United States News Digest
Will Gates Bring His Iran Policy to the Pentagon?
Several years ago, Secretary of Defense-nominee Robert Gates co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations panel on Iran policy with Zbigniew Brzezinski. The panel concluded that the U.S. should enter into direct diplomatic talks with Iran as a way of dealing with regional problems. Upon hearing of the nomination of Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, Lyndon LaRouche asked: "Will Gates bring that Iran policy with him to the Pentagon job?" "That," LaRouche said, "is going to be the key question to determine the significance of the Gates appointment."
A number of Washington sources who have worked with Gates over the years offered some instructive background on the ex-CIA Director (under Bush 41) and the circumstances surrounding his nomination by George W. Bush the day after the Nov. 7 midterm elections. First, a number of sources linked Gates closely with former President Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker III. In fact, one Pentagon-linked source reported that Baker had been the first person asked by President Bush to take Rumsfeld's job, but he declined, and instead, recommended Gates. This report has not been otherwise confirmed, although several other well-placed Washington establishment figures did say that Bush Sr. heavily intervened with G.W. and Karl Rove in the days just before the Nov. 7 electoral massacre, to insist that the White House was totally out of touch with reality, and that some changes would have to be made to salvage what is left of the Bush Presidency. This time, according to the sources, unlike previous "fatherly" interventions, Jr. and Rove seem to have listened.
Apart from Gates' close ties to Bush Sr. and Baker, Gates received mixed reviews on his tenure in the intelligence community, including his brief term as DCI. Recall that a number of senior intelligence analysts had testified against his nomination by Bush 41, charging that he had politicized the intelligence analysis process. Other sources said that Gates was a bureaucrat who always knew how to "please the boss," hardly an optimal quality for the nation's top civilian military official.
Ultimately, LaRouche warned, the issue is not Gates. Yes, one could call the appointment of Bush 41 loyalist Gates to replace Bush 41 arch-rival Rumsfeld "the father's revenge," but none of this will necessarily mean a thing, so long as G.W. and Cheney remain in charge, and the President shows ever-more rapid signs of mental breakdown.
White House Still Pushing Bolton Nomination
The Bush-Cheney White House is demanding that the lame-duck Congress approve John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the UN. The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination to the Senate Nov. 9; when the Administration couldn't get Bolton confirmed in 2005, Bush gave him a recess appointment that will expire when the Congress adjourns, no later than January. Joe Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Bolton's nomination is "going nowhere," explaining: "I never saw any real enthusiasm on the Republican side to begin with. There's none on our side."
Outgoing Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, also said that he won't support Bolton, which means that the nomination cannot even get out of committeesince Chafee's vote would give a majority to the Democrats opposing the nomination. "The American people have spoken out against the President's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy," Chafee said. "And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against."
Pentagon To Request Largest-Ever War Supplemental
Industry and defense experts have told Congressional Quarterly (Nov. 7) that the military services will submit a $160 billion supplemental request to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to cover the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The request would likely be sent to Congress in February along with the annual budget request. When added to the $70 billion Congress already appropriated as part of the fiscal 2007 defense appropriations bill, the total supplemental funding for 2007 would add up to $230 billion. Steve Kosiak, the director of budget studies for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said that a $160 billion request would top anything asked for during the Vietnam War, when far more troops were deployed.
More Cheney-Linked Halliburton Fraud in Iraq
The UN Agency called the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, questioned $1.4 billion out of a $2.4 billion no-bid sweetheart contract that KBR got for delivering fuel to Iraq, the New York Times reported Nov. 7. For example, the report done for the agency showed that in one work order for $871 million, only $112 million went for fuel; the rest went to a Kuwaiti subcontractor "for transportation" of the fuel. But each month, between 200 and 1,500 truckshired from the Kuwaiti company, Altanmiastood idle inside of Kuwait because of security dangersat a cost of $25,575 per truck.
Carter Calls U.S. Election Process Discriminatory
Speaking from Nicaragua Nov. 6, where the Carter Center was observing the elections there, former President Jimmy Carter gave high marks to the Nicaraguan election process, but when asked by NPR radio about the U.S. elections, said: "As you may know, after the 2000 election, which was a total debacle, President Gerald Ford and I headed a major blue-ribbon commission and recommended changes in the voting procedures that largely were passed by the Congress. And then, after the 2004 election, which still showed some major problems, former Secretary of State James Baker and I headed a similar commission and made some recommendations, very few of which have yet been implemented.
"But there's no doubt in my mind that the United States electoral system is severely troubled and has many faults in it. It would not qualify at all for instance for participation by the Carter Center in observing. We require for instance that there be uniform voting procedures throughout an entire nation. In the United States you've got not only fragmented procedures from one state to another but also from one county to another. There is no central election commission in the United States that can make a final judgment. It's a cacophony of voices that come in after the election is over with, thousands or hundreds of lawyers contending with each other. There's no uniformity in the nation at all. There's no doubt that there's severe discrimination against poor people because of the quality of voting procedures presented to them.
"Another thing in the United States that we wouldn't permit in a country other than the United States, is that we require that every candidate in a country in which we monitor the elections have equal access to the major news media, regardless of how much money they have. In the United States, as you know, it's how much advertising you can buy on television and radio. And so the richest candidates prevail, and unless a candidate can raise sometimes hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, they can't even hope to mount a campaign, so the United States has a very inadequate election procedure. I would say that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party would consider seriously a candidate to be President who couldn't prove in advance that he or she could raise $100 million. That's a gross travesty of what democracy ought to be, and I hope that someday our nation will change those rules."
FBI Tells Lawmakers: Get in Line, or Else
The new chief of the FBI's Criminal Division, which is swamped with public corruption cases, says the Bureau is ramping up its ability to go after politicians, and is considering running undercover stings against members of Congress, á la Abscam/Brilab of the late 1970s. State legislators also are in the FBI's sights. According to McClatchy Newspapers Nov. 6, Assistant FBI Director James Burrus called the Bureau's public corruption program "a sleeping giant that we've awoken," and predicted the nation will see continued emphasis in that area "for many, many, many years to come." Burrus recently announced that he is adding a fourth 15- to 20-member public corruption squad to the FBI's Washington office.
Army Recruiters Caught Lying to Enlistees About Iraq War
U.S. Army recruiters in three Northeastern states have been caught on undercover news videotape lying to potential enlistees that the war in Iraq is over. WABC-TV, New York, sent students wearing hidden video cameras into recruiting stations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and then showed the evidence to Col. Robert Manning, who is in charge of U.S. Army recruiting for the entire Northeast. He watched one videotape, in which a recruiter told a student: "We're not at war. The war ended a long time ago." Another recruiter told a student that no one was being sent to Iraq, and that the Army was actually starting to bring people back. Yet another helped a student, who posed as a drug addict, to cheat in signing up, the report said.