29-Apr-2003, 12:02 AM #1
And the beat goes on, the beat goes on
Israeli envoy urges regime change in Syria and Iran
Ambassador to US calls for sanctions and diplomatic isolation
Oliver Burkeman in Washington
Tuesday April 29, 2003
Israel's ambassador to the US called for "regime change" in Iran and Syria yesterday as players in the Middle East staked out their positions before a crucial Palestinian vote that is expected to trigger publication of the American-backed "road map" to peace.
Removing Saddam Hussein was "not enough", said Daniel Ayalon. But war against Syria and Iran was not the answer, he added, advocating isolating them diplomatically, imposing economic sanctions and using "psychological pressure".
The war in Iraq "has to follow through", he told a conference in Washington of the Anti-Defamation League, an organisation that campaigns against anti-semitism. "We still have great threats of that magnitude coming from Syria, coming from Iran."
His remarks, likely to alarm doves in the Bush administration, came the day before the Palestinian parliament was expected to approve the cabinet of the newly appointed prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, the condition set down by President George Bush for the publication of the road map, which envisages a Palestinian state within three years.
Mr Abbas and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, brought an apparent close to five weeks of in-fighting yesterday when Mr Arafat's Fatah movement directed its members in the Palestinian parliament to approve the cabinet.
A cabinet member, Saeb Erekat, offered cause for optimism when he said a deal had been reached for US personnel to monitor the security provisions of the road map, resolving Palestinian demands.
The Jordanian foreign minister, Marwan Muasher, said in Washington that Israel should end curfews and demolitions in the West Bank and Gaza as a start to the peace process.
The road map has not been published, but according to numerous leaks its first phase calls on the Palestinian leadership to demand "an immediate end to acts of violence against Israelis everywhere".
Mr Ayalon said the Palestinian prime minister would have to dismantle the infrastructures of groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad if there was any hope of progress.
"There cannot be a situation where we negotiate during the day and get killed at night," he said. Israel was "not going to [make it] as conditional for starting the process, but certainly the process cannot go forward if terror continues".
A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, sought to play down Mr Ayalon's remarks on Syria and Iran. "These countries are a major threat. They have stated their ultimate aim is the destruction of the Jewish state," the spokesman said. "We do not prescribe the methods by which these regimes should be removed, but it's obvious we would want them to change."
Mr Ayalon said governments should not allow Iranian leaders to visit, nor should they visit Iran, and he condemned the EU for encouraging commercial relations with Tehran.
"I certainly do not see any aggressive military campaign ... Nobody is suggesting that," he told the conference. But "there are other means that can be exhausted ... the way to deal with Iran for instance is to delegitimise its regime and the way to do that is applying political pressure ... and economic sanctions."
But Buthaina Shabaan, a Syrian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said in a television interview that the remarks demonstrated the problems caused by the "Sharonian agenda ... all that Sharon wants to do in the region is wars and destruction".
29-Apr-2003, 08:40 AM #3
U.S. soldiers fire on Iraqi protesters after being shot at; Hospital chief says 13 Iraqis are dead
By Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press, 4/29/2003 08:00
FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) U.S. soldiers opened fire on Iraqis at a demonstration after being shot at with automatic rifles by some in the crowd, a U.S. officer said Tuesday. The director of the local hospital said 13 people were killed and 75 injured.
The shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. Monday in the town of Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad. The predominantly Sunni Muslim area provided strong support for Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
Col. Arnold Bray of the 82nd Airborne Division, who gave the U.S. account of the clash, said at least seven Iraqis were hit by gunfire but could not confirm the reported deaths.
Dr. Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali, director of Fallujah General Hospital, said there were 13 dead, including three boys no older than 10. He said his medical crews were shot at when they went to retrieve the injured, which he said numbered 75 people.
The demonstrators reportedly were protesting U.S. troops' presence in Fallujah. But some townspeople said the protest was held by students aged 5 to 20 to ask the soldiers to leave the school they were staying at so classes, scheduled to resume Tuesday, could take place.
U.S. troops in the town are headquartered in the school, and some in the crowd fired on the schoolhouse, Bray said. The al-Jazeera television station, quoting local residents, said the U.S. troops opened fire after someone threw a rock at the school.
Bray said there were infiltrators in the crowd, including some who were armed and on nearby rooftops.
''Which kind of schoolboys carry AK-47s?'' Bray said.
Residents said the shooting continued for at least 30 minutes.
Edtesam Shamsudeim, 37, said her 45-year-old brother died in the gunfire. She was shot in the leg and her husband was wounded.
