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12 June 2004

Even as economy recovers, undecideds tilt toward Kerry 



Opinion of Bush's performance reaches a low for his term - yet his supporters are fervent, and the race remains tight.

WASHINGTON – President Bush is losing ground with the American public in how his leadership rankings, but in a head-to-head matchup with Democratic rival John Kerry, he remains in a dead heat, according to the latest Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll.
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Undecided Voter Is Becoming the Focus of Both Political Parties

ARDMORE, Pa., June 10 — They are more likely to be white than black, female than male, married than single, and live in the suburbs rather than in large cities. They are not frequent churchgoers nor gun enthusiasts. They are clustered in swing states like Ohio, Michigan and here in Pennsylvania. And while they follow the news closely, they are largely indifferent to the back and forth of this year's race for president.
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Bush should fear Nancy Reagan's ire

Luddite position on stem-cell technology sets President at odds with the nation's most powerful widow

While trying to avoid ostentatious gloating, Republican operatives quietly confide their hope that the public tributes to the late Ronald Reagan this week will lift the sagging George W. Bush. That may happen for a time, just as the capture of Saddam Hussein briefly bolstered the President. By Election Day, however, memories of Reagan are unlikely to motivate anyone who wouldn't have voted for Mr. Bush anyway.
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CCR OBTAINS INTERNAL PENTAGON REPORT OUTLINING FRAMEWORK FOR USE OF TORTURE

CCR has posted the controversial Pentagon “Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy and Operational Considerations” on its website. The report is further proof of the Bush administration’s disregard for the Constitution and civil liberties and shows there was planning at high levels of government to abuse and torture detainees. [ Pentago Report PDF 6.7 MB ]

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Army Withholds Chemical Attack Antidote

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A New York City police department physician thinks she has found a promising antidote for emergency workers to use if terrorists launch a chemical weapons attack, but the federal government won't let the city buy it - even though the U.S. Army can.
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At least five soldiers objected last fall to abuses they saw at the Abu Ghraib prison :

Up the chain of command, the noncommissioned officers who heard such complaints did little to stop the mistreatment, according to Army records obtained by The Associated Press
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Iraq dog use 'ordered by US intelligence':

A military intelligence interrogator also told investigators that two dog handlers at the prison were "having a contest" to see how many detainees they could make involuntarily urinate out of fear of the dogs
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Report Documents Extensive U.S. War Crimes In Iraq:

The Bush Administration is committing war crimes and other serious violations of international law in Iraq as a matter of routine policy, according to a report released today by the Center for Economic and Social Rights.
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Poll: Voters Say Iraq Didn't Merit War :

Voters are increasingly concerned that Iraq is a quagmire America cannot escape, and they are doubtful that a democratic government will be established there, according to the poll published in Friday editions of the Times.
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Controversial Commando Wins Iraq Contract

Occupation authorities in Iraq have awarded a $293 million contract effectively creating the world's largest private army to a company headed by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, a former officer with the Scots Guard, an elite regiment of the British military, who has been investigated for illegally smuggling arms and planning military offensives to support mining, oil, and gas operations around the world. On May 25, the Army Transportation command awarded Spicer's company, Aegis Defense Services, the contract to coordinate all the security for Iraqi reconstruction projects.
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Iraq abuse 'came from US policy'

Photos of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners have shocked the world
A human rights group says the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers was due to a decision to circumvent international law.


Human Rights Watch says the "horrors" photographed at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail were the direct result of a policy to ignore the Geneva Conventions.
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General overseeing abuse probe asks to be removed

WASHINGTON-- The general in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq has asked to be removed from overseeing the investigation into alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, a move that would allow him to interviewed in connection with the case.
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Reports find pervasive and increasing sexual abuse in the US military

Female service members in the US military stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait have reported more than 100 cases of sexual assault or misconduct by male soldiers. Complaints have been filed against members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
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US U-turn on upbeat terror report

Global terror attacks are on the rise, says the US State Department, admitting an earlier report - which had claimed attacks were tailing off - was wrong.

