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Wednesday, 24 March 2004

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Five CJD deaths in north N.J. in 15 months
By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 3/24/2004 1:14 PM
WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- A 62-year old man in Northern New Jersey has died from a brain disorder that appears to be Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which, if confirmed, would be the fifth case of the rare disease in a little over a year in a two-county area, United Press International has learned.
The death last Friday of Ronald Swartz, of Denville, also would be the second CJD case in 2004 in New Jersey, where federal and state health authorities are investigating a potential cluster of cases of the rare brain disorder in the southern region of the state.
UPI also has learned that officials have reopened the case of a Philadelphia woman who died in 2000 and that case also is included among those in the possible cluster. Carrie Mahan, 29, died from a brain disorder that was never identified, but which physicians initially suspected of being the nation's first case of variant CJD, the form of the disease linked to mad cow disease.
The possible CJD cluster is associated with the Garden State Race Track in Cherry Hill, where as many as 13 CJD deaths might have occurred among employees and patrons who ate at the now defunct track. Both variant CJD and the spontaneously occurring form of the disease -- called sporadic CJD or simply CJD -- are incurable conditions that degenerate the brain and ultimately cause death.
Swartz's case does not appear linked to the racetrack, but if his death turns out to be due to CJD, it would make five confirmed or probable cases of the disease in the adjoining area of Somerset and Morris counties within a span of only 15 months.
Somerset already had recorded a probable CJD death this year, as well as two confirmed cases last year, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Morris county, where Swartz resided, recorded a probable case in 2003.
This would be an unusually high number for a uncommon disorder that is thought to occur at the rate of only one case per 1 million population per year.
The combined population of the two counties is approximately 789,000, so they would expect to see no more than one case of sporadic CJD in that time frame. According to DHSS figures, which go back to 1979, the two counties have never experienced two CJD cases in the same year -- let alone five.
Asked about the seemingly high rate, DHSS spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino said, "New Jersey's incident rate (for the entire state) is approximately 8 per year and thus there is no indication that we are exceeding the average case count per year." Sciortino added, "In fact, over the last 25 years there have been instances where the total number of cases topped out at around 14 per year."
DHSS officials, who are looking into the racetrack cluster, might be investigating Swartz's case.
Carolyn Swartz, Ronald's wife, said through his brother Wayne that infectious disease specialists from the New Jersey Health Department had contacted her about the case while Ronald was in St. Clare's Hospital in Sussex, the facility where he initially received treatment prior to being transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
Wayne Swartz said he was uncertain what information the New Jersey officials were seeking, and the DHSS declined to comment on the case, citing federal regulations that prohibit such disclosure.
"We do not comment on individual CJD cases because federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws prevent us from disclosing any information that might help in ascertaining a patient's identity," Sciortino told UPI.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which is assisting the DHSS in the investigation into the potential cluster, also declined to comment on the Swartz case. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said last week he would look into it but did not return UPI's phone call and an e-mail.
In an interview prior to Ronald Swartz's death, Wayne told UPI, neurologists at Presbyterian had informed the family they were nearly certain Ronald was suffering from CJD.
"They are 100 percent certain that's what it is," Wayne said. The only way to conclusively diagnose the disease, however, is via an autopsy, which Wayne said the family plans to have done on Ronald, who would have turned 63 on Wednesday.
Concerns about vCJD have been heightened since the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in Washington last December. There have been no confirmed cases of vCJD in the United States, except for a 22-year old woman in Florida in 2002 who was a United Kingdom citizen and was thought to have contracted the disease while in England.
Ronald Swartz's age makes him an unlikely candidate for vCJD because the disease typically strikes those under age 55. But vCJD is a possibility because it previously has been detected in elderly people in the United Kingdom -- including a 74-year-old man and a recently discovered case of a 62-year-old man, who appears to have contracted the disease via an infected blood transfusion.
Janet Skarbek, a private citizen in Cinnaminson, N.J., who identified the CJD cases tied to the Garden State Race Track, thinks they are due to the consumption of beef contaminated with mad cow disease that might have been served at the track.
Both the DHSS and the CDC doubt Skarbek's hypothesis and downplay the possibility of a cluster related to either the racetrack or mad-cow-tainted beef.
Carrie Mahan, the subject of the newly reopened case, worked at the racetrack and is included in the list of potential cluster victims compiled by Skarbek.
Mahan's physicians at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia initially suspected she was suffering from variant CJD due to her young age. Subsequent tests at the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland -- an institute set up by the CDC to autopsy possible vCJD cases -- ruled out both vCJD and CJD.
The case has baffled neurologists, such as Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the Surveillance Center, because Mahan's condition was never identified conclusively. However, many experts, including Dr. Nicholas Gonatas -- the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Mahan -- thought it was CJD.
Now Gambetti plans to determine if newer, more sensitive tests developed since 2000 can detect the presence of prions, the agents thought to be responsible for both CJD and vCJD, in Mahan's brain tissue.
Allen Mahan, Carrie's brother, said Gambetti requested permission from him last week to retest Carrie's brain tissue.
"Gambetti said they've developed new testing methods and they want to try them out on her case," Allen told UPI.
Gambetti declined to comment on the case due to patient confidentiality restrictions, but he said CJD tests are now more sensitive and offer "better detection ability" than in 2000.
Another factor driving the decision to re-examine Mahan's diagnosis could be the opinions of neurologists who observed the slides of her brain when Gambetti recently presented them anonymously at a neurology meeting. Allen said Gambetti told him most neurologists there had agreed the condition looked like CJD.
He added Gambetti said he expects to have the updated results in about three months.
Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail

