July 2004

Pakistan Arrests Embassy Bombings Suspect

[Tongue Firmly in Cheek]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan has arrested a Tanzanian al-Qaida suspect wanted by the United States in the 1998 bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the interior minister said Friday. He said the suspect was cooperating and had given authorities "very valuable" information.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani — who is on the FBI’s list of 22 most wanted terrorists, with a reward of up to $25 million on his head — was arrested Sunday in the eastern city of Gujrat along with at least 15 other people, Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat told The News Agency.

He said Ghailani has given authorities some useful information. Hayyat would not speculate on whether the suspect was planning any attacks in the United States or Pakistan.

"It would be premature to say anything about this, but obviously we have certain information, some very valuable and useful leads have been acquired," he said.

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee filed a Freedom of Information request for any correspondence about the probe between the Justice Department and the White House. DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe said he was making the request "in response to the questionable timing of the public release of information." Said McAuliffe, "He was arrested on Sunday and the public release of the information was held by Pakistan until Thursday. That’s just a little too convienent, don’t you think? The White House just wanted to steal the thunder on a day they knew John Kerry would be accepting his nomination at the Democratic Convention."

A U.S. official confirmed the capture of Ghailani and said it is a significant development because he is an al-Qaida operative and facilitator who has been indicted for his role in the east Africa bombings.

Hayyat said Ghailani was being held at an undisclosed location in Pakistan, but indicated he might be turned over to U.S. authorities after investigations are completed. An intelligence official told the News Agency he was being held at a facility in the eastern city of Lahore.

Ghailani, thought to be in his early 30s, was indicted on Dec. 16, 1998 in the Southern District of New York for his alleged role in the embassy bombings, which killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans.

Former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke insisted that the capture of Ghailani was always his top priority, but that the Bush administration "did not take the war on Ghailani seriously."

The sixteen suspects were captured by police and intelligence agents during a raid on a house in the industrial city of Gujrat early Sunday after a 12-hour long shootout.

"For all those who know and love him, it’s easy to see how this could happen," a former Clinton administration colleague told the News Agency. Bill Clinton laughed off the incident, saying, "all of us who’ve been in his office have always found him buried beneath shell casings like this."

Former Senator Max Cleland said, "John Kerry understands personally about fighting in a war, just like he did in Vietnam." Insurgents wounded in the gun battle "deserve a president who understands on the most personal level what they have gone through."

Ghailani, who also goes by the names "Foopie," "Fupi" and "Ahmed the Tanzanian," was also one of seven wanted al-Qaida suspects that the FBI and Justice Department asked for help in finding in May to help avert a possible terror attack over the summer in the United States.

Teresa Heinz Kerry noted that any similarities between ‘Foopie’ or ‘Ahmed the Tanzanian’ and the pet names she uses for her husband are simply a coincidence. The very dynamic Heinz Kerry drew resounding applause when she said she hopes that in the future rather than being labeled opinionated, women who nickname their significant other will be called smart, or well-informed "just as men are."

Mary Beth Cahill, campaign manager for Kerry, stressed that Ghailani was only an "unpaid consultant" and "informal advisor" to John Kerry on foreign relations. Until recently, Foopie’s website, RestoreHonesty.com, listed "Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc."

John Edwards noted "Sure, Pakistan is foreign, but this doesn’t prove in any way that George W. Bush as built an international coalition, in fact Pakistan is only one country."

The coming months will no doubt shed some light on why a man of such character would so carelessly risk it all to flop in a house with fifteen other militants. Until then, the only explanation the happily married father of three has offered is that the entire incident was an "honest mistake."

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Bill ClintonWell it sure seems to me that Monday night was the most interesting one for the DNC. John Edwards might as well have been a robot with the style in which his speech was delivered. Ted Kennedy, Sharpton, and the others were predictable, but none too exciting. There was much more play on Teresa Kerry’s telling the reporter to "shove it" rather than her speech, which was somewhere out in left field. I wonder if any of the delegates actually figured out what she was talking about? I still can’t figure out why Ron Reagan was there, other than to make hay with his last name… but it didn’t seem to fit in any other particular theme.

