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9/11 Commission report released : July 22, 2004

The official government investigation of the events of Sept. 11

Click here for excerpts from Commission Recommendations The Sept. 11 commission issued a final report Thursday decrying a "failure of imagination" by presidents and lawmakers to grasp the gravity of the threat to Americans posed by Islamic terrorists despite repeated attacks and warnings over a decade. And nearly three years after the worst assault ever on the American homeland, the panel concluded that the government still has not adequately transformed its structures or methods for countering the clear intent of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups to continue attacking Americans.

The panel, created by Congress in September 2002 after initial opposition from President Bush, completed 18 months of work with an urgent plea to appoint an intelligence czar, create a national counterterrorism center, overhaul U.S. spy agencies and strengthen the congressional committees that oversee them.

"The United States is faced with one of the greatest security challenges in our long history," former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, the commission's chairman, told reporters. "We do believe we are safer today than we were on 9/11. But we are not safe."

Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, the panel's vice chairman, briefed Bush on the report in an Oval Office meeting before the commission released it at a news conference. Stepping into the Rose Garden with them, Bush praised the panel for "making very solid, sound recommendations about how to move forward." "I assured them that where government needs to act, it will," Bush said.

Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said Kean and Hamilton briefed him on the 600-page report by phone in Detroit, where he was campaigning. "This report carries a simple message about our current state of security for every American who remembers that dark September day," Kerry said in a statement. "We can do better. We must do better. And it's time to act ... now."

Source: james Rosen, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer
Click for more headlines from the 9/11 Commission Report

Democratic Party Platform released : July 20, 2004

Focuses on Homeland Security

Excerpts from 2004 Party Platform Liberals wanted a target date for pulling American troops out of Iraq, but the Democratic Party platform for 2004 instead calls for remaining until that country is secure. The party's platform committee approved a 35-page draft covering a variety of issues including the war, national security and gay marriage at a meeting Saturday in the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Fla. Final approval will come during the Democratic National Convention in Boston later this month.

The platform is highly critical of the war in Iraq, saying "The administration badly exaggerated its case, particularly with respect to weapons of mass destruction and the connection between Saddam's government and al-Qaida." The draft reflects Kerry's strategy, which has been to criticize handling of the war in Iraq but not appear soft on national security.

About half the platform focuses on national security, up from about 20 percent in the past. Kerry is trying to establish his credentials as a potential commander in chief. The platform calls for adding 40,000 new troops to maintain commitments abroad and doubling Special Forces that often are the first fighters in a war. It calls for strengthening America's position abroad, a Democratic swipe at a Bush foreign policy that has isolated the United States and angered allies.

The platform also wades into the contentious issue of gay marriage, opposing a constitutional amendment the president favors banning such unions, but not going as far as some gay, lesbian and transgender voters had hoped. It would continue letting states define marriage.

Source: Rafael Lorente, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Click for more headlines from the 2000 Democratic Party Platform

George W. Bush on Environment : July 15, 2004

Former Republican EPA director: "Bush's policy is polluter protection"

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency for two Republican presidents criticized President Bush's record on Monday, calling it a "polluter protection" policy. Russell E. Train, who headed the EPA from September 1973 to January 1977 -- part of the Nixon and Ford administrations -- said Bush's record on the environment was so dismal that he would cast his vote for Democrat John Kerry. "It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," Train said. "I find this deeply disturbing."

In 1988, Train was co-chairman of Conservationists for Bush, an organization that backed the candidacy of George W. Bush's father. Train spoke at an event organized by Environment2004, which opposes Bush's environmental record. He accused Bush of weakening the Clean Air Act and said the president's record falls short of those set by former Republican presidents, from Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated creating national parks and forests, to George H.W. Bush, who supported revised standards for clean air.

The Bush-Cheney campaign defended the president's record, saying states such as New Hampshire benefit from the president's Healthy Forests Initiative. They also argued that sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have dropped during the Bush administration.

Source: CNN.com
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

John McCain on gay marriage : July 14, 2004

No Consitutional ban

Sen. John McCain of Arizona broke forcefully with President Bush and the Senate GOP leadership Tuesday evening over the issue of same-sex marriage, taking to the Senate floor to call a constitutional amendment to prohibit the practice unnecessary -- and un-Republican. "The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," McCain said. "It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

McCain also said the amendment "will not be adopted by Congress this year, nor next year, nor any time soon until a substantial majority of Americans are persuaded that such a consequential action is as vitally important and necessary as the proponents feel it is today. The founders wisely made certain that the Constitution is difficult to amend and, as a practical political matter, can't be done without overwhelming public approval. And thank God for that," he said.

The proposed amendment will likely die Wednesday in the Senate if GOP leaders cannot muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle that would allow them to move it to the floor. With most Democrats and a number of moderate Republicans opposed, clearing that hurdle is considered unlikely. McCain said he would side with opponents of the amendment on the procedural vote in order to make clear to his constituents that he is against the amendment itself.

Bush, who defeated McCain for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, has championed the amendment, saying it is necessary to defend the institution of marriage from "activist judges." Social conservatives have been pushing hard for the measure since May, when Massachusetts' highest court legalized same-sex marriages in the Bay State. But McCain argued on the Senate floor that there are "far less draconian" remedies, including the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as a union between a man and a woman and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states -- and state constitutional amendments limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. "What evidence do we have that states are incapable of further exercising an authority they have exercised successfully for over 200 years?" McCain said. "We will have to wait a little longer to see if Armageddon has arrived."

Source: CNN.com
Click for more headlines by John McCain

Ashcroft: Patriot Act is laser-guided weapon : July 14, 2004

Dems question whether Patriot Act should be sunsetted

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday outlined dozens of cases he said provide a "mountain of evidence" that the USA Patriot Act has prevented terrorist attacks in the United States, part of a Bush administration effort to stave off moves to repeal some of the controversial law enforcement powers granted by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But some Democrats in Congress -- including those who helped write the legislation -- said there remains too little oversight to prevent abuses of civil liberties. Others expressed concern that many of the crimes that have been uncovered via the new powers were not associated with terrorism; instead, law enforcement has frequently used the act to bring charges such as child pornography and kidnapping. "The attorney general's report is no substitute for thoroughgoing Congressional oversight," Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. "The real issue now is how the Patriot Act should be improved to satisfy civil liberty concerns while keeping our country safe." The Patriot Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support following the 2001 attacks, but opposition to some of its provisions has grown since its passage. Republicans in Congress last week narrowly defeated a second attempt in the House of Representatives to overturn the provision that allows the federal government to review library records, a power that has alarmed privacy advocates.

In a Capitol Hill news conference, Ashcroft said the 29-page report shows how effective the Patriot Act has been: helping uncover terrorist cells in upstate New York and Oregon; leading to the indictments of individuals involved with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group; uncovering a case in Florida involving money laundering for a leftist terror group in Colombia; and a money-laundering case in New Jersey involving attempts to sell shoulder-fired missiles. "The Patriot Act has been our laser-guided weapon to prevent terrorist attacks," Ashcroft said. "This report is an unprecedented compilation of dozens of real life cases from across the country in which the FBI and other law enforcement officials have the tools of the Patriot Act to protect America's families and communities, and even to save lives."

Democrats were quick to say that many of their outstanding concerns about the act remained unanswered by the report. The report, for example, did not address some of the more controversial aspects of the law, such as the FBI's ability to obtain library records or "sneak and peek" search warrants, in which agents are not required to immediately inform suspects that their home or business has been searched. Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused the Justice Department of selectively releasing information that portrays the act in a positive light. "Coupled with the department's consistent record of exaggerating their record about terrorism, this entire report is suspect," he said in a statement.

Source: Bryan Bender, Boston Globe
Click for more headlines by John Ashcroft

Senate Intelligence Committee: No Iraqi WMDs : July 10, 2004

Bipartisan Committee says prewar estimates "unsupported"

Click here for excerpts from the Senate Intelligence Committee report In a highly critical 511-page report issued Friday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee found that the CIA's prewar estimates of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were overstated and unsupported by intelligence. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told reporters that intelligence used to support the invasion of Iraq was based on assessments that were "unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence." "Before the war, the U.S. intelligence community told the president as well as the Congress and the public that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and if left unchecked would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade," Roberts said. "Today we know these assessments were wrong."

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the leading Democrat on the 18-member panel, said that "bad information" was used to bolster the case for war. "We in Congress would not have authorized that war with 75 votes if we knew what we know now," the West Virginia Democrat said. "Leading up to September 11, our government didn't connect the dots. In Iraq, we are even more culpable because the dots themselves never existed."

Roberts listed several points emphasized in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that were "overstated or "not supported by the raw intelligence reporting." Among these were that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, had chemical and biological weapons, and was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle, probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.

Rockefeller said that the "intelligence failures" will haunt America's national security "for generations to come." "Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower," he said. "We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."

Rockefeller said the administration's position was that Iraq stockpiled weapons and actively pursued a nuclear weapons program and that it "might use its alliances with terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, to use these weapons to strike at the United States." Rockefeller said that "no evidence existed of Iraq's complicity or assistance in al Qaeda's terrorist attacks, including 9/11."

Roberts said President Bush and Congress sent the country to war based on "flawed" information provided by the intelligence community. He said the panel concluded that the intelligence community suffered "from what we call a collective group think, which led analysts and collectors and managers to presume that Iraq had active and growing WMD programs." Roberts said this "group think caused the community to interpret ambiguous evidence, such as the procurement of dual-use technology, as conclusive evidence of the existence of WMD programs." Over and over, the report noted, analysts had exaggerated what they knew and left out, glossed over or simply dismissed dissenting views.

Source: CNN.com
Click for more headlines by Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller

John Kerry picks John Edwards as running mate : July 6, 2004

Announces choice first by email

In just a few minutes, I will announce that Senator John Edwards will join me as my runningmate on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for vice president of the United States. Teresa and I could not be more excited that John and Elizabeth Edwards will be our partners in our journey to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.

You are the heart and soul of our campaign. You've shattered records and expectations every step of the way. Every time someone said you couldn't do it, you proved them wrong. Because of your incredible grass roots energy and commitment, I wanted to make the first official announcement of my decision to you -- more than one million online supporters at johnkerry.com.

I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side. John understands and defends the values of America. He has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class. In the Senate, he worked to reform our intelligence, to combat bioterrorism, and keep our military strong. John reaches across party lines and speaks to the heart of America -- hope and optimism. Throughout his own campaign for president, John spoke about the great divide in this country -- the "Two Americas"that exist between those who are doing well today and those that are struggling to make it from day to day. And I am so proud that we're going to build one America together.

In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love. We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm's way because we insisted on going it alone.

Source: E-mail to supporters signed up at johnkerry.com
Click for more headlines by John Edwards

John Kerry: Life begins at conception : July 5, 2004

But don't legislate that personal belief

Kerry was quoted yesterday as saying he believes life begins at conception, but continues to favor abortion rights. The Roman Catholic Church, of which Kerry is a member, teaches that life begins at conception, and thus abortion should be opposed. Kerry's refusal to adhere to the latter portion of the teachings has prompted some conservative prelates to declare they would deny him Communion. Yesterday, President Bush's reelection committee cast Kerry's most recent comments as an attempt to appease critics at a time when he is trying to broaden his support among moderate and Independent voters.

''Vatican II is very clear. There is something called freedom of conscience in the Catholic Church," Kerry said. ''I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist... who doesn't share it. We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."

While Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has previously mentioned his personal discomfort with abortion, a database search of newspaper stories failed to find any previous reference to him saying that he believed life began at conception. A campaign spokeswoman said she also was unaware of him making the comment previously. It is that belief among conservatives both in and out of his church that leads them to oppose not only abortion, but also stem cell research -- which Kerry has said he favors and which Bush supports only in a limited fashion.

''John Kerry's ridiculous claim to hold 'conservative values,' and his willingness to change his beliefs to fit his audience, betrays a startling lack of conviction on important issues like abortion that will make it difficult for voters to give him their trust," said a Bush-Cheney spokesman.

Source: Glen Johnson, Boston Globe
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

David Cobb nominated as Green for President : June 30, 2004

Beats out Nader and Camejo

At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 26, 2004, a strong majority of delegates at "Forward 2004!," The Green National Convention, nominated David Cobb and running mate Pat LaMarche as their candidates for U.S. president and vice-president. Votes from the Texas delegation, from Mr. Cobb's native state, gave him a total of 408 during the second round of voting, topping the 385 necessary to win the party's nomination. Over 750 official delegates from 47 states participated in the vote. The contest that emerged in the final months of the campaign for Green support pitted a nomination for Mr. Cobb against endorsement of independent candidate Ralph Nader and his running mate, activist Peter Camejo.

"I look forward to doing for the next four months what I've been doing for the past 8 months -- working to build and grow the Green Party, supporting local candidates and registering more Green voters," said David Cobb. Pat LaMarche, noting that the Cobb-LaMarche ticket features two candidates registered in the Green Party -- unlike the 2000 campaign -- said, "I'm proud that we have a Green Party ticket with Green candidates advancing a Green agenda."

"The six-month Green primary has produced a truly Green ticket," said the co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. "While a year ago, few predicted that a grassroots Green would emerge from the ranks of the party, David Cobb has proven that the party has developed a high level of political maturity and self-confidence. We look forward to working with the Cobb-LaMarche ticket in challenging voters to cast their votes for a better America."

Source: The Progress Report, www.progress.org
Click for more headlines by Ralph Nader

Pat LaMarche nominated as Green for Vice President : June 30, 2004

Hints she may vote for Kerry

Pat LaMarche, the Green Party's newly nominated candidate for vice president, said her top priority is not winning the White House for her party, but ensuring that President Bush is defeated. She is, in fact, so determined to see Bush lose that she would not commit to voting for herself and her running mate, Texas lawyer David Cobb.

LaMarche, who won 7 percent of the vote when she was the Green Independent candidate for governor of Maine in 1998, said she'll vote for whoever has the best chance of beating Bush. But "if Bush has got 11 percent of the vote in Maine come November 2, I can vote for whoever I want," she said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. And if the state is, as it is now, a toss-up between Bush and presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry? She could well vote for the Democrat.

"I love my country," she said. "Maybe we should ask them that, because if (Vice President) Dick Cheney loved his country, he wouldn't be voting for himself." A spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign said the vice president is certain to vote for his and Bush's re-election.

LaMarche rejects what she calls an incorrect perception that Nader cost Gore the presidency. She said 6 million Democrats voted for Bush, and there were many irregularities in the 2000 vote. "There are a million things that are rotten about that last election cycle," she said. When her party chose to run a candidate this year, she felt compelled to support the decision. "What we need right now is to make sure that the Green Party grows," she said.

Source: Joshua L. Weinstein, Portland (ME) Press Herald
Click for more headlines by Peter Camejo

Kerry touts higher education plan : June 29, 2004

One million more college graduates

Democrat John Kerry, pledging to help low-income and minority students, says if he's elected president 1 million more college students would graduate under his plan than is now forecast. Kerry's campaign says the goal could be fulfilled within five years of his taking office by reducing the cost of education, but population increases also would help. "We can't rest until all Americans, black and white, rich and poor, people of all colors and all backgrounds, truly have the opportunity they need to make the American dream real," Kerry said in a statement.

About 2 million students will earn bachelor's and associate's degrees this year, according to Education Department statistics, and the number of students attaining those degrees each year is forecast to increase by almost 100,000 by 2010. Kerry's pledge would increase those gains tenfold. Kerry has already promised to increase college enrollment by 1.5 million students within five years of taking office.

Kerry often tells voters that tuition rates have gone up during Bush's presidency, making it harder for average American families to get by. Kerry has been seeking minority support for his campaign. Kerry's education plan emphasizes support for minority enrollments in college. He would require colleges to report to parents and students annual data on the number of minority, low-income and middle-income students enrolling and graduating.

Kerry says he'll make a special push to encourage students to study math, science and technology by spending $100 million more annually on scholarships for those fields and $20 million more than Bush requested to spend this year on programs in those areas at colleges with large minority enrollment.

Money for those programs would come from Kerry's plan to raise $30 billion, which he announced last week, by speeding the transition to digital television and auctioning off the space created on broadcast airwaves, his campaign said. Kerry says he will divide a $100 million incentive fund among colleges that increase graduation rates of low-income students receiving Pell Grants. And he says he'll offer $10 billion in federal relief for states they commit to keep tuition increases at or below the rate of inflation for two years.

Source: CNN.com
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Gore: "Bush intentionally misled America" : June 25, 2004

Calls for Bush to admit truth: no Saddam-al Qaeda connection

Former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday accused President Bush of lying about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and warned that Bush's accumulation of power since the Sept. 11 attacks threatened the foundations of American democracy. Gore accused Bush of increasing his own power at the expense of the other branches of government and individuals' civil liberties. The greatest danger to the United States, said Gore, is not terrorism but the possibility that Americans "will acquiesce in the slow and steady accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person."

Gore accused both Cheney and Bush of deliberately misleading the public about the connections between Al Qaeda and Hussein. "If Iraq had nothing to do with the attack or the organization that attacked us, then that means the president took us to war when he didn't have to," Gore said. The president, he added, "is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."

The president, Gore said, plays on Americans' fear of global terrorism to justify "his reinterpretation of the Constitution in ways that increase his personal power at the expense of Congress, the courts and every individual citizen." Gore reserved his most scathing remarks for what he called the "curious question of why Bush continues" to claim that "there was a working cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda." Citing the Sept. 11 commission staff's findings that no meaningful relationship existed, Gore described the president and the vice president as either lying or incompetent. "They dare not admit the truth, lest they look like complete fools for launching our country into a reckless, discretionary war against a nation that posed no immediate threat to us whatsoever," Gore said. "Whenever a chief executive spends prodigious amounts of energy convincing people of lies, he damages the fabric of democracy and the belief in the fundamental integrity of our self-government."