''We were sitting in our house. When the shooting started, my husband tried to close the door to keep the children in, and he was shot,'' she said at the hospital, sitting in a chair with a bandaged leg, surrounded by some of her children. Their clothes stained with bloody handprints.
''Americans are criminals,'' she said.
U.S. Central Command in Qatar had no immediate comment on the clash.
Outside the school Tuesday afternoon, people chanted for U.S. forces to leave Iraq. ''Go, go USA!'' they said in Arabic, adding some English at the end: ''Go away!''
Thousands of distraught people were attending funerals for the victims Tuesday, al-Jazeera reported.
29-Apr-2003, 11:13 AM #5
where are the Saddam look-alikes?
Yes, but where are the Saddam look-alikes?
COLLATERAL DAMAGE/SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN
[ TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2003 06:00:05 PM ]
Ever since the fall of Baghdad, everyone's been asking where's Saddam and where are the weapons of mass destruction he allegedly had. Fair enough. But the question that intrigues me the most is this: Where on earth are his famed look-alikes? If Saddam is dead, did they all, to the last man, die with him? And if he's slipped out of the country -- to Syria, Belarus, wherever -- did he manage to take each and every one of his replicas with him? Are there, even as we speak, a dozen Saddams sadly sipping vodka (doubles, no doubt) in some seedy bar in Minsk or Vitebsk?
From the first day, Iraqi television began broadcasting footage of a defiant Saddam untouched by the US `decapitation strike' against him, the American and British media have been telling us not to trust our own eyes. Even though you think you're seeing Saddam, reporters told us breathlessly, you can't be sure because the Iraqi leader is known to use a series of body doubles for his public appearances. This claim was often simply asserted as fact, or at best sourced to "Iraqi exiles" and "Western intelligence agencies".
To tell you the truth, I was always a bit sceptical about this explanation. First of all, in the 38 years I've been around on this planet, I've yet to see any human being with an exact body double, let alone several such human replicas so perfect in every manner as Saddam's were said to be.
And then there was the administrative aspect which bothered me. Was there a special department of the Iraqi government which kept track of the look-alikes, graded them according to quality and reliability, and decided whether Saddam 1, 4 or 8 should be used for such and such appearance? Finally, what would happen if one of the look-alikes - or his handlers - were to assert that the real Saddam was actually an impostor and order his summary execution? Was there a procedure laid down conclusively to identify the real McCoy? DNA tests, blood groups, perhaps a conveniently inflicted scar on the derriere?
On my part, I'm willing to bet that the failure of the US occupiers to locate and capture even one of the alleged Saddam doubles strongly suggests the Iraqi leader never had any. I reckon the story about body doubles is a classic psy-op, a theory probably floated by the Pentagon's erstwhile Office of Strategic Influence in order to demoralise and disorient the enemy. I don't know who or how this bit of information warfare was first foisted on the media but once it was out there, there was no shortage of journalists and editors gullible enough to retail an obviously suspect, nonfalsifiable theory.
But the psy-ops didn't end there. Throughout the war, the Pentagon used the media to spread disinformation about the course of the fighting, inventing civilian uprisings where there were none (Basra), chemical weapons factories where there were none (near Najaf), Iraqi anti-aircraft fire falling back onto earth to kill civilians (rather than US missiles being responsible), and bizarre claims about Iraqi soldiers "pushing women and children on to the street" and firing at "coalition forces" from behind these "human shields." Though the last claim has by now entered war lore, there is not even one credible eyewitness account from an embedded journalist to substantiate this charge, let alone establish that this was a widespread, pervasive Iraqi tactic. What the claim did, however, was to shift the blame for civilian deaths away from the invading army and on to the defenders.
The most impressive psy-op of the war, however, occurred on its last day, when US soldiers toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdous Square, Baghdad. The square is right opposite the Palestine Hotel where foreign journalists were staying. All US TV stations showed carefully framed, close-up footage of what seemed like a largish crowd toppling the statue with the assistance of a US army vehicle. The footage was shown live for hours, repeatedly broadcast throughout the day, especially by CNN and BBC, and cited by US leaders as proof of the 'legitimacy' of the war.
While most Iraqis were glad to be rid of Saddam, they had been reluctant to perform in large numbers for the invading army. With the blood of 2,000 Iraqi civilians and 10,000 soldiers on their hands, Bush and Rumsfeld needed cathartic footage of the oppressed masses surging forward towards freedom. The Firdous Square statue toppling was conceived for this purpose and executed brilliantly.
