Saturday, October 30, 2004
Remember the Tim Russert interview when he asked Bush how he was so sure that a democratic Iraq would not elect for an Islamic governement? Chalabi assured him. Yes, that was CHALABI.
Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll U.S.-Supported Government Is Losing Ground
By Robin WrightWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, October 22, 2004; Page A01
Leaders of Iraq's religious parties have emerged as the country's most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today, while the U.S.-backed government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is losing serious ground, according to a U.S.-financed poll by the International Republican Institute.
More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction.
Within the Bush administration, a victory by Iraq's religious parties is viewed as the worst-case scenario. Washington has hoped that Allawi and the current team, which was selected by U.S. and U.N. envoys, would win or do well in Iraq's first democratic election, in January. U.S. officials believe a secular government led by moderates is critical, in part because the new government will oversee writing a new Iraqi constitution.
"The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we've spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation's democracy efforts, we're in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because the poll has not been released.
U.S. officials acknowledge that the political honeymoon after the handover of political power on June 28 ended much earlier than anticipated. The new poll, based on 2,000 face-to-face interviews conducted among all ethnic and religious groups nationwide between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4, shows that Iraqi support for the government has plummeted to about 43 percent who believe it is effective, down from 62 percent in a late-summer poll.
A senior State Department official played down the results. "When the interim government took over, the [poll] numbers were artificially high. It's very difficult to meet expectations when they're sky-high," he said on the condition of anonymity because the data are still being analyzed.
But in another blow, one out of three Iraqis blames the U.S.-led multinational force for Iraq's security problems, slightly more than the 32 percent who blame foreign terrorists, the poll shows. Only 8 percent blame members of the former government.
"We had convinced everyone -- Americans and Iraqis -- that things might change with the return of sovereignty, but, in fact, things went the other way," a congressional staff member said. "What's particularly damning is that the multinational force gets more blame than the terrorists for the problems in Iraq. It's all trending in the wrong way . . . and it's not likely we'll be able to change public sentiment much before the election. "
In positive news for the administration, the poll found that 85 percent of Iraqis want to vote in the January election.
Despite the current strife, about two-thirds of Iraqis do not believe civil war is imminent, the poll found. Asked if their households had been hurt by violence, injuries, death or monetary loss over the past year, only 22 percent of those questioned said yes -- a figure that surprised pollsters and U.S. officials.
With voter registration due to begin Nov. 1, the poll found that 64 percent of Iraqis are still unwilling to align with any party, which U.S. officials attribute to the legacy of the Baath Party. The most valuable indicators, officials say, may be the data on Iraq's politicians.
The poll found the most popular politician is Abdel Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The group was part of the U.S.-backed opposition to Saddam Hussein and is now receiving millions of dollars in aid from Iran, U.S. officials say.
Hakim had 80 percent name recognition among Iraqis, with more than 51 percent wanting to see him in the national assembly, which will pick a new government.
Allawi had the greatest name recognition of any politician, with 47 percent of Iraqis supporting him for a seat in the new parliament. But rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr came in a very close third, with 46 percent backing him for an assembly seat.
Ahmed Chalabi, once favored in Washington as a possible successor to Hussein, had wide national recognition, but only 15 percent want him in parliament -- and more than half oppose him.
The one factor that skews the poll, analysts said, is that Ibrahim Jafari, the Dawa Party chief and current vice president, was not included. He had the highest popularity rating in previous polls.
That may still be the case, since almost 18 percent of Iraqis surveyed by IRI said they were most likely to vote for Dawa candidates -- the largest backing among the top 11 parties listed. Dawa is another former U.S.-backed group supported by aid from Iran, U.S. officials say.
U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts believe candidates aligned with the Supreme Council and with Dawa are likely to capture the highest percentage of votes, giving religious parties an edge in forming a new government.
Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni leader of the country's largest tribe, was also omitted from the poll.
In an interview with Abu Dhabi television, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Iraqis want democracy and are unlikely to go "from one form of totalitarian state to another form of totalitarian state." Both U.S. officials and Iraq experts note that the rise of Islamic parties does not necessarily mean creation of an Islamic government or theocracy such as Iran's.
President Bush said Tuesday that he would be "disappointed" if free and fair elections in Iraq led to the seating of an Islamic government, but that the United States would accept the results. "Democracy is democracy," he said. "If that's what people choose, that's what the people choose."
