United States News Digest
Bush Changes Pentagon Order of Succession
President George W. Bush quietly signed an executive order Dec. 23, which changes the Pentagon order of succession under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in the event of a "continuity of government" crisisor if Rumsfeld simply is forced out or quits, according to press leaks Dec. 29. Democratic sources report that the exposé is stirring up strong uniformed military opposition against the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal," and "will trigger a storm in the Senate."
According to the reported executive order, the number three, four, and five civilian positions in line below Rumsfeld are now all Cheneyac loyalists from the 1992 period, all intelligence stovepipe specialists: Steven Cambone (now Intelligence Undersecretary); Eric Edelman (now Policy Undersecretary); and Kenneth Krieg (now Acquisition and Technology Undersecretary). Moved down below them are the Army, Air Force, and Navy secretaries, to the sixth, seventh, and eighth (last) in line of succession. Only the number-two spot remains the same: Deputy Secretary Gordon Englandhowever, he is at this time unconfirmed by the Senate, and Majority Leader Bill Frist has not been in a hurry to move his confirmation.
GOP Disillusioned with Bush
Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue wrote Dec. 28 on the increasing GOP disillusionment with George W. Bush, and the splits in Republican ranks, citing former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga) and Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb), Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Olympia Snowe (R-Me), and Arlen Specter (R-Pa). House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) are trying to hold GOP dissension in check, but not very successfully. Thompson says he was told by a longtime GOP consultant that the White House "is particularly pissed at Frist" over the derailing of the Patriot Act in the Senate. Bush is also especially angry at Craig, whom he called a "goddammed traitor"; the President also reportedly referred privately to Specter as a "lily-livered bastard."
Republican Elders Revolt Against DeLay
Former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R) of California initiated a group called "Revolt of the Elders Coalition" to "educate the public about the DeLay Republicans" who have, they believe, "abandoned traditional [GOP] values, but also have dishonored and disgraced the party with their unethical conduct." The Coalition was formed a year ago, when then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) forced through a change in House ethics rules in order to keep his position. The group describes DeLay as the "spiritual and ethical heir" of Newt Gingrich, who "began a junkyard dog attack" on previous decades of political and social advances for the nation.
Since the Coalition's founding, the transgressions have only gotten worse, and in a recent column, McCloskey explained that concern has grown especially "over the close relationship between indicted ... lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his claimed best friends DeLay and [Rep. John] Doolittle (R-Calif) ... who have received substantial money from Abramoff."
With the NSA spying revelations and Cheney-Bush's defiant defense of them, McCloskey penned a piece, "Deceit over spyingprelude to long-term lame duck President," which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 23. He castigated Bush for his "omission of material fact[s]" vis-à-vis his actions, arguing that such omission is "as much a fraud as a deliberate lie." Even more galling, he finds, is Bush's claim of an "authority that has been denied to Presidents since the earliest days of our republic."
The group is bipartisan. Some of its adherents are former Congressmen Jim Johnson (R-Colo, 1973-81), Paul Findley (R-Ill, 1967-83); Lewis Butler, former Assistant Secretary of HEW, 1969-71, Charles U. Daly, White House Assistant to President John F. Kennedy, and John Hooper, Defense Advisor to Ambassador to NATO, 1958-67.
Democrats May Make Gains in Governors' Races
The GOP is facing some very tough races, due to "term limits" and "tax backlash," the Wall Street Journal frets in a Dec. 27 article. "Republicans May Lose Grip on Statehouses," the Journal headlines, and worries that where governors imposed tax hikes in the face of a depressed economy, reneging on their "no new taxes" promises. But the reality of the changing political climate of disgust with Bush, Cheney, DeLay, and the others tainted by their crimes, is also acknowledged, albeit only in reference to the Ohio Governor's race, where incumbent Gov. Bob Taft is caught in swirling scandals.
Republicans hold 28 governorships overall, including 22 of the 36 up for election in 2006. Some pivotal states where the battle is expected to be tough are California, Colorado, Florida, and Ohio. Three Democrats have declared their candidacies for the Massachusetts Governor's race. At least eight GOP Governors are not seeking re-election. In New York State, William Weld (R), running against Elliott Spitzer (D), is trailing. Other states noted where races could be tough for GOPers are Alabama, Alaska, Maryland, and Nevada.
Defense Review Will Slash Spending on Big Ticket Systems
Major defense contractors are bracing for significant cuts in Pentagon spending on big-ticket items like battleships and combat aircraft, the New York Times reported Dec. 27. Since 9/11, the defense budget has grown by a whopping 41%. But at two recent briefings to military industrialists, Ryan Henry, principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and Gordon England, Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, told the assembled CEOs that in the future, defense spending will be directed at combatting terrorist threats, not rival states. As a result, many big-ticket programs will be cut back or shut altogether.
In February 2006, the Pentagon will release the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a four-year planning and policy document, spelling out the military's priorities for the next period. The last time a QDR was published was February 2001prior to 9/11, the Iraq war and the doctrine of preemptive war. Both Henry and England warned contractors to expect more emphasis on the kinds of mobile weapons systems suited to Special Forces operations, including more emphasis on drone aircraft, that can carry out both espionage and combat missions. Within weeks of the release of the QDR, the Pentagon will also release its FY 2007 budget, and Henry said that it would reflect the change in emphasis contained in the QDR. Others interviewed by the Times were skeptical that the radical changes advertised by Henry and England would actually occur, citing the "iron triangle" of the Congress, the uniformed military command and the military-industrial complex, that would resist all the way against such dramatic changes.
But a senior retired military source confirmed to EIR certain features of the Henry and England briefings, noting that the costs associated with the Iraq war and occupation have so badly drained the military, that the Air Force and the Navy are facing significant losses of senior personnel, especially among non-commissioned-officer ranks, due to the huge costs of the war, on top of costly weapons systems. The source said that the QDR would be a warning shot that the whole military is dangerously close to being hollowed out. He added, "Thank God Wolfowitz is gone, because he never would have told the truth in the QDR if he was in charge."
Lynne Cheney's 'Campus Watch' Attacks LaRouche
In an item posted to frontpagemag.com Dec. 23, "Campus Watch"part of the neo-McCarthyite apparatus set up by Lynne Cheney and Irving Horowitz to purge the Cheney family's enemies' list from college and university teaching positionsdirector Alexander Joffe pens another in his series of attacks against University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole. This time, the attack protests Cole's election as president of the Middle East Studies Association. Joffe accuses Cole of anti-Semitism for his criticisms (by name) of the Likud, and for his "dislike" for the fascist Vladimir Jabotinsky.
Joffe brings in Lyndon LaRouche through the charge that Cole borrowed his description of the "Clean Break" report from EIR: "Cole's commentary is often derivative and dishonest; he often substitutes others' web commentaries for the effort of tracking down original sources.... [H]e adopts the narrative espoused by the Lyndon LaRouche movement and mischaracterizes the IASPS paper ['A Clean Break'] that actually chastised Israel for not supporting the U.S. fight against terrorism and made suggestions about how Jerusalem could be more supportive of Washington."