Friday, March 09, 2007


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LA Times,1,5805573,print.story?coll=la-news-politics-national

Conservatives see a scapegoat in Libby
He's been sacrificed to a politicized prosecution, they say. A formerClinton aide recalls the impeachment and sees hypocrisy.
By David G. Savage
Times Staff Writer

March 8, 2007

WASHINGTON - The perjury conviction of former senior White House advisor I.Lewis "Scooter" Libby was condemned as a "travesty" and a "politicizedprosecution" by much of the conservative media Wednesday.

As the critics on the right saw it, an overzealous prosecutor, unable tofind evidence of a real crime, turned what a Wall Street Journal editorialcalled a "trivial matter" into a high-profile criminal case. The Journaleditorial accused Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald of "criminalizingpolitical differences. For that, in essence, is what this case is really allabout."

"A good man has paid a very heavy price for the Left's fevers [and] themedia's scandal-mongering," the editors of the National Review wrote ofLibby in a posting on the magazine's website. "Justice demands that[President] Bush issue a pardon and lower the curtain on an embarrassingdrama that shouldn't have lasted beyond its opening act."

Amid this fervor, some veterans of an earlier political drama - PresidentClinton's impeachment in the late 1990s - were amused by their politicalopponents' new views of the significance of perjury and obstruction ofjustice.

"They thought it was OK for prosecutors to pursue the president for lyingabout sex, and now they think it's unfair to prosecute someone in the WhiteHouse for lying to a grand jury about outing a CIA agent," Lanny J. Davis,Clinton's special counsel during that time, said Wednesday. "This is notjust hypocritical. It is comical."


Edwards to skip debate hosted by Fox
By Kathleen Hennessey, Associated Press Writer | March 7, 2007

LAS VEGAS --Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards won't participatein a debate co-hosted by Fox News Channel and the Nevada Democratic Party,his campaign said Wednesday, as party officials tried to settle a dustupover their partnership with the cable network. Edwards' campaign said FoxNews' participation was part of the decision to pass on the Aug. 14 debatein Reno, but it also cited scheduling conflicts.

Online activists and bloggers quickly hailed the decision as a victory intheir campaign to urge Nevada Democrats to drop Fox News as a Civic Action says it has collected more than 260,000 signatureson a petition that calls the cable network a "mouthpiece for the RepublicanParty, not a legitimate news channel."

Fox News Channel vice president of news David Rhodes issued a statementcalling it "unfortunate that Sen. Edwards has decided to abandon anopportunity to reach the largest mainstream cable news audience in America."

Democratic Party officials and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initiallytouted the partnership with Fox News as an opportunity to reach out to adifferent bloc of voters. But in a letter posted Wednesday on the party'sWeb site, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Collins said Reid now sharesactivists' concerns and "has asked us to take another look."

Collins said the party would invite a "local progressive voice" toparticipate on the debate panel, which would include a reporter from a localFox affiliate, a national Fox News reporter and the moderator.


The New York Times

March 9, 2007
Ga. Close to OKing Bible Classes

Filed at 1:51 a.m. ET

ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia is poised to introduce two literature classes on theBible in public schools next year, a move some critics say would make thestate the first to take an explicit stance endorsing -- and funding --biblical teachings.

The Bible already is incorporated into some classes in Georgia and otherstates, but some critics say the board's move, which makes the Bible theclasses' main text, treads into dangerous turf.

On a list of classes approved Thursday by the Georgia Board of Education areLiterature and History of the Old Testament Era, and Literature and Historyof the New Testament Era. The classes, approved last year by theLegislature, will not be required, and the state's 180 school systems candecide for themselves whether to offer them.

The school board's unanimous vote set up a 30-day public comment period,after which it is expected to give final approval.

Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, the Republican who sponsored theplan, said the Bible plays a major role in history and is important inunderstanding many classic literary works.


The Washington Post

Bush Threatens to Veto Democrats' Iraq Plan

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 9, 2007; A01

Bush administration officials escalated the fight over a new spendingpackage for the Iraq war yesterday, saying for the first time that thepresident will veto a House Democratic plan because it includes a timetableto start bringing troops home within a year and would undermine militaryefforts.