Copyright ? 2001-2004 United Press International
Analysis: EU tackles terror threat
By Roland Flamini
Chief International Correspondent
Published 3/24/2004 5:46 PM
WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- In the NATO treaty, it's the famous Article 5: An attack against one member of the Atlantic alliance "shall be considered an attack against them all." By Friday, the European Union will get its own Article 5 in a declaration expressing Europe's determination to act in concert in the fight against terrorism.
Drafted last week in the aftermath of the March 11 bombings in Madrid, the declaration is expected to be signed by the EU's foreign ministers at their March 25-26 meeting in Brussels, and its aim is to take anti-terrorist cooperation between the member states to more determined levels.
Echoing the NATO document, the draft EU declaration says that in the event of a terrorist attack against one state, the EU members will "act jointly ... with all the instruments at their disposal, including military resources." But as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw put it, "Words are not enough to fight terrorism." EU ministers and officials have spent the past week discussing ways of tightening up security to prevent a repetition of the Madrid outrage, and of countering it effectively when, despite their best efforts, it happens anyway.
This was the purpose of Tuesday's meeting in Madrid of intelligence and counter-terrorism chiefs of the five largest EU countries -- France, Spain, Britain, Germany and Italy. The Madrid bombings were the first full-scale terrorist attack by al-Qaida -- or in this case its apparent Moroccan affiliate -- in Europe. For the first time, Europeans had to focus on the real danger at home, and not the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, or the threat of another attack in the United States.
Islamist terrorism was no longer a problem at a distance, with U.S. intelligence taking the lead and Europeans providing support. In fact, neither the CIA nor the FBI were listed as participants in the Madrid meeting. And the EU's high official for international affairs, Javier Solana, went out of his way to emphasize differences in attitude from the Bush administration.
Unlike President Bush's characterization of the United States, Solana stressed that Europe was not in a state of war. "Europe must oppose terrorism energetically, but we must not change our way of life," Solana said.
But things will change in Europe: They are already doing so, and the first casualty of a more robust approach to the terrorism threat is likely to be the Schengen agreement. Named after the Luxembourg town where it was originally launched, the Schengen agreement established open borders between 15 EU member countries. After the euro, it is probably the most important symbol of European unity, establishing freedom of movement throughout most of the continent. Since 1995, it has given EU citizens free access to each other's countries without border checks.
But European governments are finding that open borders are a luxury their security can't afford. Following the Madrid bombings, the Portuguese government decided to suspend the agreement in June while the concluding rounds of the European soccer cup are being played in Portugal. Last week, Spain announced that it was temporarily re-establishing passport formalities for anyone, regardless of nationality, entering or leaving the country in the week prior to the wedding of Prince Felipe, the heir to the Spanish throne, and TV news anchor Letizia Ortiz.
Observers said Greece was likely to follow suit and suspend Schengen privileges for the period of the Summer Olympics, starting Aug. 10. While this does not spell the end of Schengen, observers argued that the whole principle would be undermined when Europe introduced another proposed anti-terrorist measure -- fingerprinting and photographing at airports and border crossings.
The Europe-wide arrest warrant signed last year to make it easier to extradite terrorist suspects will also be enforced E.U.-wide. Initially, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had put up a vigorous resistance to it, and Italy has been slow to implement it. But that was then. Last week, the proposal to enforce the warrant more vigorously came from the Italians, reflecting the level of alarm in Europe over the post-Madrid Islamist threat.
The Italians were also lobbying for wider powers to deport terror suspects. The Italians have a point. With large populations of Muslim immigrants already living in the country (4.1 million Muslims in France, or 7 percent of the total population) and providing ready-made support groups for militants, tightening border controls may have been too late in coming.
EU states are also close to appointing a Brussels-based anti-terrorism coordinator and European sources said Wednesday that former Netherlands Interior Minister Klaas de Vries was likely to get the job. But a proposal to form "a European CIA" that had been doing the rounds of the EU capitals has gained little support.
