Sunday, October 31, 2004

Rudy Giuliani is giving hypocrisy a bad name.

Today on Meet the Press:

Giuliani: “I think Americans have to unite and this [the Bin Laden tape] should not be a partisan political issue. I think President Bush reacted to it exactly the right way… then John Kerry turned right around and tried to politicize it.”

Giuliani’s next sentence: “[Osama Bin Laden] certainly wants George Bush out of the White House.”

(Meet The Press, 10/31/04)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The explosives at al-Qaqaa were not moved before the invasion.

Why you're right:

1. A Minnesota news crew has photographs of the al-Qaqaa explosives 9 days after Saddam’s fall. Embedded members of the KSTP news team traveled with the 101st Airborne to the area of al-Qaqaa 9 days after the invasion and took pictures of boxes labeled “explosives” and “al-Qaqaa.” The news crew reports that once they opened the doors to the bunker, they were never secured. Iraqis were traveling around freely and there was no security in the area. (KSTP, Video report)

2. The IAEA has determined that the explosives were lost after the invasion. The IAEA has concluded that the al-Qaqaa explosives were lost, “after 9 April 2003, through the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security.” The IAEA letter also references UN Resolution 1546, which entrusted the Multinational Force with “the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq.” (IAEA)

3. Despite Bush Administration claims, the weapons did exist at al-Qaqaa. Administration spokesman Dan Senor tried saying that the weapons were probably never there at all. But, facts point in the opposite direction of this revisionist history. A Pentagon official said, "US-led coalition troops had searched Al Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact.” (CNN, AP)


Why they're wrong:


The Bush Administration is once again ignoring the facts. Despite photographs, eyewitness accounts, and expert advice, the Bush Administration is still trying to deny the evidence and pass the buck. The Bush Administration needs to explain its failure, not shift the blame.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rumsfeld is not taking the 380 tons of missing explosives seriously.

In an interview on an Ohio radio station, he compared the looting of powerful explosives to what he believes were exaggerated reports about the looting of the Iraqi national museum. From today's Australian:

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested the controversy over missing Iraqi explosives will probably amount to no more than a tempest in a teapot and compared it to other oversold stories that circulated during the war.

"Do you remember when the museum - everyone said the museum was
looted?" Mr. Rumsfeld said when asked to comment on the disappearance of 380
tons of conventional high explosives from Al-Qaqaa military base south of Baghdad.

[Snip]

But Mr Rumsfeld, in an interview with a Cincinnati, Ohio, radio station said that the whole story reminded him of reports about heavy looting at the Iraqi national museum after the beginning of the war, which later proved to be exaggerated because many of the national treasures had been hidden before the war by museum curators.

[Snip]

He made clear he believed the explosives could still be located because US troops had been finding them hidden in hospitals, in schools, "all across that country, buried in some instances."

(The Australian, 10/27/04)

Here is the link to the transcript of the interview: http://www.dod.gov/transcripts/2004/tr20041026-secdef1501.html


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Bush Administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is irresponsible.

Why you're right:

1.Undersecretary of State John Bolton sees little difference between 2 and 7 nuclear weapons. During the Bush Administration’s total focus on Iraq, North Korea was able to restart work on plutonium and went from 2 to 7 plutonium-based nuclear weapons. Bolton replied, “This is quibbling, to say they had two plutonium-based nuclear weapons and now they have seven. The uranium enrichment capability gives them the ability to produce an unlimited number.” (Washington Post)

2. The Bush Administration ignored nuclear proliferation and went after an empty country. Bush ignored North Korea while he focused on Iraq. Under Bush’s “watch,” North Korea has not only restart work on plutonium, but also expelled U.N. inspectors, restarted its Yongbyon reactors, and withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. While no WMD have been found in Iraq, over 300 tons of explosives (which could be used to detonate a nuclear bombs or be used as car bombs) disappeared under U.S. watch. (Washington Post, New York Times)

3. Less fissile material has been obtained in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before. “Bureaucratic obstacles” and “disputes over access to sensitive sites” have been the two main delays in securing fissile material, but Bush did not step in and help resolve them. These minor complications have allowed more fissile material to get into the wrong hands. If the current rate of obtainment continued, it would be over a decade before the job was done. (Harvard)