Source: Mary Curtius, Chicago Tribune
Click for more headlines by Al Gore

Jack Ryan withdraws from IL Senate race amid sex scandal : June 25, 2004

IL GOP seeking new opponent for Barack Obama

Jack Ryan withdrew from the Illinois Senate race days after sex club allegations in his divorce papers torpedoed his campaign. Ryan issued this statement by e-mail:
It is clear a vigorous debate on the issues could not take place if I remain in the race. What would take place rather is a brutal scorched-earth campaign, the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play.
Illinois Republican Party leaders were to meet to choose a replacement candidate within a week [to oppose Democrat Barack Obama]. Ryan decided to quit when polls taken after his custody documents were released showed he had a slim chance of winning. The Illinois US congressional delegation unanimously decided Ryan should be replaced. Ryan's fate was sealed after a secret conference call among party leaders. Ryan was accused by his then-wife, television actress Jeri Ryan, of taking her to explicit sex clubs in the 1990s and pressuring her to perform sex acts in public.
Source: UPI in Washington Times
Click for more headlines by Jack Ryan or Barack Obama

Bill Clinton's My Life released : June 21, 2004

Instant best-seller at 957 pages

Click for excerpts from 'My Life' My Life is not a great book. It's not even a good book, but like its author, it has its moments and flashes of insight. It is Clintonesque: frustrating and fascinating, more exhausting than exhaustive. Readers seeking an intimate portrait of his marriage to Hillary Rodham Clinton will be disappointed. So will anyone wondering what he was thinking during his "encounters" (his word) with Monica Lewinsky.

My Life is more likely to appeal to readers who want to celebrate a president who rose from modest roots, survived an abusive, alcoholic stepfather and developed an insatiable intellectual curiosity. At 957 pages, it's short on personal revelations, but long on every campaign Clinton waged, from Boys Nation to the White House. Everywhere he goes he makes friends and learns valuable lessons.

My Life is occasionally funny but rarely brief. (Its wisdom depends on your politics.) Clinton describes growing up among great storytellers, including his resilient mother and his uncle Buddy who "taught me that everyone has a story." But does Clinton have to tell them all? With Lewinsky he avoids details. He labels his behavior "immoral and foolish." He repeatedly argues that his impeachment had nothing to do with morality and everything to do with a right-wing grab for power. As angry as his wife was with him, he writes, she was angrier at special prosecutor Ken Starr. He also writes that "in politics, if you don't toot your own horn, it usually stays untooted."

There's much tooting here, from Clinton's economic success to the warning he describes giving President-elect Bush about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Clinton adds, "He listened to what I had to say without much comment, then changed the subject to how I did my job."

I haven't listened to the abridged 6½-hour audio, read by Clinton, but I suspect that with skillful editing, it could be better than the overwritten book.

Source: Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
Click for more headlines by Bill Clinton

CT Governor John Rowland resigns : June 21, 2004

Avoids impeachment on corruption charges

Gov. John G. Rowland will announce his resignation Monday night, amid a federal corruption investigation and a growing move to impeach him, his lawyer told The Associated Press. Rowland, 47, a Republican easily re-elected to a third term in 2002, admitted late last year that he lied about accepting gifts and favors from friends, state contractors and state employees. But he continued to insist that he did nothing in return for the gifts. ``No one has even said I've compromised this office,'' he said in a recent interview. ``I've not done anything inappropriate for anybody.''

State and federal authorities have been investigating the allegations, and a special House committee also has been considering whether to recommend Rowland's impeachment. The committee was scheduled to begin its third week of hearings later Monday but may now end those hearings, the co-chairman said Monday. The news comes several days after the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislative panel could compel the governor to testify.

Rowland was once the nation's youngest governor -- he was 37 when first elected in 1994 -- and considered a rising star in the GOP. He is a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was rumored to be considered for several positions in the Bush administration. But 2003 began badly for Rowland and rapidly descended into nightmare. Last March, Rowland's former deputy chief of staff, Lawrence Alibozek, pleaded guilty to federal charges he steered state business to certain contractors in exchange for gold and cash. That plea -- and the governor's subsequent acknowledgment that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed stacks of documents relating to several major projects and a politically connected contractor -- set the stage for a spring and summer of embarrassing revelations about discounted vacations he had taken at homes owned by people doing business with the state. In mid-December Rowland admitted he had lied about who paid for improvements to a one-story, lakeside cottage he purchased in 1997. Asked Dec. 2 about who paid for the work, Rowland insisted he and his wife, Patricia, had taken out several loans to cover the bills. Ten days later he issued a statement apologizing to the Capitol press corps and admitting friends, employees and some state contractors had paid for renovations, including a new heating system, a hot tub, work on the kitchen, ceiling and deck. But he said those helping him got nothing in return.

Only seven governors in U.S. history have been impeached and removed from office.

Source: Associated Press in NY Times
Click for more headlines by John Rowland

Kerry: Hike minimum wage to $7 : June 18, 2004

Focus on improving the financial standing of families

Kerry proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $7 an hour by 2007, which he contended would benefit working women more than any other group. Kerry said three out of four women who would benefit from the increase are adults. Such a boost in the minimum wage, which has not changed from $5.15 since 1997, would provide a family with enough money to buy 10 months of groceries or pay for eight months of rent, he said. Inflation has eroded the value of the last increase in minimum wage, Kerry said. "In very real terms, this only serves to keep many hardworking Americans from getting ahead and saving for the future," his campaign said in a statement. Democratic-sponsored plans similar to Kerry's have been proposed in the House and Senate.

Kerry's proposal returns his attention to fiscal policies as the economy is rebounding under President Bush. In the midst of a two-week campaign swing focusing on ways to improve the financial standing of American families, Kerry cites statistics like rising bankruptcy rates and dropping wages as a share of national income. Yet he can no longer point to rising unemployment as the main evidence that Bush's economic leadership is failing. So far this year, 1.2 million jobs have been created, although there is still a net job loss of more than 1 million jobs since Bush took office.

Source: Associated Press
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Nader excluded from presidential debates : June 17, 2004

Debate commission "should be stripped of their non-profit status"

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is crying foul over the ground rules for this fall's presidential debates, which will likely leave him sitting on the sidelines again. The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday that it is planning three presidential debates in late September and October, along with one vice-presidential debate.

However, only candidates who score at least 15 percent support in an average of five national polls by the time of the first debate will be invited. Nader's current support is at about half the required level, making it likely that he will be excluded, as he was in 1996 and 2000, when he was the Green Party candidate. "This commission is a political organization designed to support the two major parties and shut out third party and independent candidates," Nader said in a written statement. "We need to reinvigorate our democracy by having real debates -- not joint press conferences designed to limit the voices heard by voters."

In May, a group of former third-party presidential candidates, including Nader and Pat Buchanan, and three small political parties sued the Federal Elections Commission, demanding that it decertify the Commission on Presidential Debates. The FEC was sued because it earlier dismissed a similar complaint filed by the excluded candidates, who argued that the commission is a partisan group designed to further the interests of Democrats and Republicans. Nader said the debate commission "should be stripped of their non-profit status, and television networks who work with them should realize they are working with a political organization, not an educational organization."

    Under the schedule released Thursday:
  • The first presidential debate would take place September 30 at the University of Miami in Florida, focusing on domestic issues.
  • The vice-presidential candidates would be up next, debating October 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • The second debate among presidential hopefuls, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, October 8, would take on a town hall format.
  • The third and final presidential debate would focus on foreign policy. It would be held October 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Source: CNN.com
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9/11 Panel: No al Qaeda, Saddam link : June 15, 2004

Bin Laden sponsored anti-Saddam Kurds

The panel investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks found that there was "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," The report says Osama bin Laden "explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to (Saddam) Hussein's secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda." A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting bin Laden in 1994.

Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," the report said.

"Two senior bin Laden associates associates have adamantly denied" any relationship, the report said. The report also found that there was no "convincing evidence that any government financially supported al Qaeda before 9/11" other than the limited support provided by the Taliban when bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan. It found that Saudi Arabia was a rich fund-raising ground for al Qaeda, but that it had found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior officials within the Saudi government funded al Qaeda.

The commission, which is scheduled to release its final report on the attacks at the end of July, is holding its last hearings Wednesday and Thursday. Commission chairman Thomas Kean told CNN that the panel would focus on learning more about bin Laden's terrorist network. "We want to know why these people hate us so much. We're going to follow some of these conspirators from one step to the other as they plan the attack. Then we're going to turn to the response. What did our leaders do? What decisions did they have to make? How did they get planes in the air? How did they do all those things? Mistakes were made on both sides," Kean said.

Source: CNN.com
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Bush stands by al Qaeda, Saddam link : June 15, 2004

Cheney too: Saddam had "long-established ties" with Al Qaeda

President Bush repeated his administration's claim that Iraq was in league with al Qaeda under Saddam Hussein's rule. U.S. intelligence officials have said al Qaeda had some links to Iraq dating back to the early 1990s, but the nature and extent of those contacts is a matter of dispute. Critics have accused the president and other administration officials of falsely inflating the links between Iraq and al Qaeda in the months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech Monday in Florida, raised eyebrows by reasserting claims that Saddam "had long-established ties with al Qaeda." Bush said Tuesday that Saddam also had ties to Palestinian militant groups and was making payments to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. "We did the absolute right thing in removing him from power, and the world is better off with him not in power," he said. Bush has tried to portray the war in Iraq as the "central front" in the war on terrorism that began with al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Source: CNN.com
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John Kerry: Support stem cell research : June 12, 2004

Bush/Cheney: "Build the culture of life"

John Kerry endorsed Nancy Reagan's efforts to help find a cure for Alzheimer's disease and challenged the Bush administration Saturday to relax restrictions on stem cell research to pursue potential cures for that and other illnesses. Ethical questions raised by the use of human embryos can be resolved through "good will and good sense," Kerry said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. Researchers can find the cures that are there, "if only they are allowed to look." Kerry said that Mrs. Reagan "told the world that Alzheimer's had taken her own husband to a distant place, and then she stood up to help find a breakthrough that someday will spare other husbands, wives, children and parents from the same kind of heartache."

The Bush-Cheney campaign defended the president's record on stem cell research as ensuring that it is conducted "in ways that respect human dignity and help build the culture of life." A campaign spokesman said, "Under President Bush's thoughtful leadership, for the first time federal dollars are supporting human embryonic stem cell research consistent with the ethical guidelines" he put in place. Bush signed an executive order in August 2001 that limited federal help to financing stem cell research on 78 embryonic stem cell lines then in existence. Because day-old embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted, the process is opposed by some conservatives who link it to abortion.

Kerry said stem cells "have the power to slow the loss of a grandmother's memory, calm the hand of an uncle with Parkinson's, save a child from a lifetime of daily insulin shots or permanently lift a best friend from his wheelchair." Shortly before Reagan's death, Kerry and 57 other senators asked Bush to relax the restrictions, and Mrs. Reagan has long argued that using stem cells from embryos could lead to cures for a number of diseases. "If we pursue the limitless potential of our science, and trust that we can use it wisely, we will save millions of lives and earn the gratitude of future generations," Kerry said.

Source: Associated Press in USA Today
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Powell: Government terrorism report was incorrect : June 11, 2004

Terrorism attacks and victims rose in 2003; report said they fell

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has acknowledged that a recent government report on global terrorism contains errors and will be corrected. The report, called "Patterns of Global Terrorism," concluded that in 2003 the number of terrorism attacks worldwide was at its lowest point in 34 years. Bush Administration officials had offered the finding as proof the war on terror was going well.

The finding however was criticized by academics and intelligence analysts, who said a number of terrorist attacks were omitted, including attacks in Turkey and Chechnya that claimed several hundred lives. Mr. Powell denied accusations that the data had been manipulated for political gain. The secretary said mistakes by a new terrorism data collection office contributed to an undercount of attacks.

Source: Voice of America News
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Ashcroft memo approved some prisoner torture : June 9, 2004

"Ban on torture does not apply to war on terror"

The international ban against torturing prisoners of war does not necessarily apply to suspects detained in America's war on terror, Attorney General John Ashcroft told a Senate oversight committee Tuesday. At times flustered and searching for words, Ashcroft was grilled by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about reports that memos by Bush administration lawyers concluded the president can legally order interrogators to abuse or even kill terrorist suspects in the interests of national security.

[Situations like the prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib prison] "is what directly results when you have that kind of memo out there," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "And it's all because of executive authority and executive power."

Republicans, led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, endeavored to praise Ashcroft and defend the president while avoiding any tacit endorsement of torture as a legitimate means of interrogation. "We live in a dangerous world and our commander-in-chief must have the proper amount of authority to act decisively to protect the public," said Hatch. "As well, we need more discussion about where and by whom the line should be drawn between permissible aggressive interrogation techniques, and when interrogation becomes torture and whether torture is ever justified."

the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, charged that Ashcroft simply wants more power for "increasing secrecy and lessening accountability" at the Justice Department, and he said the advice on the permissibility of torturing terrorist suspects demonstrates the continuing pattern of trampling on civil liberties. "Interrogation techniques approved by the Department of Justice have led to abuses that have tarnished our nation's reputation and driven hundreds, if not thousands of new recruits to join our enemies, the terrorists," said Leahy.

Ashcroft said because the al-Qaida terrorist network is not a "high contracting party" to the international treaties known as the Geneva Conventions that prohibit physical abuse of prisoners of war, the treaties' protections do not apply to members of the militant Islamic group.

But Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, retorted that "there's a reason why we sign these treaties -- it's to protect my son in the military" in the event he is ever captured by enemy forces. Several Democrats said Aschroft's refusal to show the torture policy memos to members of the congressional panel charged with Justice Department oversight bordered on contempt of Congress, which if prosecuted and convicted can result in punishment of up to one year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. "Y'all better come up with a good rationale [not to release the memos] or otherwise it's contempt of Congress," Biden warned Ashcroft.

Source: Christopher Smith, The Salt Lake City Tribune
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Ronald Reagan dies : June 6, 2004

Bush announces national mourning

Click for issue stances of Ronald Reagan It is my sad duty to announce officially the death of Ronald Reagan (search), the fortieth President of the United States, on June 5, 2004.

We are blessed to live in a Nation, and a world, that have been shaped by the will, the leadership, and the vision of Ronald Reagan. With an unshakable faith in the values of our country and the character of our people, Ronald Reagan renewed America's confidence and restored our Nation. His optimism, strength, and humility epitomized the American spirit. He always told us that for America the best was yet to come.

Ronald Reagan believed that God takes the side of justice and that America has a special calling to oppose tyranny and defend freedom. Through his courage and determination, he enhanced America's security and advanced the spread of peace, liberty, and democracy to millions of people who had lived in darkness and oppression. As America's president, Ronald Reagan helped change the world. President Reagan has left us, but he has left us stronger and better. We take comfort in the knowledge that he has left us for a better place, the shining city that awaits him.

In honor and tribute to the memory of Ronald Reagan, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds, and Naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days from the day of his death. I do further appoint Friday, June 11, 2004, as a National Day of Mourning throughout the United States.

Source: Presidential Proclamation to the People of the United States
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Reinstate the draft? : June 1, 2004

Rumsfeld says No, some legislators say Yes

No matter what the Pentagon says, the idea of restarting the military draft never seems to go away. Defense officials say they don't want it. And polls show the American public doesn't either. So why do lawmakers keep suggesting that conscription be reconsidered? Since the fall of 2002, when the Bush administration asked Congress to approve force against Iraq, the Defense Department has said repeatedly that it sees no reason to abandon the all-volunteer, professional military and return to the days when thousands of untrained men were forced into service.

"I don't know anyone in the executive branch of the government who believes it would be appropriate or necessary," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said again recently. Recent polling indicates four out of five Americans surveyed oppose resuming the draft, which would appear to seal its fate as a dead issue during an election year.

Still, lawmakers keep questioning whether perhaps a draft may be needed, even as proposed legislation on it goes nowhere. Analysts say there are two main reasons the idea keeps coming back. One is that even with its 1.4 million active-duty volunteers and thousands more reservists, the United States seems to have too few troops for the wars it is fighting. The other is a kind of guilt that the cost of the wars is being paid by very few Americans.

Rumsfeld says the high amount of military activity now probably is temporary — "a spike." But even if most troops come out of Iraq within several years, the war against al-Qaeda and other terror networks could last decades. And there is no predicting how many more sizable military campaigns there might be over that time.

"If we in fact, as the president says and I agree, are in a generational war here against terrorism, it's going to require resources," says Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel. "The mission must match the resources."

And there is also the question of who bears the burden. That's a point repeatedly made by another draft supporter, Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription. "Who is doing all of the fighting?" Hagel asked. "Should we continue to burden the middle class who represents most all of our soldiers, and the lower middle class ... burden them with the fighting and the dying if in fact this is a generational — probably 25-year war?" "It's not a shared burden," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., noting that most Americans have sacrificed little through the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Source: Associated Press in USA Today
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Al Gore speaks out on Iraq War : May 27, 2004

Calls for Rumsfeld's resignation

Gore blasted the American treatment of "helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners" at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The abuse scandal, Gore said, was not just the fault of the low-ranking soldiers who committed the acts, but of the highest levels of the Bush administration, "who approved a policy of establishing an American Gulag."

Besides calling for the defeat of President Bush and Vice President Cheney this November, Gore called for the immediate resignation of six top administration officials: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, along with top Rumsfeld deputies Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Stephen Cambone. Altogether, Gore accused the administration of implementing "twisted values and atrocious policies at the highest levels of our government."

In response, the Republican National Committee released a statement saying Gore had been vice president for eight years in which "Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed U.S. citizens on at least four different occasions." The statement continued: "Al Gore's attacks on the president today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia."

Finally, Gore singled out one non-government official for attack: conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. The former vice president called on President Bush to "condemn" Limbaugh, whom Gore called "perhaps [the president's] strongest political supporter."

Limbaugh, speaking on his radio program, said he found it odd to be included among the administration officials named by Gore. "I have never seen a media figure targeted much the same way the president of the United States is being targeted," Limbaugh said, "and now the president of the United States, who's got really important things to do, has been told or challenged by Gore to condemn me."

Source: Byron York, National Review
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Kerry's Energy Plan : May 25, 2004

$10B for fuel-efficient vehicles

Kerry and Bush have different energy plans, but analysts say neither is likely to bring down gasoline prices soon. Kerry says he would spend $10 billion over 10 years on new plants to manufacture more fuel efficient vehicles. He also would offer up to a $4,000 tax credit for people who buy advanced technology vehicles that get better gas mileage. Kerry also wants to divert oil being used to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the short term and bring it to market to bring down prices. And he says his administration would demand that other oil-producing nations increase supply.

Bush emphasizes increased drilling for domestic oil and gas to help wean the country from reliance on foreign energy sources and has proposed billions of dollars in tax incentives to accelerate the development of hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles. The president also supports opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling; Kerry opposes that.