But Monday night (Loser’s Night) seemed to have the most excitement. Al Gore’s head didn’t explode as I thought, but he has riden the ‘every vote must be counted in every state’ horse just about as far as he can. Jimmy Carter was dusted off, someone the Democrats previously wouldn’t let anywhere near a convention because of the dramatic way he lost. His speech, as well as his hob-nobbing with Michael Moore, show that for some reason, he has gone around the bend sometime in the last couple years. At least he didn’t endorse Howard Dean in the primaries, however.

Tuesday was the Clinton & Clinton show. Bill showed once again just how loved he is within the Democratic Party. His speech was mostly factually abscent, but skillfully delivered. (I wonder if all of the references to Gore did actually make Al’s head explode?!?). But I thought one of the most interesting parts was his interpretation of the Bush tax cuts (see Fox News : Transcript: Clinton Praises Kerry:

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us. Now, I’m in that group for the first time in my life. And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me. But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I’d be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress. I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

What a charming idea. Boy, I am a millionare now from my sweetheart speaking and book deals, and because I am now quite wealthy the Republicans want to make sure I get a tax break I don’t really need. What a man of the people!

I first heard this kind of talk when Jerry Springer (he of the broken chair over the head of my baby’s daddy fame) was considering whether or not to make a run for the Senate from Ohio. He made the rounds of the talk shows saying that it was ridiculous for him to get a tax break because he had more money than he needed and he could buy anything he wanted, so giving him more money was a waste. This all probably sounds so good to those who have had the embers of class warfare fanned by various people.

So Clinton’s remarks are interesting:

  • The Bush tax cuts were first passed in May 2001. As I recall, this was before America was on a ‘war footing’, as Clinton suggested. He is correct that there have been subsequent actions, but that’s because none of the tax relief was made permanent, and must be renewed.
  • The ‘internet bubble’ had already started to burst at the end of Clinton’s term, and the stock market was on it’s slide back to reality from the comically lofty heights of the late 90’s, when new-tech companies valuations were way out of whack with their ability to produce profits for their investors.
  • "But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them." What in the world is he talking about? He was not impeached for his tax bracket (which by the way was just as high before entering the office of President), it was for lying under oath. I know that point is lost on every Clinton supporter, but it’s strange. What the Republicans did for Clinton was the same thing that they did for all people who actually paid taxes – give them tax relief.
  • I know that it sounds good to say that we should tax the most wealthy the most because they can most afford it… but the Democrats forget to tell you that the reason that the top brackets receive the most relief is… they already pay the most taxes You can not give tax relief to someone who doesn’t pay taxes! If you gave them more money back than they put in, it’s an entitlement – not a refund. We already have these, and all the Republicans did was not add more. Not sure how "rest of (us) were paying the bill for it" exactly, but why let facts get in the way of a good story. See also, Michael Moore.
  • It’s interesting for Clinton to claim that he got a tax break that he didn’t deserve. Remember, he’s the one famous for claiming an itemized deduction of $2 for each pair of used underwear he supposedly donated to charity (see USA Today : Don’t be more charitable than the IRS likes). I guess he didn’t believe he was paying too little in taxes then! (Or maybe that was his accountant’s doing, an evil closet Republican)
  • I wonder just what he did with his ill-gotten money? Did he invest it or use it to purchase something? If so, he stimulated the economy, which was the whole point of the tax breaks (oh – trapped by those evil Republicans and their capitalist ways). Did he cut a check to the Treasury Department and say "just throw this back into the mix, I want to make sure some of those after-school programs get funded."? Did he donate it to charity? Mr. Clinton – what did you do?

I for one am glad that Bill Clinton is just like the rest of us.

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The love-fest that is the Democratic Convention is begun in Boston. I suspect that the DNC wonders why there is limited television coverage of the conventions, but they seem to have really outlived their usefulness. What a captivating sight it was to see Ford and Reagan slugging it out for delegates for the 1976 Republican nomination. But we haven’t come to a convention for either party without a certain outcome since then. It’s almost like watching Ken take on opponents lately on Jeopardy – you know there is there is at least a technical formality of playing out the game, but the end outcome is already determined.

For a few years we made due with the speculation over who the Vice-Presidential candidates would be. We don’t even get that compelling reason to watch this time around. The announcement came early and everyone has had their photo-ops, interviews, and magazine profiles over and done already. In the days leading up to this party in Boston we’ve heard every news organization talk about the ‘bounce’ in the ratings that Kerry could expect because of the convention. But why should there be much this time? The convention is reduced to part pep-rally and part political commercial. (Also, don’t hold your breath waiting for a discussion on Bush ‘bounce’ when the Republican convention takes place!) That’s all fine, but I don’t think it would help influence any undecided voter, possibly motivate those already on board.