The State Department reported in April that there were fewer terror attacks in 2003 than in any year since 1969.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said data in that report was misleading - but said this was an "honest" error.
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Assessing America's reputation

"With the military invasion and occupation, the United States sought to change the political status quo in the Arab world to advance American strategic and political interests."

The International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London, modestly calls itself "the world's leading authority on politico-military conflict."
Not many experts would disagree. Its renown stems in part from being privately supported and free of politics. The IISS was particularly valuable during the Cold War, especially for journalists during the Reagan administration when Pentagon and CIA assessments of Soviet military strength proved wildly inaccurate.
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U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia has long ties to oil, Bush family

Oberwetter, 59, grew up as the son of a nomadic West Texas oilfield worker and went on to become a top executive of the Hunt Oil Co. in Dallas. Along the way, he became close to two presidents named Bush. Consequently, his resume boasted a pair of blue-ribbon qualifications for dealings with the Saudi royal family: knowledge of oil and telephone access to the Oval Office. He succeeded another Texan in the post, Dallas attorney Robert Jordan.
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Art becomes the next suspect in America's 9/11 paranoia


On May 10 Steven Kurtz went to bed a married art professor. On May 11 he woke up a widower. By the afternoon he was under federal investigation for bioterrorism.

What began as a personal tragedy for Mr Kurtz has turned into what many believe is, at best, an overreaction prompted by 9/11 paranoia and, at worst, a politically motivated attempt to silence a radical artist......
Mr Kurtz, who is not speaking to the press, is part of the Critical Art Ensemble, "dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, radical politics and critical theory".
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Iraqi bloggers grab global interest

While reconstruction in Iraq remains fraught with violence and political infighting, the country is experiencing a surge in popularity of online diaries, or weblogs.

Written by ordinary Iraqis keen to tell the world about life in the troubled country, the sites are also attracting the attention of a global audience keen to learn about the lives of local civilians.
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Iraq anger in India's city of courtesy

NEW DELHI - Reverberations from the US-led war in Iraq are being felt in Lucknow, the capital city of Indian state Uttar Pradesh, known for nawabs (rich hereditary rulers of Mughal states), tehzeeb (culture), Mughlai cuisine and the pehle aap (you first) school of manners.

Over the past week, a spate of protests as well as statements from clerics in the city have warned British, US and Israeli citizens to stay away from the state capital. There are also fears that the demonstrations may spread to the rest of the state, with calls being made to prevent foreigners from entering the precincts of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, 363 kilometers away from Lucknow. India's Muslims, especially Shi'ites, have reacted sharply to the clash between US forces and Shi'ite militiamen last month in which one of the most sacred shrines of the Shi'ites, the shrine of Hazrat Ali, was damaged. Muslims form a sizeable population in Lucknow, as well as in Uttar Pradesh as a whole.

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06 June 2004

Time to Leave 


The Nation

Take Action Now!


We have paid a heavy price for the Bush Administration's unnecessary and illegal invasion of Iraq: more than 800 American soldiers dead; more than 4,500 wounded or maimed; and $120 billion wasted on a war and occupation that has sullied our country's image in the world, undercut our moral authority and poisoned Arab and Muslim minds against us for decades to come. We will pay an even heavier price if we "stay the course," as the Administration and many Democrats urge. If, as war supporters claim, our goals in Iraq (now that we've lost the rationale of hunting down weapons of mass destruction) are stability and democracy, we are proceeding in exactly the wrong way. In the eyes of most Iraqis, American forces have long since ceased to be nation-builders and instead are occupying forces that knock down their homes, bomb their mosques and abuse and humiliate their fellow citizens. The occupation, like other occupations throughout history, has generated a growing popular resistance that cannot be defeated militarily. It is time to change course.