Some observers find it hard to see how Europe's apparent decision to launch an anti-terrorist mechanism independent of Washington is going to help either side. At the root of the Europe's independent approach is the split over the Iraq war. Bush believes -- at least publicly -- that the Iraq conflict was essential in combating Islamist terrorism. The Europeans, for the most part, don't. This difference has already helped bring down one government. The others would prefer to remain in office.
Copyright ? 2001-2004 United Press International
Al Qaeda supporters strike back in Pakistan
By Owais Tohid | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
WANA, PAKISTAN - After the Pakistani military's week-long offensive here inside the country's semiautonomous tribal belt, Al Qaeda supporters have launched a series of counterstrikes.
On Tuesday evening, guerrillas attacked the headquarters of Pakistani paramilitary troops as well as government establishments in the Northwest Frontier Province's capital, Peshawar. In the nearby town of Bannu, a bomb exploded moments before a military convoy was to pass a bridge, killing three policemen and a civilian. In the tribal region of Korram Agency, masked men attacked a military camp, killing three troops. Villagers in South Waziristan have reported a series of explosions, mostly in the evenings.
Significantly, these attacks have taken place well outside the 30-square mile area cordoned off by the Pakistani military in its roundup operation against Al Qaeda fighters. This broadening of the fight suggests that Pakistan could be facing a wider guerrilla war from Al Qaeda and their local supporters.
"They are trying to hit back by adopting guerrilla tactics in an attempt to hurt Pakistani security forces," says Mohammad Noor, a local journalist. "By attacking in other cities and towns, they want to engage [Pakistani] forces beyond the troubled region and want to demonstrate their strength."
The authorities have imposed a ban on riding motorbikes in South Waziristan as militants using bikes are believed to launch rocket attacks on kiosks and military bases. "They operate after sunset in small numbers, mostly two or three, and run away after carrying out attacks," says a local intelligence source.
"Once the darkness covers the mountains, we could see the movements of a few suspicious men carrying rockets over their shoulders, their bodies and faces covered with blankets. They disappeared and we could see only their shadows," says a tribesman in South Waziristan.
The counteroffensive started Monday when a group of guerrillas attacked a military convoy 25 miles outside Wana in Sarwaki village. Ten military and three paramilitary troops were killed. Several convoy vehicles carrying troop supplies into South Waziristan were damaged.
The militants are "feeling the heat, as they fear being uprooted from the region that has provided them shelter and given them a hope of survival. But now it has become a death trap, so they seem to be desperate and will fight a battle for their survival," says Sailab Mehsud, sociologist and a writer in South Waziristan.
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities are still trying to secure the release of 14 paramilitary troops and administration officials held hostage by Al Qaeda militants and local men. The hostages are believed to have been captured when the fighting began March 16 between paramilitary troops and "foreign terrorists," as Pakistani authorities describe them.
Officials are trying to force cooperation from the Zalikhel tribe, which is accused of harboring Al Qaeda militants. Several tribesmen's houses have been demolished and their businesses shut.
Around 10,000 well-armed and equipped military and paramilitary troops, backed by gunship helicopters, are engaged in fighting with 400 to 500 Al Qaeda militants and their local supporters, known as Men of Al Qaeda, in South Waziristan. Pakistan says that its security forces have struck "solid blows" to foreign terrorists who had been hiding here after crossing the border from Afghanistan into this tribal belt following the ouster of the Taliban by the US and allied forces in 2001.
Several foreign and local militants, said to be mostly Chechens and Uzbeks, were killed during the operation launched on March 16, while around 125 have been arrested. The security forces have cordoned off several towns and villages spread over 30 square miles. Troops are conducting search operations in two of the towns, Schin Warsak and Kallu Shah, which are located some 10 miles west of Wana.
"Pakistan wants to control this region and to cleanse it from Al Qaeda and the Taliban militants. By doing so they will try to finish this problem once and for all and strengthen their presence along the western border [with Afghanistan] as well," says Mr. Mehsud.
Pakistani military troops have entered semiautonomous South Waziristan for the first time since Pakistan was founded in 1947. Most of the tribesmen are enraged as they believe the presence of security forces might take away their independence.
"We are against the operation because of the miseries of innocent tribesmen. Not every tribesman is involved with Al Qaeda and cannot be punished for a sin or crime committed by a few tribesmen," says a tribal elder. "The tribesmen are ready to cooperate and will fully cooperate if the security forces pledge to withdraw from towns and villages after the operation."