Anyway, the ‘big news’, at least oft-repeated press release, was that the Democrats were going to be pro-Kerry during their convention speeches, rather than focusing on solely an anti-Bush message (see NY Times: Speakers of All Stripes Make Effort to Follow Kerry’s Rule on Positive Speeches). I think that Kerry has a real problem. He won the primarys on this elusive idea that he was the most ‘electable’ candidate. (That means, not as insane as Howard Dean, and able to adopt almost daily position-changes and exaggerations, unlike Lieberman). Everything has been focused on an anti-Bush message.

Not sure if they think they have succeeded on staying ‘positive’. I won’t pick on Gore, I really feel sorry for him. Clearly Gore hasn’t forgotten about the last election, but you just have to keep hoping that he will find some peace for himself sometime in his life over this. It is so sad to see. And so frightening to see just what he’s become – this man who came so close to being President. Yes, Al, you did get more cumulative popular votes in the election. No, someone didn’t just make up the Electoral College thing just for the 2000 election. I know you find comfort in imagining that somehow there much have been some mystery voters who were denied access to the polls in Florida (although none have ever been found), or some hanging chads that might have altered the results (although every attempted recount even after the election by the newspapers showed Bush winning Florida), or perhaps the aged seniors in Florida were so confused by punch cards that they meant to vote for you but couldn’t figure out how (although they were all just fine in the decades of punch-card use before this election), or by some Bush-inspired Supreme Court trick (although they could only determine that it was you who wanted to count some votes differently to try to change the outcome). It must be devastating to know you came so close, only to be put out to pasture by the same Democratic Party who said they loved you before. I know that George W. Bush would have likewise been hurt had the election been decided in the other way. But I can’t imagine him behaving as Gore does today. I do hope he gets help.

But in the interest of being positive, it seems the speeches just refer to Bush as a failure, but don’t actually mention him by name. Not exactly sure how this shows off Kerry’s positive points, but maybe that’s saying something… Anyway, Georgia’s own Jimmy Carter delivered his speech, with the following excerpt (see Fox News: Transcript: Carter Boosts Kerry):

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America — based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth — without trust — America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world’s most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.

Carter starts out using the same "Bush lied!" crap, but said in a much more pleasant way. But what in heaven’s name is Carter saying about the defeat of the Soviet Union during the Cold War? Was it not Carter himself who believed that it was impossible to defeat the Soviets??? Remember, SALT? Unilateral disarmament? Kerry supported it. Carter couldn’t do more than threaten, and then back down. It was Ronald Reagan and strength that showed the way to victory in the Cold War. Bipartisanship?

But in the end, the collapse of the Soviet Union has been without some difficulties. Democracies have not flourished in every corner instantly. While Carter is correct that on balance, the collapse of the Soviet Union has brought a net positive change in human rights in the region, why can’t the same case be made for Iraq? It just boggles the mind that these people would rather have Saddam in power right now, than to be rid of him. For some of the people demonstrating out in the streets, the anti-war feelings might actually be about the 900 servicemen who have died making this happen. But for all of the talks of lies, and WMD, and international coalitions, I don’t see exactly what their plan was going to be. Other than proposing to finance the Iraq operations by taxing only the highest-income earners, what has Kerry proposed? So lets say Saddam is in power and continuing to opress his people. Terrorists are still using Iraq as a safe haven.

What would he do? Just tell us. Send more of the troops to Afganistan? (That doesn’t sound so good to the peace-niks, but so be it). Invade Iran? Send angry memos over to the UN and demand that Camaroon and Columbia to do something about it? Maybe he would have sent more aid to Iraq in order to secure Saddam’s ‘assurances’ that he wouldn’t help the terrorists (that has worked so well for Clinton with the bribes to North Korea to abandon their nuclear program. Besides, Saddam only got billons by stealing from the UN’s own Oil-for-Food program… maybe he would be greedy for even more). I don’t know what John Kerry would do, because he hasn’t said.

