United States News Digest
Bush Sr. Allies Break with White House on Torture
Washington, D.C. sources reported to EIR Sept. 14 that one of the biggest developments in recent days is former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell's Sept. 14 letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), supporting McCain and opposing the Bush White House efforts to skirt the Geneva Conventions in the interrogation and prosecution of alleged terrorists. Several hours after the Powell letter was released by McCain to the public, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 15-9 to reject the White House's reinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions. Committee chairman John Warner (R-Va) and three other Republicans joined with the Democrats in opposing the White House.
Washington sources say that the break by Powell and the alignment with McCain is reflective of a much broader split with the White House, on the part of three distinct Republican Party factions: traditional conservatives, "country club" patricians, and liberals. Furthermore, Powell's defection from the White House signals that the so-called "Bush Sr." Republicans are no longer taking their orders from Papa Bush, and are decisively breaking with the Bush-Cheney coalition, which is now based almost exclusively on right-wing religious fanatics and neoconservative fascists. The sources say that two of Bush Sr.'s most formerly loyal associates, Powell and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, have led the break, and are now seriously weighing whether John McCain is capable of shedding his own prior neocon associations, to be an ally of the dissident Republicans. Powell's letter even sparked rumors among Republicans that McCain may be quietly talking with Powell about a McCain-Powell ticket in 2008.
One source emphasized his shock at the White House bungling over the torture and tribunal issue. "This was really, really stupid on their part," he said. The source added that President Bush's personal appearance on Capitol Hill Sept. 14, to press the White House case for continued non-compliance with the Geneva Conventions, was another serious blunder, showing just how weak and desperate the Administration has become. "The President rarely goes to Capitol Hill, except for the State of the Union," the source noted. "It is tantamount to a parliamentary system, if the President goes begging to Congress. Very ill advised," he concluded.
Novak Account of Armitage Role Changes Nothing
A senior U.S. intelligence source provided the following assessment of the Robert Novak column of Sept. 14, which accused former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage of playing a far more proactive role in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak. Novak reported that Armitage had told him that Plame was with the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, and had encouraged Novak to write a column on Plame's role in encouraging the fact-finding mission to Niger of her husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, just days after Wilson's op-ed appeared in the New York Times on July 6, 2003.
The source noted that, at the time of the Armitage-Novak meeting, Secretary of State Colin Powell was under intense attack from neoconservatives, who were seeking his ouster. Armitage's role in the Plame leak, the source commented, was part of Powell's effort to hold on to his job. "This was a demonstration of loyalty by Armitage and, by extension, by Powell as well," the source explained. However, the Plame leak was not an individual action, certainly not an individual indiscretion. "This was a policy decision that preceded Armitage's meeting with Novak." The source asked: "Where did the policy decision come from? The Oval Office or the Office of the Vice President?" He concluded that, with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's decision not to indict Karl Rove, all the evidence pointed to Cheney and Lewis Libby. "The handwritten notes by Dick Cheney on the Wilson op-ed are just about a smoking gunindicating that the policy to nail Wilson and Plame came from Cheney."
Recall that Fitzgerald knew about Armitage's role in the Novak leak from his first day on the job as Special Counsel. By October 2003, Armitage had come forward to Powell and to the general counsel of the State Department, revealing his role in the Plame leak, and had been interviewed by Fitzgerald in the first days of the independent probe.
IAEA: Hoekstra Iran Report Is 'Outrageous and Dishonest'
Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency sent a letter to the Bush Administration and to House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), calling the report on Iran written by committee staffer Fredrick Fleitz "outrageous and dishonest," and offering evidence to refute its central claims, the Washington Post reported Sept. 14. The agency noted five major errors in the committee's report. Fleitz (whom the Post identified as a one-time CIA officer and special assistant to John R. Bolton) is also working on a separate report about North Korea for Hoekstra's committee. A draft of the report includes several assertions about North Korea's weapons program that intelligence officials say they cannot substantiate.
Electoral Revolt Evident in Sept. 12 Primaries
The Democratic national bureaucracy is so far behind the voters, that the Democratic candidates they did not endorse, who took a stronger stand on key issues, such as the war in Iraq, won their primaries despite the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
* New Hampshire social worker Carol Shea-Porter won the Democratic primary for Congress against a candidate who had been endorsed by the Party. Porter wants a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq, and won without institutional fundraising, instead using volunteers.
