News

December 3, 2005

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This policy brief analyzes the limited gains projected for developing countries from further WTO agreements and highlights some of the hidden costs of WTO measures.
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Plain English version of what Congress has done so far, what it’s about to do, why the service cuts are indeed really cuts that hurt people, and why the proposed tax breaks are unfair and unwise.
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This report examines the impact of military transformation and U.S. primacy on arms control and nonproliferation efforts. Advances in precision warfare, military robotics, directed energy weapons, and "less lethal" weapons are reviewed and their implications for arms control explored.
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To help find and stop misuse of taxpayer dollars earmarked for Hurricane Katrina victims, Congress, reporters, and the public must be informed of how the dollars are spent. Send a letter to President Bush asking him to post online all Katrina-related spending documents.
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Coulter also has a long history of spreading false information. Contact CNN and let it know that Coulter's hate and misinformation don't belong on network news.
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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it is exercising its power to waive laws to expedite construction of border fencing near San Diego. DHS did not disclose which laws it is waiving or the geographical extent of the waivers. Write your member of Congress and demand that the agency come clean about the waivers.
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Nominate your favorite and least favorite toys for the Best Toys and Games and the Worst Toys and Games this holiday season to help parents and others buying toys for kids make informed decisions.
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Contact your Congressperson to urge him or her to take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will solve our broken immigration system.
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Sean Gonsalves says that torture is torture by any name.
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Shopping for kids seems to be getting harder every year, Diana Zuckerman says. She hears from parents across the country who are shocked every time they shop -- not just by the prices, but by the toys and other desirables on children's wish lists.
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Despite efforts by the political Right in both France and the USA to link the French rebellions to Muslim extremism, the rebellions are rooted in unemployment, frustration and racial discrimination.
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Ray McGovern says that the Cairo Summit builds a bridge between Iraqi politics, U.S. public opinion and calls for withdrawal.
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Alito's stated views and narrow interpretation of the law left the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights no choice but to oppose his nomination, Wade Henderson, executive director, said.
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Seventeen women ran as candidates in the election for the board of directors of the Jiddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, making it the first time women have been on a ballot in Saudi Arabia.
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The Supreme Court will hear two related cases on November 30 involving violence against women's health clinics and access to abortion services.
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Greg Sargent says that Bush and Cheney withheld reams of Iraq intelligence. But can Dems claim they backed the war because they were duped?
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In an interview on the December 1 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer noted that while the reason given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq "proved to be wrong," he still gives the administration "the benefit of the doubt," adding, "I don't think they deliberately misled people."

From the December 1 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

SCHIEFFER: But when you come right down to it, and, I mean, I always have to tell you where I'm coming from. I mean, in the very beginning, when they told me that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapon or was building one, I thought we had to go in and take it away from him. I thought there was no other choice for the president to make. But it turns out that was not correct. Whether -- I still give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't think they deliberately misled people. But the fact is, the reason they gave for going in proved to be wrong.

Though Schieffer appears to have made up his mind about the issue, there is mounting evidence that the Bush administration did, in fact, mislead the country by withholding and distorting prewar intelligence, as Media Matters for America has noted.

Schieffer himself has introduced recent CBS Evening News reports that addressed some of this evidence. In a November 18 CBS Evening News segment introduced by Schieffer, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported on a Pentagon investigation into whether former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith "provided distorted intelligence":

SCHIEFFER: And now, as I understand it, Bob, there's another set of troubles emerging out at the Pentagon, some sort of a new investigation.

ORR: This again involves the intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. The inspector general from the Department of Defense apparently is looking into the activities of a former undersecretary, Doug Feith. Specifically, he has questions as to whether or not Mr. Feith provided distorted intelligence and, on one point, questions whether or not Mr. Feith provided intelligence to the White House that never was run by the CIA.

Introducing a November 11 report by CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, Schieffer noted, "One specific claim that President Bush and other officials made in the run-up to the war was that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda." Martin reported that Bush's claim that Iraq had "provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training" was based on information that intelligence officials warned was unreliable and that in making the case for a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, "top administration officials seem[ed] to go beyond what the CIA was telling them":

SCHIEFFER: One specific claim that President Bush and other officials made in the run-up to the war was that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda. Tonight, David Martin has gotten some significant information about that claim and how it came about.

