Monday, September 25, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 25, 2006


The New York Times
September 25, 2006

Chemical Plants, Still Unprotected

Congress still has done nothing to protect Americans from a terrorist attack on chemical plants. Republican leaders want to give the impression that that has changed. But voters should not fall for the spin. If the leadership goes through with the strategy it seems to have adopted last week to secure these highly vulnerable targets, national security will be the loser.

The federal government is spending extraordinary amounts of money and time protecting air travel from terrorist attacks. But Congress has not yet passed a law to secure the nation's chemical plants, even though an attack on just one plant could kill or injure as many as 100,000 people. The sticking point has been the chemical industry, a heavy contributor to political campaigns, which does not want to pay the cost of reasonable safety measures.

The Senate and the House spent many months carefully developing bipartisan chemical plant security bills. Both measures were far too weak, but they would have finally imposed real safety requirements on the chemical industry. The Republican leadership in Congress blocked both bills from moving forward. Instead, whatever gets done about chemical plant security will apparently be decided behind closed doors, and inserted as a rider to a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.


Forwarded from Ken's List <>

September 24, 2006
Jane, We Hardly Knew Ye Died

LT. EMILY J. T. PEREZ, 23, a West Point graduate who outran many men,directed a gospel choir and read the Bible every day, was at the head of aweekly convoy as it rolled down roads pocked with bombs and bullets nearNajaf. As platoon leader, she insisted on leading her troops from the front.

Two weeks ago, one of those bombs tripped her up, detonating near her Humveein Kifl, south of Baghdad. She died Sept. 12, the 64th woman from the UnitedStates military to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Eight died in Vietnam.

Despite longstanding predictions that America would shudder to see its womencoming home in coffins, Lieutenant Perez's death, and those of the otherwomen, the majority of whom died from hostile fire (the 65th died in aBaghdad car bombing a day later), have stirred no less - and no more - reaction at home than the nearly 2,900 male dead. The same can be said ofthe hundreds of wounded women.


The New York Times

September 25, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Due Process, Bulldozed

Until five months ago, Bilal Hussein was part of a team of Associated Press photographers that had won a Pulitzer Prize for photos documenting the fighting and carnage in Iraq.

Now he's a prisoner, having been seized by the U.S. government.

You might ask: What's he been charged with?

The answer: Nothing.

There was a flurry of interest last week in the case of Maher Arar, a terror suspect who was shipped to Syria and tortured before it was learned that, alas, he was not a terrorist. Mr. Hussein got a little news coverage last week, as well. People who still think there is a place in this world for fairness, justice and due process are calling on the authorities to either charge him with a crime or release him.

Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi hired by The A.P., was taken into custody by U.S. forces in Ramadi last April 12. As in many similar cases, U.S. officials have been saying - without disclosing evidence to back up their comments - that he had improper ties to the insurgents.


The New York Times

September 25, 2006

Antiwar Democrat in Connecticut Adds Planks to Platform

At a center for the elderly in Hamden, Conn., last week, Ned Lamont spun through his regular stump speech, touching in about 10 minutes on his ambitions to legislate universal health care, cut back the federal deficit and limit the influence of lobbying in Washington.

Halfway between his victory in the Democratic primary and his rematch with Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in the general election, Mr. Lamont is trying to articulate positions on a variety of domestic issues, from education to transportation to jobs.

But in the end, Mr. Lamont, a former cable executive who has presented himself as a fiscal conservative, cannot help but return to the centerpiece of his campaign.

"I'm in this race because I think it's time we start investing in the United States of America again," he told the Hamden crowd, alluding to the war in Iraq as a symbol of "bad choices."


The New York Times;amp;en=25e9307a3dfe9763&hp=&ex=1159243200&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print

September 25, 2006

A Senator Bets on Party's Clout in Pennsylvania

An endangered Republican like Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania could always comfort himself with this: The political winds may be blowing the Democrats' way this year, but the Republicans retain some formidable structural advantages.

Like money: Mr. Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate leadership, has had a significant fund-raising advantage over his Democratic challenger, State Treasurer Bob Casey, which means more money for television advertising.