Had TV cameras shown a long shot of Firdous Square, the impression the toppling would have created would be very different. There is a long shot posted on the web (http://nyc.indymedia.org/front.php3?...&group=webcast) which shows a largely empty square cordoned off by US tanks. Small clusters of Iraqis outside the square can be seen watching the toppling of the statue, as silent spectators rather than active participants.
Now, the question is, who were the few dozen Iraqis trying to bring the statue down? Obviously people the Americans trusted because the footage clearly shows some two dozen boisterous men clambering on top of the US army vehicle and charging at the statue. Remember, this was barely ten days after the suicide attack in central Iraq which claimed the lives of four US soldiers and a few days after nervous, trigger happy marines had mowed down a whole family when their car didn't slow down at a checkpost.
But even if the statue topplers were men the Americans could trust, who were they? Photographs doing the rounds on the Net strongly suggest they were members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress militia who had been flown into Nasiriya on April 6. One INC man in uniform shown with Chalabi at Nasiriya reappears in civilian clothes in a Reuters photograph from Baghdad on April 9, the day the statue is toppled, celebrating the entry of US soldiers. Readers can view and compare the two photographs at the same website mentioned above.
The only explanation for the coincidence is that like Saddam, the Chalabi supporter also has a body double. Wily aren't they, these Iraqis?
COMMENTS ON THIS ARTICLE
29-Apr-2003, 02:40 PM #6
GEE and I thought that he did it out of the "goodness of his heart"
Well, after all he is a lawyer.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Iraqi lawyer who helped U.S commandos locate and rescue prisoner of war Jessica Lynch has been granted asylum in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Tuesday.
29-Apr-2003, 02:45 PM #7
Giving in to Osama?
U.S. to move operations from Saudi base
From Barbara Starr
Tuesday, April 29, 2003 Posted: 2:13 PM EDT (1813 GMT)
Prince Sultan Air Base
• Transition of Power
• Life after War
• CNN/Money: Rebuilding Iraq
• War in Iraq
• Special Report
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- The large U.S. military presence at Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Air Base is expected to end in the coming months, depending on the security situation in Iraq, U.S. officials told CNN on Tuesday.
The decision to move significant U.S. military resources and personnel to neighboring Qatar marks a major shift in U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf region after a longtime presence in Saudi Arabia, currently at about 5,000 troops.
More than 100 aircraft and the U.S. Combined Air Operations Center at the base are expected to make the move, and some of those aircraft could be permanently reassigned to the United States, officials said.
The center will be moved to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, part of the post-war U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, military sources have told CNN.
However, officials said the United States will maintain a robust military relationship with the Saudis, including a training and exercise program.
During the war in Iraq, Saudi Arabia allowed the United States to use Prince Sultan as a command and control center for U.S. aircraft. U.S. aerial refueling tankers, reconnaissance planes and other noncombat aircraft were allowed to land and take off there, but Saudi Arabia denied the United States permission to use its bases to attack Iraq.
"By transferring the command and control [center] from Saudi Arabia to the air base in Qatar, they will not face the same difficulties they have had in Saudi Arabia in recent years in getting approval for specific operations," said Richard Murphy, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
In January 2002, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told CNN that Saudi officials had asked the United States to reduce its military presence there. "I think it's in the long-term interest of both countries," Card said.
Exiled Saudi Osama bin Laden has cited the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia as a core grievance in his self-proclaimed holy war against the United States. Fifteen of the 19 September 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. government.
In addition, anti-American and pro-bin Laden sentiment has been strong in some parts of the kingdom, home of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The Combined Air Operations Center has been operating from Prince Sultan since 1997, monitoring airspace operations across the region and conducting patrol missions in the former "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq.
The United States helped build military installations in Saudi Arabia during the 1980s and sent hundreds of thousands of troops there during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
29-Apr-2003, 02:53 PM #8
How many people besides him do you think were willing to help Jessica Lynch? The Doctors? Nurses? Cleaning people? Cafeteria workers? Seems like this little lawyer had more good in his heart than any of those people did at the time.
29-Apr-2003, 03:49 PM #9
30-Apr-2003, 04:21 AM #11
I fully realize that without a video tape of this event, there can be at least two versions to this scene. The US military and the Iraqi. And world opinion is fickle and often doesn't follow 'facts'.