We can start by turning over real sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government. However imperfect this new entity may be, it will have a better chance of establishing at least modest legitimacy if the United States treats it, in private and public, not as a puppet regime but as an autonomous government.

We can also announce that US troops will no longer engage in offensive operations and that we will pull out our forces, with the goal of total withdrawal by the end of the year. At the same time, we can try to persuade the United Nations to establish a multinational peacekeeping force to take over after our departure, and we can pledge to contribute to that effort in whatever way the international community regards as appropriate, including the possible participation of US troops.

To take these steps is not to "abandon" Iraq. Rather it is to assist in producing the stability we claim to want. The United States should continue to help Iraq by providing economic and humanitarian assistance and by supporting UN efforts to aid the interim government in conducting the earliest possible elections. This government should have authority over the economy and oil revenues and command over the country's security forces, as well as the right to set terms for the operation of any foreign troops on its soil. Washington should announce that it will pay reparations toward the rebuilding of Iraq to compensate for the devastation wrought by the US invasion and occupation. And it should renounce any interest in controlling Iraqi assets and in establishing US military bases. Only by yielding political and economic control in Iraq and disengaging our forces, while supporting UN nation-building efforts in a disinterested way, can we hope to reverse the growing rage in the Arab world and halt the current spiral of violence.

Two arguments are advanced--including by many well-meaning American liberals--against withdrawal. The first is that we owe it to the Iraqis whose lives we have violently disrupted to remain. In this view, withdrawal is tantamount to condemning Iraq to chaos. The second argument, a corollary to the first, is that an unstable, ungovernable Iraq will become a haven for extremists.

Although these concerns are serious, neither argument holds up under scrutiny. If the United States withdraws its forces, Iraq could face a violent power struggle between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds or between rival factions of the same sectarian group. But the risks must be weighed against the fact that US forces themselves are a major cause of the current instability. The troops there now are doing little to provide security for postwar reconstruction; they--and those seen to be cooperating with them--are the target of a widening guerrilla war against what is seen as an oppressive occupying power. More American forces will not change that logic; on the contrary, a harsher military campaign will only cause further alienation, turning even more Iraqis--Shiites as well as Sunnis--against us. Furthermore, we are not in a position to repair the divisions among a people whose language we do not speak and whose traditions we hardly understand; indeed, to the extent that we have succeeded thus far in unifying Iraq's fractured population, it has been in opposition to the American occupation.

With regard to the second argument, that withdrawal would inspire Islamic radicals to flock to Iraq, again, a well-coordinated withdrawal is more likely to deprive these extremists of a pretext, and a context, for future attacks. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned that a US invasion would create "a hundred bin Ladens," and the longer we stay, the more such extremism will be fostered. It is our respect for the will of the Iraqi people that will deprive Islamic radicals of their greatest rallying cry.

The current debate in Washington over Iraq is a peculiar one. Whether the topic is how many troops to send, or the intentions of UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, or the relationship of state and mosque, or the partition of the country, the conversation is conducted in splendid isolation from the Iraqi people whose fate is being decided. The disconnect reveals much about US policy-makers and pundits, who cannot accept that US military power will not decide Iraq's future. Underlying it is the unspoken yet powerful fear that if we "lose" Iraq, our "credibility" will suffer an irreparable blow. But Iraq is not ours to lose. The issue is not what we want (or fear) but what Iraqis want.

The recent surge of support for the uprising in Iraq has begun to disabuse even this Administration of the notion that the fighting is confined to Baathist "dead-enders" and foreign jihadists. In a poll taken by the well-regarded Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies before the release of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos, 82 percent of Iraqis said they now oppose US occupation forces, and a large majority want them to leave. As important, many Iraqi leaders once considered sympathetic to the occupation have now broken with the Coalition Provisional Authority or have intervened, in the case of the battles of Falluja and Najaf, to alter what they considered to be a misguided US military strategy. After Abu Ghraib, no Iraqi leader can demand anything less than the full return of Iraqi sovereignty, including control over the country's military and police forces. No less an American proxy than Ahmad Chalabi has refashioned himself as a militant opponent of his former patrons.

