Thursday, September 06, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 06, 2007

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The New York Times

September 6, 2007
Craig Goes on Offensive, Angering G.O.P. Leaders

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 - Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho on Wednesday took newsteps to clear his name in Washington and in Minnesota, where he pleadedguilty to disorderly conduct after being arrested in a sex sting. Mr. Craig's efforts, including the suggestion that he might not resign at the end of themonth as he had announced, infuriated Republican Senate leaders who thoughtthey had contained the political damage from his case.

In a sign of how quickly his colleagues have turned against him, the SenateEthics Committee on Wednesday swiftly rejected a request by Mr. Craig'slawyers to dismiss the complaints against him, and Republican leaders movedto fill his leadership positions on three committees.

Mr. Craig, through a lawyer, said that he would try to have his guilty pleawithdrawn in Minnesota and that if he could do so by the end of the month hemight remain in office.

But a close friend and confidant of Mr. Craig, his former chief of staff,Gregory S. Casey, said that the senator was far more concerned aboutclearing his name and restoring his reputation than staying in office forthe remaining 16 months of his term.

"What he is trying to do is to get the maximum leverage to clear his namefor himself and his family, as a human being, and that's the plan he has,"Mr. Casey said after speaking with Mr. Craig on Wednesday.



Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

Salon exclusive: Two former CIA officers say the president squelched top-secret intelligence, and a briefing by George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Sep. 06, 2007 | On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.

On April 23, 2006, CBS's "60 Minutes" interviewed Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA chief of clandestine operations for Europe, who disclosed that the agency had received documentary intelligence from Naji Sabri, Saddam's foreign minister, that Saddam did not have WMD. "We continued to validate him the whole way through," said Drumheller. "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy."



September 06, 2007

French first lady tells of negotiations to free medics imprisoned in Libya

France's first lady, Cecilia Sarkozy, said she ''negotiated relentlessly''with Libyan officials for 50 hours in the run-up to the release of fiveBulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who were held behind bars foreight years.

''I arrived [in Libya] as a woman, as a mother, without necessarily thinkinga lot about the complexities of international relations, but with the firmintention of saving lives,'' Sarkozy was quoted as telling L'Est Republicainnewspaper.

Political circles have been abuzz for weeks with questions about the size ofthe role the first lady played in winning the high-profile release of thesix medics from a Libyan prison in June.

Sarkozy, in her first substantive comments on the case, said she spoke withLibyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in English without an interpreter, and thatshe believed he realized ''he could make a humane gesture that could improvehis image.''

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who dispatched his wife to Libya twice to work onthe case, has insisted she accomplished ''remarkable work'' there. CeciliaSarkozy accompanied the medics to Bulgaria on June 24 aboard a Frenchpresidential plane.


The New York Times

September 6, 2007
Republicans, Paul Clash Over Iraq War
Filed at 3:00 a.m. ET

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) -- Republican presidential contenders voiced support forthe Iraq war Wednesday night despite a warning from anti-war candidate RonPaul that they risk dragging the party down to defeat in 2008.

''Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor,'' shot backformer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, ''and that is more important than theRepublican Party.''

Huckabee was in the majority, Paul very much in the minority on a Universityof New Hampshire debate stage when it came to the war. The politicallyunpopular conflict has emerged as the dominant issue of the 2008 race forthe White House.

The issue flared near the end of a 90-minute encounter in which all eightmen on stage welcomed former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson to the race withbarbed humor and pointed advice.

''This is a nomination you have to earn,'' said former New York Mayor RudyGiuliani. ''Nobody's going to give it to you. Nobody's going to grant it toyou.''


September 6, 2007

Top Republicans Back Bush Iraq Strategy In Debate
Filed at 12:07 a.m. ET

DURHAM, New Hampshire (Reuters) - The top Republican White House hopefulspledged support for President George W. Bush's strategy in Iraq and battledwar critic Ron Paul on Wednesday at a debate upstaged by the candidate whodid not attend -- newly minted contender Fred Thompson.

While eight 2008 White House candidates shared the stage at the Universityof New Hampshire, Thompson tried to steal the spotlight with an announcementof his candidacy on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and a televisionadvertisement on Fox News before the debate began.

The contenders welcomed the former senator and Hollywood actor to the race,but said he was way behind in meeting voters in key states like NewHampshire that hold early nominating contests.