4. The administration has cut funding for Nunn-Lugar. The Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program has helped deactivate over 6000 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union and the United States. The current funding level for the program is $450 million, down from its $475 million in 2000. (Nuclear Threat Intiative, Public Law 108-87)

Why they're wrong:

The difference between 2 and 7 nuclear weapons isn’t minor. If the U.S. does not make a real commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, we will lose the war on terrorism. Nuclear weapons are a prize target for terrorists and many nuclear experts believe that there is a good chance that a nuclear attack (killing as many as 500,000 people) could occur against the U.S. within the next ten years. (New York Times)

Monday, October 25, 2004

The White House line on the missing explosives is misleading.

There are 380 tons of explosives missing in Iraq – enough to blow up 380,000 aircraft. White House press secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly tried to minimize the importance of the missing explosives saying, "more than 243,000 tons of munitions have been destroyed since Operation Iraqi Freedom...That puts this all -- that puts this all in context." McClellan is mixing apples and oranges. He is talking about *munitions* which include guns, ammunitions and the like. If 380 tons of munitions were missing it wouldn't be a huge deal. The problem is that 380 tons of powerful *explosives* are missing. (New York Times, White House)

The Bush administration didn't secure 350 tons of explosives because it was a higher priority to secure oil fields.

Today's White House press gaggle:

Q But after Iraqi Freedom, there were those caches all around, wasn't the multinational force -- who was responsible for keeping track --

MR. McCLELLAN: At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields, which we thought would occur. It was a priority to get the reconstruction office up and running. It was a priority to secure the various ministries, so that we could get those ministries working on their priorities, whether it was –

Q So it was the multinational force's responsibility --

MR. McCLELLAN: There were a number of -- well, the coalition forces, there were a number of priorities at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (White House, 10/25/04)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

On October 18, President Bush irresponsibly cut funding for first responders.

Why you’re right:

- The 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, signed by the President on October 18, cut overall funding for first responders by $500 million. (International Association of Fire Fighters)

- A major program providing assistance to firefighters (the FIRE Act) was cut by $100 million. (International Association of Fire Fighters)

- Homeland security block grants for states were cut by $600 million. (Firehouse.com)

- Urban search and rescue grants were cut by $30 million. (International Association of Fire Fighters)

- According to the Council on Foreign Relations even if funding was maintained at 2004 levels, “our country will be $98.4 billion short of meeting 'critical emergency responder needs' over the next five years” (International Association of Fire Fighters)

Why they’re wrong:

1. You can’t blame this on Congress. The administration proposed even deeper cuts in first responder funding. For example, the administration proposed cutting assistance to firefighters by $250 million. (International Association of Fire Fighters)

2. Even Bush doesn’t claim the bill provides increases. In his most recent radio address (Oct. 23) Bush said the bill provides “vital money for first responders.” Note: he doesn’t claim the bill provides more money for first responders. (White House)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Condoleezza Rice should not be touring swing states.

Why you're right:


1. Rice is misusing taxpayer money. With less than two weeks before the election, Rice is using government money to go around the country and speak on national security. She claims that she isn’t campaigning, but she has given nine speeches in the last two months, all in swing states. In her term as National Security Adviser, Rice has given 68 speeches – mostly in Washington, D.C. American taxpayers are paying Rice to campaign for Bush instead of protect the nation. (KDKA, AP, U.S. Newswire)


2. Rice’s swing state tour is distracting her from keeping the nation secure. Rice’s real job is as National Security Adviser, not as a staffer on the Bush campaign. On October 16, Rice was speaking in Ohio as Poland announced it would begin withdrawing its troops from Iraq and as the U.S. conducted airstrikes against Zarqawi hideouts. With soldiers still in Iraq and bin Laden nowhere to be found, Rice should not be using time on the job to campaign. (International Herald Tribune, New York Times)


3. Rice is undermining her credibility at home and abroad. Rice is breaking a longtime tradition of national security advisers being apolitical. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser in the Carter Administration, said, "I know of no other national security adviser who went around and gave as many political speeches as is the current case. The job should be viewed as objective and totally preoccupied with national security." Rice’s tour gives the appearance that the administration’s foreign policies are directly tied to the November election, not the best interests of the nation. (Mercury News)

Why they're wrong:


Rice and the administration refute the charge that she is campaigning for Bush’s reelection, explaining that, "I do think it's important in a time of war -- and we are in a time of war, and the election doesn't change that -- to get out and talk about what the administration is trying to do." But, Rice does not explain why she suddenly decides to visit critical swing states right before the election and neglect her national security duties. (AP)


Bush supporters are wildly misinformed.