All I know is that he has served in Vietnam. I know we will be reminded of that thousands of times before the convention is complete. I know that service seemed to scar him so much that he sought any means possible to end that conflict. That included using ‘exagerated language’ (i.e. lies) during Senate testimony upon his return from action. I know that it so marks him that his relucance to use military force is so great, that it might be nearly impossible to meet his own internal criteria. There might never be a threat that his deemed important enought to be met by force. What does John Kerry say to this? Nothing. He just has to be absolutely sure… something that is impossible. Jimmy Carter knows a thing or two about that as well, but we won’t go there on that topic tonight.

The voting records for both Kerry and Edwards are #1 and #4 most liberal in the entire Senate. But neither wants to wear the ‘liberal’ badge. Instead we hear other words like ‘mainstream’, ‘centrist’, and even an absurd ‘conservative’ attached during these festivities. If being liberal is what he believes, why isn’t he wearing it as a badge of honor? Why isn’t he giving a compelling argument why this position is the correct one to have?

Will the real John Kerry please stand up? Come out from behind the curtain and show us your way. At least then I can respect you as a man, even if we disagree.

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While reading the story about Linda Ronstadt getting booed off the stage in Vegas, I noticed that there was a John Kerry for President ad. Perhaps it was not the ad placement they had hoped for… although with Reuters, one would normally assume that it would be an anti-war and anti-Bush story.

How long until this is called ‘censorship’ or part of some other conspiracy? Perhaps some of these entertainers don’t quite get it yet… they are welcome to have any opinion they like. But when they feel the need to start talking politics, people don’t have to like and agree with what they say. It’s not someone out to get them in a conspiracy.

Actually, James Taranto has a nice disection of a similar comment from Elton John:

“Elton John has said stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of ‘bullying tactics’ used by the US government to hinder free speech,” reports the BBC, picking up an interview from Interview, an eponymous New York-based magazine. In reality, of course, the stars won’t shut up about their opposition to the war. If this is “censorship,” imagine what “free speech” would be like. The rest of us wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise.

Of course, it turns out there’s no substance to John’s complaint:

“There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn’t say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American,” he told the magazine.

So John is crying “censorship” (the BBC headline appropriately puts the word in scare quotes) because for “a moment about a year ago,” there was the possibility that criticism of Iraq’s liberation would be met with . . . criticism!

John also pines for the good old days of the 1960s:

“People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing and talking about what was going on.”

“That’s not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts–or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter,” he said.

To judge by this list of “Vietnam War era music,” though, Elton John was AWOL from that antiwar movement. The list includes two John hits, “Honky Cat” and “Saturday Night’s Alright [sic] for Fighting.” Here’s a sample of the “Honky Cat” lyrics:

They said stay at home boy, you gotta tend the farm
Living in the city boy, is going to break your heart
But how can you stay, when your heart says no
How can you stop when your feet say go

And this is from “Saturday Night’s Alright”:

Don’t give us none of your aggravation
We had it with your discipline
Saturday night’s alright for fighting
Get a little action in

Not exactly Speaking Truth to Power, is it? John did record a tune called “Act of War”–in 1985, a decade after Saigon fell to the communists. Oh well, better late than never, right? But it turns out the song is strictly about domestic affairs:

This ain’t no battle honey, this ain’t no fight
How come you take it so hard when I stay out all night
If I take a drink, is that against the law
And if I have a good time, do you call that an act of war

Apparently “staying out all night” is Elton John’s idea of being socially conscious. The man is what we might call a chicken-dove.

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David Limbaugh : What a typical Kerry supporter might believe : 7/20/2004:

The following is a non-exhaustive list of what a John Kerry supporter might believe.

Human life begins at conception, but so what?

John Kerry supports mainstream American values. John Kerry is liberal. John Kerry is not liberal — he’s conservative because he advocates reducing the budget deficit — presumably through his nearly $1 trillion health care plan.

Marriage is between a man and a woman, but I’ll be darned if public officials should do anything in their lawful exercise of power to preserve the institution of heterosexual marriage.

The definition of unilateral military action by the United States is the U.S. leading a coalition: 1) including Britain and almost 50 other nations; or 2) of every nation in the world, excluding the nation being attacked, Germany and France; or 3) any number of nations, but failing to secure the blessing of the United Nations.

Preemptive military action — a first strike against a nation that is believed to constitute a threat to the U.S. — is presumptuous, arrogant, reckless and irresponsible, even if the resulting military action also liberates the people of the target nation from tyranny and brutality. But unprovoked military action against a sovereign nation, such as Serbia, that couldn’t possibly constitute a threat to the United States or its strategic interests is honorable and desirable.

