United States News Digest
Putin, Bush Agree on Importance of Relationship
July 3 (EIRNS)President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a mini-press conference at the end of the "Lobster Summit" in Kennebunkport, Maine on July 2, with both underlining the importance of the U.S.-Russian relationship.
The informal meetings seemed to clear the air of some of the tension that has been building over the recent weeks and months because of U.S. policies. Putin went out of his way to thank the Bush family for their warm reception. George H. W. and Barbara Bush arranged the dinners in such a way that they themselves could interface with all the participants, Putin aide Sergei Prikhodko had told reporters yesterday. "I do believe that we have to learn something from the older generation," Putin said. "And the attitude shown both to me and to the members of my delegation was way beyond the official and protocol needs." Putin had also taken up the issue of the Second World War, talking about the great losses at the siege of Leningrad, and the impact of that on his own family.
On the issue of missile defense, Bush again heaped praise on Putin's proposal that the discussion should be broadened in the context of the NATO-Russia Council. Bush also praised the economic development of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union. While neither side has changed its opinion on the issue of the Czech-Poland deployment vs. the radar in Azerbaijan, they have left enough "wiggle-room" perhaps to work towards finding a solution to their differences. Putin commented that in their negotiations on points of controversy they were "seeking the points of coincidence in our positions," noting that "very frequently we do find them...."
When questioned about the Poland-Czech decision, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley commented, "What the President has said is, look, let's get all the pieces on the table and start from the propositionthere is a common threat to Russia, Europe and the United States, let's do an assessment of that threat, let's talk about all the ideas that are on the table about how to deal with that threat, and let's come up with a system that can be an example of regional cooperation that protects Russia, Europe, and the United States."
On Iran, Hadley indicated that the U.S. was following a dual track. President Bush is insistent on moving for stronger sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council and hopes to get the support of Russia. Much of the discussion today was on Iran. "I have been counting on the Russians' support to send a clear message to the Iranians, and that support and that message is a strong message," Bush said, "and, hopefully, we'll be able to convince the regime that we have no problems with the people in Iran, but we do have a problem with a regime that is in defiance of international norms. And so we discussed a variety of ways to continue sending a joint message." At the same time, Putin noted some hopeful signs coming out of the IAEA talks with the Iranians. Hadley indicated that the U.S. would be watching to see if anything came out of these discussions.
Hadley noted that the U.S. and Russia had just signed a nuclear cooperation agreement on June 29 (initialed by the Presidents at Kennebunkport), and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would be signing an agreement on a joint nuclear non-proliferation proposal at the beginning of the week. The two sides would also start work on a follow-up to the START agreements on nuclear arms limitations, which will end in 2008.
Clinton: Revive Reagan's SDI Offer to Russia
July 2 (EIRNS)Former President Bill Clinton, speaking in Ukraine on June 29, denounced the Bush-Cheney plan for missile defense systems in Eastern Europe as a "colossal waste of money" for a system which is not "reliable enough to create an impact." He said that the U.S. was "creating a crisis here where none is necessary."
Most importantly, Clinton called for a return to the original proposal by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983, for the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to collaborate on building missile defense systems based on new physical principles. "He wanted the Russians to have it, he wanted everyone to have it," Clinton told the Yalta European Strategy (YES) annual conference in Yalta, Ukraine.
This echoes the long-standing policy of Lyndon LaRouchein fact, it was LaRouche who convinced Reagan to adopt the original policy, and the proposal for cooperation with the Soviets. The Soviet rejection of that offer was a major cause of the demise of the Soviet economy and the Soviet Union itself.
But it also brings to mind the April 1993 proposal by Russian President Boris Yeltsin to U.S. President Clinton, at their summit in Vancouver, to revive the Reagan proposal of 1983. As described in Izvestia on April 2, 1993, the proposal, called "Trust," was to have the U.S. and Russia jointly test the plasma anti-missile weapons systems then under development by the Russians. (21st Century Science & Technology ran a cover story on the plan in its Summer 1993 issue.) Contacts between U.S. and Russian specialists in this area continued throughout the 1990s, though not as extensively as the original proposal, until they were stopped under the George W. Bush Administration.
Kucinich on July 4: Impeach Cheney To Defend the Constitution
July 5 (EIRNS)During an interview on CNN's "Situation Room" on Independence Day, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was asked about his resolution to impeach Dick Cheney (HR 333), and why he's doing it, since top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, don't support it.
