Sunday, August 19, 2007


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The New York Times

August 19, 2007
Editorial Observer
The Founders Had an Idea for Handling Alberto Gonzales

William Belknap, Ulysses S. Grant's disgraced secretary of war, isexperiencing a revival. Impeached in 1876 for taking bribes, he has becomethe inspiration for a movement to remove Attorney General Alberto Gonzalesfrom office. Impeachment is usually thought of as limited to presidents, butthe Constitution not only allows the impeachment of Cabinet members, inBelknap's case, it was actually done.

Impeaching Mr. Gonzales has moved beyond the hypothetical, now that JayInslee, Democrat of Washington, and five otherprosecutors-turned-representatives have introduced a resolution to conductan impeachment inquiry. Congress is wary, and not only because ofpost-Clinton impeachment hangover. The grounds set out in the Constitutionare vague, and the Democrats do not want to be seen as overreaching.

Members of Congress should keep in mind, however, that the founders gavethem the impeachment power for a reason - and Mr. Gonzales's malfeasance isjust the sort they were worried about.

The Constitution provides for impeachment for "treason, bribery, or otherhigh crimes and misdemeanors." Not a clear formula, but it wasn't meant tobe. Impeachment, Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 65, cannot be"tied down" by "strict rules, either in the delineation of the offense" bythe House, or "in the construction of it" by the Senate.


After Losing 'Brain' Bush About To Lose 'Mouth'
by The Associated Press
Posted: August 18, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Washington) White House press secretary Tony Snow has announced he'll leavebefore the end of the Bush presidency because he needs to make more money.

"I'm going to stay as long as I can," he said without elaborating on adeparture date.

Snow's comment caught White House colleagues by surprise, and they said theycould not hazard a guess about when he might leave.

The 52-year-old Snow, the father of three children, earns $168,000 as anassistant to the president but made considerably more as a conservativepundit and syndicated talk-show host on Fox News Radio. He was named presssecretary on April 26, 2006.

White House press secretaries in recent administrations have found thespeechmaking circuit to be lucrative once they've stepped down. Snow waseagerly sought by Republican audiences before the elections last year, andin a break with tradition he made a number of fundraising speeches for GOPcandidates.


The New York Times

August 19, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Seeing Is Believing

Is the surge in Iraq working? That is the question that Gen. David Petraeusand U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will answer for us next month. I, alas, amnot interested in their opinions.

It is not because I don't hold both men in very high regard. I do. But I'mstill not interested in their opinions. I'm only interested in yours. Yes,you - the person reading this column. You know more than you think.

You see, I have a simple view about both Arab-Israeli peace-making and Iraqisurge-making, and it goes like this: Any Arab-Israeli peace overture thatrequires a Middle East expert to explain to you is not worth considering. It'sgoing nowhere.

Either a peace overture is so obvious and grabs you in the gut - Anwar Sadat's trip to Israel - or it's going nowhere. That is why the Saudi-Arab Leaguepeace overture is going nowhere. No emotional content. It was basicallyfaxed to the Israeli people, and people don't give up land for peace in adeal that comes over the fax.

Ditto with Iraqi surges. If it takes a Middle East expert to explain to youwhy it is working, it's not working. To be sure, it is good news if thenumber of Iraqis found dead in Baghdad each night is diminishing. Indeed, itis good news if casualties are down everywhere that U.S. troops have madetheir presence felt. But all that tells me is something that was obviousfrom the start of the war, which Donald Rumsfeld ignored: where you put inlarge numbers of U.S. troops you get security, and where you don't you getinsecurity.


The New York Times

August 19, 2007
Concerns Raised on Wider Spying Under New Law

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 - Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congressthis month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operationsthat go well beyond wiretapping to include - without court approval -certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection ofAmericans' business records, Democratic Congressional officials and otherexperts said.

Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns fromDemocrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate overthe meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats weresimply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of thelegislation.

They also emphasized that there would be strict rules in place to minimizethe extent to which Americans would be caught up in the surveillance.

The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-sessionscramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may havegiven the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.

It also offers a case study in how changing a few words in a complex pieceof legislation has the potential to fundamentally alter the ForeignIntelligence Surveillance Act, a landmark national security law. The newlegislation is set to expire in less than six months; two weeks after it wassigned into law, there is still heated debate over how much power Congressgave to the president.


The New York Times

August 19, 2007
Psychologists Weigh Interrogation Ban
Filed at 7:29 a.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Stung by reports implicating mental health specialistsin prisoner abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the nation'slargest group of psychologists is considering banning its members frominterrogations of terror suspects.

The American Psychological Association, which is holding its annual meetingin San Francisco, is scheduled to vote Sunday on two competing measuresconcerning its 148,000 members' participation in military interrogations atGuantanamo Bay and other U.S. military detention centers.

One measure would bar members from any involvement in interrogations at U.S.detention facilities where foreigners are held. The moratorium would not bebacked by sanctions, but it would carry the APA's ''moral authority,'' saidpsychologist Neil Altman, who wrote the proposed resolution.

The other proposal, which is backed by APA's board of directors, wouldreaffirm the group's opposition to torture and prohibit members from takingpart in more than a dozen specific practices, including forced nakedness,mock executions and simulated drowning.


The Washington Post

Democrats Meet for Yet Another Debate [TODAY - SUNDAY]
The Associated Press
Sunday, August 19, 2007; 5:05 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Even as their differences on the issues become morepronounced, the Democratic presidential front-runners seem to agree on onething: The schedule of candidate forums and debates has become overwhelming.

