United States News Digest
John EdwardsUp to His Neck in Caymans!
May 17 (EIRNS)John Edwards, a leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, revealed in his Federal Election Commission filings of net worth yesterday that he made nearly $8 million from his short-term association with the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group.
Edwards, who was paid $479,000 in salary by Fortress, as a "senior advisor," from October 2005 until December 2006, has made fighting poverty the signature issue of his campaign. He said he was unaware of Fortress's heavy involvement in subprime lending, which preys on those with poor credit ratings by offering high interest rates and hidden charges.
Yesterday's filing also showed that Edwards made more than $7.5 million from his investments with Fortress. One of the Fortress funds which Edwards reported as an asset, the Investments Fund III (Fund D) LP, was incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Edwards the candidate has denounced offshore tax havens, and promised to shut them down. His spokesman insisted that Edwards has paid taxes on the hedge fund profits, according to the Washington Post.
Hedge funds, together with the private equity firms they dominate, have destroyed many U.S. industries.
Hagel: Early Primaries 'Locked Down Our Ability To Govern'
May 17 (EIRNS)Less than a week after Lyndon LaRouche warned that the front-loading of the Presidential primaries is contributing to making the nation "ungovernable," Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) told the Center for National Policy in Washington that the early scheduling of the U.S. Presidential primaries "has paralyzed, locked down our ability to govern," at a time that a bipartisan consensus must be forged to solve the problem of the U.S. presence in Iraq. Noting that at least two candidates are likely to come from Congress, Hagel said, "And do you believe honestly that somehow the two parties and the White House and everybody jockeying for advantage with the debates already started, and the Presidential campaign started at a very heated clip, ... do you think that is conducive to any kind of nonpartisan consensus to try to get things done? Of course, not. It makes it worse, and that's what you're seeing right now. And it'll only get worse, and that's why it's even more dangerous."
Korb: It Will Take a Decade To Rebuild National Guard
May 17 (EIRNS)Dr. Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, responded to a question from EIR today, that the longer the National Guard is "being used as an operational reserve for Iraq [rather than a strategic reserve, as it was in the Cold War], the more risk you are taking at home, and the more you are destroying the National Guard." Korb, citing the fact that the Guard was supposed to be deployed abroad for only one of every six years, said it would "take a decade to rebuild it."
Korb, Maj. Gen. Melvyn Montano, USAF (ret.), and others spoke at a telephone press conference to address the need to strengthen the National Guard to respond to state disasters.
Montano, who served as the Adjutant General of the New Mexico National Guard, told EIR that every state has a National Guard adjutant general who advises the governor on what is needed in any state disaster. Montano and others pointed out, that due to the fact that 48% of the equipment of the Kansas National Guard was in Iraq, it took two full days after the May 4 tornado struck Greensburg, Kansas, before a significant number of vehicles arrived at the disaster scene.
Retired Generals Slam GOP Candidates for Promoting Torture
May 17 (EIRNS)Two top-ranking retired generalsformer Central Command chief Joseph Hoar, and former Marine Corps commandant Charles C. Krulaktook to task all but one of the Republican candidates who appeared in the May 15 Presidential debate in South Carolina, for their failure to condemn torture of prisoners, the only exception being John McCain, who was himself tortured in North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
At that debate, in response to a set-up question from Fox TV's Brit Hume, Rudy Giuliani said he would tell interrogators to use "every method they could think of" in questioning a prisoner who supposedly knew about pending attacks on the United States; Mitt Romney said he supports "enhanced interrogation techniques"a euphemism for torture, and added that rather than closing Guantanamo, "we ought to double Guantanamo." Both answers were cheered and applauded by the audience, in a Nuremberg-rally atmosphere.
In their op-ed in today's Washington Post, Hoar and Krulak point out that "every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of tortureonly for the toughest cases, when nothing else works"has found that once started, "the abuse spread like wildfire."
