Saturday, May 28

AI Calls for arrest of Top US Officials


During a statement on the release of it's annual report, Amnesty International President William Schultz called for the investigation, arrest, detention and prosecution of senior U.S. Officials - either by an Special Prosecutor or by foreign government prosecutors - who authored and authorized policies which lead to inhumane treatment and torture of persons held at Guantanemo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Force Base. "The Government investigation must climb all the way to the top...", stated Schultz. Quoting former Secretary of State Colin Powell he went on to point out that permitting Torture by U.S. personnel "undermines the moral authority" and can allow such techniques to "spread like a virus" thruout the world.


Amnesty International then offered a "Hit List" of high level U.S. officials whose actions have directly lead to torture.


Donald Rumsfeld: For approving a Sept 2002 Memorandum that permitted unlawful torture techniques such as stress positions, prolonged isolation, stripping and the use of dogs at Guantanemo Bay.


William Haynes - Department of Defense General Counsel : Who wrote that Memo.


Douglas Feith : Who was listed in the Sept 2002 Memo as concurring with it's conclusions.


Maj General Geoffrey Miller - Commander of Joint Task Force at Guantanemo : Whose subordinates used some of those same torture techniques (as approved by the Haynes Memo), and was then sent to Iraq where he recommended that prison guards - "soften up" detainees for interrogation.


George Tenet - former CIA Director : Whose organization kept "Ghost Detainees" off registration logs and hid them from members of the Red Cross, and whose operatives reportedly used such techniques as water-boarding, suffocation, stress positions and incommunicado detention.


Roberto Gonzales - Attorney General and former White House Council: Who called the Geneva Conventions "quaint and obsolete" in a Jan 2002 memo, and requested the "Bybee Memo" which fueled the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.


Lt General Ricardo Sanchez - former commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq and his deputee: Who failed to ensure proper oversight at Abu Ghraib.


Capt. Carolyn Wood : Who oversaw interrogation operations at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan, which permitted the use of dogs, sensory deprovation and stress positions.


George W. Bush - President : Whose Administration has repeatedly justified it's interrogation policies as legitimate, under the Presidents powers as Commander-in-Chief, and President Bush also signed a Feb 2002 Memo stating that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees, and that their humane treatment should be contigent upon "Military Neccesity" - which clearly set the stage for the tragic use of torture by U.S. forces.


Amnesty International on National security and the ‘war on terror’





President Bush’s refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to those captured during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan and transferred to the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was challenged by a judicial decision in November. The ruling resulted in the suspension of trials by military commission in Guantánamo, and the government immediately lodged an appeal. The US administration’s treatment of detainees in the “war on terror” continued to display a marked ambivalence to the opinion of expert bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and even of its own highest judicial body. Six months after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts had jurisdiction over the Guantánamo detainees, none had appeared in court. Detainees reportedly considered of high intelligence value remained in secret detention in undisclosed locations. In some cases their situation amounted to “disappearance”.


The “war on terror” and the “war on drugs” increasingly merged, and dominated US relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. Following the US elections in November, the Bush administration encouraged governments in the region to give a greater role to the military in public order and internal security operations. The blurring of military and police roles resulted in governments such as those in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Paraguay deploying military forces to deal with crime and social unrest.


The US doubled the ceiling on the number of US personnel deployed in Colombia in counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations. The Colombian government in turn persisted in redefining the country’s 40-year internal conflict as part of the international “war on terror”.


The blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in the “war on terror” continued to make a mockery of President George Bush’s claims that the USA was the global champion of human rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security.



Click for more details from Amnesty International Report on the USA.


Vyan

Thursday, May 26

FBI Confirms Koran Story

Latest News on the Koran-Flushing Story.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Detainees interviewed by FBI agents at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba complained repeatedly that military guards and interrogators mistreated the Koran, with one alleging that the Muslim holy book had been flushed in a toilet, documents show.

The documents -- FBI summaries of interviews with detainees at the military-run prison in 2002 and 2003 -- show that the treatment of the Koran was a key point of contention between detainees and their guards, one that prompted hunger strikes and threats of mass suicide.

Most complaints dealt with the handling of the Koran by guards or its being taken away from detainees as a form of punishment. In some cases, the detainees admitted to not having witnessed the alleged mistreatment themselves.

But detainees also alleged that the Koran had been thrown or kicked by guards, and one said it had been flushed in a toilet, according to the documents.

In a summary dated August 1, 2002, a detainee told his FBI interviewer that he personally had nothing against the United States but that the guards at the detention facility "do not treat him well.

"Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet. The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the summary said.