"I think Fred will add something to this race. I think this is a nominationyou have to earn, though. Nobody's going to give it to you," said former NewYork Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Ahead of next week's submission to Congress of a crucial report on the Iraqwar, most of the contenders said Bush's strategy of boosting troops in Iraqwas succeeding -- and several clashed sharply with the lone anti-warcandidate in the Republican field, Texas Rep. Ron Paul.


Fred's Couch Moment
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 6, 2007; 9:38 AM

Look at the way Brit Hume led off the Fox debate last night: Enough aboutyou, what do you think of Fred Thompson getting into the race?

The actor blew off the New Hampshire gathering to announce his intentions toJay Leno, drawing a bigger audience without those pesky GOP rivals nippingat his heels.

Thompson was casual and folksy as he made the declaration, but seemed to mea bit rambling and low-key for a man accustomed to memorizing his lines. Hemade a couple of mild jokes, but mostly kind of ambled his way into therace. One thing I found off-putting: He barely glanced at Leno, playinginstead to the camera, but didn't look directly into the camera either,instead sort of gazing into space.

It was, to be candid, a flat performance--though he didn't look like thestriving candidates who, as he put it, have been planning their presidentialbids since high school.

On issues, Thompson said we should stay in Iraq "until we get the job done";warned of the dangers of al-Qaeda, Iran and Hezbollah, and said he wouldn'tapologize for the USA. He offered no specifics or even a memorableone-liner.


Anybody in Idaho would be an improvement
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
September 6, 2007

Please, get this guy another job

There are about one and a half million people living in the state of Idaho.Certainly, among that group, there must be someone who would be a bettersenator - for that state, and for the nation - than Larry Craig.

This is the guy who pleaded guilty following a police undercover operationin an airport men's room. After defiantly saying, "I am not gay," Craig saidhe made a mistake to plead guilty. He apparently is rethinking that plea.

Then he said he was resigning from the Senate on Sept. 30, but word has comefrom his spokesman that Craig may not resign. Apparently he is rethinkingthat.

With decisiveness and backbone like that, it's obvious why few peopleoutside Idaho had heard of Craig during his 27 years in Congress. It's scaryto think he was making decisions that affected Florida and the United Statesfor that long. It's even scarier to think he might keep his job.


Republicans, Paul Clash Over Iraq War
Associated Press Writer
2:59 AM EDT, September 6, 2007


Republican presidential contenders voiced support for the Iraq war Wednesdaynight despite a warning from anti-war candidate Ron Paul that they riskdragging the party down to defeat in 2008.

"Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor," shot back formerArkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, "and that is more important than the RepublicanParty."

Huckabee was in the majority, Paul very much in the minority on a Universityof New Hampshire debate stage when it came to the war. The politicallyunpopular conflict has emerged as the dominant issue of the 2008 race forthe White House.

The issue flared near the end of a 90-minute encounter in which all eightmen on stage welcomed former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson to the race withbarbed humor and pointed advice.

"This is a nomination you have to earn," said former New York Mayor RudyGiuliani. "Nobody's going to give it to you. Nobody's going to grant it toyou."

The debate unfolded several days before Gen. David Petraeus is scheduled todeliver an assessment of President Bush's wintertime decision to commit30,000 additional combat troops to the war.

Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Giuliani allstressed support for the war, at times even competing to show theircommitment.


The Detroit News

Primary politics: Michigan demands voice in presidential race
Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Michigan's move to a January 2008 presidential primary has put the state inthe national spotlight, and given it a voice in White House politics that ithas not had in years.

The Jan. 15 primary promises national attention to the state's economicproblems, with the possibility of the candidate bus tours and televiseddebates that have made New Hampshire and Iowa the focus of early mediacoverage of the presidential campaign for decades. And it brings closer thanever the longstanding hope of Michigan politicians such as Sen. Carl Levinto end the hammer-lock those traditional early states have had on thenominating process.

Michigan's action has had some unintended consequences, fanning a nastyintra-party fight among Democrats. The traditional early states and nationalparty leaders are lined up on one side, with Michigan and Florida, itsfellow party-crasher in the early-primary game, on the other. The fightcomes complete with angry exchanges of public letters and a boycott ofMichigan and Florida by the entire Democratic presidential field.

"To have an opportunity for Republican candidates able to dominate thedebate and the agenda in two key swing states such as Michigan and Floridais a huge advantage for us," said Saul Anuzis, chairman of the MichiganRepublican Party.