And The Beat Goes ON
U.S. Troops Fire on Iraq Protesters Again
U.S. Troops Fire on Anti-American Protesters in Iraq for Second Time This Week; 2 Wounded
The Associated Press
FALLUJAH, Iraq April 30 —
U.S. troops opened fire on anti-American demonstrators for the second time this week as Iraqis marched Wednesday to protest the previous shooting. At least two Iraqis were seen to be wounded.
The gunfire came less than 48 hours after a shooting during a demonstration Monday night that hospital officials said killed 13 Iraqis.
There was no immediate indication of any American casualties.
About 1,000 residents were marching down Fallujah's main street and stopped in front of a battalion headquarters of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. They were carrying signs condemning Monday night's shooting.
When some protesters started throwing rocks and shoes at the U.S.-held compound a former office of Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party troops inside suddenly opened fire at about 10:30 a.m., according to Associated Press reporters on the scene.
The demonstrators scattered, leaving two of their number fallen. Others came back and picked up the wounded and carried them off.
U.S. Capt. Jeff Wilbur, 25, of Annapolis, Md., a civil affairs officer for the 1st Battalion's 325 Airborne regimen, said the United States was investigating whether protesters had fired on troops. He said it was not clear whether any Americans were hurt in Wednesday's incident.
Iraqi city officials who witnessed the gunfire said they saw or heard no shooting from among the protesters.
U.S. Apache attack helicopters circled the site throughout the march and the aftermath, but did not open fire.
"Why? The demonstrators didn't use guns, so why should the soldiers start attacking them?" asked the imam of the Grand Fallujah Mosque, Jamal Shaqir Mahmood.
He said the Americans should pull out of Fallujah or at least cut back their forces.
"There is no (Iraqi) military presence here. Why is there an American military presence? We just want a reduction in the numbers," he said.
The incident, coupled with the deaths Monday outside a school in Fallujah, a conservative Sunni Muslim city and Baath Party stronghold 30 miles west of the capital, are increasing tension as American troops try to keep the peace in Iraq.
In the Monday night clash, U.S. Central Command said paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne were fired on by about 25 armed civilians mixed within an estimated crowd of 200 protesters outside a compound where the troops were staying.
Demonstrators said no gunfire came from their side during the Monday night incident.
30-Apr-2003, 10:31 AM #12
RE: Stoner's last article....
I think that, in fairness, the U.S. soldiers would only have fired upon the crowd if there was a real threat presented.
The fact that American soldiers are currently "walking on eggshells" (so to speak) is fairly evident I think, by the fact that so many precautions have been taken not to be seen as "disrespectful" to the predominant Muslim culture there (like being careful not to approach or enter any holy sites, for example). Also, look at the whole "no American flags" rule.
Why would they worry about disrepecting their religion, or their national pride, but feel free to kill "harmless" protestors? It just doesn't make sense.
01-May-2003, 11:07 PM #14
Everybody wants a piece of the action!!!!!!!!
And , Now, A Word from Janes
and the beat goes on____________________
Oil from Iraq : An Israeli pipedream?
Israel stands to benefit greatly from the US led war on Iraq, primarily by getting rid of an implacable foe in President Saddam Hussein and the threat from the weapons of mass destruction he was alleged to possess. But it seems the Israelis have other things in mind.
An intriguing pointer to one potentially significant benefit was a report by Haaretz on 31 March that minister for national infrastructures Joseph Paritzky was considering the possibility of reopening the long-defunct oil pipeline from Mosul to the Mediterranean port of Haifa. With Israel lacking energy resources of its own and depending on highly expensive oil from Russia, reopening the pipeline would transform its economy.
To resume supplies from Mosul to Haifa would require the approval of whatever Iraqi government emerges and presumably the Jordanian government, through whose territory it would be likely to run. Paritzky's ministry was reported to have said on 9 April that it would hold discussions with Jordanian authorities on resuming oil supplies from Mosul, with one source saying the Jordanians were "optimistic". Jordan, aware of the deep political sensitivities involved, immediately denied there were any such talks.
Paritzky said he was certain the USA would respond favourably to the idea of resurrecting the pipeline. Indeed, according to Western diplomatic sources in the region, the USA has discussed this with Iraqi opposition groups.
It is understood from diplomatic sources that the Bush administration has said it will not support lifting UN sanctions on Iraq unless Saddam's successors agree to supply Israel with oil.
All of this lends weight to the theory that Bush's war is part of a masterplan to reshape the Middle East to serve Israel's interests. Haaretz quoted Paritzky as saying that the pipeline project is economically justifiable because it would dramatically reduce Israel's energy bill.
