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Friday, September 15, 2006

Pissed off Prez

President George W. Bush arrives for a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. Bush pushed back at dissenting Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee and renewed his call for legislation to interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Bush responds to dissent among Senate Republicans during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. Facing a GOP revolt in the Senate, President Bush urged Congress on Friday to join in backing legislation to spell out strategies for interrogating and trying terror suspects, saying "the enemy wants to attack us again." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Bush pauses during a Rose Garden news conference, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006,where he confronted a Republican rebellion in the Senate over tough anti-terror legislation led by Sen. John Warner (R-Va), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

President Bush urged Congress on Friday to join in backing legislation to spell out strategies for interrogating and trying terror suspects, during a news conference at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. "Time is running out," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. "Congress needs to act wisely and promptly." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Panel Defies Bush on Terror

Sep 15, 2:59 AM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - A rebellious Senate committee defied President Bush on Thursday and approved terror-detainee legislation he has vowed to block, deepening Republican conflict over terrorism and national security in the middle of the election season.

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, normally a Bush supporter, pushed the measure through his Armed Services Committee by a 15-9 vote, with Warner and three other GOP lawmakers joining Democrats. The vote set the stage for a showdown on the Senate floor as early as next week.

In an embarrassment to the White House, Colin Powell - Bush's first secretary of state - announced his opposition to his old boss' plan, saying it would hurt the country. Powell's successor, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, jumped to the president's defense in a letter of her own. (Naturally. What else does a good handmaiden do? Appended by Redwolf)

President Bush is greeted by former Secretary of State Colin Powell before making remarks at the Initiative for Global Developments 2006 National Summit in a Thursday, June 15, 2006 file photo in Washington. Former Secretary of State Powell endorsed efforts to block President Bush's plan to authorize harsh interrogations of terror suspects Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, even as Bush lobbied personally for it Thursday on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

All this played out after Bush started his day by journeying to the Capitol to try nailing down support for his own version of the legislation - and by issuing a threat to the maverick Republicans.

"I will resist any bill that does not enable this program to go forward with legal clarity," Bush said at the White House.

The president's measure would go further than the Senate package in allowing classified evidence to be withheld from defendants in terror trials, using coerced testimony and protecting CIA and other U.S. interrogators against prosecution for using methods that may violate the Geneva Conventions.

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell, a retired general who is also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his letter.

Powell said Bush's bill, by redefining the kind of treatment the Geneva Conventions allow, "would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

Firing back, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Powell was "confused" about the White House plan. Later, Snow said he probably shouldn't have used that word.

"I know that Colin Powell wants to beat the terrorists, too," he said.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow reacts to questions during his daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, about former Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of efforts to block President Bush's plan to authorize harsh interrogations of terror suspects. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

The administration also produced its own letter from Rice. She wrote that narrowing the standards for detainee treatment as Bush has proposed "would add meaningful definition and clarification to vague terms in the treaties."

In addition, CIA Director Michael Hayden wrote a letter to his employees saying he has asked Congress "to help define our responsibilities so that we and the Department of Justice can judge the appropriateness of any procedures we would propose to use" whle questioning terrorism suspects. He said Bush's bill did that.

In the committee vote, Warner was supported by GOP Sens. McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine. Warner, McCain and Graham had been the most active senators opposing Bush's plan. The vote by the moderate Collins underscored that there might be broad enough GOP support to successfully take on Bush on the floor of the Republican-run Senate.

As the battle mushrooms, it threatens to undermine campaign season assertions by the administration that it has shown a steady hand on security matters and that Republicans should be trusted over Democrats on such issues.

Bush still has many congressional allies, including House and Senate leaders and conservatives, who want to align themselves with the president's tough stance on interrogation and prosecution. The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that supports the administration's position by 52-8.

But that support is not universal. Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., said he told Bush during the president's visit that he should heed the military's top uniformed lawyers, who have previously opposed some provisions of the president's plan.

Buyer and other Republicans are expected to align themselves with McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war during Vietnam. Last year, he overcame Bush's objections to pass legislation banning cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees.

Leaving his closed-door meeting with the House GOP caucus, Bush said he would "continue to work with members of the Congress to get good legislation." He complimented a House bill but did not mention the Senate version.

"I reminded them that the most important job of government is to protect the homeland," he said. Bush was accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney and White House political adviser Karl Rove.

The White House also released a letter to lawmakers signed by the military's top uniformed lawyers. Saying they wanted to clarify past testimony on Capitol Hill in which they opposed the administration's plan, the lawyers wrote that they "do not object" to sections of Bush's proposal for the treatment of detainees.

Two congressional aides who favor McCain's plan said the military lawyers signed that letter after refusing to endorse an earlier one offered by the Pentagon's general counsel, William Haynes, that expressed more forceful support for Bush's plan.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Asked if Haynes had encouraged them to write the letter, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "Not that I'm aware of."

Another Bush bill would give legal status to the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote Wednesday, but it is stalled in the House amid opposition from Democrats and some Republicans concerned that the program violates civil liberties.
During his daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responds to a reporters question about former Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of efforts to block President Bush's plan to authorize harsh interrogations of terror suspects. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Katherine Shrader contributed to this report.

IAEA: U.S. Report on Iran 'Dishonest'

IAEA: U.S. Report on Iran 'Dishonest'

Sep 15, 2:56 AM (ET)


VIENNA, Austria (AP) - A recent House of Representatives committee report on Iran's nuclear capability is "outrageous and dishonest" in trying to make a case that Tehran's program is geared toward making weapons, a senior official of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has said.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday outside a 35-nation board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says the report is false in saying Iran is making weapons-grade uranium at an experimental enrichment site, when it has in fact produced material only in small quantities that is far below the level that can be used in nuclear arms.

The letter, which was first reported on by The Washington Post, also says the report erroneously says that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei removed a senior nuclear inspector from the team investigating Iran's nuclear program "for concluding that the purpose of Iran's nuclear program is to construct weapons."

In fact, the inspector was sidelined on Tehran's request, and the Islamic republic had a right to ask for a replacement under agreements that govern all states relationships with the agency, said the letter, calling the report's version "incorrect and misleading."

"In addition," says the letter, "the report contains an outrageous and dishonest suggestion that such removal might have been for 'not having adhered to an unstated IAEA policy barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about the Iranian nuclear program.'"

Dated Aug. 12, the letter was addressed to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It was signed by Vilmos Cserveny, a senior director of the Vienna-based agency.

An IAEA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the letter, said it was written "to set the record straight."

Jamal Ware, a spokesman for the House committee, confirmed they had received the letter and said the chairman had referred it to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Rep. Rush Hold, D-N.J. They will review it and issue a formal response if necessary, he said.

"All IAEA complains about is a photo caption. If you read the report, it's very clear that what it is saying is that Iran is working to develop the capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade, not that they have done so," Ware said. "They use a string of adjectives, while not pointing to any substantive criticism of the report. There are areas where we would disagree with them. A disagreement does not make what we say erroneous."

The dispute was reminiscent of the clashes between the IAEA and Washington over whether Saddam Hussein was trying to make weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. American arguments that Saddam had such covert arms programs were given as the chief reason for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam.

ElBaradei's criticism of the U.S. standpoint on Iraq and subsequent perceptions that he was soft on Iran in his staff's investigation of suspicions Tehran's nuclear activities may be a cover for a weapons program led to a failed attempt last year by Washington to prevent his re-election.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Take Our Country Back!

Don't Let Osama bin Laden Tell You How To Vote.

Dump the Republican fearmongers.

Living in Republican Hell is getting pretty damn old.

Let's get real again.