Or the Republicans' near-legendary voter turnout operation: the 72-hour program, tested and proven (to the Democrats' despair) in the 2002 and 2004 elections, which moved coordinators into Pennsylvania more than a year ago to prepare for Nov. 7.Not to mention the bully pulpit of the White House: even a politically beleaguered president can shape the terms of political debate, as President Bush demonstrated anew with his focus on terrorism in recent weeks.

As the midterm campaign enters its final six weeks, these Republican fortifications will be tested around the country, but arguably nowhere as much as in Pennsylvania. Mr. Santorum has lagged behind Mr. Casey in opinion polls for nearly a year now, at times by double digits; his seat has become the Democrats' best hope for one of the six seats they need to regain a Senate majority.


The New York Times

Clinton's Finger-Wagging Moment

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 25, 2006; 6:16 AM

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said that he was stunned when Bill Clinton accused him of a "conservative hit job" after he challenged the former president on his record in fighting terrorism.

"I thought it was a fair, balanced and not especially inflammatory question," Wallace said yesterday in recounting his "Fox News Sunday" sit-down with Clinton. "I even said, 'I know hindsight is 20/20.' But he went off. And once he went off, there was no bringing him back. He wanted to talk about it in detail. He wanted to conjure up right-wingers and conservative hit jobs and a theory involving Rupert Murdoch that I still don't understand."

Fox had agreed in advance that half the interview would be about Clinton's
Global Initiative forum and half about other subjects. Wallace began with a couple of questions about the initiative before citing the 1993 U.S. military withdrawal from Somalia and several bombings connected to al-Qaeda in asking, "Why didn't you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?"

In an impassioned, finger-wagging answer, Clinton told Wallace, a former ABC News correspondent: "You did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. . . . You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is supporting my work on climate change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you'd spend half the time talking about . . . what we did out there to raise $7 billion-plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don't care."


The New York Times

September 25, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Do Unto Your Enemy...

IN 2002, I attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Ga. At "the Schoolhouse," every new Army infantry officer spent six months studying the basics of his craft, including the rules of war.

I remember a seasoned senior officer explaining the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He said, "When an enemy fighter knows he'll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up."

A year later on the streets of Baghdad, I saw countless insurgents surrender when faced with the prospect of a hot meal, a pack of cigarettes and air-conditioning. America's moral integrity was the single most important weapon my platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved innumerable lives, encouraged cooperation with our allies and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency.

But those days are over. America's moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.


The Detroit News
September 25, 2006

Studies reinforce diversity of belief on faith

By Deb Price
The Detroit News

W ith this year's election fast approaching, is God rooting for Democrats orRepublicans?

Well, in a country where one of our most precious heritages is the freedomto believe anything -- or nothing at all -- almost everyone expresses faithin some sort of God, but almost no one (just 4 percent in a new BaylorUniversity study) says God's a Democrat, or a Republican, or faithful to anypolitical party.

So when politicians or members of the clergy start making sweepinggeneralizations about the political beliefs of people of faith, justremember that, except for agreeing that God doesn't favor a political party,religious Americans are quite diverse both in our thinking and our voting,three new studies emphasize.

For starters, we don't agree on who God is.

The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion finds that Americans can bedivided into four groups based on our views of God's nature and behavior: 31percent believe in an angry, punishing "authoritarian" God who is veryinvolved in the world; 23 percent believe instead in a "benevolent" Godwhose power is felt as a force for good; 16 percent see God as "critical"but disengaged -- delaying punishment until after death; and 24 percent sayGod is a "distant" creator who got everything rolling, then bowed out. Thefinal 5 percent are atheists.


Wal-Mart outdoes Washington
A Times Editorial
Published September 25, 2006

Wal-Mart could teach the federal government a thing or two about how to usesheer size and buying power to lower prescription drug prices. The nation'slargest retailer did a good thing by rolling out a pilot program to cut theprice on nearly 300 generic drugs to $4 for a 30-day supply. The move, whichdebuted in the Tampa Bay area and should go nationwide next year,particularly helps the uninsured, seniors and anyone on a budget.