A Bush spokesman said Kerry has voted against proposals that would lower gas costs and in favor of higher gas taxes. Kerry's campaign said Bush's mishandling of the war in Iraq has contributed to the increase in gas prices.

Source: Associated press on CNN.com
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Bush 5-step plan on Iraq : May 25, 2004

Transfer sovereignty; bring in UN; elections in 2005

There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom.
  • The first of these steps will occur next month when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections. On June 30, the coalition provisional authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced. The occupation will end and Iraqis will govern their own affairs.

  • The second step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to help establish the stability and security that democracy requires. Coalition forces and the Iraqi people have the same enemies: the terrorists, illegal militia and Saddam loyalists, who stand between the Iraqi people and their future as a free nation. Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies.

  • The third step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to continue rebuilding that nation's infrastructure so that a free Iraq can quickly gain economic independence and a better quality of life. Our coalition has already helped Iraqis to rebuild schools and refurbish hospitals and health clinics, repair bridges, upgrade the electrical grid and modernize the communications system. And now a growing private economy is taking shape. A new currency has been introduced. Iraq's governing council approved a new law that opens the country to foreign investment for the first time in decades. Iraq has liberalized its trade policy. And today an Iraqi observer attends meetings of the World Trade Organization. Iraqi oil production has reached more than two million barrels per day, bringing revenues of nearly $6 billion so far this year, which is being used to help the people of Iraq.

  • The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq's transition. At every stage the United States has gone to the United Nations: to confront Saddam Hussein, to promise serious consequences for his actions and to begin Iraqi reconstruction. Today the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government. Despite past disagreements, most nations have indicated strong support for the success of a free Iraq. And I'm confident they will share in the responsibility of assuring that success.

  • The fifth and most important step is free national elections to be held no later than next January. A United Nations team headed by Karina Pirelli is now in Iraq helping form an independent election commission that will oversee an orderly, accurate national election. In that election the Iraqi people will choose a transitional national assembly, the first freely elected, truly representative national governing body in Iraq's history. This assembly will serve as Iraq's legislature and it will choose a transitional government with executive powers. The transitional national assembly will also draft a new constitution, which will be presented to the Iraqi people in a referendum scheduled for the fall of 2005. Under this new constitution Iraq will elect a permanent government by the end of next year.
Source: Speech to the Nation
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Hillary Clinton on Iraq : May 23, 2004

Send in more troops

Q: Send in more troops - good idea?

U.S. SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: Well, send in more troops, absolutely. I think we need more people in the military. When I went to Iraq last year, you could see that there was a lot of ammo dumps that needed to be guarded. Forty percent of the people, by the end of the year, are going to be Guard and Reserve members. And we're moving people out of Korea. So I thought for a long time that we needed more people, but when your combat commanders tell the secretary of defense we have enough, then, you know, what's the secretary of defense to do? But it's clear to me, not just Iraq, but when you look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and all of the obligations of this country, we're putting too much pressure on the men and women in uniform. We need more of them, sooner rather than later.

U.S. SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON, D-NY: And I agree with that 100 percent. And, you know, I reached the same conclusions when I was there last year. And a number of us on the Armed Services Committee have been sounding this alarm, not only asking that we get more troops in Iraq, and in Afghanistan I would add, but that we have to face the fact we need a larger active- duty military. We cannot continue to stretch our troops, both active- duty, Guard and Reserve, to the breaking point, which is what we're doing now.

Q: 25,000 more troops, 50,000? Give me a scale of order.

CLINTON: Well, the way I would talk about this is that, at this point, General Abizaid has asked for additional troops, and we're going to see those troops brought in, some from Korea. We're going to end up with what the last number was, 140,000. That's fine, but it's still late, and it's been a little slow. I'm supporting an effort to increase the end strength of the Army, increase the size of the military. This is a big decision for our country to make. It is expensive, but I don't think we have any alternatives. We talk a lot about the global war on terrorism. We have faced some very difficult times in Iraq. We did not go in with enough troops, in my opinion. I might have a slight disagreement with my colleague that I think that there was such a clear message from the top of the Pentagon, "Don't ask for more troops," that our commanders are very resourceful, they're incredibly professional, they did the best they could with what they had. But many people with a lot of experience, like John McCain and others, from the very beginning have been saying we can't do this mission with the numbers we have.

Source: Fox News Sunday
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Kerry: no abortion litmus test for judges : May 20, 2004

Roe v. Wade litmus test only applies when Court is 5-4

Kerry said that he would consider a judicial candidate who disagrees with his support of abortion rights as long as it doesn't lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal. Leaders of the abortion-rights movement said they will continue to support Kerry over President Bush, who supports abortion only in cases of rape or incest or when a woman's life is endangered.

On the Supreme Court, Kerry said he has voted in favor of "any number of judges who are pro-life or pro-something else that I may not agree with," some of whom were nominated by Republican presidents. "Do they have to agree with me on everything? No," Kerry said. Asked if they must agree with his abortion-rights views, he quickly added, "I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 court who's about to undo Roe v. Wade. I've said that before. But that doesn't mean that if that's not the balance of the court I wouldn't be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view. I've already voted for people like that. I voted for Judge Scalia."

Aides said later that "some court" was not a reference to the Supreme Court, only lower federal benches. In his clarifying statement, Kerry said, "I will not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who will undo that right" to an abortion. But a Bush spokesman said Kerry was trying to have it both ways. He noted Kerry's promise during the primaries to nominate to the high court only those individuals who support abortion rights. "John Kerry's reversal today on appointing pro-choice judges shows a startling lack of conviction on an issue that someone seeking the presidency should approach with principled clarity," the Bush aide said. Kerry said he regrets his vote for Scalia, saying he didn't see at the time of the vote in 1986 "such a level of ideology and partisanship" that he now sees in the justice.

Source: NEDRA PICKLER, Associated press, on MLive.com "Everything Michigan"
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Mass. Gov. Romney on same-sex marriages : May 19, 2004

No out-of-state gay marriages allowed

Governor Mitt Romney is preparing to ask a court to block city and town clerks from issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples. Romney and his lawyers were leaning toward seeking an injunction against clerks who are defying his order that cities and towns not issue licenses to out-of-state gay couples. The aide said Romney would not seek criminal penalties against the clerks -- fines of between $100 and $500 or up to a year in jail, or both. Romney could seek an injunction to block clerks in Worcester, Springfield, Provincetown, and Springfield, who have been issuing licenses to out-of-state couples. Tomorrow marks the first day those couples who did not get waivers of the state's three-day-waiting period for marriages on Monday will be able to pick up their marriage licenses.

The legal strategy emerged as Romney demanded copies of marriage license applications issued in Provincetown, Somerville, Worcester and Springfield, the four cities municipalities that are defying his order. A Romney spokeswoman said only that "marriages performed outside the law will be null and void." Romney, for the second day in a row, kept an extremely low profile yesterday.

Romney has interpreted a 1913 law as prohibiting the granting of marriage licenses to residents of states that do not permit gay couples to marry. Lawyers said yesterday that Romney could use the forms as evidence to prosecute clerks, for knowingly issuing the applications to out-of-state residents even though, as he interprets the 1913 law, those applications are not legal. Or he could use them to instruct the state Registrar to refuse to record the marriages of out-of-state couples, making it difficult for them to apply for benefits associated with marriages in their home states, such as health insurance and Social Security benefits. Under the 1913 law, the state cannot grant marriage licenses to couples if their marriages would be "void" in their home states. Reilly has interpreted that law to apply only to residents of the 38 states which have specific prohibitions on gay marriage. Romney has interpreted it to apply to residents of all 49 other states, since none of them specifically permit gay marriage.

Supporters of gay marriage say the 1913 law has been dusted off by Romney specifically to block gay marriages, and that it is being improperly and unfairly applied in this case. "Someone should tell him he's the governor of Massachusetts, not of the United States," said the chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. "This is grossly inappropriate, to waste his time and taxpayer dollars on a witch hunt against gay people." Meanwhile, gay and lesbian couples continued to go to city and town halls today to apply for licenses, but they did so in far fewer numbers and with less fanfare than yesterday, the first day of legalized gay marriage in the state.

Source: Yvonne Abraham and Frank Phillips, Boston Globe
Click for more headlines by Mitt Romney

Kerry-Dean ticket? : May 18, 2004

Dean says No, will instead help Kerry and "Dean Dozen"

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's one goal right now, is "getting people energized to believe we can beat Bush." He was asked if the possibility of a Dean vice presidency was broached in any of his conversations with Kerry. Dean blushed and commented, "I don't think I'll end up with the vice presidential slot. I'm mostly interested in substantial changes [to the Democratic party]." Dean dropped out of the presidential race in February, but has since pledged his support for Democratic candidate John Kerry. "Our focus has got to be to give a free, one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas to the president," Dean said.

Dean has put a lot of effort in recent months into his latest project - Democracy for America, formerly Dean for America. The new project is about empowering people, Dean said, much like his campaign for presidency intended. Democracy for America endorses the "Dean's dozen," a list of candidates from all over the country running grassroots campaigns that Dean feels will help bring the government back to the people.

The first thing that's going to happen if Kerry wins, Dean said, is balancing the budget and passing a health insurance bill, guaranteeing coverage for all Americans. Dean is also confident that Kerry will solve the situation in Iraq. Dean would not state with any specificity what his plans for the future are, but said, "Whatever I do will be consistent with the goals of Democracy for America, which is about empowering people. Action is always better than apathy."

Source: Sara Gundell, Portland State University Vanguard
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Kerry-McCain ticket? : May 18, 2004

McCain says No, Kerry offers Secy of Defense post

Senator Joseph R. Biden, a senior Democrat, yesterday urged Republican Senator John McCain to run for vice president with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator John F. Kerry, in order to heal the ''vicious rift" dividing America. McCain, of Arizona, ''categorically" ruled out standing with Kerry, but Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had no second choice. ''I'm sticking with McCain," Biden said. ''I think John McCain would be a great candidate for vice president," Biden, from Delaware, said on NBC's ''Meet the Press," where the two senators appeared together to take questions on Iraq and other subjects. ''Do I think it's going to happen? No," he said. ''But I think it is a reflection of the desire of this country and the desire of people in both parties to want to see this God-awful, vicious rift that exists in the nation healed, and John and John could go a long way to heal in that rift."

McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and in line to take over the Senate Armed Services panel in two years, endorsed Biden's call for bridging the political gap between Democrats and Republicans. ''There's too much partisanship in America, and there's too much partisanship in the Senate," he said. ''And we're not doing our job as our constituents expect us to do." ''I will always take anyone's phone calls," McCain said of any call he might get from Kerry, a fellow decorated Vietnam War veteran. ''But I will not, I categorically will not do it."

Kerry said Wednesday that McCain would be his first choice to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld, President Bush's secretary of defense. Rumsfeld is now wrestling with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal

Source: Reuters news release in Boston Globe
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Kerry: US schools still 'separate and unequal' : May 17, 2004

Bush: US schools still 'not equal in opportunity and excellence'

Fifty years after the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation, President Bush on Monday acknowledged that "habits of racism" still linger in America, and his Democratic opponent John Kerry said the nation's schools remain "separate but unequal." [Both offered their opinions on the 50th anniversary of] the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on May 17, 1954, in the case known as Brown v. Board of Education.

Both candidates agreed that more needs to be done to reach the goal of educational opportunity for all. On the campaign trail, Kerry advocates more federal spending on education; Bush stresses his support for standardized testing and local control of schools. "While our schools are no longer segregated by law, they are still not equal in opportunity and excellence," Bush said. "Justice requires more than a place in a school. Justice requires that every school teach every child in America. The habits of racism in America have not all been broken," he said. "The habits of respect must be taught to every generation. Laws against racial discrimination must be vigorously enforced in education and housing and hiring and public accommodations."

Kerry told his audience that Bush deserves part of the blame for inequality in education. He criticized the president for failing to push for full funding to carry out the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. "You cannot promise no child left behind and then pursue policies that leave millions of children behind every single day," Kerry said, calling the new law "a promissory note to all of America's families that must be paid in full. Today, more than ever, we need to renew our commitment to one America," Kerry said. "We should not delude ourselves into thinking that we have reached our goal."

Source: WILLIAM DOUGLAS and TOM FITZGERALD in Kansas City Star
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Powell: Evidence presented to UN was deliberately misleading : May 17, 2004

"I was misled by CIA on Iraq"

Secretary of State Powell said yesterday that some of the intelligence and evidence of banned weapons that he was fed were "deliberately misleading." Powell said he's "very concerned" about how the CIA prepared him ahead of his now-infamous UN speech in February 2003 that made America's case for war with Iraq. "It turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading," he said. "And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it," he added.

The elaborate United Nations presentation, where Powell, backed by CIA Director George Tenet, alleged that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, has tarnished the former four-star general's legacy and credibility. Among the now-discredited intelligence Powell was assured was accurate was a discredited defector's insistence that Saddam had mobile weapons factories. After freezing Powell out for much of the decision-making in Iraq, the administration in recent weeks has increasingly turned to him to help clean up the ever-increasing mess.

Source: James Gordon Meek, New York Daily news
Click for more headlines by Colin Powell

Kerry Again Opposes Same-Sex Marriage : May 15, 2004

On eve of his state's first same sex marriage, Kerry says No

With his home state set to begin marrying same-sex couples on Monday, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) reiterated his opposition to the idea yesterday, even as he met with gay and lesbian groups to shore up their support. The presumptive Democratic nominee has long opposed gay marriage, favoring instead state-sanctioned civil unions that extend legal protections to gay couples.

Yet Kerry has taken several positions on the issue: He voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union only of a man and woman, saying it amounted to gay-bashing. Kerry has opposed President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage but said in February that he favors such a ban in Massachusetts.

"If the Massachusetts legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection," he told the Boston Globe. Kerry's careful line is likely to come under increasing scrutiny as Massachusetts becomes the first state to sanction gay marriages, under a ruling by the state's Supreme Judicial Court. Massachusetts's capital, Boston, is also the site of the 2004 Democratic National Convention in late July.

Kerry's apparent discomfort with the issue showed at a news conference yesterday at his campaign headquarters in Washington. Asked by a reporter what he would say "on a personal level" to same-sex couples married in his state, Kerry said: "It's not my job to start parceling advice on something personal like that. I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and in extending our rights under the Constitution in a nondiscriminatory manner." Asked if he would offer his congratulations to the newly married, Kerry replied: "I obviously wish everyone happiness. I want everyone to feel fulfilled and happy in their lives. The way to do that is by respecting every citizen's rights under the Constitution."

Republicans are likely to tie worldwide publicity over the state's action to Kerry in an effort to paint him as a northeastern liberal who is out of touch with the values of the rest of the country. Polls show a majority of Americans, including many Democrats, opposed to granting full marital status to same-sex couples. Yesterday, Bush campaign officials said Kerry's statements reinforce their portrait of him as inconsistent on major issues. "This represents his typical pattern of confusing and contradictory statements," said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt. Gay and lesbian groups, however, said they enthusiastically support Kerry after meeting with him yesterday. "His commitment to equality and fairness to all Americans, including gay and lesbian Americans, is real," said one participant

Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post, p. A6
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Rep. Nadler: Inequality for same-sex partners is "gratuitous cruelty" : June 2004

Rep. Smith: Same-sex marriage is unhealthy and unnatural

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, NY) has introduced a Permanent Partners Immigration Act that would put gays and straights on equal footing. The bill has 120 sponsors, but it hasn't moved since being introduced in 2000. "I'm not terribly optimistic in the immediate future," says Nadler, who calls the status quo "gratuitously cruel." "We've been begging the immigration subcommittee chairman for three years, and so far he hasn't scheduled a hearing or a vote."

The subcommittee chairman is Lamar Smith (R, TX), whose views on homosexuality aren't a secret. He recently wrote that "same-sex marriage, and the lifestyle that accompanies it, should not be endorsed because it is unhealthy and unnatural."

Source: Reason Magazine, June 2004 issue
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Nader Wins Endorsement From Reform Party : May 12, 2004

Party of Perot and Buchanan ensures ballot status in 7 states

Independent Ralph Nader was endorsed Wednesday by the national Reform Party, giving him ballot access in at least seven states, including the battlegrounds of Florida and Michigan. A Nader spokesman said the candidate welcomes the support but plans to continue running as an independent. He said Nader would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to accept the Reform Party's ballot lines in each state, or try to gain ballot access through other means. Other states in which the Reform Party has already secured ballot access for its nominee are Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana and South Carolina. Nader is not yet on the ballot in any state.

Nader has struggled to win ballot access in some early states, such as Texas, where a deadline passed Monday without him collecting enough signatures to appear on the ballot. Nader filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging the signature requirement in Texas. Nader also missed an early opportunity to get on Oregon's ballot, although he has time to try again. In Florida, Nader faced the daunting task of collecting more than 92,000 signatures to gain ballot access. If he runs as the Reform Party's candidate, he will not need any signatures.

The Reform Party claims more than 1 million active members, but has been plagued by infighting and lost membership since it was founded by billionaire Ross Perot in 1992. Perot won 19 percent of the vote when he ran for president in 1992 and 8 percent in 1996. In 2000, conservative maverick Pat Buchanan and rival John Hagelin both claimed the party mantle at competing national conventions. Buchanan was declared the true nominee after a legal challenge, but garnered less than 1 percent of the vote nationally. Some accused Buchanan of trying to bend the party's politics to the right and the party lost membership, with some large groups splintering into other organizations.

Nader had courted Reform Party leaders since March, a spokesperson said. Six other lesser-known candidates sought the party's nod. Nader also would consider gaining ballot access through other third-party political organizations that might endorse him.

Source: Sam Hananel, Associated Press
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Bush imposes sanctions on Syria : May 11, 2004

No exports and no flights: Syria labeled terrorist state

Bush on Tuesday banned all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine, ordering sanctions after long-standing complaints that the Middle Eastern nation was supporting terrorism and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq. The actions of the Syrian government -- including pursuing weapons of mass destruction and occupying Lebanon -- represent an "extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States," Bush said in signing an executive order imposing sanctions. The measures also include a ban on flights to and from the United States; authorization to the Treasury Department to freeze assets of Syrian nationals and entities involved in terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, occupation of Lebanon or terror in Iraq; and restrictions on banking relations between U.S. banks and the Syrian national bank. The measures follow complaints by the United States that Syria was supporting militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and failing to stop guerrillas from crossing the border into Iraq.