Canada's new plan for generic-drug sales
Thursday, Canada crafts legislation that would allow its generic drugmakers to sell medicine to developing countries.
By Doug Alexander | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Canada is on the verge of becoming the first country to allow drug companies to legally make and export cheap, generic medicines for needy nations.
Thursday, a parliamentary committee in Ottawa will review draft legislation that would let drugmakers seek licenses to make generic versions of patented medicines to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing nations. The legislation could become a template for other countries to follow.
But what should be good news for poor countries is being overshadowed by a looming battle in Canada's Parliament. The battle pits pharmaceutical companies that have poured billions of dollars and countless research hours into developing these medicines against the generic-drug industry and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that say the world should "do the right thing." Canada's challenge is trying to strike the right balance between the two sides.
"The question is whether Canada gets it right," Richard Elliott of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the group spear- heading NGO lobbying efforts. "Will it be a good precedent or a bad one?"
Canada is the first country to act on the World Trade Organization's Aug. 30, 2003, decision to revise international patent rules to let developing nations import copies of brand-name drugs in cases where they can't make their own medicine. Strict rules prevent drugs from being diverted to wealthy countries.
The WTO's decision aimed to soothe the controversy sparked by Brazil and India, which have been exporting AIDS knock-off drugs to Africa, but in violation of WTO rules. Brazilian and Indian generic-drug firms must implement the WTO's patent rules by next year, which means they'll be following Canada's lead.
Flawed legislation
But not everyone is happy with Canada's prescription to tackle the world's health woes. Critics say the proposal undermines efforts to deliver affordable drugs to nations needing them most.
"The existing legislation is flawed because it includes the opportunity for brand-name companies who hold the patents on medicines to block or undermine potential competition in the marketplace," Mr. Elliott says.
The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), which represents 22 companies, says generic drugmakers aren't interested in making medicine under these conditions.
"The government's intention is laudable, but it is unlikely that any generic pharmaceutical company in Canada will use it unless substantial amendments are made," says Jim Keon, CGPA president.
The chief concern has been a clause offering patent holders the "right of first refusal" - an option to take over a contract negotiated by a generic-drug company. Critics say this removes the incentive for a generic company to negotiate a deal, which take months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to pursue.
Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), which represents 55 multinationals, has countered with a proposal dubbed "equal opportunity to supply."
"This clause itself ensures that the research-based pharmaceutical companies are made aware of any discussions out there of any need for a developing country for the new medication," Rx&D spokesman Jacques Lefebvre says.
Rx&D says such measures are necessary to ensure that life-saving drugs get to a country in need as quickly as possible.
Mr. Lefebvre says pharmaceutical companies may be better equipped to supply drugs more quickly than generic firms, which may need three to five years to produce a generic drug.
"As long as affordable medicines are made available - whether it's the generic drugmakers or the research-based pharmaceutical companies - that's the priority," Lefebvre says. "Under the alternative we put forward, it does ensure that either one of us will be in a position to provide those medicines. This is an opportunity for both industries to put their traditional rivalries aside and work together."
Balance needed
Canada's minister of industry, Lucienne Robillard, has stressed the need for balance between aid and patents. "We must be true to the humanitarian nature of this initiative," she commented last month. "At the same time we must never forget the importance of intellectual property rights such as those embodied by patents. After all, such protection supports the continued advancement in medical science upon which we all depend."
The future of the bill lies with a parliamentary standing committee, which will review the draft legislation Thursday and suggest changes to break the deadlock before handing it over to Canada's lower House of Commons for approval.
"They have a tough job, there's no doubt about it," says Eric Dagenais, patent policy director at Industry Canada, the government ministry behind this bill. "They have three groups of stakeholders - the NGOs, the brands, and the generics - and all three have their own interests."
South Korea Reports N. Koreans on Hunger Strike in China
VOA News
24 Mar 2004, 17:39 UTC
Published reports in South Korea say about 100 North Korean asylum-seekers detained in China have gone on a hunger strike.
The reports quote various sources who say the would-be refugees are being detained at a camp in northern Jilin province, which borders North Korea. The sources also say that some of the detainees are in poor condition.
South Korea's government is trying to confirm the reports. A Foreign Ministry official says if the reports are true, the government will ask China to allow the asylum-seekers to go to a third country.
As many as 300,000 North Koreans are believed to have fled across the border into China in recent years, to escape starvation and repression in their country. Some of the asylum-seekers reported on the hunger strike in Jilin are said to have begun their action some three weeks ago.
These reports come as China issued a statement Wednesday saying it had repatriated more than 16,000 foreigners who entered the country illegally since October of last year.
Although China is obligated by treaty to send illegal North Korean asylum-seekers back home, Beijing has allowed some of them to leave for South Korea in cases that attracted international media attention.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.