Nonetheless, they were gathering in Des Moines on Sunday morning for anotherdebate, this time to be broadcast live on ABC's "This Week."

The rivals have been appearing at a relentless series of forums and debatesand now there are signs that may change.

David Plouffe, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign manager, said Saturday, "Wesimply cannot continue to hopscotch from forum to forum and run a campaigntrue to the bottom-up movement for change that propelled Barack into thisrace."

He said Obama was committed to five remaining debates sanctioned by theDemocratic National Committee, two Iowa debates in December and one inFlorida on Sept. 9. But after that, Plouffe said, the campaign will limitthe number of debates Obama attends.

Other campaigns have grumbled privately about the same thing and some willprobably follow suit. The forums are virtually the only way for lesser-knowncandidates like former Sen. Mike Gravel and Rep. Dennis Kucinich to getattention.

Meanwhile, the top contenders continue to fight over the role big moneyplays in politics. Obama has railed against "lobby-driven, divisivepolitics," a coded shot at rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Sen.John Edwards was urging his rivals and the party to distance themselves fromlobbyists and their money, warning that Democrats risk being seen as a"party of Washington insiders."

Lately, Clinton has sought to cast herself as a defender of workingfamilies, saying "the American middle class is under attack" and promisingto reverse that.

The other candidates scheduled to participate in Sunday's debate were Gov.Bill Richardson and Sens. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd. "This Week" hostGeorge Stephanopoulos was moderating the 90-minute forum.


The Washington Post

The Model That India Offers
By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, August 19, 2007; B07

India celebrated its 60th birthday last week with a raucous parliamentarydebate over nuclear energy and its new strategic relationship with theUnited States. New Delhi had the air of the capital of an emerging worldpower looking ahead into a promising, if complicated, future.

Pakistan marked the same occasion by sinking deeper into the past. Thecorrupt backroom dealing between military rulers and politicians that hasproduced a cycle of disasters for the Pakistani nation resumed -- aided bythe hidden hand of U.S. diplomacy working to preserve President PervezMusharraf's dwindling power in Islamabad.

The anniversary of the partition of the Asian subcontinent six decades agoshowed the region's two contrasting faces: a giant, open democracy and asclerotic but nuclear-armed garrison state. It also revealed two contrastingfaces of the Bush administration's foreign policy, where pockets of boldthinking about the future compete with the need for short-term fixes thatrely heavily on illusion.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defended the nuclear accord against abarrage of attacks from the communist left and the reactionary Hindu right,keeping alive Bush administration hopes that the president can finallytranslate unconventional thinking in foreign policy into a substantialachievement.

The accord underpins a transformed U.S.-India relationship that is essentialto the struggle against transnational jihadist terrorism. It sets the stagefor a badly needed reframing of the global nuclear nonproliferationagreements and practices that failed to stop Pakistan from becoming theworld's nuclear Wal-Mart. And it is a key to hopes for a more effectiveinternational approach to the real dangers of global warming.


The Washington Post

Risks in a Muslim Reformation
By Diana Muir
Sunday, August 19, 2007; B07

Salman Rushdie, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof and Mansour al-Nogaidanare among the well-intentioned people who have called for an IslamicReformation. They should be careful what they wish for.

The Protestant Reformation did precede the things these men admire aboutmodernity in the West, including women's emancipation, political liberty,scientific breakthroughs, the wealth and opportunity created by theIndustrial Revolution, and permission to think freely regarding God. But allthis came later, and the Reformation was only part of what brought themabout.

The Reformation was a time of intense focus on God and what He requires ofpeople. As a movement, it was enthusiastic, narrow and far from tolerant. Itand the Counter-Reformation brought two centuries of repression, war andmassacre to the West. It's unlikely that anyone who lived through it wouldconsider wishing a Reformation on Muslims.

And yet, even as some hope for such a turn of events -- presuming, it seems,a certain conclusion -- a Reformation is sweeping through the Muslim world.Westerners are generally aware that the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam arestruggling for dominance in Iraq. But more broadly, the words and doctrinepromoted by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis or Wahhabists are eerilysimilar to those of our 16th-century forebears.


The Miami Herald

Whose fault is no-fault mess?
Florida's no-fault car insurance law ends in a little over a month, andthere is little agreement among several powerful interest groups on findinga solution.
Posted on Sun, Aug. 19, 2007

Drivers could face more lawsuits and more uninsured motorists when Florida'sno-fault car insurance law ends Oct. 1, a situation that, according tonearly everyone involved in the Capitol, is someone else's fault.State legislators had planned to fix the troubled insurance system during aspecial three-week lawmaking session that begins Sept. 18, but they'regridlocked. There's little agreement among the powerful lobbies that fuelthe process and have a stake in a system worth as much as $1.7 billion ayear.

Gov. Charlie Crist and state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink have stayedout of the fray. There's little for the different interest groups to gain bytangling with the Legislature when there is no clear solution or agreementand the competing interests are numerous.


. Chiropractors, doctors and pain-treatment centers want to keep much of thecurrent personal injury protection system, called PIP. For a decade, they'vefought plans to cap fees and the number of treatments, which have helpedjack up costs.

. Big auto insurers, led by State Farm and Allstate, have fought to killPIP, saying there's so much fraud in places like South Florida that somecall Broward County's seat ''Fraud Lauderdale.'' Scrapping the system, theysay, will lower rates by as much as 16 percent and could help more peoplebuy affordable insurance.



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