Syrian exports to the United States are not banned by the president's order, but State Department officials said American oil companies would be hard-pressed to keep operating in Syria because they would not be able to import equipment from their American factories. Syria is not a major producer, but exploration for oil and natural gas is a priority because its known reserves are running out. Diplomatic relations with Syria were not severed. One reason, State Department officials said, was to keep the door open to any prospect of Syria participating in Middle East peacemaking. Trade with Syria already was limited by sanctions imposed because Syria is one of seven countries branded supporters of terror by the State Department. Bush's order will cut even deeper.

The president chose not to take other, more drastic action under the Syria Accountability Act, such as economic sanctions that would have barred U.S. companies from doing business in the Middle Eastern country. The act bars U.S. exports to Syria of dual-use items that could have military applications. It also requires Bush to choose at least two of six possible economic or diplomatic sanctions. From the list, Bush chose the export ban and the prohibition on flights. The United States is sending "a loud and clear message to the leaders of Syria that we will no longer turn a blind eye to their transgressions," said Rep. Eliot Engel, who co-authored the legislation with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. "The ball is now in Damascus' court."

Syria provided the United States with intelligence on al-Qaida after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Though some U.S. officials have played down the importance of that, the cooperation probably discouraged the administration from imposing sanctions that would have reduced diplomatic contacts. Despite its criticism of Syria, the Bush administration initially saw the legislation as a restraint on its diplomatic options. Even after a provision was included that enabled Bush to waive any penalties, the president demonstrated his lack of enthusiasm by signing the bill without any fanfare.

Source: CNN.com
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Bush: $6B available for education funds for states : May 10, 2004

Kerry: Establish $200B education trust fund

President Bush is putting his education policies on display during a three-day focus on the subject. Bush on Tuesday discusses the No Child Left Behind education law when he visits Butterfield Junior High School in Van Buren, Ark. On Wednesday, in suburban Washington, he speaks about the importance of reading in early grades, followed by a visit Thursday to a West Virginia high school. The president's education tour follows a similar three-day swing by Democratic presidential rival John Kerry.

Signed in 2003, the No Child Left Behind education law was the centerpiece of Bush's domestic policy agenda. It mandated tough testing and gives all students until 2014 to become proficient in reading and math. The legislation had bipartisan backing initially, but has run into opposition from Democrats who claim Bush is enforcing the law on the cheap by holding schools accountable for big gains without enough money to succeed. Administration officials dispute that, saying states and school districts had not tapped some $6 billion in education funding that was available at the start of the year. Last month, the administration announced it was easing some testing and other provisions of the law that required teachers to have a degree or be certified in every subject they teach.

Kerry, a Massachusetts senator who voted for No Child Left Behind, now says he sees problems with the legislation and wants changes, mainly in the way student progress is measured. During a three-day education tour of his own last week to Minnesota, New Mexico and California, Kerry vowed that 1 million more students would graduate high school if he is elected. Kerry wants to roll back Bush's tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 a year and use some of the money to create a $200 billion education trust fund over 10 years. Kerry says about half the money would be used to fully fund No Child Left Behind. He also pledged to channel $30 billion over 10 years to improve teacher pay as well as raise teaching standards, including bonuses of up to $5,000 for those who teach math and science or work in high-need schools.

Bush visited El Dorado, Ark., last month to advocate other education changes. He called for broad changes to a $1 billion vocational training program, and for the creation of $5,000 grants for poor students who emphasize math and science, a $100 million annual program to be paid for by imposing new restrictions on Pell Grants and by tapping private foundations. Bush also proposed requiring high-school seniors in every state to take national math and English tests that currently are mandated only for fourth- and eighth-graders.

Source: Deb Riechmann, Associated Press
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Response to Iraqi prison torture photos : May 10, 2004

Senators from both parties criticize Rumsfeld

Republican and Democratic senators criticized the Pentagon yesterday for what one Republican termed a "systemic failure" in overseeing the detention of prisoners in Iraq but expressed divided opinions on whether Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should resign in the wake of the scandal over the humiliation of Iraqis and other prison abuses.

As they spoke, a series of new photographs came to light of U.S. military personnel using German shepherd guard dogs to threaten and apparently attack a naked Iraqi prisoner last December at Abu Ghraib prison, where other publicized cases of abuse were photographed and videotaped. Although no pictures depicting murder have become public, military investigators are looking into at least two apparent slayings by prison guards since December 2002 and 10 more Iraqi deaths, as well as 10 assaults, at detention facilities under the control of Central Command.

Particularly tough criticism of the Pentagon's actions came from two Republicans on the armed services and intelligence committees, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.). Graham said that "it's clear to me that we had systemic failure" within the military and that "we just don't want a bunch of privates and sergeants to be the scapegoats here." Hagel said that "it's still in question whether... Rumsfeld can command the respect and the trust and the confidence of the military," because of the continuing prison abuse revelations.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) made clear that officials face additional grilling. He plans to chair a hearing tomorrow at which the Pentagon's top intelligence official and Central Command officers who oversee the conflict in Iraq are to testify. An Army report on the abuses said the guards were pressured into harming the Iraqis by military intelligence officers. Warner also said he expects the Pentagon to surrender today or tomorrow a full copy of the military's scathing internal report. The report, completed in February, was classified "Secret/No Foreign Dissemination". Annexes to the report, which contain testimony about the abuses and documentary evidence, have remained classified and inaccessible to anyone outside the military. Warner said he was "not able to answer" questions about when the data will be made public.

Neither Graham nor any other Republican lawmaker called yesterday for Rumsfeld to resign, but their statements of support were guarded. Warner said: "I want to support our president. The president says he's going to stay." Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that he thinks "it would be terribly premature to call for his resignation at this time." At the same time, McCain castigated those who wrongly, in his view, blurred the distinction between terrorists and detained Iraqis. "I think there was some blurring there that may have accounted" for the abusive actions by U.S. military personnel against Iraqis, he said. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) expressed unalloyed support for Rumsfeld, saying that "you can't give a person who is managing a 2.5 million-member armed forces across the world the responsibility for what happens at 2:30 in the morning in a remote prison in Iraq."

Many Democrats, including Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have said Rumsfeld should go. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the intelligence panel, said that Rumsfeld, "for the good of this nation, needs to step forward and say, 'As an important act to show we are changing courses... I am stepping down.' That would be an act of patriotism." A similar statement was made by retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a former Democratic presidential aspirant who also said the Iraqi people are likely -- due to these abuses and other problems -- to force a "catastrophic early end to this mission." But two other Democrats who have criticized the administration's handling of the conflict -- Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) -- said they worried that Rumsfeld's resignation, by itself, would make little difference because, they believe, the administration's policies are so flawed.

Source: R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, p. A1
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Bush asks for $25 billion more for War on Terror : May 6, 2004

Brings total cost to $191 billion

The White House yesterday asked Congress for an additional $25 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year that begins in October, reversing course on its plan to wait until after the election to seek more money. The administration's request was driven by unanticipated combat, higher-than-expected troop levels and rising political pressure. "While we do not know the precise costs for operations next year, recent developments on the ground and increased demands on our troops indicate the need to plan for contingencies," President Bush said in a statement. "We must make sure there is no disruption in funding and resources for our troops."

Bush included no war funding in his fiscal 2005 budget, and he had hoped to avoid such a request until after the November election, fearing a divisive debate over the war's conduct and future, Republican congressional aides said. Congress has approved two wartime emergency spending laws totaling $166 billion -- including $149 billion for Iraq. But in recent weeks, military officials publicly stated that U.S. forces were experiencing financial problems and would be likely to run out of money even before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The White House conceded yesterday that the $25 billion it is seeking is likely to be only the first installment. "We will pursue a full FY 2005 supplemental request when we can better estimate precise costs," Bush said. House and Senate budget negotiators already agreed to include $50 billion in the budget blueprint for 2005, but defense experts say even that amount will fall short. Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said that with the cost of securing embassies and building a new embassy in Iraq, the cost would reach $75 billion. Indeed, Republican and Democratic aides on the Appropriations committees said yesterday that the big fight will be over holding the request to the president's level. For weeks, Republicans and Democrats have been imploring Bush to send up a war request before the military is forced to juggle different accounts to fund combat operations.

Source: Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, Page A01
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Kerry unveils education plan : May 6, 2004

"A Great Teacher for Every Child"

John Kerry knows that good teachers are vital to building a stronger America, and that is why his "New Bargain for America's Children and Teachers" will recruit or retain 500,000 teachers over the next 4 years. Working together with parents, principals, and communities across America, John Kerry will offer teachers and children a new bargain. The new bargain will offer teachers more- providing better pay and preparation-and will ask for more in return-requiring high standards and rewarding results for our children.
    This is what John Kerry will offer:
  • Recruit great teachers by raising pay where we need them the most, as well as scholarships and loan forgiveness through a new teacher corps;
  • Retain teachers through better preparation and support, including holding schools of education accountable for improved results, and offering more mentoring on the job; and
  • Increase parental involvement using new technology and proven successes.
    This is what John Kerry will ask:
  • Require all new teachers to pass rigorous entry tests;
  • Require fair, fast procedures for improving or replacing teachers who do not perform;
  • Require greater pay for teachers who excel in participating schools, including excellence that is demonstrated through improved student performance.
  • Provide more support for schools to turn around and more rewards when they do.
Source: Press Release, "New Bargain for America's Children and Teachers"
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Nader on Corporate Crime : May 6, 2004

Twelve steps for a corporate crime crackdown

The US needs to crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that have just in the last four years looted and drained trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders and consumers. Among the reforms needed are resources to prosecute and convict the corporate executive crooks and to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power; pay back ill-gotten gains; rein in executive pay; and enact corporate sunshine laws, among others. Below are twelve initial steps for an effective crackdown on corporate crime, fraud and abuse.
  1. Increase Corporate Crime Prosecution Budgets
  2. Ban Corporate Criminals from Government Contracts
  3. Crack Down on Corporate Tax Avoidance
  4. Democratize Corporate Governance
  5. Expand Corporate Disclosure
  6. Rein in Excessive Executive Pay
  7. Fix the Pension System
  8. Restore the Rights of Defrauded Investors
  9. Regulate Derivatives Trading
  10. End Conflicts of Interest on Wall Street
  11. Track the Extent and Cost of Corporate Crime
  12. Foster a National Discussion on Corporate Power
Source: Campaign website, VoteNader.org
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Nader on marijuana legalization : May 5, 2004

License US farmers to grow industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is a commercial crop grown for its seed and fiber and the products made from them such as oil, seed cake, and hurds (stalk cores). Industrial hemp is one of the longest and strongest fibers in the plant kingdom, and it has thousands of potential uses. In need of alternative crops and aware of the growing market for industrial hemp - particularly for biocomposite products such as automobile parts, farmers in the United States are forced to watch from the sidelines while Canadian, French and Chinese farmers grow the crop and American manufacturers import it from them. Federal legislators, meanwhile, continue to ignore the issue. They have failed to hold a hearing or introduce a bill that would remove industrial hemp from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration list of illicit substances. The United States should implement a licensing system, similar to the one that Canada has in place, that ensures only legitimate farmers are allowed to grow industrial hemp from seeds certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The certified seeds would guarantee that the psychoactive substance in the plant is so low that it has no effect (analogous to the negligible amount of psychoactive material in poppy seeds).
Source: Campaign website, VoteNader.org
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Nader on Government Reform : May 3, 2004

Allow 16-year-olds to vote

Ralph Nader favors lowering the voting age to 16 years old. He recognizes that 16 year olds work, pay taxes and more and more often are subjected to criminal laws passed that treat them like adults. In addition, democracy in the United States needs to be re-invigorated. Allowing youth the right to vote will increase voter participation, not only of 16 to 18 year olds, but also in the longer term as youth are taught at an early age the importance of voting. With this change in law Ralph also favors increased instruction in school about civics, government and the importance of voting.
Source: Campaign website, VoteNader.org
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Film about Bush's role in Sept. 11 banned : May 6, 2004

Disney won't release "Fahrenheit 911"

Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore has accused the Walt Disney Company of stifling free speech by blocking the distribution of his new movie critical of President Bush. Moore says that Disney had said they did not want to upset the Bush family because of the risk of jeopardizing "tens of millions of dollars" in tax incentives [for their Florida properties, where Jeb Bush is governor]. Disney executives denied the allegation. One unnamed executive told the paper it did not want to be seen taking sides in the forthcoming U.S. election and risk alienating customers of different political views. "We just chose not to be involved," Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner said.

Moore said media companies such as Disney must allow all voices to be heard. "We live in a free and open society where dissent is not to be stifled or silenced. They have violated that trust," he said. The documentary maker said he hoped to find a new distributor so the film, entitled "Fahrenheit 911," could be released in the United States this year. "The good news is that internationally we already have distributors in much of the world. So it will be seen outside of America for sure some time this year," Moore told CNN. "But I hope it doesn't happen where an American film maker makes a film about America and it can't be seen in America.

The film -- which links Bush with powerful Saudi families, including that of Osama bin Laden -- is set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival in France later this month. In a written statement, Disney said "Moore has had and continues to have every opportunity to either find another distributor or distribute the film himself."

Moore won an Oscar for best documentary feature at last year's Academy Awards for his film "Bowling for Columbine." His acceptance speech, in which he lit into Bush, the 2000 election and the Iraq war, earned applause as well as boos.

Source: Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, Page A01
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Bush and Cheney provide restricted testimony about 9/11 : April 29, 2004

No recordings, no transcripts, no oath required

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks began a historic closed-door meeting with President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the White House this morning. Today's session came after months of wrangling between the commission and the White House, which initially refused requests for separate interviews with Bush and Cheney but agreed to a joint session amid mounting political pressure. Neither Bush nor Cheney is expected to testify publicly and, like former president Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore, who were interviewed by the commissioners previously, neither will be questioned under oath. The questioning is expected to last three to four hours. The White House will not record or transcribe the interviews, in part because much of the discussion will be focused on classified information, administration officials said. The Sept. 11 panel is prohibited from recording the interview but will be allowed to have one staffer taking notes.

The panel will quiz Bush and Cheney on a wide range of topics, including whether the administration could have done more to combat al Qaeda in early 2001 and whether it should have been better prepared for a terrorist attack on U.S. soil, according to commission officials. Bush and Cheney are also expected to be questioned closely about the events of the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several commission officials said. Panel investigators have discovered evidence that casts doubt on several official narratives that emerged about that day. One focuses on early White House statements that Bush initially did not return to Washington on Sept. 11 because he was told the White House received a phone call saying that Air Force One was a target. The caller is said to have used a classified code word, "angel," for the aircraft. The investigators have looked into the story and found no evidence of any such call, according to a source familiar with the staff findings who asked for anonymity because the information was not supposed to be disclosed.

Panel investigators have assembled a list of questions for Bush and Cheney that commission members have agreed to ask, according to several commission officials. Panel members will be free to ask questions on their own, officials said. "It's essentially the same set of questions that we asked President Clinton with one exception, which is just what happened on the day of September 11th," said commissioner Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska. "What was your strategy before, what was your strategy on September 11, and what allowed the FAA to be so surprised by a hijacking?" Commissioners said another central topic will be the President's Daily Brief delivered to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001. One article in the brief, titled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US," warned that the FBI had observed "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks." Bush, who declassified the memo on April 10, has said it did not provide any "actionable intelligence" or specific threat.

Source: Dan Eggen, Walter Pincus and Mike Allen, Washington Post
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Kerry hydrogen plan: 100 mpg cars by 2020 : April 28, 2004

Hydrogen Fuel cell cars by 2020

    A Plan to Use Hydrogen Throughout the Nation By 2020:
  • John Kerry has outlined an energy plan that will reduce our dependence on Mideast oil, assure that American industries and ingenuity will lead the new energy economy, and protect our environment. Americans spend more than $20 billion each year on oil from the Persian Gulf -- often from nations that are unstable and hostile to our interests and our values. Kerry believes that we must end this dangerous dependence because it leaves American security and the American economy vulnerable. Kerry’s plan will reduce oil dependence by two million barrels of oil a day, as much as we currently import from the Middle East.
  • While John Kerry believes our nation needs a strategy to reduce dependence on oil today, he knows we can harness technological innovation and ingenuity to develop a hydrogen-based economy for the future. Hydrogen has great promise as a clean, domestic, and reliable energy source for the future. It has the potential to power our cars at 100 miles per gallon without pollution and, with the right technology, can be produced efficiently from natural gas and coal. Eventually, John Kerry believes that we can build a truly clean and secure economy based on hydrogen -- a clean fuel that we can eventually get entirely from renewable sources from our farms, the wind, solar energy, hydropower and geothermal sources.
  • John Kerry believes that America needs a national market for electricity produced from renewable energy, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydrogen. Kerry supports a national goal of producing 20 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This standard will encourage the market to respond by finding the most efficient and effective way of meeting that goal through a credit trading system.
Source: Campaign website, www.JohnKerry.com, "On The Issues"
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Bush announces $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative : Jan. 28, 2004

Fuel cell "FreedomCAR" by 2020

President Bush announced a $1.2 billion hydrogen fuel initiative to reverse America's growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases. The hydrogen fuel initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation. Combined with the FreedomCAR (Cooperative Automotive Research) initiative, President Bush is proposing a total of $1.7 billion over the next five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure and advanced automotive technologies.

Under the President's hydrogen fuel initiative, the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by fuel cells. The hydrogen fuel initiative complements the President's existing FreedomCAR initiative, which is developing technologies needed for mass production of safe and affordable hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. Through partnerships with the private sector, the hydrogen fuel initiative and FreedomCAR will make it practical and cost-effective for large numbers of Americans to choose to use clean, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2020. This will dramatically improve America's energy security by significantly reducing the need for imported oil, as well as help clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: White House press release, "Hydrogen Fuel"
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John Kerry rescinds term "atrocities" in describing Vietnam : April 25, 2004

See our archive of Kerry's original 1971 statements

A Bush aide challenged Sen. John Kerry to further explain comments he made in 1971 that he participated in "atrocities" in Vietnam. Kerry has since said that he regrets using such language. The Bush aide asked, "Did he think he did commit atrocities or not? And who else did? And what was he really saying? Was he totally exaggerating? Was he making it up?"

A Kerry campaign spokesman called the comments "misleading," adding that "we will stand toe-to-toe with [Bush] on our military service any day of the week." In an interview last week, Kerry said that his use of the word "atrocity" was "inappropriate" and that the language he had used "reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger. It was a little bit excessive." He also said he never intended to cast a negative light on the soldiers with whom he served. In 1971, Kerry also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recited a litany of atrocities and war crimes he said had been reported to him by other soldiers.