Hoar and Krulak point to the military's mental health assessment released earlier this month, which, they say, "shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners." Hoar and Krulak stress that there can be no ambiguity from the top on questions such as prisoner abuse and torture, because under the stress of combat, "rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality."
The failure to follow this standard in recent years "has had disastrous consequences," they point out. "If we forfeit our values, we only hurt ourselves and strengthen the enemy," adding, "This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it."
An interview with General Hoar was published in the April 27 issue of EIR; see www.larouchepub.com/other/interviews/2007/3417joseph_hoar.html
Bush Finally Gets a War 'Czar'
May 16 (EIRNS)On May 15, the White House announced that it had selected Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to be the so-called "war czar," a position turned down by at least five retired four-star officers to whom it was offered. Officially, Lute is going to be assistant to the President and deputy to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and will brief the President every morning on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to several sources contacted by EIR, the Joint Chiefs of Staff most likely urged Lute to take the job, so that somebody who is not an enthusiast for the Bush-Cheney surge in Iraq would be at the White House, to represent the views of the Chiefs.
That view tends to be corroborated by coverage in the Washington Post and New York Times. The Post reports that Lute was a key internal voice of dissent on the troop increase in Iraq, and argued that an increase in forces would do little good without an equally large effort in the political and economic realms. Lute told the London Financial Times in an August 2005 interview, in which he was arguing for a reduction in U.S. troop levels, "You simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward. You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq."
Before taking his present position, Lute spent two years as director of operations at U.S. Central Command, overseeing the two wars.
EIR has previously reported that the Joint Chiefs were adamantly opposed to the creation of the "war czar" post, as an infringement of their constitutional role. Under the National Security Act of 1947, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military advisor to the President.
Congress Seeks To Grill Tenet and Rice on Yellowcake Lies
May 15 (EIRNS)The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has secured the cooperation of former CIA Director George Tenet in its investigation of faked pre-war intelligence on Iraq, according to the Washington daily The Hill today.
Tenet has agreed to appear for a closed-door deposition regarding the claim that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium ore (yellowcake) from Niger, one of the key lies used to dupe Americans into believing that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction.
Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) also announced that a hearing scheduled with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been postponed from May 15 to June 19, 2007. This will allow former CIA Director George Tenet to testify with Rice, and will accommodate Rice's travel schedule, according to the website of the Committee.
The Committee also sent a letter to Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, who was the deputy to then-National Security Advisor Rice at the time the yellowcake lie surfaced in 2003.
Cheney War Drive vs. Iran Continues Despite U.S.-Iran 'Talks'
May 14 (EIRNS)It's no accident that the White House National Security Council announced that U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would meet with Iranian officials to discuss stability in Iraq, while Vice President Cheney was out of the country, a high-level Washington, D.C. intelligence source told EIR today. With the war in Iraq worsening by the dayif not by the hourU.S. institutional and Republican forces have been trying to separate the White House from Cheney's war drive to attack Iran, but with little success.
Bush is too weak, and too dependent on "Svengali" Cheney to resist the war drive, the source said. One mode of operation that has been adopted in the White House is to make announcements, especially through Secretary of State Rice, or through the NSC's counterterrorism chief Fran Townsend, without seeking Cheney's approval beforehand. However, the source said, this cannot curtail Cheneyhe can veto Rice or the NSC after the fact, and has done so in the past.
In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group told President Bush that the U.S. must "engage" Iran, along with Syria, in order to achieve peace in Iraq, but Cheney blocked that policy.
While on a visit to the Persian Gulf region, when the announcement was made about the upcoming Crocker/Iran talks, Cheney asserted, there is "no change in policy." The U.S. will prevent Iran from having a nuclear program, and the talks would be limited to Iraq issues only. A well-placed Egyptian source told EIR that Cheney would succeed in sabotaging these talks, and then would proceed with selling the Iran war, having declared that "diplomacy has failed." That was Cheney's message throughout his trip to Southwest Asia.