Israel terms Arafat as block to peace 2004-03-25 03:58:47
UNITED NATIONS, March 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said here Wednesday that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remains a block to the peace in the Middle East region, but his government so far has no plan to remove it.
"Our cabinet hasn't taken any decision about Yasser Arafat. The only decision that was taken, a few months ago, was to consider to expel him," Shalom told reporters after a private talk with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The meeting was held just hours after a swarm of speakers, at an open debate of the Security Council, slashed the Israeli "extrajudicial" killing of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group of Hamas.
It is reported that after Yassin's killing, Arafat has expressed concern that he might be the next target.
The minister recalled that after the decision was made to expel the Palestinian leader, he received many calls from his colleagues urging "not to do it."
"They believe that Arafat is an obstacle to the peace, but he can cause more damages while he is outside than he is inside (the occupied territory)," he explained.
"While Arafat is there, there is no way that the moderate new Palestinian leadership will emerge," he said, "because (the new leadership) is very much afraid of him and not willing to confront him."
He noted that the only choice for Arafat is to give up authority and transfer powers to the Palestinian prime minister. Enditem

Book Reviews
Covering Clinton: The President and the Press in the 1990s by Joseph Hayden. Westport, CT, Greenwood Publishing Group. 168 pp. $55.00.
If you find it fascinating to learn how Houdini managed to get himself into impossible situations and then magically managed to extract himself and escape to his next entanglement, this is your book. Joseph Hayden, a freelance writer and former journalist, tells the William Jefferson Clinton sequel. He starts with Clinton's 1992 run for the presidency and ends with the rainbow of speculations about the expresident's place in history.
The most astounding Houdini-like trick happened in 1992, when a badly flawed, obscure governor from a smallish southern state, who lacked support from his party's power structure, managed to propel himself into the presidency. How did he do it? How could he overcome the blemishes of rumors of corrupt real-estate dealings, evidence that he weaseled out of serving in Vietnam, and proof that he lied about engaging in repeated extramarital escapades and about using marijuana? Novel uses of peripheral media were at the heart of the trick. Hayden chronicles how a young team of inexperienced yet savvy advisers steered Clinton into new media venues like MTV, Phil Donahue, Arsenio Hall, and Larry King Live, as well as multiple town hall meetings. In these settings, his personal charm and uncanny ability to connect with people allowed him to win a large, loyal following.
By using these new media, Clinton traded the prosecutorial interrogations of traditional reporters for mostly respectful questions by young, star-struck audiences. What is more, these audiences gave him a chance to air his ideas about politics and policies in his own words, showing his impressive mastery of the field, rather than having his proposals paraphrased and often interpreted and even distorted by hostile, suspicious, cynical reporters.
Many mainstream commentators sneered at this soft, Oprah-style news that pulled at people's heartstrings and forged personal ties between the speaker and the audience, rather than inviting listeners to find faults with his policy proposals.Yet it gave Clinton the core of unwavering supporters that the wouldbe president so badly needed in 1992 and on many later occasions. The likes of James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, and Mandy Grunwald had invented an effective new style of political campaigning that would last beyond the 1990s.
Political Science Quarterly Volume 118 Number 2 2003 315
316 | political science quarterly
While the title of the book suggests that media coverage of Clinton is the main focus, this is not the case. Rather, this is a smoothly-written general account, laced with quotes from journalists and pundits, that targets the largely self-inflicted political troubles plaguing the Clinton presidency. Hayden records the boyish charm and political deftness with which Clinton extricated himself again and again from near-fatal political disasters. He also notes the president's good fortune of often benefiting from inept opponents. In the latter category, the 1996 election was a cakewalk, because Clinton faced a lackluster Republican opponent and because he was blessed with a robust economy, thanks largely to forces beyond his control. Newt Gingrich, the Republican Senate leader, who rode into power propelled by Clinton gaffes, in the end selfdestructed thanks to Clintonesque flaws like political arrogance and politically damaging moves.
In most of these instances, the press, which Clinton feared and detested and often tried to manipulate, played a relatively minor role. This became especially clear during the 1996 election and during the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment procedures. A major reason for press impotence was Clinton's success in personalizing his relationship with the public and in persuading majorities to accept his framing of political events. Images based on stronglyfelt personal reactions to a politician invariably override contrary images featured in news reports. Still, when Clinton and his publics pass on, the warmth of human relations will dissipate and the final verdict about the Clinton presidency will be rendered in the cold light of dispassionate scholarship. If that light focuses on Hayden's text, it will show a presidency marked by superb style and acrobatic political flexibility but short on principled actions and sorely lacking in lasting substantive political achievements.