The prices took effect at 65 Wal-Mart stores, Neighborhood Markets and Sam'sClubs in west central Florida. While the plan is limited mostly to oldergenerics, it includes popular drugs for treating common conditions such asdiabetes, blood pressure and infections. Wal-Mart expects to add to the listin the coming months.

Some critics say the deal is a "loss leader," meaning Wal-Mart hopes tocover any losses by getting more customers in the door who also will buyother merchandise. They also claim low insurance co-pays for generics andthe convenience of neighborhood pharmacies make the deal less attractivethan it might seem.


Report boosts Democrats

A newly disclosed intelligence finding that the war in Iraq gave a boost toterrorism could make it harder for Republicans to keep control of Congress.


WASHINGTON - A newly disclosed intelligence assessment that contradictsPresident Bush's claim that the war in Iraq has made America safer alsocasts doubt on the Republican campaign strategy for the November elections.

Democrats seized on the intelligence findings Sunday to challenge Republicanassertions that Bush and his congressional allies offer the best protectionagainst terrorists. The assessment -- the consensus of the entire federalintelligence network -- concluded that the Iraq War has fueled Islamicextremism and contributed to the spread of terrorist cells.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a prepared statement that theintelligence analysis ``should be the final nail in the coffin for PresidentBush's phony argument about the Iraq War.''


Falwell Acknowledges Clinton Comment

The Associated Press
Monday, September 25, 2006; 8:40 AM

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell acknowledged on Sunday that he saidif Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton were the Democrats' presidential nominee in2008, it would motivate conservative evangelical Christians to oppose hermore than if the devil himself were running.

Falwell said in a telephone interview that his comments to several hundredpastors and religious activists at the "Value Voter Summit" conference were"totally tongue-in-cheek."

"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said at abreakfast session Friday in Washington. "I hope she's the candidate, becausenothing will energize my (constituency) like Hillary Clinton," he said. "IfLucifer ran, he wouldn't."

Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines said Sunday, "Working for someonewho believes in the Golden Rule, we're not going to engage in such vitriolicdiscourse _ but it seems that a new low has been reached in demonizingpolitical opponents."


For Iran, A Policy Of Patience

By Fareed Zakaria
Monday, September 25, 2006; A21

If you think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said some crazy things, none comes close to this: "If the worst came to worst and half of mankind died, the other half would remain while imperialism would be razed to the ground. . ." That was Mao Zedong in 1957. If you find the idea of an Iranian nuclear program unsettling, put yourself in the shoes of policymakers in 1964, the year that China tested a nuclear bomb.

At the time, China was probably the most aggressive country in the world. As historian Francis J. Gavin recounts, Mao's regime had fought a bloody war against the United States in Korea and almost entered another one over Taiwan. It had attacked India in 1962 and threatened several other Asian countries, such as Indonesia. It was supporting North Vietnam and the Viet Cong insurgency in the South. It actively aided violent revolutionary groups around the world, including in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mao's gruesome callousness toward human life extended to his own people. "Half of China may well have to die," he declared as he launched the Great Leap Forward. (He didn't quite succeed, but for a while the "Guinness World Records" book listed him as history's greatest mass murderer, for having caused the deaths of 26.3 million people.) Compared with all this, Iran today looks positively normal.


Forwarded from Ron Mills

Letter from Ned Lamont to Sen. Lieberman:

Senator Joseph Lieberman
United States Senate
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senator Lieberman:

As I am sure you have seen, the New York Times today reported that theNational Intelligence Estimate in April concludes "that the Americaninvasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamicradicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept.11 attacks." The NIE represents the consensus view of the U.S. government's16 major intelligence agencies. The Times notes that the Iraq War is a major"reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology" and cites one intelligenceofficial acknowledging that the NIE "says that the Iraq war has made theoverall terrorism problem worse." 1 Let me put this news in terms that youcan clearly understand: Our own intelligence agencies now confirm that theIraq War is undermining America's security and credibility at our nation'speril.


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -

Please read this short letter from 1998, and note the undersigned: Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz; Richard Perle; John Bolton; Richard Armitage; William Kristol; Elliot Abrams; James Woolsey...

Project New American Century

This is a letter from the "The Project for the New American Century":

"January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of "containment" of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq's chemical and biological weapons production.

Please contact for the full letter