The IRI, founded in 1983, is a private, nonprofit organization that has worked in more than 60 countries to advance democracy worldwide. With U.S. grants, it has been in charge of public opinion polls in advance of the election.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Bush counts on his supporters having no memory
White House Groans Over LoanWASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2003The Bush administration threatened for the first time Tuesday to veto an $87 billion package for Iraq and Afghanistan if Congress converts any Iraqi rebuilding money into loans. White House officials issued the warning even though many lawmakers agree that the bill's final version is likely to bow to President Bush and omit any loans. By underscoring Mr. Bush's opposition to loans, the administration threat could make it easier for congressional Republican leaders to nail down enough votes to help the president prevail. The House bill included $18.6 to help Iraq rebuild its water supplies, health clinics and Army, and made the money a grant that country would not have to repay. The Senate included $18.4 billion but would require Iraq to repay about half — unless Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries forgave 90 percent of the debt Baghdad ran up under Saddam Hussein's regime. Mr. Bush and a host of administration officials had repeatedly expressed their opposition to loans in recent weeks, but had not issued a veto threat before. A letter written Tuesday reiterated White House arguments, but contained the first such veto warning. "If this provision is not removed, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill," wrote White House budget director Joshua Bolten. "Including a loan mechanism slows efforts to stabilize the region and to relieve pressure on our troops, raises questions about our commitment to building a democratic and self-governing Iraq, and impairs our ability to encourage other nations to provide badly needed assistance without saddling Iraq with additional debt," the letter said. Later this week, U.S. officials are hoping to get billions in pledges from foreign countries at an Iraq donors' conference in Madrid. So far, according to The New York Times, Japan has pledged $1.5 billion for next year and more in the future, Britain said it would donate $800 million, Spain nearly $300 million and Canada $260 million. The Pentagon estimates Iraqi reconstruction will require $55 billion. Were Congress to pass the Senate version of the reconstruction bill, countries could follow the U.S. example and provide loans rather than grants. In addition, U.S. officials are hoping to steer the donors' conference away from debt relief and toward grants. If the U.S. reconstruction plan links America aid to debt relief, it might be difficult to get donors to focus on new aid. Loan supporters say that with some of the world's richest oil reserves, Iraq should be required to eventually repay some U.S. aid. That is especially true with the United States facing record federal deficits, and many members of Congress hearing requests from their home districts for more funds for local roads and other projects. House-Senate bargainers hope to reach compromise on a final version of the bill next week. Both houses overwhelmingly approved similar bills Friday providing most of the $87 billion that Mr. Bush requested for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for rebuilding the two countries. The House vote was 303-125, while the Senate roll call was 87-12. The loans-vs.-grants debate concerns only a portion of the massive bill, which provide nearly $66 billion for U.S. troops in the field. Both chambers chopped nearly $2 billion off the $20.3 billion he requested for retooling Iraq's oil industry, its court system and the rest of its economy and government. Minutes before final passage, the Senate voted by voice to strip nearly $1.9 billion from that part of the bill, erasing money for ZIP codes, sanitation trucks and other items that some lawmakers had derided as frivolous. The House had already killed most of those same items. Senators also voted to add $1.3 billion for veterans' health care programs. The bills also contained rebuilding aid for Afghanistan; assistance for Pakistan, Jordan, and other U.S. allies; and cash for rewards for the capture of Saddam and Osama bin Laden.
As part of the $87 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush's $20.3 billion proposal for rebuilding Iraq includes:
$2.9 billion to repair the electrical system
$150 million for emergency communications system
$150 million for a new children's hospital in Basra.
$130 million for irrigation projects.
$125 million for railroads.
$100 million to protect witnesses
$100 million for war crimes experts
$100 million for housing
$99 million for prisons
$67 million for guards
$55 million for an oil pipeline repair team
$30 million for English classes
$9 million to modernize Iraq's postal system
$1 million for a museum on atrocities by Saddam's regime. AP
Tue October 21, 2003 01:01 PM ET By Vicki Allen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto an $87 billion bill for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq if Congress keeps a Senate-passed provision to convert $10 billion of the package into loans.
The chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee meanwhile said he was confident the loan provision would be eliminated when a House-Senate conference meets to reconcile differences in their two versions, enabling a final measure to be sent to President Bush.
"I believe the House position will prevail. We are determined to support the president," said Rep. Bill Young, a Florida Republican.
But sentiment remained strong among lawmakers in both chambers to make Iraq repay a portion of the $20 billion Bush wants for Iraq's reconstruction from its future oil revenues.