75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.

72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.

72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.

69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.

60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.

57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.

56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.

55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.

20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

(Program on International Policy Attitudes)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Bush Administration’s intelligence strategy is deeply flawed.

Why you're right:


1. The Bush Administration lacks long-term vision. The Bush Administration is focused on how to prevent/respond to another 9/11, but is not giving enough attention to the possibility that the attack might be different from 9/11. By ignoring actors who may become terrorists, the Bush Administration is not doing all it can to protect the country. "The current focus on terrorism has done little to address other pressing issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global or organized crime, the tensions between India and Pakistan, a bellicose North Korea, or other national security concerns." (White House, SAIS)


2. The Bush Administration is unable to keep up with the terrorists. Terrorists continue to come up with new, innovative ways to raise, move, and use funds. The CIA has not been able to keep up with the ever-changing, complex landscape of terrorist financing, making it difficult to provide actionable intelligence. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, notes, "Current collection capabilities predominantly reflect a Cold War era reconnaissance paradigm -- one of periodic looks and sampling."(G2 Bulletin, 9/11 Commission Staff Monograph, Senate Armed Services Committee)


3. The Bush Administration is reaping short-term gains at the cost of long-term stability. Drug trafficking, AIDS, money laundering, illegitimate states, and weapons exporting are part of the future of terrorism. But, instead of addressing and targeting these issues, the Bush Administration is fueling the problem through lax oversight and a focus on short-term gains. The U.S. is not adequately monitoring its weapons exports and Homeland Security agents recently discovered plots to divert U.S. night vision lenses to Iran, fighter-jet parts to China, and nuclear triggers to Pakistan. (Denver Post)

Why they're wrong:


Moving boxes is not enough. Although the Bush Administration is proposing to take some type of action on many of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, it needs to look beyond 9/11 and develop a long-term plan for dealing and confronting future terrorists. The Administration is still working with the assumption that "deep down, our adversaries are really just like us [and want to be like us]" and the intelligence community must reconceptualize, not just reorganize. (SAIS)


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Losing Argument: The government is doing everything it can to protect our country

Losing Argument:

"Our government is doing everything we can to stop another attack…We’re doing everything we can to protect our country.” – President Bush, 1/29/02

Why it's a loser:

Here is one reason: "The homeland security agency tasked with hunting down terrorists inside U.S. borders and shutting down human smuggling and nacro-trafficking is so strapped for cash that it’s asking agents to wash government cars at home, on their own time, and use money earmarked for confidential informants to pay for gas." (MSNBC, 10/19/04)

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Bush Administration is partly responsible for the flu vaccine shortage.

Why you're right:

1. The Bush administration knew about the shortage and didn't do anything about it. The administration found out about the shortage – caused by contamination at a factory owned by Chiron in northwest England – in mid-September. Britain found out at the same time and responded to the warning by quickly securing alternative supplies. (Washington Post)

2. The Bush administration failed to encourage more companies to produce vaccines. Part of the problem is that there are only a handful of manufacturers. The Bush administration could have encouraged more suppliers to enter the market by buying vaccines directly, promoting flu shots more aggressively or requiring health insurance companies to cover flu shots. (CBS News)

3. The Bush administration is responsible for regulating Chiron. At the debate on Wednesday Bush said Chiron is "a company out of England." But Chiron is based in California. The government has now decided to investigate if the company violated U.S. law. (Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times)

Why they're wrong:

The Bush administration claims it was not told by British authorities until October 5 that the plant was going to be shut down. But that misses the central point. The administration was told about contamination problems at the plant on September 13. The British took that information and made alternative plans. The Bush administration did nothing. (FDA, Washington Post)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The international coalition in Iraq is not strong.