The New York Times

September 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The Least Bad Choice

The way the United States leaves places matters. Having armed mujahedeenfighters to undo the Soviet empire in Afghanistan, America lost interest ina backwater. Payback came in the form of Afghan-trained holy warriors benton the destruction of the West. That was careless.

It is important to be less careless in Baghdad. As reports on Iraq reachCongress this month, it's worth considering that blow-back from an oil-richcountry at the heart of the battle for the Middle East could be even moresevere than the violent legacy of funding Islam to fight communism in Kabul.

Nothing can undo the American blunders in Iraq that turned the liberatedinto the lacerated. Hubris is bad, careless hubris worse. The fraying Bushadministration still can't work out who took the decision to disband theIraqi Army in 2003; that's grotesque. Nobody in the administration shouldsleep easy over its ethical responsibility for calamitous mistakes.

But what we did matters less today than how we leave Iraq. It's far easierto score backward-looking political points against Bush than serve theforward-looking interests of 27 million Iraqis. Still, the latter is moreimportant than the former.

As Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and InternationalStudies has written: "It seems likely that the U.S. will ultimately bejudged far more by how it leaves Iraq, and what it leaves behind, than howit entered Iraq." America's future ability to use its hard and soft power"depends on what the U.S. does now."

more..... [contact]


The New York Times

September 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The Do-Over Theory

It has probably come to your attention that Senator Larry Craig is not surehe wants to resign after all.

"It's not such a foregone conclusion anymore," said his spokesman.

Craig has assembled a crisis-management team, including public relationspeople and the Michael-Vick-dogfighting lawyer. They will attempt to undothe guilty plea he made after the incident in the Minneapolis airport men'sroom and the resignation he announced last week. Meanwhile, Craig's adoptedkids are making the rounds, telling TV interviewers that they are sure he isnot gay.

"He's a fighter," said a former staffer admiringly.

This is not about entrapment or (heaven forbid) gay rights, or secondchances. Craig is looking for a total do-over, one of those magic momentsfrequently seen on a cable television series, in which some unfortunateincident is erased from the memory of the entire world, and everything goeson exactly as it was before. The United States Senate as a "Charmed" rerun.

Except for the lieutenant governor of Idaho, who's waiting to grab hold ofthat Senate seat, it doesn't really matter whether Larry Craig manages toconvince the crowd he hangs out with that he is a not-gay victim ofoverzealous police work and failure to consult an attorney at the criticalmoment. What's more troubling is the way the definition of a "fighter" canchange from somebody who battles for the truth to somebody who fights forhis right to impose his vision of the way things ought to be in place ofreality.

Like George W. Bush, who, according to Robert Draper's new book "DeadCertain," was still privately insisting that Saddam Hussein had weapons ofmass destruction in 2006.

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The Washington Post

Advantage Hillary
By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, September 6, 2007; A21

Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign hints that agreeing torefrain from campaigning in outlaw Florida and Michigan primaries is a noblesacrifice, bowing to party rules. Some of the news media bought into that,with the New York Times reporting: "The decision seemed to dash any hopes ofMrs. Clinton relying on a strong showing in Florida as a springboard to thenomination." Rather, her forbearance looks like a windfall for theDemocratic front-runner.

Democratic consultant Bob Shrum, who does not have a candidate this timearound, correctly interpreted the decision by Clinton and her two principalcompetitors, Barack Obama and John Edwards, to follow Democratic NationalCommittee rules. On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Shrum said: "Thatactually, in a perverse way," could "help Senator Clinton. If no onecampaigns and she wins . . . the primary in Florida, wins the primary inMichigan, that could have a knockout effect."

Being forced to stay out of Florida and Michigan leverages Clinton's vastlysuperior name recognition in the two high-population states and couldcounterbalance potential defeats in less-populated Iowa, New Hampshire andSouth Carolina. This poses a dilemma for Obama, Clinton's main challenger,that key supporters admit he cannot resolve. Obama probably cannot win theexcluded states without campaigning in them.

While Clinton's backers trumpet her inevitable nomination as the Democraticcandidate and she widens her lead over Obama in national polls, she faceshotly competitive races in early primary states. She is more popular instates where she has not campaigned than in states where she has,replicating the condition of Robert J. Dole, a similarly anointed Republicancandidate in 1996.


The Chicago Tribune,1,30293,print.story

Giuliani hitches star to conservative legal group
By James Oliphant
Washington Bureau
September 6, 2007

WASHINGTON - Candidates sometimes speak in code, using language that mightsound ordinary but has particular meaning to a chosen few.