White House budget director Joshua Bolten in a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees said the president's senior advisers would recommend a veto if the loan was not dropped from the final bill.
"Including a loan mechanism slows efforts to stabilize the region and to relieve pressure on our troops, raises questions about our commitment to building a democratic and self-governing Iraq, and impairs our ability to encourage other nations to provide badly needed assistance without saddling Iraq with additional debt," Bolten said.
The Senate last week narrowly voted to make $10 billion of the package into loans, while the House narrowly defeated a similar measure pushed by Democrats. House Republican leaders had maneuvered to prevent a vote on a Republican loan plan.
The House later Tuesday was to take a nonbinding vote that Republicans acknowledged could put a majority on the record in support of the loans, as well as additional money for veterans' health care and improvements in the quality of life for U.S. troops in Iraq.
John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said he did not feel that vote would be significant. "We're not going to send the president a bill he's going to veto," he said.
Young said he expected a final bill will be ready later this month to send to Bush, and said conferees will meet on next Tuesday on the bill.
While the bill could not be completed as hoped in time for international donors conference for Iraq on Thursday and Friday in Madrid, he said, the strong House and Senate votes last week for somewhat different measures demonstrate the United States will offer at least half of rebuilding money in grants and should encourage other donor countries.
"The United States is committed. Both houses have passed one version or another for a construction grant," said Young.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
From Feb 8 Meet the Press interview with Bush (Tim Russert the interviewer):
Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?
President Bush: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al-Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.
I remember speaking to Mr. al-Hakim here, who is a fellow who has lost 63 family members during the Saddam reign. His brother was one of the people that was assassinated early on in this past year. I expected to see a very bitter person. If 63 members of your family had been killed by a group of people, you’d be a little bitter. He obviously was concerned, but he -- I said, you know, "I'm a Methodist, what are my chances of success in your country and your vision?" And he said, "It's going to be a free society where you can worship freely." This is a Shiia fellow.
And my only point to you is these people are committed to a pluralistic society. And it's not going to be easy. The road to democracy is bumpy. It's bumpy particularly because these are folks that have been terrorized, tortured, brutalized by Saddam Hussein.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
The World According to a Bush Voter
By Jim Lobe, AlterNetPosted on October 21, 2004, Printed on October 25, 2004http://www.alternet.org/story/20263/
Do the supporters of President Bush really know their man or the policies of his administration?
Three out of 4 self-described supporters of President George W. Bush still believe that pre-war Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or active programs to produce them. According to a new survey published Thursday, the same number also believes that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein provided "substantial support" to al Qaeda.
But here is the truly astonishing part: as many or more Bush supporters hold those beliefs today than they did several months ago. In other words, more people believe the claims today –- after the publication of a series of well-publicized official government reports that debunked both notions.
These are among the most striking findings of a survey conducted in mid-October by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm.
The survey polled the views of nearly 900 randomly chosen respondents equally divided between Bush supporters and those intending to vote for Democratic Sen. John Kerry. It found a yawning gap in the perceptions of the facts between the two groups, particularly with regards to President Bush's claims about pre-war Iraq.
According to the accompanying analysis offered by PIPA:
It is normal during elections for supporters of presidential candidates to have fundamental disagreements about values or strategies. The current election is unique in that Bush supporters and Kerry supporters have profoundly different perceptions of reality. In the face of a stream of high-level assessments about pre-war Iraq, Bush supporters cling to the refuted beliefs that Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda.
The survey probed each respondent's views at three separate levels: One, their personal belief about the two issues; two, their perception of what "most experts" had concluded about the same; and three, their knowledge of the Bush administration's claims on either WMDs or al Qaeda.
The survey found that 72 percent of Bush supporters believe either that Iraq had actual WMD (47 percent) or a major program for producing them (25 percent). This despite the widespread media coverage in early October of the CIA's "Duelfer Report" – the final word on the subject by the one billion dollar, 15-month investigation by the Iraq Survey Group – which concluded that Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programmes shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and never tried to reconstitute them.
Nonetheless, 56 percent of Bush supporters are under the impression that the expert consensus is exactly the opposite – that Iraq had actual WMD. Another 57 percent think that the Duelfer Report itself concluded that Iraq either had WMD (19 percent) or a major WMD program (38 percent).
Only 26 percent of Kerry supporters, by contrast, believe that pre-war Iraq had either actual WMD or a WMD program, and only 18 percent said "most experts" agreed on the same.