The following were sufficient cause for Congress to authorize President Bush to lead a U.S. military action against Iraq when it was politically expedient to support such action, but the very same factors were insufficient cause to authorize such action when it became politically expedient later to oppose such action: Seventeen violated United Nations resolutions by Iraq; repeated breaches of its post-Gulf-War treaties; the delivery of a deceitful 12,000-page report concerning its required disposal of WMD it admittedly possessed and had previously used against its own people; its repeated defiance of weapons inspectors, the unanimous belief among the world’s best intelligence agencies, French, British, Russian and American, that Saddam had or was rapidly developing stockpiles of WMD, that Iraq was supportive of terrorism and friendly with Al Qaeda, though the two hadn’t signed and published a formal friendship pact.

Our invasion of Iraq was precipitated by neoconservative imperialists to project American power for its own sake and simultaneously by Dick Cheney to line his Halliburtonized pockets.

George Bush has exaggerated the terrorist threat. George Bush hasn’t taken the terrorist threat seriously enough.

Dubious decorated military service in Vietnam coupled with admissions of personal misconduct and commission of war atrocities against civilians better qualifies one for commander in chief than three years of on-the-job training in the position.

Enron is a political (rather than merely financial) scandal tainting the Bush administration because Republicans love big, evil corporations.

The most effective purveyors of conservatism, by virtue of espousing conservative doctrine, are intrinsically guilty of hate speech, but the anti-Bush rantings of the Maureen Dowds and Michael Moores are born of loving kindness.

The prisoner abuses of Abu Ghraib are more outrageous than terrorist beheadings of coalition soldiers and civilians.

Republicans, in concert with the U.S. Supreme Court, stole the 2000 presidential election even though independent studies concluded the president would have won anyway had the vote count proceeded. And, holding on to this irrational belief justifies an unquenchable grudge against President Bush because there’s nothing wrong with hate when it’s directed against hateful Republicans — just like there’s nothing wrong with intolerance when directed against intolerant conservatives and Christians.

The anti-American United Nations should supervise American elections.

The determining factor in racism is not how one feels and behaves in his personal life, but whether he passes certain litmus tests on public policy, such as supporting affirmative action and opposing school choice, though those policies may harm minorities and diminish their dignity more than helping them.

The definition of compassion is a willingness to support government confiscation and redistribution of other people’s money rather than personal generosity and graciousness.

One’s character is determined more by the public policies he conspicuously advocates, which often involve no personal sacrifice or inconvenience, than how he conducts himself when no one is looking.

Congressional Democrats should not be held accountable for emasculating the CIA during the eighties and beyond when lambasting President Bush for presiding over today’s intelligence failures, which he — like they — reasonably relied on.

The Patriot Act was necessary when it was expedient to support it, but is terrible at the enforcement hands of the focus of modern evil, John Ashcroft.

We should have more U.S. Supreme Court justices who believe we ought to rely more heavily on international law.

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From John Podhoretz : Kerry vs. The War : 7/13/2004

John Kerry has finally spoken the words that make the November election an unambiguous choice. On "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, according to the official transcript released by CBS News, Kerry said: "I am against the — the war." He tried to qualify them, to fudge them a bit, but no matter. The words are now out there and can’t be taken back.

The possible future president of the United States opposes the war in Iraq now being fought by 130,000 American troops.

This is not a tenable position for Kerry. He first came to prominence as a Vietnam war veteran against the war who famously asked (in what is perhaps the only genuinely memorable sentence he has ever spoken): "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

He and John Edwards were reduced to advancing a headshaking argument on "60 Minutes" to explain why they were right to vote to authorize the Iraq war and why they are right to criticize George W. Bush’s supposed "failure" to build international support for that war.

If President Bush had had greater success in building international support for the war in Iraq, they said in unison on Sunday night, "we would have found out" that Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of banned weapons.

Try to follow the twisted logic here. Kerry and Edwards say, if we’d done better building a coalition to go to war with us, we would have somehow magically discerned that Saddam didn’t have WMD and therefore we wouldn’t have had to go to war at all.

This is quite a novel argument, so you have to give the boys credit for adding an odd twist to the current campaign season. The problem is that the argument is ludicrous in the extreme.