Doris A. Graber
University of Illinois at Chicago
Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East by Mohammed el-Nawawy and Adel Iskandar. Boulder, CO, Westview, 2002. 228 pp. $24.00.
For decades, the Arab world was forced to rely on national presses that were often monitored or controlled by authoritarian regimes or Western media, BBC, CNN, etc. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of Arab newspapers and satellite television stations. None has been more successful nor more controversial than al Jazeera. As Americans post-September 11 struggled with the questions, "Why do they hate us?" and "Why is anti-Americanism so widespread?" few realized that a powerful source of al Jazeera's success was its graphic coverage of the second intifada or Palestinian uprising. Arabs and Muslims across the world could have their morning cup of coffee or evening dinner and see live reports from Israel-Palestine or other parts of the Muslim world, often conveying a news coverage absent in the American media.
Americans discovered al Jazeera during the invasion of the Taliban's Afghanistan, as it provided live coverage to the world. In the ensuing days and weeks American officials like Candoleeza Rice, head of the National Security Council, and Ambassador Christopher Ross, a longtime Middle East hand fluent in Arabic, went before al Jazeera's cameras in an attempt to explain American policy to the Arab and Muslim world. In Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East, Mohammed el-Nawawy and Adel Iskandar attempt to explain the Arab world's most independent and most controversial media.
The Qatar-based satellite station is a testimony to the globalization of communications and the ability of an outlet located in a small Gulf state to attract a global audience and enjoy a global impact. The authors' analysis of the origins, influential forces, and voices of al Jazeera and the nature of its programming goes a long way toward effectively addressing the question of whether it broadcasts independent journalism or is a platform for extremists. They emphasize the diversity of its founders and staff as well as the financial support and surprising independence the station has enjoyed from their patron, the emir of Qatar. The signs of al Jazeera's most important diversity and independence come from its programming, which has included interviews with not only Arab and Muslim voices but also with Israeli, American, and European guests. Its hard-hitting journalism has targeted Arab regimes as well as the Israeli and American governments. The station has addressed political, social, and religious issues that would never have been permitted by most Arab and Muslim governments: from Jordan's King Hussein's secret relations with Israeli leaders and exposes on Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, to debates between secularists and fundamentalists on politics, sex, and polygamy. As a result, al Jazeera has been praised for its free and open journalism, accused of being a mouthpiece for fundamentalists and extremists' pandering to anti-Semitism as well as anti-Islamism, and being influenced by the Mossad and the CIA. While the U.S. government had often praised al Jazeera as a rare and important example of the development of a free and critical media, its coverage and criticism of American foreign policy in Israel-Palestine and the conduct of the American-led war against global terrorism has drawn public and private complaints to al Jazeera's patron, Qatar, from the Bush administration. El-Nawawy and Iskandar provide rich description and detail, enabling readers, especially those that have not watched or are unable to follow itsArabic programming to see the accomplishments and pitfalls, the positives and negatives, of al Jazeera's phenomenal success. That situation will change as al Jazeera begins its English programming. While celebrating its successand global impact, the authors do not shrink from addressing hard issues and criticisms, from al Jazeera's failure to cover Qatari politics to its bias and provocative politicized coverage. In particular, they provide substantial coverage and nuanced analysis of al Jazeera's controversial role in airing Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda taped interviews. However, too often al Jazeera's
318 | political science quarterly
critics forget that similar questions have been raised over the years regarding the exposure Eastern media have given to hijackers and murderers. Moreover, they gloss over the serious questions raised post-September 11 of the stark differences between the more independent European and increasingly passive American media as well as their ideological biases--from liberal to neoconservative-- of American newspapers and media such as the New York Post, Wall St. Journal, New York Times, The Nation, New Republic, Weekly Standard, Fox News, and CNN.
One of the lessons of post-September 11 is the importance of the media as a communicator and interpreter of news as well as a formative influence on public opinion. The failures and dangers of a lack of a free press are obvious in many Arab and Muslim countries as well as the need for governments in America and Europe to communicate their message more effectively to the Muslim world. The increased talk of the need for democratization in the Arab and Muslim worlds and attempts of some governments to proceed along a path to democratization will underscore both the importance of the media and continue to draw attention to the example and track record of al Jazeera. Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East provides an excellent starting point for understanding the changes and challenges that are underway.
John L. Esposito
Georgetown University