Why you're right:

1. 7 countries have withdrawn from the coalition. Nicaragua (February 2004); Spain (late April 2004); Dominican Republic (early May 2004); Honduras (late May 2004); Philippines (July 16, 2004); Thailand (late August 2004); and New Zealand (late September 2004). Poland plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq by late 2005. (Global Security, CBC News, Associated Press)

2. 4 countries have, or are planning to, reduce troop commitment. Ukraine (-200); Singapore (reduced from 191 to 33); Moldova (reduced contingent to 12); Norway (reduced from ~150 to 10 in late June 2004/ early July 2004). (Global Security)

3. Arab presence lacking in the coalition. Pakistan has no intention of sending troops to Iraq under the present conditions, with a dangerous security situation Iraq and troops withdrawing from the coalition. No Arab countries are part of the coalition. (Associated Press)

4. U.S. troops are suffering from the weak coalition. The United States has 135,000 troops in Iraq and make up 94% of the overall coalition casualties suffered in Iraq. TheUnited Kingdom is the second largest contributor, with only 8300 troops. (Brookings, CBS News, Knight Ridder)


Why they're wrong:

Bush’s statement of “Our coalition is strong. It will remain strong, so long as I'm the president,” rings hollow. The coalition is losing more members than it is gaining. Only 5 countries are planning to contribute troops or increase present troop strength to the coalition and two of those countries (Romania and Fiji) are still tentative. (Washington Post, Global Security)


Sunday, October 10, 2004

George W. Bush is not committed to civil rights.

Why you’re right:

1. Bush nominated judges to the federal bench who are hostile to civil rights. For example, Bush nominated Charles Pickering Sr. for a U.S. Appeals Court post. Pickering once contacted a friend at the Department of Justice to try to get a reduced sentence for a man who was convicted of cross burning, which Pickering referred to as “youthful prank.” When Pickering’s nomination was rejected by the Senate, Bush installed him to the post during a congressional recess. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

2. Bush reduced funding for government departments responsible for major civil rights programs. After accounting for inflation, the President’s requests for the six major civil rights programs (Departments of Education, Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) amount to a loss of spending power for 2004 and 2005. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

3. Bush doesn’t communicate with civil rights leaders. He does not invite them to the White House to discuss policy concepts or regularly attend their events. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

4. Bush is not committed to voting rights. After securing election by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court, Bush promised to quickly enact voting reform. But the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) wasn’t signed into law until 2002. Then, Bush seated the federal election reform oversight board created by the law 11 months behind schedule, resulting in delayed fund distribution to states. Consequently, states do not have the equipment, infrastructure, or guidance they needed to meet HAVA’s deadlines, including implementation of statewide voter registration databases, development of voter complaint procedures, and installation of new voting equipment. (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

Why they’re wrong:

Bush plays occasional lip service to civil rights. But, more often than not, he is talking about issues that have little connection to civil rights. For example, he consistently refers to his faith based initiatives as a civil rights measure. But the faith-based initiative, however meritorious, does not help ensure equality and justice irrespective of race, ethnicity or gender. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the only connection between the president’s faith-based initiative and civil rights is that the initiative “allows employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII.” (United States Commission on Civil Rights)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The U.S. needs to give Iraqis greater responsibility for more than just security.

Why you're right:

1. Training Iraqi troops has been the focus of the U.S. transfer of power to the Iraqis. Most of the focus by both the administration and the media has been on the security situation in Iraq. Most recently, NATO admitted that its program to help train the Iraqi army will probably not begin until next year. Less coverage has looked at the situation of jobs and reconstruction. (MSNBC, International Herald Tribune)

2. U.S. contractors are profiting at the expense of the Iraqi people. Only $0.27 of every dollar is actually going toward reconstruction projects in Iraq. Funding for “public buildings and other reconstruction” has been allocated $27 million – the smallest allocation of any project category – and only $8 million has been disbursed. $0.15 of every dollar goes to “corruption, fraud, and mismanagement,” mostly to U.S. and British contractors, who have received 85% of the value of overall contracts. (Iraqi firms have received only 2%.) Therefore, while corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel are profiting from the war, little money is actually going to the Iraqi people. (CSIS, Brookings, CPI, Washington Post)