"There's over a dozen members of Congress now who do support it," Kucinich responded. "And I think more and more people are looking at the conduct of the Office of the Vice President and are very concerned."
Moreover, he said, "The American people, I believe, support standing for the Constitution. And they're looking at all of these other candidates for President and want to find out who will stand for the Constitution, who will set high standards. You hold high office, you ought to be held to high standards. You ought to keep your oath of office. The Vice President did not. He's responsible for standing up for the Constitution and the laws of this country.
"And, frankly, this is about the Constitution. It is a sacred document. On this day of all days, we ought to be standing for our Constitution."
Domenici Joins Call for a Change in Iraq Strategy
July 5 (EIRNS)Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) today joined a growing chorus of Republicans who are calling for a change in course in U.S. military strategy in Iraqsooner rather than later. Domenici said in a press release that he now supports Senate bipartisan bill S. 1545, the Iraq Study Group Recommendations Implementation Act. This bill was introduced in June by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.).
"I am unwilling to continue our current strategy" in Iraq, Domenici said in a statement. "I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home."
S. 1545 calls on the Bush Administration to implement the Iraq Study Group's recommendations and is intended to create conditions that could allow a draw-down of American combat forces in Iraq by March 2008.
Libby Commutation Challenged by Judge, Judiciary Committee
July 4 (EIRNS)Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) announced today that he will hold hearings of the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, on July 11, on President George Bush's July 2 decision to commute the sentence of former Vice Presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby before he served any time in jail. On July 3, Conyers issued a statement which stated, in part: "In light of yesterday's announcement by the President that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused. Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch."
In response to Bush's announcement, Judge Reggie Walton, the presiding and sentencing judge in the Libby trial, issued an order in the case on July 3, also questioning the legality of the Presidential commutation of Libby's jail term. "It has been brought to the Court's attention that the United States Probation Office for the District of Columbia intends to contact [Libby] imminently to require him to begin his term of supervised release. Strictly construed, the statute authorizing the imposition of supervised release indicates that such release should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment."
Judge Walton's statement concluded, "[Section 3583, the law in question] does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration."
Lyndon LaRouche has emphasized that the announcement by President Bush that he was commuting Libby's sentence did not amount to a victory for Vice President Dick Cheney, who was, according to Washington sources, pressing for a pardon for his former top aide. The action by Bush does not at all remove the fact of Libby's conviction on serious felony charges, and a substantial financial penalty and two years of probation.
Leahy: This is America, Not a Dictatorship
July 1 (EIRNS)Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that White House officials could be cited for contempt of Congress if they don't cooperate on subpoenas issued to them. Vice President Dick Cheney's buddy Tim Russert, the show's host, tried to suggest to Leahy that his inquiries on wiretaps would impair the effort to stop terrorists. Leahy said the committee is not asking for operational details, but for the Administration's legal justification for the warrantless wiretap program.
When asked about his characterization of the Administration as "Nixonian," Leahy said they take the attitude that they are above the law. "In America, no one is above the law.... This is America, not a dictatorship."
If the White House doesn't cooperate, the committee will seek to hold it in contempt of Congress. "Yes, I'd go that far," Leahy said, noting that this would require a vote of the full House and Senate; then it would go to a U.S. Attorney for prosecution; he said it would be very difficult for a prosecutor not to prosecute on this.
The White House/Cheney-Cayman Island Connection
July 1 (EIRNS)What does Vice President Dick Cheney have to do with the Cayman Islands, the British Crown colony under Anglo-Dutch oligarchical control, which is the center for 8,000 hedge fundsthree-quarters of the world's total? A lot.
According to an article in today's New York Times headlined, "A Hamptons for Hedge Funds," during the Spring of 2007, a group of representatives from the Cayman Islands traveled to the United States to lobby for an "improved image," and to counter potential legislation that would regulate hedge funds. They lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Treasury, members of the Senate Banking Committee, and ... Dick Cheney, not someone who would usually be on their circuit. Cheney's office refused to respond to the Times as to why he met with the Cayman Islands reps.
But there is more.
In 2000, the Financial Information Task Force, an independent international body that was established to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, placed the Cayman Islands on an international blacklist, designating it as an non-cooperating, money-laundering nation. In 2001, the Cayman government paid $74,300 to Fred F. Fielding, then a well-connected Washington lawyer, according to the Times, "to help persuade American officials to lean on the international task force to remove the Caymans from the list." The Cayman Islands were in fact taken off the list. And Fred Fielding is now the White House's chief counsel!