During the presidential campaign, Kerry's comments from three decades ago have been fodder for conservative talk radio and have drawn fire from some of his fellow veterans, who say they can't forgive the stigma attached to his words. Bush campaign officials -- who have had to handle persistent questions about the president's National Guard service during the war -- have largely steered clear of the topic [until now], preferring to focus on Kerry's Senate votes on national security issues.

The Bush aide also took exception to Kerry's actions during a protest in the early 1970s in which veterans opposed to the war threw away their medals. Kerry, who was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts in Vietnam, says he threw away only his ribbons, not the actual medals.

Source: CNN.com
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Clinton ordered killing of bin Laden in 1998 : April 26, 2004

Testifies in secret to 9/11 panel

Earlier this month, Bill Clinton returned to Washington to try to convince the 9/11 commission that as President he did what he could to stop Osama bin Laden. Clinton's four hours of testimony on April 8 went unrecorded—the commission has offered the same cloak of secrecy to Bush—but sources close to the panel briefed TIME on the session.

Clinton told the panel he not only read every scrap of intelligence on the leader of al-Qaeda but became obsessed with bin Laden and wanted him dead after al-Qaeda terrorists bombed U.S. embassies in East Africa in August 1998, murdering 224 people. If Clinton was so focused on bin Laden, why did he fail so spectacularly in his efforts to catch him? The ex-President told the commission he lacked "actionable intelligence." Others suggest the real problem was that Clinton's takedown orders were slathered in legalisms. As the commission's staff members noted in a report, "CIA senior managers, operators and lawyers uniformly said that they read the relevant authorities signed by President Clinton as instructing them to try to capture bin Laden ... They believed that the only acceptable context for killing bin Laden was a credible capture operation."

CIA officers who would be leading the covert operations wanted ironclad, unrestricted language in presidential memos that killing bin Laden would be legal. Instead of a Bond-style license to kill, Clinton's memos would say things like, "apprehend with lethal force as authorized."

Clinton told the 9/11 panel he thought his order to kill bin Laden was unmistakably clear. After all, the Justice Department had ruled that the U.S. government's ban on assassinations didn't apply to bin Laden because he was a military target. Even the commission's chairman [former NJ GOP Governor Thomas Kean] was convinced that Clinton wanted to kill bin Laden and that the CIA balked over the slightest ambiguities in his orders [because of concerns over the legality of assassination].

The 9/11 panel quizzed Clinton in detail about a meeting he had with President- elect Bush during the truncated transition period after the 2000 election. Clinton said he told Bush in that meeting that bin Laden would be his No. 1 national-security problem. Richard Clarke, who recounts this episode in his book Against All Enemies, writes that the incoming Administration found this assessment "rather odd." Commissioners are planning to seek Bush's side of the story.

Source: John Cloud, Time Magazine
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John Kerry discloses lobbyist meetings and military records : April 22, 2004

Met with 200 lobbyists over 15 years

Kerry yesterday disclosed nearly 200 meetings he has held with lobbyists since 1989, including dozens having business before his Senate committees. No member of Congress-turned-presidential candidate has ever listed in such detail contacts with lobbyists, who are paid to influence policy decisions. The lobbyists who met with Kerry gave at least a combined $230,000 to his various campaigns over the last decade.

Kerry is moving quickly to address criticism from President Bush and others that he is refusing to provide voters a fuller view of everything from his personal finances to his combat and medical records. "We released this information today," a Kerry spokesman said. "Now it's the Bush campaign's turn to release the list of oil company lobbyists in Cheney's secret energy task force that rewrote our energy policy." Kerry has been posting his military records on his Web site and promised additional medical information soon. The campaign also is rethinking its decision to keep secret the tax records of the candidate's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

The lobbyists included Kip O'Neill, who said he brought issues to Kerry that ranged from banking to teaching hospitals to telecommunications (O'Neill represented AT&T during the 1996 Telecommunications Act fight). Kerry was a hard lawmaker to persuade, lobbyists said, and therefore he was not as beseeched as much as other lawmakers. "If your interests coincided he'd be a great advocate," Kip O'Neill said. "But he wouldn't carry anybody's water because he knew them or had a meeting with them." For example, O'Neill recalled, Kerry sided with the Baby Bell companies rather than AT&T in the debate over telecommunications legislation.

Source: Jim VandeHei and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Washington Post, Page A01
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Bob Woodward's book about Iraq war : April 19, 2004

Watergate reporter tells "secret history" of Iraq war in Plan of Attack

A quick look at what's said about key administration figures in Bob Woodward's book:

President Bush: He was "prepared to risk my presidency to do what I think is right," Bush said, and by January 2003 didn't need to ask his top aides their opinions on whether to go to war. "I could tell what they thought," Bush said. [Woodward's book says] that in July 2002, Bush allowed Army Gen. Tommy Franks to use $700 million that had been authorized for military use in Afghanistan for Iraq-related expenses instead. "Congress was totally in the dark on this," Woodward told CBS.

Response:Military funding approved by Congress after 9/11 put no restrictions on how it could be spent, and Congress was aware of changes, an administration official said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell: The former Army general warned Bush that if he went to war with Iraq, "you're going to be owning this place." He believed in the "Pottery Barn" rule: "You break it, you own it." Bush did not consult with him before deciding to go to war. Powell, Woodward said on CBS, "told colleagues that 'Cheney has a fever. It is an absolute fever.'" Woodward reports that Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell barely speak to each other.

Response:Cheney and Powell are "more than on speaking terms," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said. Rice denied that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, was told about the decision to go to war before Powell was.

Vice President Cheney: Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, he was focused on Iraq. During the transition between administrations, he asked outgoing Defense Secretary William Cohen to arrange a briefing with Bush that would be a serious "discussion about Iraq."

CIA Director George Tenet: "It's a slam-dunk case," he told Bush before the war about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Later, Tenet told associates he should not have been so emphatic.

Response: A Bush adviser said the book debunks the idea that Cheney and Pentagon officials concocted and exaggerated intelligence to conclude that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons, but instead, those conclusions came from the CIA.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice: "You have to follow through on your threat," she told Bush in January 2003 about his warnings to Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction. She was the first person Bush told of his decision to go to war.

Source: Judy Keen, USA Today
Click for book excerpts from Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward

Nader on Government Reform : April 13, 2004

Impeach both Bush and Cheney

Building on his call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Nader today is calling on Members of the House of Representatives to begin an impeachment inquiry to investigate two distinct impeachable offenses. An Impeachment Inquiry is the first step toward considering Articles of Impeachment. During an Impeachment Inquiry the House would investigate whether there are potential impeachable offenses. The Impeachment Inquiry should focus on two areas involving President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
  1. The unconstitutional war in Iraq. "The Inquiry should examine whether President Bush and Vice President Cheney have gone beyond the bounds of the Constitution, defied the rule of law, and if so, whether impeachment is the appropriate constitutional punishment," said Nader. The United States Congress never voted for the Iraq war. Congress voted for a resolution in October 2002 which unlawfully transferred to the President the decision-making power of whether to launch a first-strike invasion of Iraq. The United States Constitution's War Powers Clause (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11) vests the power of deciding whether to send the nation into war solely in the United States Congress. This can only be changed by a constitutional amendment.
  2. Five Falsehoods that Led to the Iraq Quagmire: Making matters worse in this situation, the illegal first-strike invasion and occupation of Iraq was justified by five falsehoods. Nader calls for a second area for Impeachment Inquiry to examine: the "five falsehoods that led to war." In 1994 George W. Bush said: "All public policy should revolve around the principle that individuals are responsible for what they say and do." In 2000, he ran as the "responsibility " candidate. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, would be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause.
Source: Press Release, "Iraq an Unconstitutional, Illegal War"
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John McCain on the Vice Presidency : April 13, 2004

"No" to Kerry V.P. slot; supports Bush

Trying to stamp out speculation that he might consider joining Democratic Sen. John Kerry's ticket, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona insisted Sunday that he would not do so under any circumstances. He said he would campaign and vote for President Bush in the fall, despite their policy differences. "No, no and no. I will not leave the Republican Party. I cherish the ideals and principles of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan," he said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "I will not be vice president of the United States under any circumstances. I feel that I can be far more effective in helping shape policy in the future of this country as a United States senator."

He raised eyebrows last month in an interview with ABC when he said that if Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, asked him to be his running mate, "Obviously, I would entertain it." McCain went on to say that he thought such a scenario was impossible because the Democratic Party would never accept his conservative views on abortion, trade and national security. He tried to quash the speculation raised by his comments by putting out a statement the same day saying he would not run. Nevertheless, the chatter has persisted, fueled by media reports quoting Kerry advisers saying they think a Kerry-McCain ticket would be an unbeatable combination against Bush.

But McCain said Sunday that he believes Bush "deserves re-election." "Have we agreed on every issue? Of course not. We didn't agree on every issue when we ran against each other in a primary," he said. "I am not embarrassed to say that John Kerry is a friend of mine, but I want George Bush to be re-elected president of the United States." McCain, 67, is running for re-election to his Senate seat.

Source: CNN.com
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John Kerry on Budget & Economy : April 12, 2004

"Misery Index" worsened by 13 points under Bush

Seeking to further his argument that the middle class is suffering under the Bush administration, Kerry plans to release an economic study today arguing that a so-called misery index has worsened dramatically for middle-income families. The study analyzed data on median household incomes, college tuition, healthcare, gasoline and other factors, and concluded that, under President Bush, the middle-class misery index has worsened by 13 points. A decline in family income, increase in college tuition and a hike in health insurance premiums contributed the most to the crunch. The Bush campaign has argued that its tax cuts have actually alleviated the burden on working families.

A misery index became well-known during the Carter administration as an economic measurement used to express the combined effect of unemployment and inflation. Since then, it has taken on a broader meaning as a measurement of economic suffering. By invoking the phrase, Kerry is attempting to underscore one of his ongoing messages: that Bush's policies have made life harder for average Americans.

Source: Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times
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CIA warned of al Qaeda attacks within the US before 9/11 : April 11, 2004

PDB of 8/6/01: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S."

Just five weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks, the CIA told President George W. Bush that a group of Osama bin Laden supporters was said to be in the United States planning assaults with explosives. The plotters were among a number of al-Qaida members who have "resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years" and maintain a support structure "that could aid attacks," Bush was told in a briefing paper given to him on Aug. 6, 2001, at his ranch in Texas. The paper also warned that the FBI had noted domestic activity "consistent with preparations" for airplane hijackings or other attacks - "including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

The document, known as the president's daily brief [or "PDB"], was declassified and released by the White House yesterday after it became the focus of controversy during White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony to the commission last week investigating the 9/11 attacks. The memo included redactions made to protect the names of foreign governments that provided information to the CIA. As it released the document, the White House contended that it supported Rice's testimony that the briefing was primarily "historical" in nature and did not warn specifically of the 9/11 attacks.

But the newly released briefing is certain to provide fresh ammunition to administration critics who want to challenge the veracity of Rice's testimony and question whether Bush did everything possible to prevent the attacks. They are likely to focus on the warning of planned domestic attacks by bin Laden supporters, which according to the Aug. 6 document was given to the U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates in May 2001, just three months before the briefing was delivered to Bush. That could call into question Rice's repeated insistence in statements over the past two years that the Aug. 6 briefing and other pre-9/11 intelligence contained no warning of domestic attacks. In her testimony to the commission, Rice qualified that statement somewhat, saying that "the vast majority" of the intelligence warned of overseas attacks.

The document - entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S." - said the al-Qaida leader had wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States since 1997, according to reports from foreign governments, clandestine sources and the media. It quoted a "clandestine source" as saying that in 1998 a bin Laden cell in New York was actively recruiting Muslim-American youth for such attacks.

Source: Ken Fireman, Newsday.com
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The Veepstakes begins : April 5, 2004

Kerry considering Vice Presidential choice

Kerry's [running-mate] selection process is unlikely to yield a decision for weeks. There are no firm assurances he will announce his selection before the nominating convention in late July, even though that's the goal. Congressional and other Democrats have urged Kerry to move quickly, and that he should pick a vice presidential candidate by May 1. But those most familiar with the campaign's thinking see mid-May as the earliest potential date for an announcement, and few would be surprised if the decision doesn't come until June. Still being debated is whether Kerry most needs regional, ideologic, or ethnic balance for the ticket. Kerry refuses to discuss the issue and has made it clear he frowns on advisers who speak about it publicly. Potential running mates most often mentioned by Democrats interviewed by The Associated Press are:
  • North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Kerry's final major rival in the primary race is mentioned by virtually all after a relentlessly upbeat campaign that impressed many. Working against him is the difficulty of making an argument for change with two senators on the ticket. Edwards told reporters last week, "I don't think we ought to prejudge" a decision by Kerry.
  • Bob Kerrey. The former Nebraska governor and senator is, like Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. Though he has impressed many with his work on the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, Kerrey has said he's not interested in joining the ticket. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark would also burnish the ticket's military credentials.
  • Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Adding gender balance to the list, she also is a moderate elected in a Republican state and could offer Kerry a bridge to groups like the Democratic Leadership Council.
  • William Cohen. The Maine Republican served in the Senate, then as defense secretary under Clinton. His selection could be seen as a bold stroke and a nod toward bipartisanship.
  • Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. A fresh face after winning election in 2001, Warner could help in important Southern states. Like all governors, he has struggled with budget problems, and his plan to close the deficit relies partially on tax increases.
  • New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. He would bring a Hispanic flavor and a nod to the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority. A former U.N. ambassador, Richardson also would provide foreign policy experience.
  • Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. He is in the middle of his second term in a state that narrowly went Democratic in 2000. He has pledged not to seek a third term and has left little doubt about his interest in higher office.
  • Rep. Dick Gephardt. The longtime Missouri congressman saw his bid for the nomination fade early, but he maintains strong ties to organized labor. There is pressure on his behalf.
Source: Mike Glover, Associated Press
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Powell: Evidence presented to UN was wrong : April 4, 2004

WMD trailers, only solid evidence, never existed

Secretary of State Colin Powell has conceded that evidence he presented to the United Nations that two trailers in Iraq were used for weapons of mass destruction may have been wrong. Powell said he had been given solid information about the trailers that he told the Security Council in February 2003 were designed for making biological weapons. But now, Powell said, "it appears not to be the case that it was that solid.'' He said he hoped the intelligence commission appointed by President Bush to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq "will look into these matters to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence that they placed in the intelligence at that time.''

Powell's dramatic case to the Security Council that Iraq had secret arsenals of weapons of mass destruction failed to persuade the council to directly back the U.S.-led war that deposed the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But it helped mobilize sentiment among the American people for going to war. As it turned out, U.N. inspectors were unable to uncover the weapons, but administration officials have insisted they still might be uncovered. David Kay, who led the hunt for the weapons, showed off a pair of trailers for news cameras last summer and argued that the two metal flatbeds were designed for making biological weapons. But faced with mounting challenges to that theory, Kay conceded in October he could have been wrong. He said he did not know whether Iraq ever had a mobile weapons program. Powell told reporters, "I'm not the intelligence community, but I probed and I made sure, as I said in my presentation, these are multi-sourced'' allegations, Powell said. The trailers were the most dramatic claims, "and I made sure that it was multi-sourced,'' he said. "Now, if the sources fell apart we need to find out how we've gotten ourselves in that position,'' he said.

The trailers were the only discovery the administration had cited as evidence of an illicit Iraqi weapons program. In six months of searches, no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons were found to bolster the administration's central case for going to war: to disarm Saddam of suspected weapons of mass destruction.

Source: Barry Schweid, Associated Press on AOL News
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British Ambassador: Bush committed to Iraq war just after 9/11 : April 4, 2004

Pact for British help in Afghanistan and then Iraq

President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001. According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.

It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war. Faced with this prospect of a further war, he adds, Blair 'said nothing to demur'.

Details of this extraordinary conversation will be published this week in a 25,000-word article on the path to war with Iraq in the May issue of the American magazine Vanity Fair. It provides new corroboration of the claims made last month in a book by Bush's former counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, that Bush was 'obsessed' with Iraq as his principal target after 9/11.

But the implications for Blair may be still more explosive. The discussion implies that, even before the bombing of Afghanistan, Blair already knew that the US intended to attack Saddam next, although he continued to insist in public that 'no decisions had been taken' until almost the moment that the invasion began in March 2003. His critics are likely to seize on the report of the two leaders' exchange and demand to know when Blair resolved to provide the backing that Bush sought.

Source: David Rose, "The Observer," in the Guardian (UK)
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FBI translator: US knew about airplane attacks : April 2, 2004

Says Condoleezza Rice telling an "outrageous lie"

A former translator for the FBI with top-secret security clearance, Sibel Edmonds, says she has provided information to the panel investigating the 11 September attacks which proves senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida's plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes happened. She said information that was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".

She told The Independent yesterday: "I gave [the commission] details of specific investigation files, the specific dates, specific target information, specific managers in charge of the investigation. I gave them everything so that they could go back and follow up. This is not hearsay. These are things that are documented. These things can be established very easily." She added: "There was general information about the time-frame, about methods to be used ­ but not specifically about how they would be used ­ and about people being in place and who was ordering these sorts of terror attacks. There were other cities that were mentioned. Major cities ­ with skyscrapers."

The accusations from Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who speaks Azerbaijani, Farsi, Turkish and English, will reignite the controversy over whether the administration ignored warnings about al-Qa'ida. That controversy was sparked most recently by Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism official, who has accused the administration of ignoring his warnings. The issue ­ what the administration knew and when ­ is central to the investigation by the 9/11 Commission, which has been hearing testimony in public and private from government officials, intelligence officials and secret sources. Ms. Edmonds said said it was clear there was sufficient information during the spring and summer of 2001 to indicate terrorists were planning an attack. "President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate but only because he said 11 September," she said. There was, however, general information about the use of airplanes and that an attack was just months away.

To try to refute Mr Clarke's accusations, Ms Rice said the administration did take steps to counter al-Qa'ida. But in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on 22 March, Ms Rice wrote: "Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack planes to try and free US-held terrorists." Mrs Edmonds said that by using the word "we", Ms Rice told an "outrageous lie". She said: "Rice says 'we' not 'I'. That would include all people from the FBI, the CIA and DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency]. I am saying that is impossible." It is impossible at this stage to verify Mrs Edmonds' claims. However, some senior US senators testified to her credibility in 2002 when she went public with separate allegations relating to alleged incompetence and corruption within the FBI's translation department.