Consider Rudolph Giuliani earlier this summer as he swung through Iowa. Inthe town of Council Bluffs, along the Nebraska border, he promised to select"strict constructionist" federal judges if elected president. It's likelythat the pledge elicited nods, some yawns and more than a few blank staresamong the crowd.

But the sound bite really wasn't for them so much as it was a smart bombaimed at the conservative legal elite in Washington. And its intendedmessage was clear: "I am one of you."

That's no small statement where Giuliani is concerned. The former New Yorkmayor is on the record supporting abortion rights and gun control, whichloom as twin icebergs in his so-far-smooth sail toward the Republicanpresidential nomination. That means he needs some conservative bona fides ina hurry.

In that effort, Giuliani has tied himself in a big way to the FederalistSociety, the expanding network of conservative lawyers who over the pastquarter-century have played a leading role in reshaping the nation'sjudiciary and setting high-level Republican administration policy.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Sep. 06, 2007
For better and for worse . . .

As the serious stage of the presidential campaign begins this fall, HillaryRodham Clinton has clearly established herself in the lead of the race forthe Democratic nomination. That makes her the most worthy subject forexamination among all the White House prospects.

I have been thinking a lot about Sen. Clinton because part of my vacationreading was Carl Bernstein's fine political biography of her, A Woman inCharge, published earlier this year. Its 600 pages, carefully reported andwritten with a commendable evenness of tone, offer perhaps the fullestportrait of this potential president. The single strongest impression itleaves is that this is a complex, talented person who has lived -- andsurvived -- a really hard life. As she nears her 60th birthday and thelargest challenge of her career, the scars of those earlier experiences areplainly visible. What lies underneath the scar tissue is harder to discern.

This is a woman whose mother was abandoned as a child by her own mother, andwho endured a difficult marriage to a domineering man. Clinton adored herfather as a child, but struggled to come to terms with his opposition to herdrive for independence.

This was a family almost as dysfunctional in its own way as Bill Clinton's,but one that clearly steeled Hillary Clinton for the challenges of amarriage that her closest women friends warned her could be a disaster. As atalented young lawyer, with every prospect of reaching the top herself, herdecision to go to Arkansas and marry that womanizing guy was beyond theircomprehension. But she was smitten and she saw in him the idealism andimagination that would in time make him president.

Her life as the wife of the governor of Arkansas was difficult. At onepoint, he asked for a divorce. But she hung in there and, after a perilouscampaign in 1992, became first lady -- only to find even more controversyand tragedy.



The Washington Post

Fred Thompson Makes A Late-Night Late Entry
By Dan Balz and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A01

DURHAM, N.H., Sept. 5 -- After months of testing the waters, former senatorFred Thompson (Tenn.) jumped into the race for the Republican presidentialnomination on late-night television Wednesday, as his eight rivals clashedhere in a debate that featured sharp exchanges over Iraq and immigration.

Thompson used an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to kickoff his campaign. "I'm running for president of the United States," Thompsontold Leno during the show's taping early Wednesday evening.


The Washington Post

How To Change Iraq
Bush Should Start By Admitting Fault
By Madeleine K. Albright
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A21

The threshold question in any war is: What are we fighting for? Our troops,especially, deserve a convincing answer.

In Iraq, the list of missions that were tried on but didn't fit includes:protection from weapons of mass destruction, creating a model democracy inthe Arab world, punishing those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks andstopping terrorists from catching the next plane to New York. The latestmission, linked to the "surge" of troops this year, was to give Iraqileaders the security and maneuvering room needed to make stabilizingpolitical arrangements -- which they have thus far shown little interest indoing.


The Washington Post

Lost in the Shuffle, a Milestone
By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A19

The Senate is full of pomp and circumstance at the slightest historicalmoment, so it was a stunning oversight on Aug. 3 when not a bit of attentionwas given to Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), with a 45-year career in thechamber, as he cast his 15,000th vote.

No laudatory speeches that night, no commemoration, no pause to recognize anachievement reached by only two other senators: the late Strom Thurmond(R-S.C.), who cast 16,348 votes; and Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who wassitting on 18,081 roll calls as of the start of this week.


The Washington Post

Scientology Faces Criminal Charges
The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; 10:37 PM

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that theU.S.-based Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion,following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeleda criminal organization.

Scientology said it would fight the criminal charges recommended byinvestigating prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen, who said that up to 12unidentified people should face charges.


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