Within the UN Security Council, France and Russia are now echoing these Iraqi demands and are threatening to oppose any new Security Council resolution that does not give Iraqis full control over their future. We should heed these voices not only because they offer an honorable way out for the United States but because they increase the chances for a stable Iraq. Contrary to the views of those perpetuating the occupation, an internationally agreed-upon US disengagement from Iraq would not be a victory for terrorism or jihadism but for international law and the principle of popular sovereignty. That would be a good thing in today's Middle East. If that region is to become a more secure and democratic place, the United States must first relinquish the dream of remaking it in its image. Instead, we should learn how to work with others, through international diplomacy and programs of economic assistance, to help those who want our help.

We also must identify those responsible for America's catastrophic errors. George W. Bush and his advisers, so reckless with American and Iraqi lives (more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in this war) and so heedless of the consequences of their Iraq policies, must be held accountable--through investigations by Congress and at the ballot box in November.

The current tragedy in Iraq can be laid at the door of an Administration that thought it could defy international law and the politics of the Arab world. It went to war without the consent of the UN Security Council and without any understanding of how the Iraqi people would receive an American occupation. We cannot undo this terrible misjudgment or the damage it has done. But we can avoid compounding the harm we have already inflicted by listening to what the Iraqis are telling us: to give them back their country and leave.

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Inside America's Animal House 


Masked and Anonymous

Every now and then the mask slips, and we see the true face of the system that marshals the world. For an instant, the heavy paint of sober wisdom and moral purpose falls away, and there, suddenly, with jolting clarity, is the snarling rictus of an ape.

Last week gave us two such moments: a quantum collision, where past and present co-exist temporarily, their overlapping images phasing in and out of synch: now Nixon now Bush now Kissinger now Rumsfeld, mouths, eyes, snarls morphing and shifting, with only one image holding constant between the eras--the twisted, shivered bodies of dead innocents.
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The Serious Implications Of President Bush's Hiring A Personal Outside Counsel For The Valerie Plame Investigation

Recently, the White House acknowledged that President Bush is talking with, and considering hiring, a non-government attorney, James E. Sharp. Sharp is being consulted, and may be retained, regarding the current grand jury investigation of the leak revealing the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert operative.
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Republicans struggling with insecurity

George Tenet's resignation has added to a growing feeling that the US may be safer with a Democrat in the White House, says Philip James
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Pope Denounces Events in Iraq to Bush

ROME - President Bush got a sharp dose of Europe's opposition to his Iraq policy Friday, quietly in the halls of the Vatican from Pope John Paul II and loudly in the streets of Rome from thousands of demonstrators.
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You Have Rights -- if Bush Says You Do

This week, the U.S. Justice Department held an extraordinary news conference. After insisting for two years that details of the case of Jose Padilla, an American citizen accused of being an "enemy combatant," had to be kept secret even from the federal courts, the Justice Department suddenly released detailed information on his interrogations and their results. What made this press conference particularly notable was its intended audience: the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Through a Glass, Starkly

Foreign coverage has a great flaw, an inherent distortion that becomes highly visible in wartime: We tend to learn about foreign countries and cultures only when they're part of a big story.

The World Loathes Us. It's the headline of our time. It's also a symbol of this administration's worst failures, certain to be a central theme of the presidential campaign.
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Australia's Labor defies Bush

Australia's opposition leader Mark Latham has reaffirmed his commitment to pull Australian troops from Iraq if he wins this year's general election.

"We intend to have them home by Christmas," Mr Latham said of the 800 soldiers currently serving in Iraq.
Just hours earlier, US President George Bush warned it would be "disastrous" for Australia to withdraw her troops.

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