Source: Andrew Buncombe, The Independent (UK)
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Bush focus prior to 9/11 was missile defense : April 1, 2004

Condoleezza Rice had scheduled a speech on 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the address was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups.

The speech mentioned terrorism, but did so in the context used in other Bush administration speeches in early 2001: as one of the dangers from rogue nations, such as Iraq, that might use weapons of terror, rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States. The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles. "We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway," according to excerpts of the speech provided to The Washington Post. "[But] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open?"

The text of Rice's Sept. 11 speech, which was never delivered, broadly reflects Bush administration foreign policy pronouncements during the eight months leading to the attacks, according to a review of speeches, news conferences and media appearances. Although the administration did address terrorism, it devoted far more attention to pushing missile defense, a controversial idea both at home and abroad, the review shows. Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism rated lower on the list of priorities, as outlined by officials in their own public statements on policy.

Last week, President Bush's former counterterrorism chief, Richard A. Clarke, accused the administration of failing to take seriously enough the danger from al Qaeda -- a charge the White House strenuously disputes. The White House confirmed the accuracy of excerpts given to The Post.

Source: Robin Wright, Washington Post, Page A01
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Bush: "Economy is strong and getting stronger" : March 26, 2004

Kerry: "Bush should run from his economic record"

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry offered competing visions of the U.S. economy on Friday, with Bush asserting that the country is on the right track and Kerry calling for a "new direction."

Bush noted that a record 68 percent of Americans own their own homes. He also cited relatively low inflation and a rise in manufacturing. "Our economy is growing," said Bush. "It's strong and getting stronger." Bush tied what he described as a growing economy to his series of tax cuts -- including a boost in the child tax credit and breaks for small businesses -- and he called on Congress to make them permanent.

Kerry highlighted less encouraging numbers about the economy. He pointed to a loss of jobs under the current administration and said the Bush tax policies had benefited the wealthy. "The truth is this president doesn't have a record to run on, but a record to run from, and that's what he's doing," Kerry said. Kerry pledged to create 10 million new jobs in four years.

The Bush administration has presided over the loss of more than 2 million jobs. Many Democrats, including Kerry, have said on the campaign trail that some international accords have not been enforced properly and have led to a loss of U.S. jobs. Bush decried what he called "economic isolationism," saying it would "lead to economic stagnation."

Kerry's campaign said his proposal includes tax reform and credits to encourage job creation in the United States, an education and job training program, as well as a plan to "restore fiscal discipline and confidence in the American economy." Kerry said, "Economic plans aren't just about dollars and decimals. They're about choices. Time after time, this administration has put ideology first and jobs last. Kerry also called for sweeping changes in international tax law to give incentives to companies that create jobs in the United States. Outsourcing -- the relocation of jobs offshore -- has become a key issue in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election later this year, with Kerry promising to "crack down on the export of American jobs."

Source: CNN.com
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Jesse Ventura on gay marriage : March 23, 2004

"Love is bigger than government"

Jesse Ventura called it a "cop out" for Massachusetts lawmakers to send a constitutional ban to voters. "We have a representative-style government. Represent your people and vote and stand by what you believe in," said Ventura. "Civil rights issues should not

Ventura asked, "How is my marriage under attack if two gays or lesbians down the street want to make a lifelong commitment to themselves?" Ventura, a one-term governor elected on the Reform Party ticket, added: "Love is bigger than government. Think about that."

Source: Infoshop Alternative News, Infoshop.org
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Terror czar: Bush ignored al Qaeda prior to 9/11 : March 23, 2004

Richard Clarke takes heat for new book

Former White House counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke accused the Bush administration of going on the offensive against him to "divert attention from the truth" that the administration did "virtually nothing about al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001." Clarke, author of the newly released book, "Against All Enemies," also said the administration focused on alleged Iraqi ties to the terrorist attacks while there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was involved. Clarke, a 30-year White House veteran who served under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton before the current president, But the facts, Clarke said, are that "the administration had done nothing about al Qaeda prior to 9/11 despite the fact that the CIA director [George Tenet] was telling them virtually every day that there was a major threat."

[In response], Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice made various news media appearances defending the administration, while other administration officials did the same in news conferences.

Rice -- whom Clarke says ignored his memo requesting an "urgent" meeting on the al Qaeda threat in January 2001 -- accused Clarke of "retrospective rewriting of history." Rice said, "To somehow suggest that the attack on 9/11 could have been prevented by a series of meetings -- I have to tell you that during that period of time, we were at battle stations."

Cheney told conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh that Clarke "wasn't in the loop" on major decisions. Cheney said, "The only thing I can say about Dick Clarke is he was here throughout those eight years going back to 1993 and the first attack on the World Trade Center, in [1998] when the [U.S.] embassies were hit in east Africa, in 2000, when the USS Cole was hit. The question that has to be asked is, 'What were they doing in those days when he was in charge of counter-terrorism efforts?'"

Clarke answered Cheney's question today. During the Clinton administration, he said, al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of "fewer than 50 Americans," and Clinton responded with military action, covert CIA action and by supporting United Nations sanctions. "They stopped al Qaeda in Bosnia," Clarke said, "They stopped al Qaeda from blowing up embassies around the world. Contrast that with Ronald Reagan, where 300 [U.S. soldiers] were killed in [a bombing attack in Beirut,] Lebanon, and there was no retaliation. I would argue that for what had actually happened prior to 9/11, the Clinton administration was doing a great deal," Clarke said. "In fact, so much that when the Bush people came into office, they thought I was a little crazy, a little obsessed with this little terrorist bin Laden. Why wasn't I focused on Iraqi-sponsored terrorism?"

Source: CNN.com
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George W. Bush on cost of Medicare bill : March 20, 2004

Cost falsely lowered by $100B to gain votes

Enactment of a sweeping Medicare law last year was supposed to be the crowning achievement of President Bush's "compassionate conservatism" as he prepared for re-election. By providing a federally subsidized prescription-drug benefit for senior citizens, albeit a limited one, administration officials thought they usurped a major issue from the Democrats and cut into Democratic support among seniors age 65 and over. The White House originally said the law would cost $395 billion over 10 years. The law's afterglow faded fast once lawmakers learned that it could cost at least $100 billion more than that. That White House revelation in late January riled budget hawks, who had said they wouldn't vote for the measure if it cost more than $400 billion. The measure probably would have failed if the higher estimate had been known. Lawmakers got steamed after the nation's top Medicare actuary, Richard Foster, told Knight Ridder that he had projected the higher cost long before Congress voted in November. Lawmakers were never told about his higher estimates because he says he was ordered by his boss, former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully, to withhold them from Congress or be fired.
Source: Knight-Ridder News services
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Gephardt: No constitutional ban on gay marriage : March 14, 2004

Suports lesbian daughter's relationship

Congressman Richard Gephardt and his wife Jane promoted family unity and showed support for their daughter, Chrissy and her partner, Amy, at an awards ceremony hosted by the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

"We are members of PFLAG and we are proud members of PFLAG and we're very proud of our daughter Chrissy Gephardt and her partner, Amy, who's here tonight and we love both of them a lot," Gephardt said. "We were supportive as any parent should be. We love Chrissy unconditionally and we supported her in every way that we knew how and could."

The one-time Democratic presidential candidate also attacked the Bush administration's support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

"I must tell you I am ashamed when top leaders in this country and citizens of this country and even the president of the United States suggest to the people of this country that there should be an amendment to the constitution to take away rights from people rather than giving rights to people," Gephardt said.

The congressman is part of a public service announcement campaign featuring nationally recognized figures posing with gay and lesbian family members in hopes of encouraging other families of gays and lesbians to stay close.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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CIA says Cheney was wrong : March 10, 2004

CIA director: "I believed that somebody was misconstruing intelligence"

CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday rejected recent assertions by Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq had cooperated with the al-Qaida terrorist network. Tenet also rejected Cheney's statements that the administration had proof of an illicit Iraqi biological warfare program.

Tenet's comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee were expected to fuel friction between the White House and intelligence agencies over the failure to find any of the banned weapons stockpiles that President Bush, in justifying his case for war, charged Saddam Hussein with concealing. Tenet at first appeared to defend the administration, saying that he did not think the White House misrepresented intelligence provided by the CIA. The administration's statements, he said, reflected a prewar intelligence consensus that Hussein had stockpiled chemical and biological weapons and was pursuing nuclear bombs.

But under sharp questioning by Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, Tenet reversed himself, saying there had been instances when he had warned administration officials that they were misstating the threat posed by Iraq. “I'm not going to sit here and tell you what my interaction was … and what I did and didn't do, except that you have to have confidence to know that when I believed that somebody was misconstruing intelligence, I said something about it,” Tenet said. “I don't stand up publicly and do it.”

Tenet acknowledged to Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's senior Democrat, that he had told Cheney that the vice president was wrong in saying that two truck trailers recovered in Iraq were “conclusive evidence” that Hussein had a biological weapons program. Cheney made the assertion in a Jan. 22 interview with National Public Radio. Tenet said that U.S. intelligence agencies disagree on the purpose of the trailers. Some analysts think they were mobile biological weapons facilities. Others think they may have been for making hydrogen gas for weather balloons.

Levin also questioned Tenet about a Jan. 9 interview with the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, in which Cheney cited a November article in The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, as “the best source of information” on cooperation between Hussein and al-Qaida. The article was based on a leaked top-secret memorandum. It purportedly set out evidence, compiled by a special Pentagon intelligence cell, that Hussein was in league with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It was written by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, the third-highest Pentagon official and a key proponent of the war. “Did the CIA agree with the contents of the Feith document?” Levin asked.

“Senator, we did not clear the document,” Tenet replied. “We did not agree with the way the data was characterized in that document.” Tenet, who pointed out that the Pentagon, too, had disavowed the document, said he learned of the article Monday night, and he planned to speak with Cheney about the CIA's view of the Feith document.

Source: Knight Ridder in Kansas City Star
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Cheney would let people decide to marry who they like : Feb. 26, 2004

But will support Bush's ban on gay marriage

Vice President Dick Cheney's stance on gay marriage has also been called into question.

He recently has said he would support Bush's decision on the matter.

But at a vice presidential debate in 2000, Cheney was asked, "Should a male who loves a male and a female who loves a female have all the constitutional rights enjoyed by every American citizen?"

Cheney responded, "People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business, in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard."

He added, "I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area. I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can and tolerant of those relationships. ... (I) wrestle with the extent of which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into."

Cheney's office says that like Bush, the vice president is concerned that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman -- is under attack because of actions by officials in certain states.

Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian and well-known figure in the Colorado gay community, was quoted in two Colorado newspapers as saying that he would support Bush's decision on an amendment no matter what it was.

Source: CNN.com
Click for more headlines by Dick Cheney

Kerry calls for state constitutional ban of gay marriage : Feb. 26, 2004

Must allow civil unions

President Bush yesterday called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying that's the only way to protect "the most fundamental institution of civilization" from activist judges. Bush said action is needed fast because "an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage" is under way - the San Francisco mayor who's already performing thousands of gay marriages plus a Boston court's 4-3 vote to legalize same-sex marriage this spring.

In his most explicit remarks on the subject yet, Kerry told the Globe that he would support a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit gay marrriage so long as, while outlawing gay marriage, it also ensured that same-sex couples have access to all legal rights that married couples receive.

"If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection," the senator said yesterday, stressing that he was referring only to the state, and not the federal, Constitution. He has said he would oppose any amendment that did not include a provision for civil unions. "I think that you need to have civil union. That's my position," he said Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, a deadlocked state Legislature, meeting as a constitutional convention, spent two emotionally charged days grappling with proposals for amendments to ban gay marriage, but failed to find consensus. Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene March 11. Voters would have a chance to make the final decision on an amendment in the November 2006 election.

The SJC ruling takes effect May 17. Barring legal maneuvers by opponents, the ruling gives a 2 1/2-year window in which gay couples can legally marry before voters decide the issue.

Not everyone on Beacon Hill said that Kerry's comments would affect the debate. Some called it a highly personal issue.

Kerry's position is also contrary to that of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, which last month endorsed gay marriage.

Kerry has appeared reluctant to enter into the gay-marriage debate as it unfolded in his home state.

Earlier this year, Kerry was the only member of the state's all-Democrat congressional delegation who chose not to sign a letter urging the state Legislature to reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. When the Legislature convened last month to consider amendment language, Kerry stayed silent, a position that drew criticism from several gay media outlets.

Source: Patrick Healy and Frank Phillips, Boston Globe
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Bush calls for constitutional ban of gay marriage : Feb. 25, 2004

Kerry opposes ban unless it allows civil unions

President Bush yesterday called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying that's the only way to protect "the most fundamental institution of civilization" from activist judges. Bush said action is needed fast because "an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage" is under way - the San Francisco mayor who's already performing thousands of gay marriages plus a Boston court's 4-3 vote to legalize same-sex marriage this spring.

"If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment," Bush said. "The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution . . . honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith." Bush left the door open for gay civil unions, saying state legislatures should be "free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage," but marriage should be defined as "a union of man and woman as husband and wife."

Democrats accused Bush of playing politics. "All Americans should be concerned when a president who is in political trouble tries to tamper with the Constitution," said Democratic front-runner John Kerry (D-Mass.), who opposes gay marriage but also is against a federal constitutional ban.

Kerry's position is complex - although he opposes a federal ban, he says he might back a Massachusetts constitutional ban on gay marriage if it allowed civil unions. Kerry was also one of just 14 senators who voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, which lets states refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states. Kerry argued in 1996 that DOMA was "unconstitutional" because the Constitution requires states to recognize all contracts from other states - meaning that a gay marriage in Massachusetts must be legal all across America.

Source: Deborah Orin, New York Post
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

Bill Clinton's statement on DOMA : Sept. 20, 1996

Ban federal recognition of same-sex marriage--but let states differ

Throughout my life I have strenuously opposed discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans. I am signing into law H.R. 3396, a bill relating to same-gender marriage, but it is important to note what this legislation does and does not do.

I have long opposed governmental recognition of same-gender marriages and this legislation is consistent with that position. The Act confirms the right of each state to determine its own policy with respect to same gender marriage and clarifies for purposes of federal law the operative meaning of the terms "marriage" and "spouse".

This legislation does not reach beyond those two provisions. It has no effect on any current federal, state or local anti-discrimination law and does not constrain the right of Congress or any state or locality to enact anti-discrimination laws. I therefore would take this opportunity to urge Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an act which would extend employment discrimination protections to gays and lesbians in the workplace. This year the Senate considered this legislation contemporaneously with the Act I sign today and failed to pass it by a single vote. I hope that in its next Session Congress will pass it expeditiously.

I also want to make clear to all that the enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against any person on the basis of sexual orientation. Discrimination, violence and intimidation for that reason, as well as others, violate the principle of equal protection under the law and have no place in American society.

Source: Statement upon signing H.R. 3396, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996
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Nader announces for president : Feb. 22, 2004

Running as an Independent, not a Green

After careful thought and my desire to retire our supremely selected president, I've decided to run as an Independent candidate for president. And if you'll allow me to explain why, I'll give some of the reasons with elaboration coming on our Web site, votenader.org.

First of all, this country has more problems and injustices than it deserves, and more solutions and goodwilled people applying those solutions. That's because there's a democracy gap. There's just too much power and wealth in too few hands, increasingly giant corporation, hands that have no allegiance to our country or our communities other than to control them or to abandon them. They have taken over Washington. There's massive media exposes documenting that in all the mainstream media.

Washington is now a corporate-occupied territory. There's a "For Sale" sign on almost every door of agencies and departments where these corporations dominate and they put their appointments in high office. The Congress is what Will Rogers once called "the best money can buy." Money is flowing in like never before that sells our elections. What does that mean to the American people? It means that corporations are saying no to the necessities of the American people. They're saying no to health insurance for everyone, no to tax reform, no to health and safety standards, no to stopping corporate welfare into hundreds of billions, no to straightening out the defense budget, which is bloated and redundant, as many retired generals and admirals said, no to access to our courts. It's time for people to say yes and we need more civic and political energies inside the campaign to challenge this two-party duopoly that's trending toward one-party districts all over the country.

Source: Interview on Meet the Press
Click for more headlines by Ralph Nader

Al Sharpton endorses John Kerry : Mar 15, 2004

But stays in race to collect more delegates

Reverend Al Sharpton announced today that he will campaign for Kerry in the fall while Senator John Kerry has agreed to a series of meetings with Sharpton to review and implement Sharpton’s Urban Agenda. Sharpton, while ceding the nomination to Kerry, stated that he would remain an active candidate for the purposes of gathering delegates to promote issues of concern to minority voters at the Democratic National Convention this summer.

“Now that we have resolved who our nominee will be we can move on to developing in detail what the Democratic Platform will be,” said Sharpton. “I am pleased that Senator Kerry has agreed work with me in an effort to implement a comprehensive Urban Agenda in his bid for the White House.” Sharpton and Kerry agreed to a series of meetings to develop and promote an agenda to rally support among minority voters in America’s urban centers by developing a platform that embraces Affirmative Action, and cracks down on police brutality, improves schools in minority districts, increases minority access to health care, and bolsters programs to create jobs for minorities.

Published reports that Sharpton plans to end his candidacy for President are not true. Rather, Sharpton, is conceding the nomination to Kerry but plans to continue his candidacy to solicit delegates that are dedicated to a progressive and inclusive Democratic platform to ensure that the voices of minorities are heard as the Democratic Party charts its future course for the 2004 election and beyond.

Source: Press release by Rachel Noerdlinger
Click for headlines from Al Sharpton

Kerry sweeps 4 primaries in South : March 9, 2004

Kerry on Bush: "Stubborn leadership, not steady leadership"

Click for delegate counts Kerry padded his lengthy delegate lead Tuesday with an unchallenged campaign in four Southern presidential primaries, including Florida, where voting took place apparently with no major glitches. Kerry cruised to early evening victories in Florida and Mississippi, and was projected to add Louisiana and Texas to his growing list of primary victories when the polls closed there later in the night. At stake Tuesday were 435 delegates to July's Democratic convention, enough to put Kerry within about 100 delegates of the 2,162 needed to mathematically wrap up the nomination.

