United States News Digest
White House Dissed Evangelicals Behind Their Backs
David Kuo, former #2 at the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and a self-described conservative Christian, has a book coming out on Oct. 16, Tempting Faith, which reveals the Bush-Cheney Administration's true attitude toward the GOP base among evangelicals, while exposing the OFBI as a fraud. He says that some prominent evangelical leaders were known around Karl Rove's office as "the nuts." MSNBC quotes Kuo to the effect that "National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy.'"
Kuo also describes how, in MSNBC's words, "then-White House political affairs director [now Republican National Committee chairmaned.] Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a scheme to use the office, and taxpayer funds, to mount ostensibly nonpartisan events that were, in reality, designed with the intent of mobilizing religious voters in 20 targeted races." Republicans won 19 of those races. The ostensible purpose of the OFBI was to provide financial support to charities that serve the poor; Kuo discovered, regarding spending on "compassion" social programs, that "we were actually spending about $20 million a year less on them than before he had taken office."
Senate Democrats Hold Hearing on Iraqi Security Forces
On Oct. 12, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held the second oversight hearing (the first was held Sept. 25 in Washington) on the war in Iraq, this time in Chicago; the purpose was to highlight the failures of the Republican leadership, and the Congress generally, to exercise oversight of the Bush Administration's Iraq war policy. Entitled, "When Will Iraqi Security Forces Be Able To Stand Up, So American Troops Can Begin To Stand Down?" the meeting heard opening statements from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev); Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee Byron Dorgan (ND); Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (Ill); and Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa). Testimony from three Iraq veterans and a former National Security Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior was also presented.
The witnesses cited the Administration's failure to provide sufficient resources to train and equip the Iraqi Police Service, a failure which has allowed the insurgency to take root and give rise to corrupt special police units that function as "death squads." To illustrate the point, former Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Pierson, who trained more than 1,500 Iraqi police officers in Al Hillan, said, "My frustration increased when I learned that the fifth day of the academy would be a graduation ceremony. This, in effect, left only 16 hours of class time to teach up to 200 students."
A Show-Trial Indictment for Treason; But no Trial
In an obvious pre-election stunt, the Justice Department on Oct. 12 issued an indictment for treason against Southern California native Adam Pearlman, now known as Adam Ghadan. This is the first time that a treason charge has been brought against a U.S. citizen since World War II. Ghadan, whose family is Jewish, converted to Islam in 1995, and went to Pakistan in 1998; his current whereabouts are unknown, and it is highly unlikely that this pathetic character will ever be tried in the United States. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, in a press conference Oct. 11, said that Ghadan "chose to join our enemy and provide it with aid and comfort by acting as a propagandist for Al Qaida."
New Polls Show GOP Hold on Power Slipping
A spate of new public opinion polls appeared over the past week, testing the political waters in the wake of the "Pagegate" scandal over disgraced Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley. The numbers vary, but all bode ill for Republican candidates in the upcoming elections, and all are getting wide play in the media. A New York Times/CBS poll shows anti-Congress, anti-GOP, and anti-Bush sentiment all rising. The Gallup Poll, featured in USA Today Oct. 10, shows voters now give Democrats a 59% to 36% preference over Republican candidates, where they were dead-even at 47% a month ago. Voters told Gallup that they think Democrats would do a better job on all eight issues they were questioned on, even immigration and terrorism. The Washington Post says that Republicans are "bracing for a loss of 7-30 seats."
The Los Angeles Times reviews the status of the races for governor across the country. Thirty-six governorships are up for grabs; if the Democrats gain four, they will have a majority. New York and Ohio are almost sure bets to move into the Democratic column, with Massachusetts, Arkansas, Colorado, and Maryland in the "likely" column. On the other hand, the Midwestern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan, all currently with Democratic Governors, could shift to Republican, as voters express anger over the economic collapse in the region. Statehouses in California and Texas are likely to remain in GOP hands as well.
Hamdam Lawyer Forced Out of the Navy
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the military lawyer who initiated the aggressive defense of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdam which led to a Supreme Court victory in June, has been passed over for promotion by the Navy, and under the "up-or-out" promotion system, he will have to retire. Gene Fidell of the National Institute of Military Justice says Swift is part of a long line of Navy defense lawyers "of tremendous distinction" who have "had their careers terminated prematurely." Swift's supervisor says that Swift has done "an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job," and that it's "quite a coincidence" that he was passed over for promotion within two weeks of the Supreme Court's decision.
Military Planning Must Cover the Consequences, Too
"Consequence management" has to be part of the operational military planning, insisted Gen. William Wallace, the commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, during a panel on army transformation at the annual conference on Oct. 9 of the Association of the U.S. Army. Wallace, who was famously quoted during the Iraq invasion, telling a reporter, "The enemy we're fighting is not the enemy we war-gamed against," noted earlier during the discussion that a military campaign is no longer just about "seizing the objective." "When you seize the objective, you own it," he said, and all the problems associated with it, and that has to be part of the planning of the campaign.
After the panel, EIR noted to Wallace that when he made those comments, it sounded like he was talking about Iraq in 2003. "I was talking about Iraq in 2006," he said. He added, "In my judgment, if you're very thoughtful about understanding the environment, you can do something about predicting what the next step ought to be and that next step ought to be part of the operational planning."
That type of planning is exactly what was stamped out by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, and while Wallace may have learned the right lesson from that experience, there's no indication that Rumsfeld has.
Minnesota Dem Candidate Comes Out Swinging
Amy Klobuchar is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, one of the few states where the Republicans hope to gain a seat from retiring Democrat Mark Dayton. Therefore, she has been hit by the best "swiftboaters" Karl Rove can muster. However, she has immediately taken on every attack ad, with the result that she has built a 53% to 36% lead over her Republican opponent. Klobuchar, the former prosecutor from Hennepin County (Minneapolis), says the Democrats "waited too long" to respond in 2000, and "by that time, it was too late. I don't believe you sit back on your heels when someone is attacking you," she told AP Oct. 9.
Cheney's Stump Speeches: Fear, Fear, and More Fear
Vice President Dick Cheney's campaign events are all secret or semi-secret, and every speech is about "mass death in the United States" and the "danger to civilization," to be carried out by a determined terrorist enemy, according to the Oct. 8 Washington Post. After the fear-mongering, he attacks Democratsby namewhich thrills the hard-core right. Harry Reid, Howard Dean, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, Joe Biden, Jay Rockefeller, and John Murtha are among his favorite targets. In Milwaukee last week, the cowardly chickenhawk went after war hero Murtha: "If we follow Congressman Murtha's advice and withdraw from Iraq the same way we withdrew from Beirut in 1983, and from Somalia in 1993, all we do is validate the al-Qaeda strategy and invite even more terrorist attacks."
If there is any humor in this Grim Reaper spectacle, it is the fact that none of these speeches is put out in public, and photos with the local candidates are rarely taken. The Post says Cheney's act is "for the base," and not the general public, and that when the photographs are taken, local candidates usually step off the podium so that there will be no images of them appearing with Cheney. Cheney's influence in the Administration is "waning," and since he is not going to run for re-election, he is effectively sidelined, but he still brings in a lot of money for the party, and is the magnet for the ultra-right, who are very unhappy with Bush, the Post says.