* In Maryland, Rep. Albert Wynn, who never polled less than 80% in any primary since 1992, squeaked by with an 8% win over challenger Donna Edwards, who attacked Wynn for having voted for the Iraq war.
* In Florida, former Air Force fighter pilot Bob Bowman, who campaigned on the charge that every dirty policy of the Bush Administration "marches through Cheney's office," that 9/11 was a conspiracy by the government, and that Cheney and Bush should be impeached, won the 15th District Democratic primary with 54% of the vote.
The Republicans are trying to limit Democratic wins by supporting moderate Republican candidates who oppose many of the policies of the Administration. In Rhode Island, incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), a moderate, who didn't even vote for Bush in the last election, won the primary 54%-46% thanks to national GOP attack ads against his opponent.
Worried that a Congressional seat up for grabs in Arizona would go to the Democrat if a conservative Republican ran, the national GOP supported a moderate in the primary; a former GOP state chair called the Washington bureaucrats "idiots," for splitting the Republican vote.
Murtha Slams Rumsfeld for Collapse of Military Readiness
On Sept. 13, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa) released a report documenting the collapse of Army readiness. Army brigades are turning around between deployments in less than a year, and are unable to fully retrain because they lack the equipment, especially armored vehicles and trucks, which have been worn out in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing them to be redeployed at less than full combat readiness. "In effect," Murtha says, "the Army has become a 'hand-to-mouth' organization. Its inability to get ahead of the deployment and training curves is rooted in the Administration's miscalculations and blind optimism about troop and industrial surge requirements for the U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Murtha also reported that while the Army is meeting its recruiting and retention goals, the measures it is taking to do so may be resulting in a lower quality force. He says that company commanders are reporting that disciplinary actions resulting from drug and alcohol abuse have skyrocketed in the past year. "To suggest that the Global War on Terror will last for years, yet fail to even acknowledgelet alone take steps to addressthe Army's readiness, equipment, and personnel shortfalls, is viewed as short-sighted at best. At worst, the future security and deterrent power of the United States is dangerously at risk," Murtha concluded.
In conjunction with the report, Murtha also introduced a resolution in the House calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation "for the good of the country," and to "restore credibility both at home and abroad."
The resolution says: "The first step in restoring that credibility must be to demonstrate accountability for the mistakes that have been made in prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq"; to "reconstitute our military readiness, and refocus on the threats to national security posed by diffuse and proliferating terrorist cells as well as belligerent states."
The resolution blames Rumsfeld for the failure to capture Osama bin Laden during the battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, by failing to commit sufficient troops; failure to ensure adequate body armor and protective gear for troops in Iraq; failure to anticipate the troop strength required; failure of training and supervision which led to abuses at Abu Ghraib; failure to address flagging readiness of U.S. ground forces; and failure to ensure adequate accounting of billions of dollars of Coalition Provisional Authority expenditures.
Briefed on this, Lyndon LaRouche took note that this is, in fact, another task for both using, and expanding, the machine-tool capabilities and principles of the automobile industry, which the free-trade lunatics are in the process of shutting down wholesale. Much of what the Pentagon is failing to replace successfully is rolling stock; some is armor; all is machinery and material the auto plants have built beforea task that can be handled successfully under the Emergency Re-Tooling Act proposed by LaRouche.
Specter Wiretap Bill Passes Senate Panel
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a wiretap bill introduced by Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa) on a partisan 10 to 8 vote, on Sept. 13, after rejecting all Democratic amendments on similar 10 to 8 votes. The bill, which Specter negotiated with the White House, gives the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court the jurisdiction to decide whether or not the NSA domestic wiretapping program is Constitutional, but doesn't require the President to submit the program to the court for review. Specter went ahead with the bill, however, on the basis of a promise from President Bush that he would do that. The committee otherwise rejected all Democratic amendments, also on partisan votes, all of which sought to increase Congressional oversight in other ways. As Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc) noted early during the committee debate, "none of us have enough information to legislate on this."