Results on Hussein's alleged support for al Qaeda are similar. The contention – which has been most persistently asserted by Vice President Dick Cheney – was thoroughly debunked by the final report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission earlier this summer.
Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they believed that Iraq was providing "substantial" support to al Qaeda, with 20 percent asserting that Iraq was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believe that clear evidence of such support has actually been found, and 60 percent believe that "most experts" have reached the same conclusion.
By contrast, only 30 percent of Kerry supporters said they believe that such a link existed or that most experts have concluded that it did.
Ironically, the only issue on which the survey found broad agreement between the two sets of voters was the role of the Bush administration in actively promoting the claims about Iraq's WMD and connections to al Qaeda.
"One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these (erroneous) beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them," notes Steven Kull, PIPA's director. "Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree."
In regard to WMD, those majorities have actually grown since last summer, according to PIPA.
On WMD, 82 percent of Bush supporters and 84 percent of Kerry supporters believe that the administration claims that Iraq either had WMD or major WMD programs. On ties with al Qaeda, 75 percent of Bush supporters and 74 percent of Kerry supporters believe that the administration claims that Iraq provided substantial support to the terrorist group.
Remarkably, when asked whether the U.S. should have gone to war without evidence of a WMD program or support to al Qaeda, 58 percent of Bush supporters said no. Moreover, 61 percent said they assumed that Bush would also not have gone to war under those circumstances.
"To support the president and to accept that he took the U.S. to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about pre-war Iraq," Kull says.
He added that this "cognitive dissonance" could also help explain other remarkable findings in the survey. The poll also found a major gap between Bush's stated positions on a number of international issues and what his supporters believe Bush's position to be. A strong majority of Bush supporters believe, for example that the president supports a range of international treaties and institutions that the White House has vocally and publicly opposed.
In particular, majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assume that he supports multilateral approaches to various international issues, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (69 percent), the land mine treaty (72 percent), and the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming (51 percent).
In August, two-thirds of Bush supporters also believed that Bush supported the International Criminal Court (ICC). Although that figure dropped to a 53 percent majority in the PIPA poll, it's not much of a drop considering that Bush explicitly denounced the ICC in the first, most widely watched presidential debate in late September.
In all of these cases, majorities of Bush supporters said they favored the positions that they imputed, incorrectly, to Bush. Large majorities of Kerry supporters, on the other hand, showed they knew both their candidate's and Bush's positions on the same issues.
Bush supporters also have deeply erroneous views regarding the extent of international support for the president and his policies. Despite a steady flow over the past year of official statements by foreign governments and public-opinion polls showing strong opposition to the Iraq war, less than one-third of Bush supporters believe that most people in foreign countries oppose the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. Two-thirds believe that foreign views are either evenly divided on the war (42 percent) or that the majority of foreigners actually favors the war (26 percent).
Three of every four Kerry supporters, on the other hand, said it was their understanding that the most of the rest of the world oppose the war.
Similarly, polls conducted during the summer in 35 major countries around the world found that majorities or pluralities in 30 of them favored Kerry for president over Bush by an average of margin of greater than two to one. Yet 57 percent of Bush supporters believe that a majority of people outside the U.S. favor Bush's re-election, while 33 percent think that foreign opinion is evenly divided.
On the other hand, two-thirds of Kerry supporters think that their candidate is favored overseas; only one percent think that most people abroad preferred Bush.
Kull, who has been analyzing U.S. public opinion on foreign-policy issues for two decades, says that this reality gap reveals, if anything, the hold that the president has over his loyalists:
The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters – and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion would be critical of his policies or that the president could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters.
In other words, Bush supporters choose to keep faith in their leader than face the truth either about their president or the world as it is.
© 2004 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/20263/
Friday, October 15, 2004
Dear Mr. Bush,
Thank you for providing the illegible Xeroxed partial payroll sheets (or whatever they were)
yesterday covering a few of your days in the National Guard. Now we know that, not only didn't you
complete your tour of duty, you were actually paid for work you never did. Did you cash those
checks? Wouldn't that be, um, illegal?
Watching the press aggressively demand the truth from your press secretary -- and refusing to
accept the deceit, the dodging, and the cover-up -- was a sight to behold, something we really
haven't seen since you took office (to watch or listen to the entire press conference, or to read
the full transcript, go here).