"George W. Bush is running on the slogan of 'steady leadership,'" Kerry said at a victory rally in Chicago. "But after four years of the same old failed policies, what we've seen is 'stubborn leadership' ... that has led America in the wrong direction - and in November, it's going to lead him out the door."

The results in Florida were closely watched by both parties because of the strategic importance of the Sunshine State's 27 electoral votes in the general election and the controversial 36-day recount there that decided the 2000 race in favor of George W. Bush. Exit polls from Florida on Tuesday showed that Democrats still question whether the fall election will be conducted fairly. Only 26 percent said they are "very" confident that their votes will be counted in November, while 42 percent said they were "somewhat" confident and 19 percent said they had confidence in the state's new balloting technology. Fifteen Florida counties now have touch-screen ballot machines and the 52 other counties have ballots that are marked with pencils and scanned by computers, similar to standardized tests. The new balloting system replaces the antiquated "butterfly" ballots that caused confusion in the 2000 presidential election and led to the recount.

Although Kerry said earlier that he could win the presidency without any Southern states, he has tried to demonstrate in the Southern primaries that he can improve on the Southern showing by 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore, who lost every Southern state to Bush, including Tennessee, his home. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton are still candidates, but continued to have no impact on the Democratic voting.

Source: Scott Shepard, Cox News Service, in Palm Beach Post
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Super Tuesday: Edwards withdraws: March 2-3, 2004

Kerry wins 9 states; Dean wins 1

Click for delegate counts It has been my greatest honor to have walked with you. From the beginning, this has never been my campaign. This has been your campaign. And I am blessed to have been a part of it. And I'm also blessed to be back here at Broughton High School with so many friends and family, members of my community.

Today I've decided to suspend my campaign for the presidency of the United States.

But I want to say a word about a man who is a friend of mine, somebody who I believe has great strength and great courage, my friend Senator John Kerry. He has fought for and will continue to fight for the things that all of us believe in: more jobs, better health care, cleaner air, cleaner water, a safer world. The truth is these are the causes of our party, the Democratic Party. They are the causes of America. And they are the reasons we will prevail, come November, and take back this country.

You know, it wasn't very long ago that all the pundits and pollsters said, by the time we get to "Super Tuesday," there won't be a John even competing much less fighting for the nomination. And we proved those pundits and pollsters wrong and we are going to prove them all wrong come November when we take back this country.

And I want to say a personal word about my friend John Kerry, who I know very well. This is a man who from the time he served this country courageously in Vietnam, and all the way through this campaign, is a man who is a fighter. I know him. I saw what we went through in November, December, and back in the summer when everyone said he didn't have a chance. But he showed the strength, resilience, and courage that he has shown his entire life when he fought for us and for our country in Vietnam. He has fought just as hard throughout this campaign.

The truth of the matter is that John Kerry has what it takes, right here in his heart, to be president of the United States. And I for one, intend to do everything in my power to make him the next president of the United States, and I ask you to join me in this cause. For our country, for our America!

Somewhere in America a little boy or little girl plays on a sandy lot. It might be in a mill village like where I played. It might be in a barrio, or on a farm, or it might be a vacant lot on a city. We want that child to have big dreams about what he or she can do, where he or she can go.

In this great country, all things should be possible for that child-- as they have been for me.

As I leave this stage today, I leave it to you to make certain that in our American, our children can prosper and dream. This cause, this challenge to change America, belongs to you. You should not step back. You should step up.

Those of you who cast your votes for me cast your votes for a new kind of politics. You wanted a positive campaign and you got one for a change.

I couldn't ask for better company today. With the love of my life by my side. To have your life blessed with four beautiful children, and family and friends, you couldn't ask for anything more.

Source: Statement from the Edwards campaign
Click for more headlines by John Edwards

Wisconsin results: Kerry 40%; Edwards 34%; Dean 18% : Feb. 19, 2004

Dean withdraws from race

Click for delegate counts Howard Dean, bowing to the political realities of a 17-contest losing streak, ended his Democratic presidential campaign today but promised to keep his "campaign for change" alive while supporting his party's eventual nominee.

For now, the former Vermont governor did not endorse either of his top rivals, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts or Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. He called both men before his announcement to tell them his decision.

"I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency," Dean told a crowd of cheering, flag-waving supporters. "We will, however, continue to build a new organization using our enormous grass-roots network to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country."

Dean sounded a theme of party unity, saying, "The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November, whatever it takes."

He ruled out running as a third-party or independent candidate, but he also said he and his supporters would continue to be a force for change: "We are not going away. We're staying together unified all of us." He vowed to "continue to campaign for change," working to keep his issues alive.

"There is enormous institutional pressure in Washington against change, in the Democratic Party against change," Dean said. "Yet, you have already started to change the party and together we have transformed this race. The fight that we began can and must continue."

Dean's free-fall from the spot of top contender for the Democratic nomination began in January with poor showings in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary and culminated in Tuesday's loss in Wisconsin's primary. In all, Dean was winless in 17 contests.

He exits the active race certain in the knowledge that he will live on in the annals of U.S. politics for shattering Democratic fund-raising records with $41 million collected in a single year — as well as on late-night television and Internet parodies for a high-octane concession speech on the night of the Iowa caucuses that he's likely never to live down.

Once a long-shot candidate, the Internet phenomenon filled his campaign coffers and attracted thousands of supporters through the spring and summer, pushing him to the head of the crowded Democratic field.

Historians will judge, but Dean and his devoted supporters are convinced that they more than anyone else defined the Democratic debate through his unwavering criticism of President Bush, the Iraq war and Democrats who helped Bush push his agenda through Congress.

Source: Associated Press in Seattle Times
Click for more headlines by Howard Dean

Third-party hopefuls sue for inclusion : Feb. 12, 2004

Nader & Buchanan sue Commission on Presidential Debates

Several former third-party presidential candidates filed a lawsuit yesterday to block the Commission on Presidential Debates from sponsoring future debates, asserting the organization is biased toward the Democratic and Republican parties.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, says the debate commission is a partisan organization that violates federal election law by letting only Democratic and Republican candidates participate in the debates it organizes.

Those filing the lawsuit include consumer advocate Ralph Nader, the Green Party's presidential nominee in 2000 and a possible independent candidate this year; John Hagelin and Patrick Buchanan, former Reform Party candidates; and Howard Phillips, a former Constitution Party candidate.

The lawsuit asks the court to force the Federal Election Commission to stop the debate commission from sponsoring four debates scheduled to start Sept. 30. The third-party candidates first sought relief from the FEC last June, but complain that the agency has failed to take action.

Founded in 1987, the debate commission is a nonprofit corporation that allows candidates with at least 15 percent support in national polls to participate in its debates. Third-party candidates have long complained that they are unfairly excluded, but the commission says it wants to limit participation to those candidates with a realistic chance of winning the election.

The lawsuit also alleges that the commission excluded the plaintiffs from sitting in the audience at 2000 debates and that it distributed a `face book' of third-party candidates at one debate so staff could recognize and deny them access to the debate hall even if they had a ticket.

Source: Sam Hananel, Associated Press, in Boston Globe
Click for more headlines by Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan

Clark withdraws from presidential race : Feb. 11, 2004

"Campaign for America's future continues on"

Today, we end the campaign for the presidency. But the campaign for America's future -- for the future of all our families -- continues on.

You have proven what a General can do when he has the greatest troops in the world. I can't tell you enough how honored and humbled I am by your commitment, your spirit, and your sacrifice. Because of all of you, this has been a cause, as much as it's been a campaign.

Together, five months ago, we began our journey for the presidency. We had no money, no office, and no staff. All we had was hope and a vision for a better America.

Today, after traveling the country, after visiting with the American people, we end that journey even more full of hope and even more committed to building a better America.

I will support our Party's nominee, to continue this campaign until we take back the White House next November. This soldier stands ready for duty. It's not going to be easy. So I've got one bit of advice for our nominee: give 'em hell and never retreat.

As a general who spent thirty-four years fighting for my country, here is my pledge: I will do everything I can -- everything -- to make sure George W. Bush doesn't play politics with national security.

For me, this race has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I've been able to talk about what I believe in and fight for it. You've given me the greatest gift a person can receive: the support to make that fight real.

I'd like to thank all the foot soldiers in this battle: our terrific staff, our dedicated volunteers, our thousands of loyal supporters. Most of all, those who believed in me long before anyone even knew who I was: the people who drafted me into this race. I want to thank my family...

I'm going to fight on, and I hope you will join me, until we win the campaign to create a new vision for America in the twenty-first century. Because I believe America's best days lie ahead. Today, I end my campaign for the presidency -- but our Party's campaign to change America is just beginning. This old soldier will not fade away. I'll be in the field and out in front, working the issues, supporting our candidates, and doing all I can to contribute to building a new and better America.

Source: Campaign e-mail to Clark supporters
Click for more headlines by Wesley Clark

Kerry wins Virginia and Tennessee : Feb. 10, 2004

Edwards places second in both primaries

Click for delegate counts Armed with the strength of his military record, Northerner John Kerry swept victoriously across Tennessee and Virginia yesterday, helping force a four-star general from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging voters to oust President Bush.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a self-described outsider who continually attacked Bush over the Iraq war, will withdraw from the race today after winning only one of the 14 states that have had presidential primaries or caucuses to date.

''We're pulling out,'' Heather Hope, a Clark spokeswoman, told The Tennessean in Memphis last night. Clark has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. today in his home base of Little Rock, Ark.

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards finished second in both states yesterday, and declared, ''We're going to have an election, not a coronation.''

Kerry's momentum from earlier wins in 10 states was unstoppable as Democrats looked for someone to beat Bush.

In a victory speech from George Mason University in Virginia, Kerry said, ''Once again, the message rings out loud and clear: Americans are voting for change — east and west, north and now in the South, and I am grateful for that.

''Together, across the South, you have shown that mainstream values that we share — fairness, love of country, a belief in hope and hard work — are more important than boundaries or birthplace, and I thank you for that. America is coming together, and together we intend to move America forward.''

The two rivals from the South may have hurt each other by splitting the Southern vote.

Source: BONNA de la CRUZ and LARRY BIVINS, The Tennessean
Click for more headlines by John Kerry or John Edwards

Kerry wins Maine caucus : Feb. 9, 2004

Kerry 45%; Dean 26%; Kucinich 16%; Edwards 8%; Clark 4%

Click for delegate counts Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry extended his winning record to 10 states Sunday with a victory in Maine's Democratic caucuses, as record numbers of voters packed town halls, schools and libraries.

Kerry won 45 percent of Democratic votes. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean placed second with 26 percent. Kerry has now won all but two state contests for his party's nomination to challenge President Bush. Party officials said more than 20,000 people participated. Officials stopped counting for the night at 11 p.m. and planned to resume today.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich placed third with 15 percent, his personal highest percentage in the campaign. Although a negligible candidate in the national rankings, Kucinich had campaigned repeatedly in Maine as the only congressional candidate who opposed the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act.

The results completed a weekend sweep for Kerry, who won Saturday in Michigan and Washington state.

Three others in the race - North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and the Rev. Al Sharpton - largely ignored Maine and concentrated on southern primaries Tuesday in Virginia and Tennessee. Here in Maine, Edwards got 9 percent after winning his native South Carolina. Clark got 4 percent after winning Oklahoma. Sharpton got less than 1 percent and 1 percent were uncommitted.

Maine will send 35 delegates to the national convention July 26-29 in Boston, where 2,162 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination. The caucuses determine preferences for the state convention May 21-23 in Portland, where the party will designate 24 of those national delegates. The other 11 will serve by virtue of their elective and party posts.

Even more than a particular candidate, the prospect of beating Bush drove many participants to the caucuses on a frigid, windy afternoon.

Across the state, party organizers repeatedly said opposition to Bush was spurring participation in politics. Volunteers were signing up with campaigns to distribute signs and canvass voters. New faces attended the caucuses.

Overwhelming turnout surprised even the participants. In South Portland, voters lined up by the score to register to get into the middle-school gym where about 150 were seated and another 150 participants were already standing.

Source: Bart Jansen, Portland (ME) Press Herald
Click for more headlines by John Kerry or Howard Dean

Bush: Saddam did not have WMD : Feb. 8, 2004

New rationale: But he could have made them

President Bush and Vice President Cheney yesterday said the war in Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein could have made weapons of mass destruction.

The new rationale offered by the president and vice president, significantly more modest than earlier statements about the deposed Iraqi president's capabilities, comes after government experts have said it is unlikely banned weapons will be found in Iraq and after Bush's naming Friday of a commission to examine faulty prewar intelligence.

"Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and I'm not just going to leave him in power and trust a madman," Bush said yesterday in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that will be broadcast today. "He's a dangerous man. He had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum."

Cheney delivered a nearly identical message yesterday to a group of Republican donors in suburban Chicago. "We know that Saddam Hussein had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction," he said. "And Saddam Hussein had something else -- he had a record of using weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against his own people."

Before the invasion of Iraq 11 months ago, Bush and Cheney both argued that Iraq was an urgent threat to the United States, stating with certainty that Iraq had chemical and biological arms and had rebuilt a nuclear weapons program. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," Bush said in March 2003.

Though Bush has been careful about acknowledging fault in the prewar intelligence, or his allegations against Hussein, he said in naming a commission to investigate pre-war intelligence that CIA analyst David Kay "stated that some prewar intelligence assessments by America and other nations about Iraq's weapons stockpiles have not been confirmed. We are determined to figure out why."

Source: Dana Milbank, Washington Post, p. A4
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

Kerry wins Washington and Michigan : Feb. 7, 2004

Dean places second in both

Click for delegate counts John Kerry handily won Michigan's Democratic Caucus Saturday, capturing 51 percent of the vote and the bulk of the state's 128 delegates to the party's nominating convention.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was in second place with 17 percent, followed by North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 13 percent. The Rev. Al Sharpton won just over 7 percent, retired Gen. Wesley Clark held just under 7 percent, and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was at 3 percent. Other votes were cast for candidates who have dropped out of the race.

In the all-important delegate count, preliminary results indicate Kerry grabbed 91 delegates, Dean took 24, Sharpton seven and Edwards six. Sharpton's delegate total reflected his comparatively strong showing in two heavily Democratic Detroit congressional districts, possibly reflecting anger there over the failure of leading candidates to attend an NAACP-sponsored candidates' forum Thursday.

In the other Saturday primary, Kerry also won the state of Washington. Returns from 81 percent of Washington’s precincts showed Kerry with 49 percent and Dean with 30 percent.

With 99 percent of the returns in, Michiganians cast 154,570 votes, including 46,000 Internet and 25,423 mail ballots.

Source: Detroit News
Click for more headlines by John Kerry or Howard Dean

Junior Tuesday results : Feb. 3, 2004

Kerry wins AZ, DE, MO, ND, NM; Edwards wins SC; Clark wins OK

Click for delegate counts Lieberman withdraws; his statement:

Tonight our journey comes to an end. I want to first and foremost thank everyone that has supported me over the past months. Without you we never would have been able to take part in this amazing adventure.

We have waged a campaign of which we can all be proud. We have strived to stay true to ourselves, true to our beliefs, and true to what we believe is best for this great country. I have always believed in working across party lines to get things done, and putting the national interest above special interests or partisan interests.

Our campaign has been about vision, and while the door on our campaign has closed, a window opens tonight for us to continue fighting for what’s right. I pledge to support whoever the Democratic nominee may be to deny George Bush a second term.

Though this campaign is ending tonight, our journey of purpose will go on. I will continue working hard on behalf of the people of Connecticut. I will continue working hard to secure a Democratic victory in November. And I will continue to be a national leader who works to give all Americans the opportunities I have had -- the chance to live the American Dream.

I am honored to have received the support and encouragement that you have shown me in these final months. I thank you for everything you've meant to me, my family, and this great country.

Source: Campaign website joe2004.com
Click for more headlines by Joe Lieberman

Kerry wins NH Primary : Jan. 27, 2004

Kerry 39%, Dean 26%, Clark 12%, Edwards 12%, Lieberman 9%

Click for delegate counts New Hampshire took a second look at Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and, with an apparent record Democratic turnout yesterday, delivered him an overwhelming victory over former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in the 2004 first-in-the-nation Presidential primary.

Kerry, left for politically dead just two weeks ago, proved to be a sleeping giant whose campaign and personal energy was resurrected after a surprise win in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucus. Now the clear front-runner in the race for the nomination, he called his fortunes “the biggest turnaround in American politics in a long time.”

Dean, who in December led New Hampshire polls by 30 percentage points or more, did not recover from his third-place finish in Iowa and his well-publicized post-caucus rant and finished in a distant second place. He will limp out of New Hampshire and continue his search for national convention delegates in some of the seven states slated to hold primaries or caucuses on Feb. 3.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was narrowly leading North Carolina Sen. John Edwards for third place and the label of the premier southern candidate as the campaign moves to South Carolina and six other states on Feb. 3.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman did not receive the strong support of independent voters he had hoped for, and finished in fifth place. Lieberman and Clark did not campaign in Iowa.

With 99 percent of the votes counted, Kerry had 39 percent; Dean, 26 percent; Edwards and Clark, 12 percent each; Lieberman, 9 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, 1 percent.

“I love New Hampshire, and I love Iowa, too,” Kerry told an enthusiastic crowd at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester last night. A Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, Kerry, 60, thanked his fellow veterans. “In the hardest moments of the past month, I depended on the same band of brothers I depended on 30 years ago,” he said. “We’re a little older and a little grayer, but I’ll tell you this, we still know how to fight for our country.”

Source: Manchester (NH) Union-Leader
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Democrats debate one last time before NH primary : Jan. 23, 2004

Debate at St. Anselm College, Manchester NH

Looking weary and subdued after three weeks of nonstop campaigning, the seven Democrats insisted in a two-hour televised debate that they could easily defend themselves against the kind of attacks on social, military and economic issues that Republicans have used effectively against Democrats in presidential elections for 20 years....

Again and again they bypassed opportunities to attack one another, leading one moderator to brand the session a "happy debate." And there were far fewer of the so-called rapid-response e-mail messages and leaflets that the campaigns have routinely fired off during debates to try to discredit opponents.

The tone at the debate, held on the grounds of St. Anselm College outside Manchester, was testimony to the extent to which Mr. Edwards's showing in Iowa, after running a campaign in which he presented himself as the most positive candidate, had set parameters for the intense contest in New Hampshire.