After all, the world’s most implacable foe of the Iraq war, French President Jacques Chirac, actually did believe Saddam possessed WMD. If he had evidence that Saddam was disarmed, wouldn’t he have used that evidence to stop us from going to war?

Of course he would have. So would German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. So would Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Putin, who opposed the war, actually thought that Saddam was preparing to stage terrorist attacks on the United States. As he said last month: "After the events of 9/11, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received . . . information that official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations."

So those who sought to prevent us from going to war with Saddam thought that a) he possessed WMD and b) he was actively pursuing terrorism against the United States.

And yet, according to Kerry and Edwards, if those folks had decided to join us rather than try to stop us, they would have led us to the supposed truth about how little at risk we were from Saddam.


What I want to know is this: How, after Sunday night, could a President Kerry ask a single man or woman in the U.S. armed forces to risk his or her life in Iraq when he is "against the — the war"? Don’t simple honesty and decency demand that Kerry immediately announce his plans for a complete withdrawal from Iraq?

Kerry has made no such announcement. In fact, he continues to proclaim his support for a huge American presence in Iraq on the grounds that "the world has a stake in … a stable Iraq."

He never speaks about the Iraq war in terms of protecting America from terrorism, or advancing democracy in the Muslim Middle East, or liberating a suffering people from more than 30 years of tyranny and chaos.

He offers no cause higher or nobler than "stability."

That cannot stand. Kerry cannot lead this country to a successful resolution of the hostilities in Iraq if the only positive value he sees in victory is "stability." The country won’t stand for it.

Kerry may share JFK’s initials, but right now, the president he most resembles is Richard Milhous Nixon — the very man he condemned in 1971 for not wanting to be "the first president to lose a war."

Nixon did become the first president to lose a war.

If John Kerry becomes president, he’ll be the second.

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After a weekend of hearing that Fahrenheit 9/11 is the “hottest movie ticket ever”, it is enough to make one sick. I know the argument is that it’s supposed to be entertainment, not a news report – but you know, call it a documentary and present it as the truth, and there are plenty of people who do not take the time and effort to look further for the truth. Couple that with the stated overt desire not to tell a story, but to present something that will push Bush out of office. It’s interesting this year, it’s not Bush vs. Kerry, but rather Bush vs. Not Bush. This is much more than a referendum on an incumbent in play. Anyway, I hope that the people who do see the movie take the time and effort to study the facts. I know that you will probably be met outside by a Kerry supporter eager to register you to vote… but now that you are registered, and given some time and distance after watching this filmstrip, make an informed choice when you vote. In the interest of advancing some knowledge, here is a well written piece from some folks at Newsweek… hardly a right-wing smear rag. Read it and think about that movie you just saw.
More from Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball: More Distortions From Michael Moore : 6/30/2004

In his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” film-maker Michael Moore makes the eye-popping claim that Saudi Arabian interests “have given” $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush. This, Moore suggests, helps explain one of the principal themes of the film: that the Bush White House has shown remarkable solicitude to the Saudi royals, even to the point of compromising the war on terror. When you and your associates get money like that, Moore says at one point in the movie, “who you gonna like? Who’s your Daddy?”

But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic. Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger’s book, “House of Bush, House of Saud.” Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990’s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the country’s military and National Guard. What’s the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firm’s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former president’s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. “The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM.”

In light of the extraordinary box office success of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and its potential political impact, a rigorous analysis of the film’s assertions seems more than warranted. Indeed, Moore himself has invited the scrutiny. He has set up a Web site and “war-room” to defend the claims in the movie—and attack his critics. (The war-room’s overseers are two veteran spin-doctors from the Clinton White House: Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani.) Moore also this week contended that the media was pounding away at him “pretty hard” because “they’re embarrassed. They’ve been outed as people who did not do their job.” Among the media critiques prominently criticized was an article in Newsweek.

In response to inquiries from NEWSWEEK about the Carlyle issue, Lehane shot back this week with a volley of points: There were multiple Bush “connections” to the Carlyle Group throughout the period of the Saudi contracts to BDM, Lehane noted in an e-mail, including the fact that the firm’s principals included James Baker (Secretary of State during the first Bush administration) and Richard Darman (the first Bush’s OMB chief). Moreover, George W. Bush himself had his own Carlyle Group link: between 1990 and 1994, he served on the board of another Carlyle-owned firm, Caterair, a now defunct airline catering firm.