BUSH: Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.

MARTIN: That warning repeated many times by the president and his top aides was based on a claim made by a captured Al Qaeda operative who has since admitted he was lying. But even at the time he made it, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency sent out a notice cautioning, "It is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers." The CIA noted he "was not in a position to know if any training had actually taken place." Yet administration officials continued to report it as fact.

COLIN POWELL [then-secretary of state, February 5, 2003, video clip]: I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.

MARTIN: That speech had been checked for accuracy by the CIA, whose then-director George Tenet sat behind Powell as he delivered it. Powell's former chief of staff blames incompetence for not weeding out that spurious claim. On top of what appears to be sloppy work by intelligence experts, there are other instances in which top administration officials seem to go beyond what the CIA was telling them.

BUSH [September 25, 2002, video clip]: You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.

MARTIN: But the CIA did distinguish between them. Saddam and bin Laden "were leery of close cooperation." The relationship "appears to more closely resemble that of two independent actors trying to exploit each other." The CIA warned its intelligence was "at times contradictory and derived from sources with varying degrees of reliability." The relationship was, to use the CIA's word, "murky," but the president painted it in black and white.

BUSH [October 7, 2002, video clip]: We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.

MARTIN: The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded there was little useful intelligence collected that helped determine Iraq's possible links to Al Qaeda, but you would never know that from listening to the president and his aides.

Schieffer has a history of accepting false or misleading Republican claims about prewar intelligence. On the November 6 broadcast of Face the Nation, Schieffer interviewed Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). As Media Matters has noted, during a discussion on the program of Senate Democrats' demand for an investigation into how policymakers used intelligence in the buildup to war, Roberts claimed that for the "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq," which the committee released in 2004, "we interviewed over 250 analysts, and we specifically asked them, 'Was there any political manipulation or pressure?' Answer, 'No.' " Roberts then claimed that the March report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (i.e. the Robb-Silberman Commission) and the Butler report on British intelligence came to the "same conclusion." Whether Roberts was referring to the Bush administration's "manipulation" in the use of intelligence, as The New York Times interpreted his statement, or as part of the alleged "pressure" on analysts is unclear. If Roberts meant the former, his assertion is simply false -- none of the investigations addressed the issue of the administration's use or misuse of intelligence. If instead Roberts meant "manipulation" as interchangeable with "pressure" on analysts, his assertion was irrelevant to the issue on which Senate Democrats have demanded an investigation and was, therefore, highly misleading. At no point did Schieffer note that Roberts was either misrepresenting or simply avoiding the issue in question.

On the same broadcast, Schieffer failed to correct Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who falsely claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee's report "showed that there was no politics being played with this matter." Hatch added, "[T]here was no indication whatsoever in that 500-page report, unanimously approved, that there was any notice or knowledge that was improper."

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Laura Carlsen says that when the Bush cabinet announced intentions to revive the moribund Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, the countries of the Southern Common Market closed ranks to prevent it. The death of the FTAA opens up room for the nations of the region to explore alternatives that are guided by diversified trade, increased regional agreements, democratization, and policies oriented toward national development.
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Recent revelations in the CIA leak investigation indicate that Time magazine Washington correspondent Viveca Novak may have injected herself in the investigation by alerting a lawyer for White House senior adviser Karl Rove in mid-2004 that her colleague, Time White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, might be forced to disclose to a grand jury what Rove had told him about then-undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak reportedly warned Rove attorney Robert Luskin that Rove could face legal scrutiny over omitting mention of the conversation with Cooper in his own grand jury testimony, thereby providing Luskin with information that might prove crucial to Rove's defense in the case. Novak never disclosed her conversation with Luskin or her knowledge of Rove's conversation with Cooper to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald or to Time readers, despite working on several articles about the case after her reported conversation with Luskin.

The revelation in a December 2 New York Times article regarding Novak's conversation is significant for at least two reasons. First, Novak, an experienced journalist working for a prestigious publication, disclosed to Rove's lawyer information that she did not give to her readers and that Cooper would zealously try to withhold for more than a year on the basis of the purportedly sacrosanct anonymity agreement between a reporter and a source. Second, Novak may have affirmatively helped Rove -- a source the magazine covers and will continue to cover -- beat a perjury rap, not by exonerating him through a story in the course of her job, but by providing his lawyer with information in a private conversation.