Just last week, amid a violent outbreak in Afghanistan - allegedly sparked by reports concerning similar abuse by Newsweek - the White House claimed that this abuse "did not occur" and that Newsweek was somehow responsible for these deaths, despite indications that the violence had little to do with the Newsweek story.

May16:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I find it puzzling that Newsweek now acknowledges that the facts were wrong, and they refuse to offer a retraction. There is a certain journalistic standard that should be met, and in this case it was not met. The report was not accurate, and it was based on a single anonymous source who cannot personally substantiate the report, so the -- so they cannot verify the accuracy of the report

May 17:

Q Scott, you said that the retraction by Newsweek magazine of its story is a good first step. What else does the President want this American magazine to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's what I talked about yesterday. This report, which Newsweek has now retracted and said was wrong, has had serious consequences. People did lose their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged; there is lasting damage to our image because of this report. And we would encourage Newsweek to do all that they can to help repair the damage that has been done, particularly in the region.

And I think Newsweek can do that by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran. The military put in place policies and procedures to make sure that the Koran was handled -- or is handled with the utmost care and respect. And I think it would help to point that out, because some have taken this report -- those that are opposed to the United States -- some have taken this report and exploited it and used it to incite violence.

....

Q Back on Newsweek. Richard Myers, last Thursday -- I'm going to read you a quote from him. He said, "It's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran." He said it was "more tied up in the political process and reconciliation that President Karzai and his cabinet were conducting." And he said that that was from an after-action report he got that day.

So what has changed between last Thursday and today, five days later, to make you now think that those -- that that violence was a result of Newsweek?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, clearly, the report was used to incite violence by people who oppose the United States and want to mischaracterize the values and the views of the United States of America. The protests may have been pre-staged by those who oppose the United States and who may be opposed to moving forward on freedom and democracy in the region, but the images that we have seen across our television screens over the last few days clearly show that this report was used to incite violence. People lost their lives --

After Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai had disputed the involvement of Newsweek in the violence (which was perpetrated by Afghan soldiers against peaceful demonstrators), McClennan seemed to back-off on his claims:

May 23rd:

Q One other question. Karzai was quite definite in saying that he didn't believe that the violence in Afghanistan was directly tied to the Newsweek article about Koran desecration. Yet, from this podium, you have made that link. So --

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I don't think you're actually characterizing what was said accurately.

Q By whom?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said last week, and as President Karzai said today, and as General Myers had said previously, the protest may well have been pre-staged. The discredited report was damaging. It was used to incite violence. But those who espouse an ideology of hatred and oppression and murder don't need an excuse to incite violence. But the reports from the region showed how this story was used to incite violence.

Q But Karzai seemed to think that that wasn't what led to the violence, that it was --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, he actually -- he talked about -- President Karzai spoke about how the demonstrations were aimed at undercutting the progress being made toward democracy in Afghanistan, and the progress on elections. They have elections coming up soon. And I spoke about that, as well, last week.

Q So could it be said that the Newsweek article played a role, but was not --

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I think we've made our views known when it comes to the discredited report. There are some that want to continue to defend what is a discredited report that has been disavowed by Newsweek, and that's their business. We're perfectly willing to trust the American people to make their own judgment about it.


McClellan was asked about the new FBI Documents on March 25th, and instead of responding to the revellation that the Newsweek Story was indeed correct, instead claimed that the Department of the Defense continues to claim to have no information (Which is lot like the guy coming out of the convenience store with a smoking gun saying - "I didn't rob nobody!")

May 25:

Q Scott, there's an FBI memo that's been released today through a Freedom of Information request. It dates from August 23, 2002, and recounts the interrogation -- the interview of a detainee at Bagram. And in this memo, the FBI recounts that this detainee says he had nothing against the United States, but the guards in his detention facility do not treat him well, their behavior is bad; about five months ago, the guards beat the detainees and they flushed a Koran in the toilet.

Now, there has been some statements coming from some administration officials since the Newsweek retraction of its story that a Koran was flushed down the toilet, that the United States government had no knowledge of any such allegation.

MR. McCLELLAN: This is referring to a detainee, right?

Q Correct.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think what the Department of Defense has said is that they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegation.

Not surprisingly, Fox News has followed the White House lead in continuing to deny the abuse based on Pentagon sources.

Di Rita, the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search ), said that U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay had recently found a separate record of the same allegation by the same detainee, and he was re-interviewed on May 14. "He did not corroborate his own allegation," Di Rita said.

Asked why he felt certain that this detainee did not affirm his allegation out of fear of retaliation, Di Rita said, "It's a judgment call, and I trust the judgment of the commanders more than I trust the judgment of Al Qaeda."