US efforts to get Iraqi oil to Israel are not surprising. Under a 1975 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the US guaranteed all Israel's oil needs in the event of a crisis. The MoU, which has been quietly renewed every five years, also committed the USA to construct and stock a supplementary strategic reserve for Israel, equivalent to some US$3bn in 2002. Special legislation was enacted to exempt Israel from restrictions on oil exports from the USA.
Moreover, the USA agreed to divert oil from its home market, even if that entailed domestic shortages, and guaranteed delivery of the promised oil in its own tankers if commercial shippers were unwilling or not available to carry the crude to Israel. All of this adds up to a potentially massive financial commitment.
The USA has another reason for supporting Paritzky's project: a land route for Iraqi oil direct to the Mediterranean would lessen US dependence on Gulf oil supplies. Direct access to the world's second-largest oil reserves (with the possibility of expansion through so-far untapped deposits) is an important strategic objective.
477 of 983 words
[End of non-subscriber extract.]
02-May-2003, 07:34 AM #15
Who did or didn't do what? And how does 911 play into the hands of re-election campains and why the secrecy?
and the beat goes on_____________________
The Secrets of September 11
The White House is battling to keep a report on the terror attacks secret. Does the 2004 election have anything to do with it?
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE
April 30 — Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks, administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks.
AT THE CENTER of the dispute is a more-than-800-page secret report prepared by a joint congressional inquiry detailing the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that preceded the attacks—including provocative, if unheeded warnings, given President Bush and his top advisers during the summer of 2001.
The report was completed last December; only a bare-bones list of “findings” with virtually no details was made public. But nearly six months later, a “working group” of Bush administration intelligence officials assigned to review the document has taken a hard line against further public disclosure. By refusing to declassify many of its most significant conclusions, the administration has essentially thwarted congressional plans to release the report by the end of this month, congressional and administration sources tell NEWSWEEK. In some cases, these sources say, the administration has even sought to “reclassify” some material that was already discussed in public testimony—a move one Senate staffer described as “ludicrous.” The administration’s stand has infuriated the two members of Congress who oversaw the report—Democratic Sen. Bob Graham and Republican Rep. Porter Goss. The two are now preparing a letter of complaint to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Graham is “increasingly frustrated” by the administration’s “unwillingness to release what he regards as important information the public should have about 9-11,” a spokesman said. In Graham’s view, the Bush administration isn’t protecting legitimate issues of national security but information that could be a political “embarrassment,” the aide said. Graham, who last year served as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, recently told NEWSWEEK: “There has been a cover-up of this.”
Graham’s stand may not be terribly surprising, given that the Florida Democrat is running for president and is seeking to use the issue himself politically. But he has found a strong ally in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Goss, a staunch Republican (and former CIA officer) who in the past has consistently defended the administration’s handling of 9-11 issues and is considered especially close to Cheney.
“I find this process horrendously frustrating,” Goss said in an interview. He was particularly piqued that the administration was refusing to declassify material that top intelligence officials had already testified about. “Senior intelligence officials said things in public hearings that they [administration officials] don’t want us to put in the report,” said Goss. “That’s not something I can rationally accept without further public explanation.”
Unlike Graham, Goss insists there are no political “gotchas” in the report, only a large volume of important information about the performance and shortcomings of U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies prior to September 11.
And even congressional staffers close to the process say it is unclear whether the administration’s resistance to public disclosure reflects fear of political damage or simply an ingrained “culture of secrecy” that permeates the intelligence community—and has strong proponents at the highest levels of the White House.
The mammoth report reflects nearly 10 months of investigative work by a special staff hired jointly by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and overseen by Eleanor Hill, a former federal prosecutor and Pentagon inspector general. Hill’s team got access to hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents from the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and other executive-branch agencies. The staff also conducted scores of interviews with senior officials, field agents and intelligence officers. (They were not, however, given access to some top White House aides, such as national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice or other principals like Secretary of State Colin Powell or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.) The team’s report was approved by the two intelligence committees last Dec. 10. But because the document relied so heavily on secret material, the administration “working group,” overseen by CIA director George Tenet, had to first “scrub” the document and determine which portions could be declassified.
More than two months later, the working group came back with its decisions—and some members were flabbergasted. Entire portions remained classified. Some of the report—including some dealing with matters that had been extensively aired in public, such as the now famous FBI “Phoenix memo” of July 2001 reporting that Middle Eastern nationals might be enrolling in U.S. flight schools—were “reclassified.” Hill has since submitted proposed changes to the working group, pointing out the illogic of trying to pull back material that was already in the public domain. But officials have indicated the “review” process is likely to drag on for months—with no guarantees that the “working group” will be any more amenable to public disclosure.