You Call This an Election? America's Peculiar Democracy by Steven
E. Schier. Washington, DC, Georgetown University Press, 2003, 176
pp. $24.95.
In an especially compelling metaphor, Steven Schier compares an electoral system to a calendar: as the calendar structures our lives, the electoral system structures our political process. His evaluation of electoral systems is based on four cogent goals: stability--political, governmental, and regime; accountability; high voter turnout; and deliberation of public policy. He offers an analysis that is at once rich and lucid, arising from a distillation of the research results and the conclusions of an amazing number of experts in the field. He discusses the characteristics and consequences of electoral systems beginning with the theories of John Locke and James Madison and extending to the practices of the world's other constitutional democracies. It soon becomes clear that the goals of electoral systems, including his own four, are not necessarily compatible in practice. As a result, readers are forced to rank order their own goals and to confront their own personal tradeoffs. Which is more important: stability or accountability? What kind of accountability-- party or individual official--is most desirable? Is a swift and decisive election more or less important than achieving the most humanly accurate
book reviews | 679
vote count? Is direct democracy superior to representative democracy? Is a plurality system less legitimate than a majority one? Is a locally-based constituency more functional than an ideologically-based one? Is the more representative multi-party system preferable to a stable two-party system? Like the rest of us, Schier makes choices. Of the evaluative four criteria, only voter turnout merits its own chapter. At times it appears to be his paramount concern, shaping more of his recommended reforms than the other three and explaining his endorsement of the instant runoff system in a single member district with a majority requirement. Under this system, used in Australia, voters must rank their preferences, and if no candidate receives a majority in the first round, the second choice ballots of the lowest candidates are counted. Such counting continues until one candidate achieves a majority. Although this system appears to increase turnout, it is a curious choice because it might very well create a multi-party system which would undermine both stability and accountability. At the very least, it would give influence and appointive offices to extremist candidates. The average citizen's response to this voting mechanism usually is that it gives some voters two votes. Further, it is very complex, though endorsed by a theorist who wants "to make America's electoral system simple and user friendly" (p. 143).
Schier's analysis of the Populist-Progressive reforms and their consequences for the political process is quite devastating. He points out that these reforms undermined party-based elections and made ballots too complicated for most voters. Favoring legislative democracy over direct democracy, he finds the referendum, the recall, and most particularly, the initiative promising, but they do not provide accountability. Instead, they are disruptive of the deliberative Madisonian system because they ask too much of voters and empower the special interests. As for campaign finance, he concludes it is an antiparty reform that helps interest groups and incumbents and harms parties and challengers. Other topics examined are the electoral college, redistricting, and racial gerrymandering.
This book is a keeper, not only as a stimulus to sorting and ranking personal political values, but also as a useful reference work--it is chock full of information. The bibliography is extensive, the text provides easy source and page references, the organization is excellent, and the argument flows smoothly. His students must love his classes.
Judith A. Best
State University of New York
College at Cortland