The veto threat came as House and Senate Democrats announced aggressive newmeasures to narrow U.S. involvement in Iraq, although party leadersacknowledged that their members are far from united on the efforts. Liberalswant to start troop withdrawals immediately, but more conservative membersworry that they are micromanaging the war, and House leaders have beenstruggling to come up with a compromise.

The House spending bill could lead to troop withdrawals before the end ofthe year and would end combat duties by Aug. 31, 2008. To help win votes inboth parties, Democratic leaders have included billions of dollars in newspending for military health care and would redirect some money to the fightin Afghanistan.

In the Senate, Democratic leaders proposed a joint resolution, intended forconsideration in the House as well, that would limit the authority Congressgave President Bush in 2002 to invade Iraq. It would require that troopsstart returning home within four months of passage and sets March 31, 2008,as a goal for withdrawing most troops. But it would require Republican votesto overcome parliamentary obstacles from GOP leaders.

That has left the fate of both measures far from certain. What is more,although public support for the war has plummeted, Republicans have remainedremarkably united behind Bush and an open-ended Iraq commitment.


The Washington Post

Gonzales Yields On Hiring Interim U.S. Attorneys

By Paul Kane and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 9, 2007; A01

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales agreed yesterday to change the way U.S.attorneys can be replaced, a reversal in administration policy that cameafter he was browbeaten by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee stillangry over the controversial firings of eight federal prosecutors.

Gonzales told Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and other senior members of thecommittee that the administration will no longer oppose legislation limitingthe attorney general's power to appoint interim prosecutors. Gonzales alsoagreed to allow the committee to interview five top-level Justice Departmentofficials as part of an ongoing Democratic-led probe into the firings,senators said after a tense, hour-long meeting in Leahy's office suite.

The concessions represent a turnaround by the White House and the JusticeDepartment, which have argued for three months that Gonzales must haveunfettered power to appoint interim federal prosecutors and have resisteddisclosing details about the firings.

But the administration has been battered by mounting allegations thatseveral of the fired prosecutors -- six of whom testified before Congress onTuesday -- had been the subject of intimidation, including impropertelephone calls from GOP lawmakers or their aides, and alleged threats ofretaliation by Justice Department officials. One prosecutor told lawmakersthis week that he felt "leaned on" by a senior Republican senator, andSenate Democrats have readied subpoenas for five key members of Gonzales'inner circle of advisers.

The capitulation came just hours after several leading Senate Republicanssharply criticized Gonzales for his handling of the issue. Sen. ArlenSpecter (Pa.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, seemed tosuggest that Gonzales's tenure may not last through the remainder ofPresident Bush's term.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1095031,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Gates, Buffett top Forbes ranking of billionaires

By Jackie Farwell
Associated Press

March 8, 2007

NEW YORK -- What could a Chinese dumpling maker and Mexican telecom mogulpossibly have in common? They're among a record number of wealthy people whoheld the title of billionaire over the past year.

The tally of billionaires around the globe reached a high of 946, theircombined wealth growing 35 percent to $3.5 trillion, according to Forbesmagazine's 2007 rankings of the world's richest people.

The rich cashed in on strong equity markets, real estate and commodityprices worldwide, according to Forbes billionaires co-editor Luisa Kroll.

"It's just been kind of an extraordinary year for markets worldwide," shesaid.

Twenty-eight of the billionaires are Florida residents. In South Florida,noteable billionaries include Micky Arison of Carnival Cruise Lines, worth$5.8 billlion; H. Wayne Huizenga of AutoNation and Miami Dolphins' fame,$2.1 billion; James Moran, founder of the JM Family Enterprises automobileempire, $2.4 billion; and Jorge Perez, The Related Group real estatedevelopment firm, $1.8 billion.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6680552,print.story?coll=sns-newsnation-headlines

Gingrich Had Affair During Clinton Probe

Associated Press Writer
March 8, 2007, 11:04 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was havingan extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clintonover the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with aconservative Christian group.

