United States News Digest
Retired General: Cheney at Center of Torture Policy
July 26 (EIRNS)During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, a retired Army general who was in charge of the training of Iraqi Security Forces, singled out Dick Cheney as a major problem in the torture scandal affecting the U.S. armed forces.
"For our soldiers to hear their Vice President say on radio that a 'dunk in the water' [water torture] is a 'no-brainer' if it can save lives, is a threat to the good order and discipline of our Armed Forces," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, whose last military assignment was in Iraq in 2003-2004. Eaton was discussing the moral training that American soldiers receive from their first days on duty, and he noted particularly the importance of "proper and prudent behaviors at the point of capture."
"The legal discussion where some would deliver different treatment because of technical POW [prisoner of war] status is simply not warranted," Eaton said, in a clear reference to the Cheney-Addington policies implemented after Sept. 11, 2001. "I am convinced that the disaster of Abu Ghraib is directly attributable to, among other factors, Administration policies on detainee treatment," he declared.
Schumer Protects Dem War Chest; Opposes Hedge Fund Tax
July 25 (EIRNS)Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is leading the fight against the Grassley-Baucus bill, which would make hedge funds and private equity firms be taxed at the same tax rate as other corporations.
Schumer has adopted a "poison pill" tactic, trying to kill the bill by making it apply to energy, real estate, and ethanol transport partnerships which are also taxed at a lower rate.
Lyndon LaRouche recently stated that the hedge funds, and the private equity business, which controls $700 billion in capital, should pay up, declaring: "Let them shut up and pay taxes like everyone else."
Grassley said Schumer's opposition may be an attempt to shield both his Wall Street constituents and the Democratic Party's electoral war chest. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $779,100 from employees of private equity firms and hedge funds in June, six times their combined total in June 2005, Federal filings show. That far exceeds the business's contributions of about $60,000 to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.
"They contribute most of their money to the Democrat[ic] Party and he wants to protect the income," said Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, in an interview with Bloomberg.com. "It's completely contrary to the position he [Schumer] took in the last election, when he was leading the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee and he talked about the inequity of the tax system."
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has allied himself with Schumer, saying any new tax "shouldn't apply just to the private-equity groups, it should apply to all that are similarly situated." This represents what LaRouche has identified as the "McClellan syndrome" in the Democratic Party; that is, leaders who want to make a deal with the financial forces dismembering the U.S. industrial base, just as Gen. George McClellan, during the Civil War, wanted to make a deal with the South, rather than win the war.
However, Democratic Presidential pre-candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) all support taxing the hedge funds, even though they have received massive hedge fund/private equity contributions.
Currently, private equity investors and fund managers pay rates as low as 15%, while normal corporate tax rates are as high as 35% before paying out dividends, which are also taxed.
New York Times: No Bush Exit Strategy; Congress Must Act
July 25 (EIRNS)Today's New York Times lead editorial, "No Exit Strategy," argues that Bush and his top generals' refusal to answer the question: what is your responsible exit plan from Iraq, combined with the July 24 release of the new Petraeus-Crocker Iraq war plan, and Bush's ranting about the "war on al-Qaeda," means "Congress will have to" act to safely remove U.S. troops from the unwinnable war in Iraq.
The Times referred to a "war plan" released by Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker yesterday, requiring a large-scale U.S. troop presence in Iraq at least until 2009. The Times notes that the two may feel they have to "protect" Bush's "flawed policies," but it will result in the destruction of the U.S. Army. The "Army cannot sustain a prolonged escalation without grievous losses in quality, readiness and morale." And, "prolonging the war ... will not bring victory. It will mean more lives lost," as well as "damage to America's international standing...."
Bush, the Times insists, has an "obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing." Since the President is in "denial," it is up to Congress to act "with a veto-proof majority" to end the debacle.
Gravel Charges Dem Candidates Owned by Hedge Funds
July 24 (EIRNS)During the CNN-sponsored Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate on July 23, candidate Sen. Mike Gravel usefully raised the fact that many of the leading Democratic candidates are owned by the hedge funds, an issue previously raised by Lyndon LaRouche. Answering a question about how the candidates will be able to make good on their promises to bring about some real change in Washington, Gravel said: "The Democratic Party used to stand for the ordinary working man.... Look at where all the money is being raised right now, for Hillary, Obama, and Edwards. It's the hedge funds, it's Wall Street bankers, it's the people who brought you what you have today. Please wake up." The money "comes from the bankers on Wall Street and of course hedge funds, which is code for bankers on Wall Street. And they're lock, stock and barrel in their pocket."
Rice Warns Kosovo Against Unilateral Rush to Independence
July 23 (EIRNS)Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku met U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today at the State Department, just days after Russia stopped any vote on Kosovo independence from being voted on in the United Nations Security Council. Ceku and his delegation told the Secretary of State they intend to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia on Nov. 28. But Rice, reflecting the Putin-Bush diplomacy at the Kennebunkport "Lobster Summit" July 1 and 2, told the delegation to be patient. State Department spokesman Sean McCormick said "there is nothing to be gained by short-circuiting the diplomatic process that is underway," noting that the U.S. government is remaining in touch with Russia on the issue.
London's push for confrontation with Russia has not yet caught on in Washington.
The Serbian parliament was scheduled to debate a new resolution July 24, calling for new negotiations on Kosovo, which would be open as to their outcome and duration. Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was also scheduled to meet with Rice later in the week.
Lawmaker Challenges 'Political Strategy' vs. Impeachment
July 23 (EIRNS)In an op-ed in the July 20 Kansas City Star, Missouri State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) challenged Democrats who argue that it is not politically practical to impeach Cheney (and/or Bush).
"Many Democratic colleagues at the state and federal level argue that it is better not to impeach our highest elected officials so the GOP will continue to stumble along without the unity that impeachment might produce," she writes, in a piece entitled "As I see it: Actions of Cheney and Bush deserve impeachment." "We [referring to herself and fellow State Rep. Jeannette Mott (D-Oxford)], however, are a part of a growing consensus, broader than our party, that says the values of the U.S. Constitution should not be sacrificed to political strategy."
In May, Nasheed and Oxford sponsored House Continuing Resolution 46, calling on Congress to investigate whether there are grounds to impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office. Nasheed and Oxford were joined as co-sponsors by Reps. Shalonn Kiki Curls, Leonard Jonas Hughes, Beth Low, Jenee Lowe, and Mike Talboy of Kansas City, and Rep. Tony George of St. Louis County. But House Speaker Rod Jetton, a Republican, refused to assign the resolution to committee until the final day of the legislative session. No hearings are currently scheduled.
In her op-ed, Nasheed calls on all Missourians to contact their Congressional representatives in support of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's H.R. 333 to impeach Cheney, and to call for an investigation regarding impeachment of Bush, as well.