According to the Times, in the "summer or early fall of 2004," Novak informed Luskin that Rove "might face legal problems because of potential testimony from Mr. Cooper, her colleague." In that conversation, Novak and Luskin discussed the fact that Rove and Cooper had talked about Plame shortly before Plame's identity was revealed by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak (no relation) in a July 14, 2003, column. Luskin and Viveca Novak are "friends," according to a November 29 Washington Post article.

As the Times noted, Fitzgerald is said to be investigating whether Rove intentionally misled FBI investigators and the grand jury when he initially omitted mention of his conversation with Cooper. According to the Times, Fitzgerald is also investigating whether it was only after learning that Cooper might be forced to testify about his conversation with Rove that Rove "altered his grand jury testimony" to include mention of that conversation. The Times reported that Rove's lawyers maintain that Rove merely forgot about his conversation with Cooper, and that Luskin's conversation with Novak prompted Rove to search for -- and discover -- an email indicating the conversation had, in fact, occurred. Reminded of the conversation with Cooper, Rove's lawyers say, Rove then went before the grand jury again, and this time, he reported having discussed Plame with Cooper.

But whether Rove is guilty of intentionally hiding his conversation with Cooper, Viveca Novak undoubtedly aided Rove's defense by telling his lawyer that inaccuracies in Rove's testimony would likely become apparent to Fitzgerald.

Novak apparently felt free to disclose to Rove's lawyer that Cooper might be compelled to testify before a grand jury about the conversation between Cooper and Rove, but she did not accord Time readers the same privilege.

At the time of Novak's conversation with Luskin in "summer or early fall of 2004," Cooper was refusing to testify before the grand jury, citing the importance of reporters maintaining promises of confidentiality to sources, in this case Rove. Cooper was subpoenaed in May 2004 but was held in contempt in August 2004 and refused to testify until July 2005.

Novak's alleged involvement in the case did not prevent her from continuing her reporting on it, though she wrote no reports on the key information she gave Luskin. In fact, Novak contributed to an article in the July 11, 2005, edition of Time, in which editor-at-large Bill Saporito wrote that when Luskin was pressed on whether Rove had discussed Plame with Cooper, Luskin "said Cooper called Rove during the week before [Robert] Novak's story appeared but declined to say what they discussed." The article was on Time editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine's decision to comply with a subpoena to turn over Cooper's notes related to the story Cooper wrote days after Plame was outed.

From the July 11 article in Time:

After Time Inc. agreed to turn over the requested materials to Fitzgerald's office, speculation quickly surfaced over whose names would be identified. Much of that focused on Karl Rove, senior adviser to President George W. Bush. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said Cooper called Rove during the week before Novak's story appeared but declined to say what they discussed. Luskin said Rove "has never knowingly disclosed classified information." The lawyer said he has received repeated assurances from Fitzgerald's office that Rove is not a target in the case.

Two weeks later, after Cooper had testified and Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff had publicly revealed that Cooper had learned of Plame from Rove, Viveca Novak remained silent about her involvement in the case while contributing to an article about the investigation that appeared in the July 25 edition of Time. The article reported that it was not "a mystery any longer who had a hand in revealing where Wilson's wife worked to Time White House correspondent Matthew Cooper."

As recently as October 24, Novak co-wrote an article with Time White House correspondent Mike Allen, which reported that "Fitzgerald appears to be seriously weighing a perjury charge for Rove's failure to tell grand jurors that he talked to Time correspondent Matthew Cooper about Plame, according to a person close to Rove." Novak wrote more generally on the Plame case for Time as recently as November 18.

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Conn Hallinan says that there is nothing amusing about an enormous U.S. base less than 120 miles from the Bolivian border, or the explosive growth of U.S.-financed mercenary armies that are doing everything from training the military in Paraguay and Ecuador to calling in air attacks against guerillas in Colombia. Indeed, it is feeling a little like the run up to the '60s and '70s, when Washington-sponsored military dictatorships dominated most of the continent, and dark armies ruled the night.
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