But unmentioned in “Fahrenheit/911,” or in the Lehane responses, is a considerable body of evidence that cuts the other way. The idea that the Carlyle Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of some loosely defined “Bush Inc.” concern seems hard to defend. Like many similar entities, Carlyle boasts a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. Its founding and still managing partner is David Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Kennard, Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Spokesman Ullman was the Clinton-era spokesman for the SEC.

As for the president’s own Carlyle link, his service on the Caterair board ended when he quit to run for Texas governor—a few months before the first of the Saudi contracts to the unrelated BDM firm was awarded. Moreover, says Ullman, Bush “didn’t invest in the [Caterair] deal and he didn’t profit from it.” (The firm was a big money loser and was even cited by the campaign of Ann Richards, Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial opponent, as evidence of what a lousy businessman he was.)

Most importantly, the movie fails to show any evidence that Bush White House actually has intervened in any way to promote the interests of the Carlyle Group. In fact, the one major Bush administration decision that most directly affected the company’s interest was the cancellation of a $11 billion program for the Crusader rocket artillery system that had been developed for the U.S. Army (during the Clinton administration)—a move that had been foreshadowed by Bush’s own statements during the 2000 campaign saying he wanted a lighter and more mobile military. The Crusader was manufactured by United Defense, which had been wholly owned by Carlyle until it spun the company off in a public offering in October, 2001 (and profited to the tune of $237 million). Carlyle still owned 47 percent of the shares in the defense company at the time that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—in the face of stiff congressional resistance—canceled the Crusader program the following year. These developments, like much else relevant to Carlyle, goes unmentioned in Moore’s movie.

None of this is to suggest that there aren’t legitimate questions that deserve to be asked about the influence that secretive firms like Carlyle have in Washington—not to mention the Saudis themselves (an issue that has been taken up repeatedly in our weekly Terror Watch columns.) Nor are we trying to say that “Fahrenheit 9/11” isn’t a powerful and effective movie that raises a host of legitimate issues about President Bush’s response to the September 11 attacks, the climate of fear engendered by the war on terror and, most importantly, about the wisdom and horrific human toll of the war in Iraq.

But for all the reasonable points he makes, on more than a few occasions in the movie Moore twists and bends the available facts and makes glaring omissions in ways that end up clouding the serious political debate he wants to provoke.

Consider Moore’s handling of another conspiratorial claim: the idea that oil-company interest in building a pipeline through Afghanistan influenced early Bush administration policy regarding the Taliban. Moore raises the issue by stringing together two unrelated events. The first is that a delegation of Taliban leaders flew to Houston, Texas, in 1997 (“while George W. Bush was governor of Texas,” the movie helpfully points out) to meet with executives of Unocal, an oil company that was indeed interested in building a pipeline to carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan.

The second is that another Taliban emissary visited Washington in March, 2001 and got an audience at the State Department, leaving Moore to speculate that the Bush administration had gone soft on the protectors of Osama bin Laden because it was interested in promoting a pipeline deal. “Why on earth would the Bush administration allow a Taliban leader to visit the United States knowing that the Taliban were harboring the man who bombed the USS Cole and our African embassies?” Moore asks at one point.

This, as conspiracy theories go, is more than a stretch. Unocal’s interest in building the Afghan pipeline is well documented. Indeed, according to “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to Sept. 10., 2001,” the critically acclaimed book by Washington Post managing editor Steve Coll, Unocal executives met repeatedly with Clinton administration officials throughout the late 1990s in an effort to promote the project—in part by getting the U.S. government to take a more conciliatory approach to the Taliban. “It was an easy time for an American oil executive to find an audience in the Clinton White House,” Coll writes on page 307 of his book. “At the White House, [Unocal lobbyist Marty Miller] met regularly with Sheila Heslin, the director of energy issues at the National Security Council, whose suite next to the West Wing coursed with visitors from American oil firms. Miller found Heslin…very supportive of Unocal’s agenda in Afghanistan.”

Coll never suggests that the Clintonites’ interest in the Unocal project was because of the corrupting influence of big oil. Clinton National Security Council advisor “Berger, Heslin and their White House colleagues saw themselves engaged in a hardheaded synthesis of American commercial interests and national security goals,” he writes. “They wanted to use the profit-making motives of American oil companies to thwart one of the country’s most determined enemies, Iran, and to contain the longer-term ambitions of a restless Russia.”