Vyan

Voinovich on Bolton

Published: May 25, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 24 - The Ohio Republican whose opposition to John R. Bolton nearly stalled his nomination in committee circulated a letter on Tuesday urging colleagues to vote against Mr. Bolton when his name reaches the Senate floor, possibly this week.

Skip to next paragraph
Doug Mills/The New York Times

Senator George R. Voinovich attending a hearing on the nomination of John Bolton on May 12.

The renewed opposition from the senator, George V. Voinovich, was addressed to all his colleagues, but it was aimed particularly at fellow Republicans in a chamber in which the party holds a 55-to-44 majority. At least five Republicans would have to join Mr. Voinovich in opposing Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador in order to defeat it.

In the letter, Mr. Voinovich said that while he had been "hesitant to push my views on my colleagues" during his six years in the Senate, he felt "compelled to share my deep concerns" about the nomination.

"In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective ambassador to the United Nations," Mr. Voinovich wrote. He urged colleagues to "put aside our partisan agenda and let our consciences and our shared commitment to our nation's best interests guide us."

The White House remains strongly in favor of Mr. Bolton's nomination, and it is unusual for a Republican to break ranks so publicly with President Bush.

"We are confident John Bolton will be confirmed," Erin Healey, a spokeswoman for the White House, said Tuesday. "Many highly respected people who know him well support his nomination, and we urge the Senate to act quickly."

In addition to sending out his letter, Mr. Voinovich was also making telephone calls and meeting with other Republican senators to urge them to oppose Mr. Bolton's nomination, according to two Senate Republican officials. A copy of his letter, dated May 23 but not circulated until Tuesday, was provided by a Senate Democratic aide opposed to the nomination.

The Senate's Republican leaders on Tuesday were trying to win agreement from Democrats on a plan that could allow a vote on Mr. Bolton by the end of the week. Senate Democrats have strongly opposed the nomination, and the party's leaders in the Senate were weighing possible moves to defeat it or procedural moves to delay or prevent a vote.

It is not clear whether any Republicans might join Mr. Voinovich in breaking ranks with the White House.

Among the 10 Republicans on the Senate committee, three joined Mr. Voinovich in expressing reservations about Mr. Bolton's nomination. The Republicans on the panel agreed only to send the nomination to the full Senate without an endorsement, an unusual move.

On Tuesday, however, spokesmen for two of those Republicans, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, said their bosses expected to vote in favor of Mr. Bolton when his name comes before the full Senate. A spokeswoman for the third, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said the senator had told reporters from her home state that she was "likely to support Bolton's nomination on the floor."

A spokesman for another Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, said Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Thune "hasn't made any decisions" about Mr. Bolton's nomination. Mr. Thune, a freshman, has clashed with the administration over a Defense Department plan to close a major military base in his state.

One Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, had sought to block a Senate vote on Mr. Bolton, saying she would oppose any vote until the State Department provided documents related to the nomination that the department has so far refused to hand over.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, a spokeswoman for Ms. Boxer said she had decided to lift a hold on Mr. Bolton's nomination. Ms. Boxer's spokeswoman said she would join with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware in agreeing to a Republican plan to move toward a vote on Mr. Bolton after allowing up to 40 hours of debate.

It appeared unlikely that any Senate Democrat would try to use a filibuster to block a vote, Senate Democratic officials said.

Correction: May 26, 2005, Thursday:

Because of an editing error, an article yesterday about a letter written by Senator George V. Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, urging colleagues to oppose John R. Bolton's confirmation as ambassador to the United Nations misspelled the surname of a White House spokeswoman who said the Bush administration was confident that he would be confirmed. She is Erin E. Healy, not Healey.

Wednesday, May 25

Radical Centrists save the Day

story.mccain.sen.tv.jpg
John McCain (R-AZ)
Last night, America pull back from the brink of the near destruction of the Senate.

14 Senators, from both sides of the ideological aisle, pulled together and found a solution to the Nuke-the-Constitutional Option. Idealogues on both the far-right and far-left are angry - as a declared and devout Centrist, I couldn't be more proud. This is what Centrism is: coming up with practical solutions to intracable problems.

On the right they're saying that the "principle and tradition of an up or down vote for judicial nominees" has been violated. This from the party that regularly blocked judges during the Clinton Presidency using such parlimentary tricks as the "Blue Slip Rule". Democrats have also been accused of ignoring principle by allowing the three most problematic judges, Janice Rogers-Brown, Pricilla Owen and William Pryor to be voted on tomorrow.