Not incidentally, the candidate who has often been the most aggressive in this contest, Dr. Dean, was under self-imposed restraints after giving an unruly concession speech in Iowa that many have seized upon to question his temperament.

This dynamic was clearly a matter of frustration to the questioners at the debate, which was sponsored by Fox News, ABC News, WMUR and The Manchester Union Leader.

At one point, Peter Jennings of ABC News tried to push Senator Joseph I. Lieberman to criticize his opponents, asking whether he believed that "Governor Dean and Senator Kerry have been hesitant, or would be hesitant, to take on George Bush successfully on the question of social values."

Mr. Lieberman chuckled, but would not take the bait.

"Let me put it this way: This is a time to be affirmative," he said. "I'd say, nice try."

The debate had been eagerly anticipated by many Democrats, given that the vote is just five days away and the contest is, by any measure, volatile.

Source: Adam Nagourney & katharine Seelye, NY Times
Click for more headlines from the NH debate

Dean appears on David Letterman show : Jan 22, 2004

Top Ten List to Turn Things Around

Appearing on "Late Night with David Letterman", Dean offered the following:
Source: Late Night with David Letterman
Click for headlines from Howard Dean

State of the Union Address : Jan. 20, 2004

President addresses Joint Session of Congress

The president mixed a defense of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the subject of criticism on the Democratic campaign trail, with a challenge to Congress to support his domestic agenda. In remarks that often drew a lopsided partisan reaction -- with far more vigorous applause from Republicans than Democrats -- he called on lawmakers to:

Source: State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of Congress
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Gephardt withdraws from Presidential race : Jan. 20, 2004

Announces retirement from U.S. House

Rep. Richard Gephardt officially ended his presidential campaign today, saying he would return to private life but not give up his fight for the issues he has stood for. "Today my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end," said Gephardt, who came in a distant fourth in Monday's Iowa caucuses. "I'm withdrawing as a candidate and returning to private life after a long time in the warm light of public service."

Gephardt would not say which candidate he would back in Missouri's Democratic presidential primary on Feb. 3 or whether his return to private life would rule out a cabinet post or other government position. He did rule out a run for the U.S. Senate but would not say whether he would consider a vice-presidential spot. "I can't figure it out at this point," he said. "I've got enough in front of me. I haven't spent a moment on it. I've got enough to deal with right now."

Choking up as he thanked his wife and three children for supporting him during his career, Gephardt said that the "silver lining in all of this is that I'll finally get to see them at every opportunity."

Gephardt congratulated candidates who finished ahead of him in Iowa and thanked his supporters, particularly those in organized labor who had spent long hours campaigning for him. "My life's work has been fighting for the honor and the dignity of their life's work," he said, "and I couldn't ask for anything better from life."

He said he would now return to serve out the remainder of his term in Congress. "I'm proud of the campaign we waged," he said. "It was fought on the principles of fairness for our workers, security for our seniors and opportunities for our children. My career in public office is coming to an end, but the fight is never over." [Gephardt endorsed John Kerry on Feb. 5]

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Click for more headlines by Dick Gephardt

Kerry wins Iowa Caucus : Jan. 19, 2004

Click for delegate counts
Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, Dean 18%, Gephardt 11%

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, fueled by first-time participants, won the Democratic presidential caucuses tonight, showing a dramatic, come-from-behind surge in the nation's first nominating event.

With 100 percent of Iowa's 1,993 precincts reporting, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who had also risen quickly in polls last week, was running in second place, ahead of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, in fourth place, appeared to have fallen well short of his prediction that he would repeat his 1988 first-place finish, dealing a near-fatal blow to his second bid for the nomination.

Results showed Kerry with 37.7 percent of the state delegate equivalents, Edwards with 32.5 percent, Dean with 17.7 percent and Gephardt with 10.6 percent. Reports of heavy attendance were widespread, with polls showing 46 percent of those participating were attending a caucus for the first time.

Early official results came from generally rural precincts, where Kerry took a quick lead and Edwards, whose campaign concentrated on rural areas, was a close second. Smaller, rural precincts saw an average of 30 people, five or six times more than normally attend, Iowa Democratic Party staffer Kris Yeager said. Party officials reported that about a dozen precincts ran out of voter registration forms, suggesting a high number of new voters in attendance.

Source: Thomas Beaumont, Des Moines Register
Click for more headlines by John Kerry

Kucinich endorsed by 2000 presidential candidate John Hagelin : Jan. 18,2004

Kucinich leads in Iowa hometown of Natural Law Party

In this little pocket of Iowa, houses are built to face the rising sun, something called yogic flying is a popular pastime and Dennis J. Kucinich is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Even as much of the country still struggles to pronounce his name (it's koo-SIN-itch), Mr. Kucinich has become a phenomenon in Fairfield, population 9,500. His proposals to promote world peace, universal health care and environmental sustainability arguably resonate here as in no other place in America.

Mr. Kucinich, a congressman for his native Ohio, is polling in the low single digits nationwide, and is not expected to do much better in tomorrow's Iowa caucuses. But you wouldn't know that here, where he draws hundreds to every public appearance, and where red, white and blue "Kucinich for President" paraphernalia seems to be part of the town's permanent aesthetic. In local stores, Mr. Kucinich's smiling photo is posted among advertisements for white crane tai chi, Himalayan quartz and houses with eastward-facing entrances. "This is a Kucinich town, most definitely," said a Fairfield resident and Vietnam veteran who counts himself as a Wesley Clark supporter. "He's got this really quirky appeal, and there's plenty of quirky people here."

Mr. Kucinich, a vegan, who has proposed a cabinet-level Department of Peace, is not a typical candidate. And Fairfield, despite its picturesque town square and fluttering American flags, is not a typical Iowan town. The home of Maharishi University of Management and a center of the Global Country of World Peace, Fairfield and the surrounding area is home to 2,000 practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who began settling there in the early 1970's.

"The main appeal is that he has established himself vocally as a peace candidate," said John Hagelin, a Fairfield resident and the founder of the New Age-oriented Natural Law Party, who himself has run for president several times. "This is a town dedicated to peace, to work for peace for the world and to radiate peace in the world."

One key to Mr. Kucinich's support in Fairfield is his longtime friendship with Mr. Hagelin, the three-time presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party, who has endorsed Mr. Kucinich. "Here was a mainstream Democrat that really presents all the contents that the Natural Law Party wants to see espoused," said Ed Malloy, the mayor of Fairfield, and a supporter of the Natural Law Party. "They were excited that these ideas could move on the agenda."

Source: Jennifer 8. Lee, New York Times
Click for more headlines by Dennis Kucinich

Carol Moseley-Braun withdraws from presidential race : Jan. 15, 2004

Endorses Dean based on his ability to inspire and energize

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) folded her cash-strapped, long-shot presidential campaign today and threw her support to Howard Dean during a joint appearance in Iowa, days before the state's crucial caucus showdown.

The Dean campaign flew Braun to Iowa for an endorsement that a source said Dean had been working on for some time.

Braun's decision ends her nearly yearlong quest, having achieved to a degree her goal of rehabilitating her image and reviving her career, which stalled upon her return to the United States after serving as ambassador to New Zealand.

It's not known yet what role Braun will play in the Dean campaign, or if the former Vermont governor will ask his supporters to help pay her campaign debt.

Braun's departure leaves an all-male Democratic primary field and came on the same day that she filed to be on the Illinois March primary ballot. The abrupt exit was puzzling, since as late as Wednesday afternoon, her staff discussed her upcoming travel over the next few days to South Carolina and her determination to keep her campaign alive.

When asked why she is endorsing Dean, Braun, who had just arrived in Chicago, said it was "his ability to inspire people."

"People are energized and inspired by Howard Dean in a way that shows we don't have to put up with the fear-mongering the Bush campaign has perfected," she said.

Braun explained her presence in the race with a line she often used and repeated in her closing statement in Sunday's debate in Iowa. Said Braun, "Help us take the 'men only' sign off the White House door."

Source: Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times
Click for more headlines by Carol Moseley-Braun

Bush proposes manned mission to Mars : Jan. 15, 2004

Expanding NASA and resuming shuttle flights

Today we set a new course for America's space program. We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration. We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the Moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.

Source: Speech to the Nation on the Exploration of Space
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

Dean wins DC primary : Jan 14, 2004

Dean 42%; Sharpton 35%; Braun 12%; Kucinich 8%

Howard Dean won the District of Columbia's nonbinding Democratic presidential primary in an election that was supposed to draw attention to the city but was marked by average turnout for a presidential primary.

With 124 of 142 precincts reporting, Mr. Dean had 42 percent of the vote and Mr. Sharpton had 35 percent. Among the other major candidates on the ballot, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois had 12 percent and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio garnered 8 percent.

The results are not binding. D.C. Democrats officially will choose their nominee at caucuses on Feb. 14 and will pick delegates to the national convention in Boston at a March 6 caucus. But city leaders wanted the primary as much to highlight the District's lack of voting representation in Congress as to help choose a nominee.

"This nation will have to deal with statehood rights of D.C. as an issue," Mr. Sharpton said last night at his party. He also suggested that civil disobedience protests may take place in the February caucuses. He warned other candidates: "Bring your jail suits with you."

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat, said the primary had accomplished its mission. "I declare it a success. I woke up this morning and all the newscasts said that D.C. was having a primary," she said after voting. "It's not so much for the turnout, but for the importance of getting the message for D.C. statehood out," Mrs. Norton said.

The D.C. Council passed a bill in the spring changing the city's 2004 primary date from the first Saturday in May to the second Tuesday in January, putting it before New Hampshire's primary and the Iowa caucuses, the traditional start of the nomination process.

But the Democratic National Committee objected to breaking that tradition. By rule, the DNC would have been forced to disqualify half of the city's 28 delegates to the national nominating convention in Boston. Facing the embarrassment of having to lock out a heavily black delegation, the DNC worked out the compromise of having a nonbinding primary as well as binding caucuses.

Source: Brian DeBose, Washingtno Times
Click for headlines from Al Sharpton

Bush planned to overthrow Saddam before 9/11 : Jan. 11, 2004

Former Treasurer Paul O'Neill tells in new book

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said he never saw any evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction -- President Bush's main justification for going to war.

In a new book chronicling his rocky two-year tenure and in an interview with CBS's ''60 Minutes'' aired on Sunday, O'Neill said removing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was a top priority at Bush's very first National Security Council meeting -- within days of the inauguration and eight months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

O'Neill told CBS the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later and that he was given internal memos, including one outlining a ''Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.''

''In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,'' O'Neill told Time magazine in a separate interview. ''There were allegations and assertions by people... To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else.''

''What Paul O'Neill says... is what a lot of other people are beginning to conclude -- that there was an overstatement by the Bush administration of the weapons of mass destruction part of the argument for going to war against Saddam Hussein,'' Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman told ''Fox News Sunday.''

Source: Adam Entous, Reuters, on AOL News
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

Dick Cheney on Budget Deficits : Jan. 11, 2004

Cheney to Treasury: "Deficits don't matter"

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was told ''deficits don't matter'' when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.

O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, told CBS the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later and that he was given internal memos, including one outlining a ''Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.''

O'Neill raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from ''the corporate crowd,'' a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits -- expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone -- posed a threat to the economy.

Cheney cut him off. ''You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter,'' he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: ''We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due.'' A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

The vice president's office had no immediate comment, but John Snow, who replaced O'Neill, insisted that deficits ''do matter'' to the administration. ''We're not happy about the size of these deficits. They're larger than they should be,'' Snow told ABC's ''This Week,'' adding that Bush was committed to cutting them in half over the next five years.

In the CBS interview, O'Neill likened Bush at Cabinet meetings to ''a blind man in a room full of deaf people.'' When he went in for his first one-on-one meeting with Bush ''with a long list of things to talk about..., I was surprised that it turned out me talking, and the president just listening. As I recall ... it was mostly a monologue,'' O'Neill said.

Source: Adam Entous, Reuters, on AOL News
Click for more headlines by Dick Cheney

Bush proposes immigration reform : Jan. 8, 2004

New temporary worker program includes illegal aliens

President Bush, saying the nation has failed millions of illegal immigrants who live in fear of deportation, yesterday proposed an ambitious plan that would allow undocumented workers to legally hold jobs in the United States for the first time.

Taking on an issue he shelved after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush proposed a program that would bestow temporary legal status for at least six years on the 8 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, as long as they keep their jobs. But it would not automatically put them on a path to obtaining citizenship or even permanent resident status.

"We must make our immigration laws more rational, and more humane," Bush told 200 Latino supporters attending his first White House announcement of the election year. "I believe we can do so without jeopardizing the livelihoods of American citizens."

What Bush calls his "temporary worker" program was eagerly embraced by business groups but condemned as stingy and impractical by advocates for immigrants. The administration hopes the plan will appeal to Hispanic voters and expand the Republican political base, and strategists in both parties described it as politically shrewd. But many said it has little chance of passing Congress in the form Bush described.

In addition to conferring temporary legal status on undocumented workers now in the country, Bush's program would allow an unlimited number of new immigrants to enter as long as they obtain jobs through a database that would be run by the government and would offer the openings first to U.S. citizens.

Under Bush's plan, foreign workers would be legal for three years and then could renew their status at least once. The White House plans to negotiate the number of renewals with Capitol Hill, but Bush said "it will have an end." The plan would include financial incentives for temporary workers to return to their home countries.

The temporary workers -- administration officials anticipate most would be Mexican -- would be given biometrically encoded cards. They would allow the workers to come and go legally to their home countries, a trip now difficult and occasionally dangerous for illegal workers who must sneak back into the United States.

No fee would be charged for the temporary worker status. Illegal immigrants now in the United States would pay unspecified fines but would not be prosecuted or expelled.

Source: Mike Allen, Washington Post, p. A1
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush

Dean won't wipe out all of Bush's tax cut : Jan 7, 2004

Would keep some middle class tax relief

After months of touting his plan to repeal all of President Bush's tax cut, former Vermont governor Howard Dean is moving toward embracing a tax relief package for middle-income Americans, which would amount to a major revamping of a centerpiece of his Democratic presidential campaign.

Dean, like all the Democrats running for president, has assailed the Bush tax cuts as favoring the wealthy. But unlike some of his rivals, including Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, General Wesley K. Clark, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Dean has said he would not preserve any of the reductions.

According to the Labor-backed Citizens for Tax Justice, the Bush tax cut amounts to $2,015 in 2005 for a family with an income between $73,000 to $145,000. Thus, the Dean plan would effectively increase taxes on that family by $2,015 in the first year of a Dean presidency if he were elected and immediately repealed all the cuts.

In 2005, the Bush cuts are to save $971 for a family with an income between $45,000 to $73,000; $563 for a family with an income between $28,000 to $45,000; $371 for a family with an income between $16,000 to $28,000; and $77 for families earning less than $16,000. The wealthiest get the biggest windfall, with a family earning more than $337,000 saving $41,264.

Dean has contended that the Bush cuts don't significantly help most Americans. Speaking Monday in Charles City, Iowa, Dean pointed out that the Bush tax cuts save $112,000 for millionaires, but for 60 percent of Americans save an average of only $304.

The question now, Dean advisers said, is exactly what form the tax relief proposal might take. It is most likely to be a targeted income-tax reduction for families with children, they said.

For now, the Dean campaign says the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts would pay for deficit reduction and to provide health care for the uninsured. A Dean campaign ad unveiled this week said says Dean "will repeal the Bush tax cuts to provide health insurance for every American."

On his website, Dean addresses the issue this way: "Many have questioned the political wisdom of challenging the president on politically popular tax cuts. I believe, however, that given a choice between having health insurance or keeping all of the Bush's tax cuts in place, most Americans will choose health insurance."

Dean's tax policy so far hasn't been a major problem for him in the Democratic primaries, although candidates such as Kerry and Clark have frequently criticized Dean for wanting to raise taxes on the middle class.

Kerry, for example, has proposed repealing the tax cut for those earning more than $200,000 while retaining all of the tax cut for middle-income households.

Clark on Monday proposed eliminating income taxes for those earning less than $50,000, and cutting taxes for those in higher middle-income brackets, while repealing the tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000.

Source: Michael Kranish, Boston Globe
Click for headlines from Howard Dean

Bill Bradley endorses Howard Dean : Jan 6, 2004

Cites free-media presence

Howard Dean, who stunned the Democratic establishment last month when he won the backing of former Vice President Al Gore, will pick up another key endorsement Tuesday from former Sen. Bill Bradley. Bradley, who challenged Gore for the 2000 presidential nomination and came close to winning the New Hampshire primary, has been talking with Dean for several months.

The endorsement is said to have been in the works for several weeks, although sources say Bradley signed off on the move only last weekend. Other New Jersey Democrats last month backed Dean, including Gov. Jim McGreevey, House Democratic Conference Chairman Robert Menendez and Rep. Rush Holt.

In a recent interview, Bradley said Dean "has the strongest free-media presence [of the Democratic contenders] and he has managed to broaden that to a broader protest and critique of the Bush administration. "The last things he got to do, he has to be able to broaden that to a broader agenda, more than simply anti-war," Bradley added. "And he has to have an aspirational component to what he is saying so that people will feel that they are empowered by him to be as good as they can possibly be."

Bradley, who served with John Kerry in the Senate for several years, had little to say about his former colleague, who is battling to regain his footing against Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire. Asked about Kerry in the same interview, Bradley said, "Well, let's go on."

Source: John Mercurio, CNN.com
Click for headlines from Bill Bradley

Democrats debate in Iowa : Jan 5, 2004

Des Moines debate two weeks prior to first-in-the-nation caucuses

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean parried a series of attacks from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination here Sunday, defending himself on Iraq, his record as governor and his electability and charging that his major opponents had failed to stand up against President Bush's agenda.

Dean's opponents, hoping to slow down his front-running candidacy, ganged up on him during a two-hour debate that took place 15 days before Iowa's precinct caucuses, the first major event on the 2004 nomination calendar. But the attacks mostly covered ground the candidates have plowed in past debates, and Dean responded with measured answers and occasional barbs of his own that did little to change the shape of the race.

Dean got the first question in the candidate round-robin part of the debate and used it to challenge the others to support him -- or any other Democrat who becomes the nominee. Pledging he would back any of the others and would encourage his supporters to do the same, Dean said, "I'd like to find out who on this stage agrees that they will pledge to vigorously support the Democratic nominee." All the others raised their hands.

Source: Dan Balz, Washington Post, p. A1
Click for headlines from the Iowa debate

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