"The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republicanpresidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Familyfounder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript providedto The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my ownstandards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God'sstandards."

Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as ahypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.

"The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felonyin front of a sitting federal judge," the former Georgia congressman said ofClinton's 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justicecharges. "I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk ofbeing deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I amnot rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the governmenttrying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forwardand say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials."

Widely considered a mastermind of the Republican revolution that sweptCongress in the 1994 elections, Gingrich remains wildly popular among manyconservatives. He has repeatedly placed near the top of Republicanpresidential polls recently, even though he has not formed a campaign.


Iranian women struggle for equality
By Frances Harrison
BBC News, Tehran

March 8, 2007

My husband would beat the child and throw him asideForugh

In the days before International Women's Day, 33 women were arrested inTehran for peacefully protesting outside a court building. Thirty of themwere subsequently released, but warned not to mark the day with protests.

Those detained include many of the big names of Iran's women's movement, whoare calling for an end to discriminatory laws against women.

It is not hard to find women who have been caused great suffering by the lawas it stands.

"This is my son just after he was born," say Forugh, looking through oldphoto albums in the tiny apartment where she lives alone.

Ali Reza is now seven and Forugh has not been able to see him for manymonths. When she separated from her husband the judge gave him custody oftheir child.



Ex-CIA agent Plame to testify to Congress on leak
Fri Mar 9, 2007 8:30 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Valerie Plame, the former covert CIA agent whosecover was blown after her husband accused the White House of manipulatingprewar intelligence, will testify before a congressional committee nextweek, the committee chairman said on Thursday.

Plame will testify about the disclosure and how the White House handled itin an appearance before the House of Representatives Committee on GovernmentReform, Chairman Henry Waxman said in a statement.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney,was found guilty on Tuesday of lying and obstructing the investigation intowho blew Plame's cover.

Waxman's panel is looking into whether White House officials followedappropriate procedures for safeguarding Plame's identity, the statementsaid.

It did not say whether any White House officials had been asked to testifyat the hearing scheduled for Friday, March 16.


New York Times

March 9, 2007
Shutting Out Terrorism's Victims

Terrorists terrorize people. That's no surprise. What is shocking, andscandalous, is that American law currently bars the entry to the UnitedStates of some of terrorism's most abused victims: refugees who have beenforced, often at gunpoint, to provide so-called material assistance.

Among those excluded by these provisions are a 13-year-old Ugandan girltaken away by the Lord's Resistance Army and forced to gather food and cookfor her abductors, and a Sri Lankan fisherman kidnapped by Tamil Tigerrebels and forced to pay a ransom for his freedom. Some who fought asirregulars alongside American troops in Indochina also now find themselvesexcluded because they have been wrongly classed as terrorists. Watching allthat, Iraqis may well ask why they should now risk their lives in support ofAmerican policies if this is what they can expect if they ever have to seekrefuge in the United States.

Just about everyone, including Bush administration officials, agrees thatthese rules need to be fixed. But the remedy that the Homeland SecurityDepartment has recently proposed - chiefly a promise of discretionarywaivers - does not go nearly far enough. Unless the administration comes upwith an acceptable solution soon, Congress will have to.

The problem begins with a sloppy definition of terrorism written into a 1990immigration law. It was compounded after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by theBush administration's overly aggressive and rigid interpretation of whatconstitutes material support for terrorism. Standard legal definitions ofterrorism characterize it as planning or committing unlawful, violent actsaimed at killing, injuring or intimidating innocent civilians. But the 1990law defined it in a way that could encompass virtually any illegal civilianuse of weapons - even to resist a violent dictatorship or to fight alongsideAmerican troops.


The Washington Post

Candidate Clinton, Embracing the Trite and the True

By Dana Milbank
Friday, March 9, 2007; A02

Are you in it to win? Would you regard civil rights as the gift that keepson giving? Do you believe in the American Dream, stupid?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you might consider supportingHillary Clinton, the person to send to the White House when you care enoughto send the very best. More than any other candidate, Clinton has broughtthe sensibility of Hallmark greeting cards to the 2008 presidential race.