Amid all this the right of the minority to filibuster and block the most extreme of judges as been preserved, and all-in-all that is a good thing.

In Federalist #51 James Hamilton wrote:
In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself. Second. It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure.

In Summary, Hamilton Essay states:

Dividing power helps to check its growth in any one direction, but power cannot be divided absolutely equally. In the republican form of government, the legislative branch tends to be the most powerful. That is why the framers divided the Congress into two branches, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and provided for a different method of election in each branch. Further safeguards against legislative tyranny may be necessary.

In a representative democracy it is not only important to guard against the oppression of rulers, it is equally important to guard against the injustice which may be inflicted by certain citizens or groups. Majorities often threaten the rights of minorities. There are only two methods of avoiding evil. The first is to construct a powerful government, a "community will." Such a "will' is larger than, and independent of, the simply majority. This "solution" is dangerous because such a government might throw its power behind a group in society working against the public good. In our country, the authority to govern comes from the entire society ­ the people. In addition, under the Constitution society is divided into many groups of people who hold different views and have different interests. This makes it very difficult for one group to dominate or threaten the minority groups.
Yesterday, America was protected from this potential Tyranny of the Majorityby a plurality of 7 Republicans - Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), John McCain (Arizona), John Warner (Virginia) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) as well as 7 Democrats Robert Byrd (West Virginia), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) , Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and Ken Salazar (Colorado) - who came together to work out an equitable compromise. In times of crisis it's not the extremist who will come forward will calm resolve and solutions - it's the Centrists who have the will to defy convention and even their own political fortunes to do what is best for the nation - and keep us all from falling off the cliff.

Vyan

Tuesday, May 24

Iraq: The Intelligence Story

Courtesy of the Center for American Progress:

War In Iraq: The Intelligence Story

War In Iraq: The Intelligence Story

For months the American people have raised questions about why the Bush administration, which went to war to pre-empt an "imminent threat," has not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Over the last two weeks, those questions have mounted – rapidly – following comments of former chief weapons inspector David Kay ("we were all wrong") and CIA Director George Tenet ("[analysts] never said there was an 'imminent' threat"). In an attempt to turn the tide of public opinion, President Bush appeared on Meet the Press to convince the American people that he built the case for war on what he considered to be good intelligence – intelligence he is now learning was faulty. He recently established a commission to investigate intelligence about Iraq and, more broadly, the war on terrorism. What is the real intelligence story? Read more to find out.

Examining the Intelligence

CIA 'never said there was an imminent threat', by George Tenet, February 5, 2004
I have come here today to talk to you and to the American people about something important to our nation and central to our future: how the United States intelligence community evaluated Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs over the past decade, leading to a national intelligence estimate in October of 2002.

Q & A with Congresswoman Jane Harman, February 12, 2004
In an implicit – and long-awaited – admission of error, President Bush last week announced the establishment of a commission to examine the intelligence in the case of Iraq and more broadly on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Q & A with Steven Simon: The British Approach, February 11, 2004
Steven Simon, a senior analyst at the Rand Corporation and former assistant director for U.S. Security Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, discusses how the political pressure on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to launch a corresponding inquiry became "irresistible."

What George T. Said to George W., by P.J. Crowley, February 11, 2004
With one sentence during a very direct, factual and effective speech on Thursday at Georgetown University, CIA Director George Tenet put the Iraq monkey squarely on the back of George W. Bush.

After a Crisis, Bush is no Reagan, by Lawrence J. Korb, February 11, 2004
In this LA Times op-ed, American Progress Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb says that if "Bush really wants to emulate Reagan, he ought to follow the former president's approach to handling foreign policy disasters."

President Bush has appointed a nine-member commission to investigate intelligence about Iraq and more broadly the war on terrorism. For the biographical information of commission members, click here.

Interpreting the Administration's Record

Then and Now: Heeding, Then Ignoring Intel Warnings on Weak WMD Evidence, February 3, 2004
Despite the administration's best efforts to blame the intelligence community for the failure to find WMD, the intelligence community repeatedly warned the White House that the President's WMD case for war was weak.

In Their Own Words, Iraq's 'Imminent' Threat, January 29, 2004
The Bush administration is now saying it never told the public that Iraq was an "imminent" threat, and therefore it should be absolved for overstating the case for war and misleading the American people about Iraq's WMD.

Neglecting Intelligence, Ignoring Warnings, January 28, 2004
Former weapons inspector David Kay now says Iraq probably did not have WMD before the war, a major blow to the Bush administration which used the WMD argument as the rationale for war.

For further discussion of prewar intelligence assessments and how the administration used those assessments to make the case for war, click here.

