers say, they hope to know what's different about AJ's brain, but they are still a ways off.

"In order to explain a phenomenon you have to first understand the phenomenon," McGaugh says. "We're at the beginning."

Monday, March 27, 2006

North of the Border - New York Times
The New York Times

March 27, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

North of the Border

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe
free," wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat.
I'm proud
of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my
grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review
of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the
economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular.
If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant
we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the
large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates
that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born
Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of
the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration - especially
from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the
average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving
down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent
study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard,
that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it
weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does,
that immigrants do "jobs that Americans will not do." The willingness of
to do a job depends on how much that job pays - and the reason some jobs pay
too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net
has more holes in it than it should - and low-skill immigrants threaten to
that safety net.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they're here, with
essential health care, education for their children, and more. As the Swiss
Max Frisch wrote about his own country's experience with immigration, "We
wanted a labor force, but human beings came." Unfortunately, low-skill
don't pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.

Worse yet, immigration penalizes governments that act humanely. Immigrants
are a much more serious fiscal problem in California than in Texas, which
the poor and unlucky harshly, regardless of where they were born.

We shouldn't exaggerate these problems. Mexican immigration, says the
Borjas-Katz study, has played only a "modest role" in growing U.S.
inequality. And
the political threat that low-skill immigration poses to the welfare state
is more serious than the fiscal threat: the disastrous Medicare drug bill
does far more to undermine the finances of our social insurance system than
the whole burden of dealing with illegal immigrants.

But modest problems are still real problems, and immigration is becoming a
major political issue. What are we going to do about it?

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.
Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh
legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests -
legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to
provide an illegal
immigrant with medical care - is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed
by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force
couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce
the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would
face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no
incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to
citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could
all too easily
end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice - that is, it
could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see
Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into
legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

Posted by Miriam V

Anti-War Groups Monitored


That's Sicilian!

'Herald' Says Justice Scalia Gives the Press the Finger, He Denies It
By E&P Staff Published: March 27, 2006 2:40 PM ET updated 5:00 PM

Emerging from mass in Boston on Sunday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia flipped a middle finger to the press, according to Monday's Boston Herald. He later disputed the account.A Herald reporter outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross had asked Scalia, 70, if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state. "You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture, the Herald reported. He explained, "That's Sicilian."

A photographer with The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper, caught the moment. "Don't publish that," Scalia told the photographer, the Herald said.The Herald today called it "conduct unbecoming a 20-year veteran of the country’s highest court - and just feet from the Mother Church’s altar."

Later Monday, however, the Associated Press reported that Scalia had actually used an Italian hand gesture. "It was a hand off the chin gesture that was meant to be dismissive," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

According to AP: "The sign he used in Boston is frequently used by Italians to express displeasure with someone - from mild to deep irritation. It is done by cupping the hand under the chin and flicking the fingers like a backward wave."The controversy came on the same day that Newsweek reported on a tape recording of a March 8 lecture by Justice Scalia in which he ridiculed legal claims by detainees of Guantanamo Bay as "crazy."

The Supreme Court is now hearing a challenge to the legality of special military tribunals for suspects held at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba."War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Judge Scalia said, during the talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, according to Newsweek. "Foreigners, in foreign countries, have no rights under the American Constitution... Nobody has ever thought otherwise."

The Voice of Fear and the Voice of Hope

The Voice of Fear and the Voice of Hope
by Michael Lerner

On Torture and Being Good Americans

On Torture and Being Good Americans
by Fred Branfman

Does This Mean Saddam Wasn't Responsible for 9/11?

The New York Times

March 27, 2006
Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says

LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

The timetable came at an important diplomatic moment. Five days after the Bush-Blair meeting, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was scheduled to appear before the United Nations to present the American evidence that Iraq posed a threat to world security by hiding unconventional weapons.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book "Lawless World," which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.

Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president's sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Those proposals were first reported last month in the British press, but the memo does not make clear whether they reflected Mr. Bush's extemporaneous suggestions, or were elements of the government's plan.

Consistent Remarks

Two senior British officials confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but declined to talk further about it, citing Britain's Official Secrets Act, which made it illegal to divulge classified information. But one of them said, "In all of this discussion during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is obvious that viewing a snapshot at a certain point in time gives only a partial view of the decision-making process."

On Sunday, Frederick Jones, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said the president's public comments were consistent with his private remarks made to Mr. Blair. "While the use of force was a last option, we recognized that it might be necessary and were planning accordingly," Mr. Jones said.

"The public record at the time, including numerous statements by the President, makes clear that the administration was continuing to pursue a diplomatic solution into 2003," he said. "Saddam Hussein was given every opportunity to comply, but he chose continued defiance, even after being given one final opportunity to comply or face serious consequences. Our public and private comments are fully consistent."