Yesterday, the Democratic front-runner took a number of provocative standsas she spoke about soldiers and veterans at the Center for AmericanProgress, a liberal think tank:

"If you serve your country, your country should serve you."

"I'm here to say that the buck does stop with this president."


The Washington Post

Fitzgerald's Folly
A Textbook Case for a Speedy Pardon

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 9, 2007; A21

There are lies and there are memory lapses. Bill Clinton denied under oathhaving sex with Monica Lewinsky. Unless you're Wilt Chamberlain, sex is notthe kind of thing you forget easily. Sandy Berger denied stuffing classifieddocuments in his pants, an act not quite as elaborate as sex, but stillinvolving a lot of muscle memory and unlikely to have been honestlyforgotten.

Scooter Libby has just been convicted of four felonies that couldtheoretically give him 25 years in jail for . . . what? Misstating when hefirst heard a certain piece of information, namely the identity of JoeWilson's wife.

Think about that. Can you remember when you first heard the name Joe Wilsonor Valerie Plame? Okay, so it is not a preoccupation of yours. But it was apreoccupation of many Washington journalists and government officials calledto testify at the Libby trial, and their memories were all over the lot.Former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer testified under oath thathe had not told Post reporter Walter Pincus about Mrs. Wilson. Pincustestified under oath that Fleischer definitely had.

Obviously, one is not telling the truth. But there is no reason to believethat either one is deliberately lying. Pincus and Fleischer are as fallibleas any of us. They spend their days receiving and giving information. Theycan't possibly be expected to remember not only every piece but preciselywhen they received every piece.

Should Scooter Libby? He was famously multitasking a large number ofnational security and domestic issues, receiving hundreds of pieces ofinformation every day from dozens of sources. Yet special prosecutor PatrickFitzgerald chose to make Libby's misstatements about the timing of thereceipt of one piece of information -- Mrs. Wilson's identity -- the greatwhite whale of his multimillion-dollar prosecutorial juggernaut.


The Washington Post

Who's Hyperpartisan?

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, March 9, 2007; A21

Hand-wringing over extreme partisanship has become a popular cause amonglearned analysts. They operate from Olympian heights and strain forevenhandedness by issuing tut-tuts to all sides, Democrats and Republicans,liberals and conservatives.

But the evidence of recent days should settle the case: This administrationhas operated on the basis of a hyperpartisanship not seen in decades. Worse,the destroy-the-opposition, our-team-vs.-their-team approach has infectedlarge parts of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. That's ashame, since there are plenty of good people in both. Still, the tendency osubordinate principles to win short-term victories and cover up for theadministration is, alas, rampant on the right.

Take the rush of conservative organs demanding an immediate pardon ofScooter Libby after his conviction on four counts related to lying andobstruction of justice. Last I checked, conservatives were deeply committedto the rule of law. They said so frequently during the Clinton impeachmentsaga.

But the conscientious Libby jury had barely announced its conclusions whenthe Wall Street Journal editorial page and the National Review, amongothers, called for a pardon because the case, as the Journal editorial putit, involved "a travesty of justice."

In other words, when an impartial judicial system does something thatconservatives don't like, the will of conservatives, not the rule of law,should triumph. Is there any doubt that a Democrat who used executive powerto protect a convicted political ally from the consequences of the legalprocess would be savaged for abusing his authority? (Since you might ask, Ipilloried Bill Clinton for the Marc Rich pardon.)


The Washington Post

In the Wheelbarrow With Libby

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, March 9, 2007; A21

The White House would like to strip the guilty verdicts against Lewis"Scooter" Libby of any larger meaning. The White House also would like tochange the subject.

"I think there has been an attempt to try to use this as a great bigwheelbarrow in which to dump a whole series of unrelated issues and say,'Aha,' " press secretary Tony Snow said Wednesday. "And it is what it is;it's a case involving Scooter Libby and his recollections, and we're justnot going to comment further on it."