3. Iraqis need more than just the “messy” jobs. 30-40% of Iraqis are unemployed, a figure that has been relatively static since December 2003. Too much money is going toward large U.S. corporations, which have been fraught with waste and mismanagement, and not enough toward small, decentralized projects run by Iraqis, which would decrease unemployment levels. The majority of the jobs going to Iraqis have been messy work, such as digging ditches, cleaning canals, and picking up after the war. (Brookings, Washington Post)


Why they're wrong:

Iraqis need security, but they also need to be working. Without economic stability and employment, Iraqis will continue to resent the United States. Although short-term and economic reconstruction programs will be receiving another roughly $660 million, the rest of the re-allocated $3.46 billion will go toward security measures. The U.S. must make giving Iraqis jobs and economic stability a priority, and better oversee how government funds are spent by corporations. (Washington Post)


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Losing Argument: You can't win a war you don't believe in fighting

Losing Argument:

"You can't win a war you don't believe in fighting" – George W. Bush, 10/6/04

Why it's a loser:

It conflates two points. First point: knowing what we know now – no WMD, no collaborative relationship with al-Qaeda – it was the wrong decision to go to war. Second point: now that we are there, we have to win. In other words, it is possible to believe that starting something is a bad idea but recognize – once you've begun – you have to finish it. Similarly, if you're pushed off a boat, you may not want to be in the water, but you still have to swim to shore.

The Bush Administration is not taking seriously the greatest threat to the nation.

Why you're right:

1. A nuclear attack by terrorists is the greatest threat facing the U.S. In last night’s vice presidential debate, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "The biggest threat we faced today is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon . . . into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans." William Perry, the former secretary of defense, believes that a nuclear attack may happen within the next six years, and warns, "We’re racing toward unprecedented catastrophe. This is preventable, but we’re not doing the things that could prevent it." (CNN, New York Times)

2. Nuclear facilities in the United States are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. 40,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel at 104 nuclear facilities in the United States are still vulnerable to theft or detonation. Guard training, fire protection, security of spent nuclear fuel pools, and strategies in case of an attack are inadequate. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still lacks a "routine, centralized process for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating security inspections to identify problems that may be common to plants." (Dept. of Homeland Security, Council on Foreign Relations, GAO)

3. The administration is not making a real commitment to nonproliferation. The Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program has helped deactivate over 6000 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union and the United States. The current funding level for the program is $450 million, down from its $475 million in 2000. Additionally, fewer fissile materials were secured in the two years before 9/11 than in the two years after. (Nuclear Threat Intiative, Public Law 108-87, House Democrats)

Why they're wrong:

Cheney isn’t the only administration official to recognize the threat of a nuclear terrorist attack. Bush also said, "The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons." But, they seem to be looking in the wrong places. Iraq has not turned up any chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons and the administration continues to underfund programs with a track record of nonproliferation. (CNN)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Republicans are trying to suppress the black vote.

Why you're right:

1. Republicans are trying to suppress the black vote in Orlando. Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush – have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an "investigation" that has frightened many voters. Many of the elderly black voters who were question by state police officers are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been effectively in mobilizing the city's black vote. (New York Times)


2. Republicans are trying to suppress the black vote in Detroit. A co-chair of the Bush-Cheney '04 Michigan Veterans Leadership Team, John Pappageorge, called recently for his party to "suppress the vote" in Detroit. Detroit is 80 percent black. (Seattle Times)


3. Republicans are trying to suppress the black vote in Kentucky. The state GOP has made plans to place "vote challengers" in African American precincts. Black Republicans in Kentucky asked the party to shelve the idea. (PFAW)


Why they're wrong
:

Some say that policies labeled "voter suppression" are actually efforts to prevent voter fraud. There are two problems with this argument. First, legitimate efforts to permit voter fraud would focus on all voters, not just black voters or majority black precincts. Second, certain Republicans, including one connected with the Bush campaign, have been explicit about their desire to specifically suppress the black vote.