United States News Digest
Clinton, Other Dems Challenge 9/11 Docudrama
Former President Bill Clinton issued a letter, dated Sept. 1, signed by other senior Clinton-era advisors, including former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, saying that ABC-TV must either pull the docudrama "Path to 9/11" or correct the inaccuracies in it. The docudrama, or miniseries, which reportedly smears the Clinton Administration as bearing primary responsibility for allowing Osama bin Laden to escape capture or killing before Sept. 11, 2001, has been screened so far only for conservative bloggers and talk-show hosts. Rush Limbaugh has seen the film, but the target of the film, the Clinton Administration, has not been permitted to review it.
The director of the film is a character by the name of David L. Cunningham, the son of the founder of the Christian fundy cult known as Youth with a Mission. Cunningham was raised in the cult, and trained in the group's film school, which has the stated purpose of producing film directors who can sneak Christian ideas into films and then take over Hollywood.
Also, late on Sept. 7, Congressional Democrats held a press conference to draw attention to the fact that ABC-TV and the children's book publisher Scholastic intended to promote a curriculum based on the miniseries in the schools. The press conference was given by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), and James Moran (D-Va), who all made the point that it was the Clinton Administration that had asked for more money for counterterrorism, which was blocked by Republican budget-cutters in Congress.
Bush Policy Blocked in Congress
President Bush's national security policies ran into a growing bipartisan roadblock on Capitol Hill on Sept. 7. Four separate cases of an emerging recognition that "going along to get along" is taking us to Hell:
* A bill introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa) to grant Bush nearly full power to conduct illegal NSA warrantless wiretaps was stalled in the committee. Specter withdrew the bill, which asks only that the FISA Court approve the Bush policy as constitutional, from a scheduled vote, blaming Democrat Russ Feingold (Wisc) for "filibuster by amendment." Feingold had mocked the plan as equivalent to Bush saying: "I'll agree to let the court decide if I'm breaking the law if you pass a law first that says I'm not breaking the law." Actually, the main reason behind Specter's withdrawal of the bill was that three Republicans, Senators Larry Craig (Idaho), John Sununu (NH), and Lisa Murkowski (AK), signed a letter with Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt) and other Democrats demanding further hearings before a vote.
* The effort in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ram through a vote to confirm John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the UN was again waylaid, this time by Republican Lincoln Chafee (RI). With only one Republican opponent needed to join with Democrats in opposition, Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio) stopped the Senate approval last year, forcing the "recess appointment." Before the August break, Voinovich said he'd back Bolton, and they tried to hold a vote, but Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) then said he was undecided. Now, Hagel has agreed to vote for Bolton, and they called another vote, but this time Chafee pulled the plug. Who's next?
* The Bush call for a rubber stamp for CIA torture camps and military kangaroo courts was challenged by the military's judge advocates general in a House hearing, and by a "JAG-friendly" bill being introduced by Republican Senators John Warner (VA), Lindsay Graham (SC), and John McCain (Ariz).
* The co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) and Kit Bond (R-Mo), released a letter supporting the nation's governors in opposing a bill to give Bush more power to nationalize the Guard. They warn that "specifying specific criteria" for invoking martial law"including such a regularly occurring trigger as a national disasterchanges the presumption against invoking Federal martial law into a presumption for the domestic use of the military in our States and communities."
Pentagon Contradicts Bush and Abusive Interrogations
On Sept. 6, the Pentagon released two new documents governing detainee policy which officials said are in accordance with the McCain anti-torture amendment. The first of the two documents, DoD Directive 2310.01E, requires that detainees in the custody of the Department of Defense must be treated humanely regardless of status, sets minimum standards for their care and treatment, and prohibits abusive treatment. The second document, Army Field Manual 2-22.3, establishes doctrine for the military's human intelligence program, including approved methods of interrogation of detainees, and is, according to Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, the Army's top intelligence official, in compliance with the Detainee Treatment Act, last year's McCain amendment which outlaws all forms of torture of detainees.
On the same day that President Bush was claiming that normal interrogation methods hadn't worked with various "high-value detainees" in secret prisons, but that special "alternative" techniques had yielded valuable information, the Pentagon was saying exactly the opposite.
"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices," General Kimmons stated. "I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that," he said. "Moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, underthrough the use of abusive techniqueswould be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used." He added that the best information comes from the use of humane methods.
Is Armitage Being Set Up as Fall Guy in Plame Leak Probe?
With the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other establishment media calling for special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to bring his investigation into the Valerie Plame leak to a halt, based on the "revelation" that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the initial source of the leak of the CIA officer's name to columnist Robert Novak, there is a strong stench of an all-out effort to protect the real culprits and bury a much bigger national security scandal that has just emerged. Just as the editorial pages were burning with attacks on Fitzgerald, The Nation magazine, dated Sept. 6, published an article by David Corn, giving some juicy tidbits from his and Michael Isikoff's just-released book, Hubris, which catalogues the crimes of Bush and Cheney. The Nation revealed that Valerie Plame was a very significant figure within the CIA's Directorate of Operations, at the time that Novak blew her cover.
According to Corn and Isikoff, Valerie Plame returned to CIA headquarters in 1997, after serving for a number of years in overseas undercover assignments, including as a non-official-cover (NOC). Back at Langley, she was put in charge of the Iraq WMD desk, which, after George W. Bush's inauguration in January 2001, became a special Iraq Task Force. Her assignment was to recruit assets inside Iraq and Iran, who could provide hard intelligence on Iraq's WMD program. By the time the Iraq invasion was launched, Plame was running a unit of 60 full-time officers, and a network of Iraqi informants. It is clear that the blowing of her identity was a significant blow to the very program that the White House had pushed since the moment Bush and Cheney came into office. Sources indicate that Plame's work was so sensitive that senior CIA officials tried to screen her from any contact with Cheney and his national security advisor Lewis "Scooter" Libby, during their frequent harassment visits to CIA headquarters.
The surfacing of the claim that Armitage was the main leaker of Plame's identity, aimed at weakening the case against Libby and Cheney, is made transparent by the new details of Plame's career. She was being brought back to CIA headquarters as part of a significant career advancement that was to lead her back to the field in a higher assignment, according to Corn-Isikoff.
EIR is assembling a detailed timeline of the Plame-Wilson case, to debunk the "Armitage did it" hoax. For one thing, this chronology begins in March 2003, with a meeting in Cheney's office to target Ambassador Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson, just after IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei revealed that the Niger yellowcake documents were forgeries, and Wilson appeared on CNN to assert that the White House had information in its files debunking the Niger yellowcake story months before the ElBaradei revelations. The earliest that Armitage knew anything about Valerie Plame's CIA employment was July 6, 2003the day that the Joe Wilson New York Times op-ed appeared.
House GOP Split on Minimum Wage and War
Fresh from five weeks of facing constituents in their districts, several Republican Congressmen, including senior Reps. Peter King (NY) and Nancy Johnson (Conn), want party leaders to schedule another vote on the minimum wage, according to hillnews.com Sept. 6. But Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) says he opposes separating the minimum-wage legislation from the estate-tax giveaway for the rich. Even Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), who chairs the GOP conference but faces a tough election fight, wants to separate the minimum-wage bill from the estate-tax issue. Other Republican incumbents, including Heather Wilson (NM), Curt Weldon (Pa), Jon Porter (Nev), and Geoff Davis (KY), are also trying to find a way to come out for the minimum wage without linking it to a giveaway for the super-rich.
On the war issue, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn), who faces a tough re-election fight, recently joined a small handful of Republicans who are calling for a phased withdrawal from Iraq.