More than one reporter pointed out that those pieces of paper your press secretary waved at them
yesterday mean nothing. Even if they aren't forged documents, getting paid does not necessarily
mean you showed up to do your duties. As retired Army Col. Dan Smith, a 26-year veteran, told the
"Pay records don't mean anything except that you're in or you're out," said Smith. "It doesn't
necessarily reflect what duty you've actually performed because pay records simply record your
unit of assignment and then all of your pay and benefits per pay period."
Mr. Bush, this issue is not going to go away -- and I think yesterday's actions just dug you into
a deeper hole. You're probably wondering why the heck this story won't just die. You probably
thought that after I brought it up last month and then got slammed by Peter Jennings for uttering
the "d" word, the whole matter would just disappear as fast as bag of blow being thrown out the
window of a speeding car on a deserted Maine highway.
But your "desertion" didn't go away -- and here's the reason why. You have sent countless numbers
of our sons and daughters in the National Guard to their deaths in the last 11 months. You did
this while misleading their parents and the nation with bogus lies about weapons of mass
destruction and scary phony Saddam ties to al Qaeda. You sent them off to a never-ending war so
that your benefactors at Halliburton and the oil companies could line their pockets. And then you
had the audacity to prance around in a soldier's uniform on an aircraft carrier proclaiming
"Mission Accomplished" -- while the cameras from your re-election campaign ad agency rolled.
THAT is what makes this whole business of you being AWOL so despicable, and makes the
grief-stricken relatives want to turn away from you in disgust. The reason your skipping-out on
your enlistment didn't matter in the 2000 election was because we were not at war. Being stuck in
a deadly, daily quagmire now in 2004 makes your military history-fiction and your fly-boy costume
You still have not answered the questions surrounding your National Guard "service." Let me repeat
them as simply as I can for you (all of them based on the investigative work of the Associated
Press and the Boston Globe):
1. How were you able to jump ahead of 500 other applicants to get into the Texas Air National
Guard, thus guaranteeing you would not have to go to Vietnam? What calls did your father (who was
then a United States Congressman representing Texas) make on your behalf for you to get this
2. Why were you grounded (not allowed to fly) after you either failed your physical or failed to
take it in July 1972? Was there a reason you were afraid to take the physical? Or, did you take it
and not pass it? If so, why didn't you pass it? Was it the urine test? The records show that,
after the Guard spent years and lots of money training you to be a pilot, you never flew for the
rest of your time in the Guard. Why?
3. Can you produce one person who can verify that he served with you in the Guard during the year
that your Texas commanders said you did not show up? Why have you failed to bring forth anyone who
served with you in the Guard while you were in Alabama? Why hasn't ONE SINGLE PERSON come forward?
4. Can you tell us what you did when you claim to have shown up in Alabama for Guard duty? What
were you duties? You were grounded, so what did they have you do instead?
5. Where are the sign-up sheets that would have your name and service number on them for each
weekend you showed up? Aaron Brown on CNN told us how, when he was in the reserves, he had to sign
in each time he reported, and his guest from the Washington Post said, that's right, and there
would be "four copies of that record" in the files of various agencies. Will you ask those
agencies to release those records?
6. If you were in fact paid for that time when you apparently went AWOL, will you authorize the
IRS to release your 1972-73 tax returns?
7. How did you get an honorable discharge? What strings were pulled? Who called who?
Look, I'm sorry to have put you through all this. I was just goofing around when I made that
comment about wanting to see a debate between the general and the deserter. I had no idea that it
would lead to this. And there you were, having to suffer through Tim Russert on Sunday, saying
weird things like "I'm a war president!" I guess you believe that, or you want us to believe that.
Americans have never voted out a Commander-in-Chief during a war. I guess that's what you're
hoping for. You need the war.
But we don't. And our troops in the National Guard don't either. I know you see the writing on the
wall, so why not come clean now? We are a forgiving people, and though you will not be returned to
White House, you will find us grateful for a little bit of truth. Answer our questions, apologize
to the nation, and bring our kids home.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I remember spotting this in early 2000. To us web professionals, this was brilliant. To think in the midst of the Dot Com boom we ended up with a President who would give us the saying 4 years later "The Internets".
View source of Al Gore's 2000 Campaign website:
<title>Welcome to Gore 2000</title>
Thanks for checking out our source code! I plan to use this space to postspecial messages to those who are helping to improve our web site -- by makingour source code the best it can be. The fact that you are peeking behind thescenes at our site means you can make an important difference to this Interneteffort. I'm grateful for your help and support in this campaign. Now let'skeep working to build the 21st Century of our dreams!
// Select a random number.