The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.

The latest memo is striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair about the most serious subjects. At one point, the leaders swapped ideas for a postwar Iraqi government. "As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," the prime minister is quoted as saying.

"Bush agreed," Mr. Manning wrote. This exchange, like most of the quotations in this article, have not been previously reported.

Mr. Bush was accompanied at the meeting by Condoleezza Rice, who was then the national security adviser; Dan Fried, a senior aide to Ms. Rice; and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff. Along with Mr. Manning, Mr. Blair was joined by two other senior aides: Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy aide and the author of the Downing Street memo.

By late January 2003, United Nations inspectors had spent six weeks in Iraq hunting for weapons under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1441, which authorized "serious consequences" if Iraq voluntarily failed to disarm. Led by Hans Blix, the inspectors had reported little cooperation from Mr. Hussein, and no success finding any unconventional weapons.

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war.

Discussing Provocation

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

Mr. Sands first reported the proposals in his book, although he did not use any direct quotations from the memo. He is a professor of international law at University College of London and the founding member of the Matrix law office in London, where the prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, is a partner.

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, "We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders."

At several points during the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, there was palpable tension over finding a legitimate legal trigger for going to war that would be acceptable to other nations, the memo said. The prime minister was quoted as saying it was essential for both countries to lobby for a second United Nations resolution against Iraq, because it would serve as "an insurance policy against the unexpected."

The memo said Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush, "If anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning the oil wells, killing children or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq, a second resolution would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs."

Running Out of Time

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

The leaders agreed that three weeks remained to obtain a second United Nations Security Council resolution before military commanders would need to begin preparing for an invasion.

Summarizing statements by the president, the memo says: "The air campaign would probably last four days, during which some 1,500 targets would be hit. Great care would be taken to avoid hitting innocent civilians. Bush thought the impact of the air onslaught would ensure the early collapse of Saddam's regime. Given this military timetable, we needed to go for a second resolution as soon as possible. This probably meant after Blix's next report to the Security Council in mid-February."

Mr. Blair was described as responding that both countries would make clear that a second resolution amounted to "Saddam's final opportunity." The memo described Mr. Blair as saying: "We had been very patient. Now we should be saying that the crisis must be resolved in weeks, not months."

It reported: "Bush agreed. He commented that he was not itching to go to war, but we could not allow Saddam to go on playing with us. At some point, probably when we had passed the second resolutions — assuming we did — we should warn Saddam that he had a week to leave. We should notify the media too. We would then have a clear field if Saddam refused to go."

Mr. Bush devoted much of the meeting to outlining the military strategy. The president, the memo says, said the planned air campaign "would destroy Saddam's command and control quickly." It also said that he expected Iraq's army to "fold very quickly." He also is reported as telling the prime minister that the Republican Guard would be "decimated by the bombing."

Despite his optimism, Mr. Bush said he was aware that "there were uncertainties and risks," the memo says, and it goes on, "As far as destroying the oil wells were concerned, the U.S. was well equipped to repair them quickly, although this would be easier in the south of Iraq than in the north."

The two men briefly discussed plans for a post-Hussein Iraqi government. "The prime minister asked about aftermath planning," the memo says. "Condi Rice said that a great deal of work was now in hand.

Referring to the Defense Department, it said: "A planning cell in D.O.D. was looking at all aspects and would deploy to Iraq to direct operations as soon as the military action was over. Bush said that a great deal of detailed planning had been done on supplying the Iraqi people with food and medicine."

Planning for After the War

The leaders then looked beyond the war, imagining the transition from Mr. Hussein's rule to a new government. Immediately after the war, a military occupation would be put in place for an unknown period of time, the president was described as saying. He spoke of the "dilemma of managing the transition to the civil administration," the memo says.

The document concludes with Mr. Manning still holding out a last-minute hope of inspectors finding weapons in Iraq, or even Mr. Hussein voluntarily leaving Iraq. But Mr. Manning wrote that he was concerned this could not be accomplished by Mr. Bush's timeline for war.

"This makes the timing very tight," he wrote. "We therefore need to stay closely alongside Blix, do all we can to help the inspectors make a significant find, and work hard on the other members of the Security Council to accept the noncooperation case so that we can secure the minimum nine votes when we need them, probably the end of February."

At a White House news conference following the closed-door session, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair said "the crisis" had to be resolved in a timely manner. "Saddam Hussein is not disarming," the president told reporters. "He is a danger to the world. He must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said — and the prime minister has constantly said — this issue will come to a head in a matter of weeks, not months."

Despite intense lobbying by the United States and Britain, a second United Nations resolution was not obtained. The American-led military coalition invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003, nine days after the target date set by the president on that late January day at the White House.

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

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