Talking About the Issue

Pentagon Funding Phony Intelligence, March 11, 2004
Just days after CIA director George Tenet told Congress about his multiple interventions to correct false and misleading statements by the Bush administration prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, American taxpayers learn the Pentagon is channeling $340,000 per month for "intelligence collection" to Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

Administration Exposed on Bogus Use of Intelligence, March 10, 2004
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, CIA director George Tenet exposed the Bush administration's misleading statements on the use of prewar intelligence on Iraq.

No WMD But Plenty of Chaos, March 2, 2004
In one of the deadliest days in Iraq since the start of the war last spring, the Ashoura religious festival was rocked today by six separate attacks in Karbala and at least three in Baghdad aimed at Shiite shrines and areas packed with religious pilgrims.

Failing to Learn from Intelligence Mistakes, February 24, 2004
As CIA Director George Tenet prepares to brief lawmakers on the state of worldwide threats today, the American public deserves to know what the Bush administration has learned from the two gigantic intelligence mishaps on its watch – the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the failure to find biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons in Iraq.

The Blame Game Continues: Intelligence and the 1990s, February 18, 2004
In an unsuccessful effort to rally public support for the war in Iraq, supporters of the Bush administration are again trying to divert attention from the real causes for the war and resort to the tactic of "blame someone else."

Stonewalling on Intelligence Failures, February 3, 2004
President Bush offered a welcome announcement yesterday that he will appoint a bipartisan commission to examine American intelligence gathering. But the devil is in the details.

Passing the Buck, January 29, 2004
The Bush administration's strategy for addressing questions about the war in Iraq is now clear – shift the blame for prewar failures to the intelligence community and claim the war was justified regardless of any solid evidence of an imminent threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, May 22

Connecting the Dots

This past friday Rep John Conyers spoke the Time of London about the Downing Street Memos.
Today's London Times runs a major article by Tony Allen-Mills and Tom Pattinson covering our letter signed by 89 Representatives to Bush. Although we are -- thanks to your help -- seeing somewhat of an uptick in coverage in the U.S., I continue to be amazed that the foreign press is willing to be so much more aggressive on this front than the U.S. press is.
But slowly the U.S. press has begining to pick up the story. The important thing is to keep the story alive and perculating. I think the U.S. media is well aware of this issue, but - as Republican Trolls on Conyersblog posts have alluded - they're simply afraid of get Dan RatherED and NewsweekED on this story! The Repubs have done a masterful job of completely undermining the credibility of *all* media that doesn't tow the right-wing line.

However, this wasn't the first smoking-gun on Bush's Secret Iraq policy. The shot was fired by former Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill.
“From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic "A" 10 days after the inauguration - eight months before Sept. 11.

“From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

As treasury secretary, O'Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never asked.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’" says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

So is this second hand hearsay - as the naysayers would claim about the Downing Street Memo - or is it direct documentation by someone who was there in the room, as key decisions were being made?

The second shot was fired by former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke who - during the 9/11 hearings -pointed out how he Bush Administration was near criminally negligent in ignoring the threat of Al-Qaeda, and almost immediately began to blame Iraq for the attack - despite all available evidence. "They wanted to believe there was a connection," he said.

Third, you have UN Weapons inspector Scott Ritter who:
...first went public in 1999 with claims that the US had used the supposedly neutral inspection teams to spy on Saddam's regime, including planting surveillance devices. Continuing to campaign against military intervention, he said in August 2002 that Iraq's weapons programs had been eliminated and it posed no threat. His claim that the British Secret Service was planning a disinformation campaign against Iraq in the late 1990s was investigated by the Blair Government's Butler inquiry into pre-war intelligence and found to be true. Earlier this year, Ritter wrote in The Age that the invasion of Iraq was "a crime of gigantic proportions".
The fact is that the Downing Street Memo is just confirmation of all the above. It's amazing the not one member of the MSM has managed to write a story - or even ask a pointed question of the Bush Administration that connects all the above dots, but then again - fear is a powerful force.

Even with all this in mind, I believe Democrats simply have to keep focused. The short-term goal isn't to "Get Bush" now -- the short-term goal is to be able to use all these facts to hammer the Republicans during the 06 elections and regain control of Congress. Once that's done, and a serious investigation can be done using subpeona power, I'm certain many more "smoking gun" documents will turn up-- and with luck, lead to either an indictment and/or impeachment of the current Liar in Chief. Bush himself isn't truly the enemy, Far Right-Wing ideology is - and that is what needs to be crushed from existence.

First things first people - first things first.

Vyan