Whatever the motive, the Unocal pipeline project was entirely a Clinton-era proposal: By 1998, as the Taliban hardened its positions, the U.S. oil company pulled out of the deal. By the time George W. Bush took office, it was a dead issue—and no longer the subject of any lobbying in Washington. (Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force report in May, 2001, makes no reference to it.) There is no evidence that the Taliban envoy who visited Washington in March, 2001—and met with State Department and National Security Council officials—ever brought up the pipeline. Nor is there any evidence anybody in the Bush administration raised it with him. The envoy brought a letter to Bush offering negotiations to resolve the issue of what should be done with bin Laden. (A few weeks earlier, Taliban leader Mullah Omar had floated the idea of convening a tribunal of Islamic religious scholars to review the evidence against the Al Qaeda leader.) The Taliban offer was promptly shot down. “We have not seen from the Taliban a proposal that would meet the requirements of the U.N. resolution to hand over Osama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at the time.

The use of innuendo is rife through other critical passages of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The movie makes much of the president’s relationship with James R. Bath, a former member of his Texas Air National Guard who, like Bush, was suspended from flying at one point for failure to take a physical. The movie suggests that the White House blacked out a reference to Bath’s missed physical from his National Guard records not because of legal concerns over the Privacy Act but because it was trying to conceal the Bath connection—a presumed embarrassment because the Houston businessman had once been the U.S. money manager for the bin Laden family. After being hired by the bin Ladens to manager their money in Texas, Bath “in turn,” the movie says, “invested in George W. Bush.”

The investment in question is real: In the late 1970’s, Bath put up $50,000 into Bush’s Arbusto Energy, (one of a string of failed oil ventures by the president), giving Bath a 5 percent interest in the company. The implication seems to be that, years later, because of this link, Bush was somehow not as zealous about his determination to get bin Laden.

Leaving aside the fact that the bin Laden family, which runs one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firms, has never been linked to terrorism, the movie—which relied heavily on Unger’s book—fails to note the author’s conclusion about what to make of the supposed Bin Laden-Bath-Bush nexus: that it may not mean anything. The “Bush-Bin Laden ‘relationships’ were indirect—two degrees of separation, perhaps—and at times have been overstated,” Unger writes in his book. While critics have charged that bin Laden money found its way into Arbusto through Bath, Unger notes that “no hard evidence has ever been found to back up that charge” and Bath himself has adamantly denied it. “One hundred percent of those funds (in Arbusto) were mine,” says Bath in a footnote on page 101 of Unger’s book. “It was a purely personal investment.”

The innuendo is greatest, of course, in Moore’s dealings with the matter of the departing Saudis flown out of the United States in the days after the September 11 terror attacks. Much has already been written about these flights, especially the film’s implication that figures with possible knowledge of the terrorist attacks were allowed to leave the country without adequate FBI screening—a notion that has been essentially rejected by the 9/11 commission. The 9/11 commission found that the FBI screened the Saudi passengers, ran their names through federal databases, interviewed 30 of them and asked many of them “detailed questions.” “Nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country,” the commission stated. New information about a flight from Tampa, Florida late on Sept. 13 seems mostly a red herring: The flight didn’t take any Saudis out of the United States. It was a domestic flight to Lexington, Kentucky that took place after the Tampa airport had already reopened.

It is true that there are still some in the FBI who had questions about the flights-and wish more care had been taken to examine the passengers. But the film’s basic point—that the flights represented perhaps the supreme example of the Saudi government’s influence in the Bush White House-is almost impossible to defend. Why? Because while the film claims—correctly—that the “White House” approved the flights, it fails to note who exactly in the White House did so. It wasn’t the president, or the vice president or anybody else supposedly corrupted by Saudi oil money. It was Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism czar who was a holdover from the Clinton administration and who has since turned into a fierce Bush critic. Clarke has publicly testified that he gave the greenlight—conditioned on FBI clearance.

“I thought the flights were correct,” Clarke told ABC News last week. “The Saudis had reasonable fear that they might be the subject of vigilante attacks in the United States after 9/11. And there is no evidence even to this date that any of the people who left on those flights were people of interest to the FBI.” Like much else relevant to the issues Moore raises, Clarke’s reasons for approving the flights—and his thoughts on them today—won’t be found in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” nor in any of the ample material now being churned out by the film-maker’s “war room” to defend his provocative, if flawed, movie.

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