December 16, 2002
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Bush Insulated From Hill Probes
Republican Congress to watch presidents back, officials say
Excerpted from an article by Jim VandeHei, THE WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 With fellow Republicans set to run Congress and a federal court upholding his right to secrecy, President Bush over the next two years will be protected from potentially embarrassing congressional investigations into his administration, especially its relationship with big corporate donors, government officials say.
Starting next month, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and other top Senate Democrats will lose their chairmanships and much of their power to initiate investigations of the Bush administration, subpoena key officials and hold public hearings on possible wrongdoing. As a result, Bush will likely escape close congressional scrutiny of the role his biggest corporate contributors play in shaping administration policy on environment, energy and other pro-business issues.
A Republican-appointed judge last week provided the Bush administration another layer of protection from congressional scrutiny and dealt a blow to a campaign by Democrats to reveal how energy companies helped devise the administrations comprehensive energy plan last year. The judge, John D. Bates, threw out a case brought by the head of the General Accounting Office, the investigative and auditing arm of Congress, that would have required Vice President Cheneys energy task force to release secret records of White House meetings with industry officials. Now, Bush is in a strong position to keep secret potentially embarrassing details of conversations between his staff and energy industry officials trying to influence their decisions.
More broadly, the court ruling will have a chilling effect on efforts by Democrats to use the GAO to monitor the executive branch. If the courts refuse to compel White House officials to comply with GAO requests for information, theyll have little reason to cooperate, Democrats say. Unless the ruling is reversed, "Bush and Cheney can operate in complete secrecy with no oversight by Congress," says Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee.
U.S. Military Detonated Underwater Blast Off Okinawa
Excerpted from Japan Today newsletter:
NAHA, December 12, 2002 The United States carried out a military exercise involving an underwater explosion last Friday within a drill zone southeast of Okinawa's main island, Okinawa prefectural officials said Thursday.
On Dec 3, the Japan Coast Guard notified the fisheries cooperative in writing of a U.S. military underwater explosion that was to be conducted last Friday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. in or around a drill zone 160 kilometers southeast of Okinawa's main island.
When Okinawa Prefecture contacted the U.S. military via the Japanese Foreign Ministry regarding the exercise outside the drill zone, the U.S. gave an oral reply saying the explosion will only be conducted within the zone.
On Nov 14, the U.S. detonated an explosive in the Sea of Japan off Shimane Prefecture despite protests from the ministry and local authorities in Shimane, Yamaguchi and Hyogo prefectures.
Japan To Protest Yemen's Missile Imports
TOKYO, December 12, 2002 Japan will lodge a protest with Yemen over its purchase of Scud missiles from North Korea as the deal contributes to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threatens security, a government spokesman said Thursday.
U.S. Sees Nuclear Deterrence Against WMD Attack
By Randall Mikkelsen
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States reminded Iraq and other countries on Tuesday that it was prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary to respond to an attack from weapons of mass destruction.
The warning, which underscored longstanding U.S. policy leaving open the use of nuclear weapons if needed, was contained in a statement of U.S. strategy against nuclear, chemical and biological weapons -- the first update since 1993. The six-page strategy document says deterring attacks with the threat of "overwhelming force" is an essential element in protecting America and its allies from weapons of mass destruction, also known as WMD.
"The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including through resort to all our options -- to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," the strategy report said. "In addition to our conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities, our overall deterrent posture against WMD threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction and domestic law enforcement capabilities", it said.
Senior U.S. officials said the passage was not included (in) the previous U.S. strategy document on weapons of mass destruction, which emphasized efforts to prevent proliferation, and said the new document did not represent a shift in U.S. policy on when it would use nuclear weapons. But the passage was put in the new report as part of an increased emphasis on the role of deterrence against a weapons of mass destruction attack, they said. Other major elements of the new strategy include strengthening nonproliferation measures, beefing up defenses and combating the effects of an attack on the population.
Bush's father, former President George Bush, (made the message clear and explicit) in a letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on the eve of the first Gulf War. In that letter, the United States threatened the "severest consequences" if Iraq were to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States, destroy Kuwaiti oil fields or participate in terrorism.
"The Iraqis have told us that they interpreted that letter as meaning the United States would use nuclear weapons, and it was a powerful deterrent," the official said.
On Tom Paine: a 2 part series:
War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
An Interview With Author Chris Hedges
by Steven Rosenfeld
A New York Times war correspondent's book traces the transformation in people and societies as nations prepare for war -- and then suffer the terrible costs that have nothing to do with the cause and its myths.
...and Part 2: CHRIS HEDGES INTERVIEW
A Reporter Separates The Rhetoric From The Reality of War
by Steven Rosenfeld
"The cause is always a lie. If people understood, or individuals or societies understood in a sensory way what war was, they'd never do it. War is organized industrial slaughter."
Also On Tom Paine: a Book Excerpt:
ARYANS FOR 9/11
An Excerpt From The Terrorist Next Door
by Daniel Levitas
While most Americans were reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, right wing hate groups in the United States were celebrating the "wonderful news."