A U.S. intelligence official cited international distractions as at least one reason for the delays. “In case you hadn’t noticed, there have been two wars going on,” the official said. The official added: “We’re working this [report] to try to get it out without putting lives at risk and without endangering sources and methods.” Asked why the working group was refusing to permit disclosure of material that had already been made public, the official said: “Just because something had been inadvertently released, doesn’t make it unclassified.”
The administration’s tough stand, some sources say, doesn’t augur well for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks—which is conducting its own investigation into the events of 9-11. Already, flaps have developed on that front, as well. When one commissioner, former congressman Tim Roemer, last week sought to review transcripts of some of the joint inquiry’s closed-door hearings, he was denied access—because the commission staff had agreed to a White House request to allow its lawyers to first review the material to determine if the president wants to invoke executive privilege to keep the material out of the panel’s hands.
“I think it’s outrageous,” says Roemer, who plans to raise the matter at a commission hearing this week. But a commission staffer says he expected the White House review to be finished by the end of the week, and it was unclear whether the president’s lawyers would try to invoke executive privilege—a stand that would almost certainly provoke a major legal battle with the panel.
The tensions over the release of 9-11 related material seems especially relevant—if not ironic—in light of recent reports that the president’s political advisers have devised an unusual re-election strategy that essentially uses the story of September 11 as the liftoff for his campaign. The White House is delaying the Republican nominating convention, scheduled for New York City, until the first week in September 2004—the latest in the party’s history. That would allow Bush’s acceptance speech, now slated for Sept. 2, to meld seamlessly into 9-11 commemoration events due to take place in the city the next week.
Some sources who have read the still-secret congressional report say some sections would not play quite so neatly into White House plans. One portion deals extensively with the stream of U.S. intelligence-agency reports in the summer of 2001 suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning an upcoming attack against the United States—and implicitly raises questions about how Bush and his top aides responded. One such CIA briefing, in July 2001, was particularly chilling and prophetic. It predicted that Osama bin Laden was about to launch a terrorist strike “in the coming weeks,” the congressional investigators found. The intelligence briefing went on to say: “The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.”
The substance of that intelligence report was first disclosed at a public hearing last September by staff director Hill. But at the last minute, Hill was blocked from saying precisely who within the Bush White House got the briefing when CIA director Tenet classified the names of the recipients. (One source says the recipients of the briefing included Bush himself.) As a result, Hill was only able to say the briefing was given to “senior government officials.”
That issue is now being refought in the context over the full report. The report names names, gives dates and provides a body of new information about the handling of many other crucial intelligence briefings—including one in early August 2001 given to national-security adviser Rice that discussed Al Qaeda operations within the United States and the possibility that the group’s members might seek to hijack airplanes. The administration “working group” is still refusing to declassify information about the briefings, sources said, and has even expressed regret that some of the material was ever provided to congressional investigators in the first place.
A NEW HAND IN HOMELAND SECURITY
The White House is once again shuffling the deck in the staffing of top terrorism jobs, NEWSWEEK has learned. Gen. John A. Gordon—who has wielded broad if largely unseen powers as deputy national-security advisor in charge of combating terrorism—is moving up to become White House homeland-security adviser, a post formerly held by Tom Ridge. The new job is expected to give the brusque and secretive Gordon even more power as a “principal” with direct access to Bush. (Ridge is now secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.) Sources say Gordon beat out ex-FBI official James Kallstrom—an old ally of former FBI director Louis Freeh—for the key post.
The elevation of Gordon is the latest sign of the increasing prominence of intelligence-community veterans throughout the upper reaches of the government under Bush. (FBI director Robert Mueller, for example, recently reached outside the ranks of his law-enforcement agents to select Maureen A. Baginski, a former National Security Agency deputy director, to oversee FBI intelligence efforts.) For his part, Gordon was a former deputy CIA director with a reputation as a “a results-oriented guy” who has little patience for bureaucratic procedures, according to one former government official who has worked with him.
Gordon’s departure, however, leaves vacancies at the two top White House counterterrorism jobs: Gordon’s old post and that of his former deputy, Rand Beers, who resigned the week the war in Iraq began. On the surface, the vacancies seem conspicuous in an administration that has made combating terrorism the centerpiece of its policies. But sources say a vigorous search has been underway and replacements are likely to be named shortly.
© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.
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