All right, then, dump everything out of the wheelbarrow except one ratherweighty question: Did George W. Bush and his Cabinet lead the nation intowar on false pretenses? Specifically, did Bush and the others know fullwell -- or, at a bare minimum, should they have known -- that the rhetoricthey used to convince Americans of imminent peril from Saddam Hussein'spurported weapons of mass destruction was based on sketchy, disputed andeven fraudulent evidence?

That historical question was the context for Libby's trial. Maybe it'sunfair that Libby faces possible prison time as the "fall guy" for others,as one juror called him -- although I would ask those who are calling for apresidential pardon to remind us how they stood on impeaching Bill Clintonon charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton's lies had to dowith sex. Libby's were about the selling of a war.

The back story is that an insider source (former ambassador Joseph Wilson,for those following the dramatis personae) was claiming he had told theadministration that one of its most vivid pieces of evidence showing thatHussein was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program -- an alleged attemptto buy yellowcake uranium in Niger -- was bogus. Yet the president cited thesupposed Niger connection anyway in his 2003 State of the Union speech.


The Washington Post

Higher-Ed Superpower

By David Ignatius
Friday, March 9, 2007; A21

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- When people think about American power in the world,they usually list the country's forbidding arsenal of bombers, aircraftcarriers and troops. Yet America's greatest strategic asset these days mightnot be its guns but its universities.

Higher education is arguably the last area in which the United Statesdominates the world. We're discovering the limits of military power in Iraq,the pressures of economic competition from China and India, thevulnerability of our financial markets to sudden changes abroad. But in thisglobalized world, American universities remain the gold standard. And thanksto aggressive university presidents, they are widening their lead.

America's great universities are in fact becoming global. They are the brandnames for excellence -- drawing in the brightest students and faculty andgiving them unparalleled opportunities. This is where the openness andfreewheeling diversity of American life provide us a huge advantage overtighter, more homogeneous cultures. We give people the freedom to think andcreate -- and prosper from those activities -- in ways that no other countrycan match.

This "education power" may be the best long-term hope for dealing with U.S.troubles abroad. Global polls show that after the Iraq debacle, the rest ofthe world mistrusts America and its values. But there is one strikingexception to this anti-Americanism, and that is education. American-styleuniversities, colleges and schools are sprouting up around the world.

I got to thinking about American education during a visit to the John F.Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where I listened to two prominentIranian-born scholars, Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh, try to explain what'shappening in Tehran. From its founding in 1978, the Kennedy School has seenitself as a resource for the world. The new U.N. secretary general, Ban KiMoon, was a student here in the 1980s. When he arrived, he announced thathis nickname was "JFK," which stood for "Just from Korea."


The Seattle Times

Friday, March 9, 2007 - 12:00 AM

Ellen Goodman / Syndicated columnist
Clinton changes the conversation

BOSTON - It has been almost a year since that well-known political punditSharon Stone explained why Hillary Clinton couldn't win the presidency. "Awoman should be past her sexuality when she runs," intoned Stone. "Hillarystill has sexual power, and I don't think people will accept that."

I never figured out if this was a compliment or an insult to the 59-year-oldsenator. After all, Henry Kissinger once described power as the greataphrodisiac. Did aphrodisia shrink a woman's political power?

Of course, this was only one of innumerable pink grids put over Hillary'scampaign. Her announcement was preceded and followed by endless stories onwhether America was "ready" for a woman president. Every move she makes,every breath she takes, every outfit she wears, she is stalked by the medialooking for clues to the female electoral cycle.

This was an inevitable part of being the First Serious Woman Candidate forPresident. And Hillary has said repeatedly, "The fact that I'm a woman, thefact that I'm a mom, is part of who I am." Her candidacy was bound to have a"You Go, Girl!" edge.

It was no surprise that Hillary announced her candidacy in a Webcast from aliving room decorated in Early Suburban Soccer Mom. It's no surprise thatshe has just launched a kind of girlfriends' social networking campaign. Andit's no surprise to see her campaigning under the slogan: "Let theConversation Begin." (Memo to the campaign: This female-friendly approachmay strike terror in the hearts of husbands who cringe when their wives say,"We have to talk.")


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