Posted by maximpost at 9:41 PM EST

Kansas City Kerry
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By Paul Beston
Published 3/24/2004 12:08:38 AM

Over the past week, the New York Sun and the Kansas City Star have been reporting another unsavory story about John Kerry's antiwar past. Witnesses and FBI meeting minutes conclusively place Kerry at an event he has always denied attending: The November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in Kansas City, in which a plan to assassinate pro-war senators was discussed. How seriously the plan was debated is in dispute; some veterans say it was nothing more than "guys ticked off and talking big at midnight," while others remember a bitter confrontation over the idea. All agree, however, that Kerry was not involved in the discussions and would never have approved of such a plan.

Nevertheless, the Kerry campaign is eager to distance itself from one of VVAW's most notorious episodes. Now that the evidence of his attendance is overwhelming, the campaign is trying to chalk up its earlier denials to faulty memory. Late last week Kerry spokesman David Wade conceded that Kerry had been there, but clung to the contention that the senator simply didn't remember the meeting. Wade's description of the Kansas City meeting as a "historical footnote" was too clever by half -- if the meeting and Kerry's attendance really were footnotes, the campaign would never have cared about the story in the first place.

On Monday, the Sun reported on a former VVAW member who claims Kerry operatives urged him to change his story about Kerry's presence in Kansas City. John Musgrave, a Marine who earned three Purple Hearts in Vietnam, claims that John Hurley, head of Veterans for Kerry, asked him to call back the Star reporter he had spoken with and "tell him you were wrong." Hurley insists he only asked Musgrave "to be very sure of his recollection." Apparently this simple instruction required two phone calls to impart.

The Kansas City story has emerged at the same time that the FBI has revealed it conducted surveillance on Kerry during 1971 and 1972, when he was rising to fame as an antiwar spokesman. The FBI monitored the Kansas City meeting as well, though it's not clear if it picked up the chatter about assassination plots. When informed of the FBI story recently, Kerry unleashed his practiced moral indignation, harumphing about civil liberties and the sad abuses of power of the Hoover-era FBI: "I'm surprised by [the] extent of it. I'm offended by the intrusiveness of it. And I'm disturbed that it was all conducted absent of some showing of any legitimate probable cause [italics mine]. It's an offense to the Constitution. It's out of order." Then the Kerry campaign trotted out more of its defiant, desperate macho, claiming that the FBI revelation was "a badge of honor."

Kerry has not explained why the FBI was wrong to spy on meetings where political assassinations were being discussed. If that isn't "legitimate probable cause," what is? The senator likes to bluster about President Bush's supposed failures on homeland security, and perhaps he is worth heeding on that score. After all he, not our hopelessly provincial president, has real-world experience with groups threatening violent action. He should make the most of it. Perhaps a line can be worked into his stump speeches, right after the line about aircraft carriers: "I know something about assassination plots, too."

ANOTHER QUESTION THAT COMES to mind is whether Kerry felt any obligation to report the plot to authorities. Under certain conditions, knowing about such a plan -- even a plan that was probably half-baked at best -- and not reporting it could be a crime in itself. Gerald Nicosia, the author of Home to War, a largely positive treatment of the VVAW, absolves Kerry of any responsibility: "I think if the thing ever got off the ground, Kerry would do something to stop it." Still, it would be worthwhile for someone to ask Kerry directly, if only because Kerry would provide at least two answers to choose from.

For those opposed to Kerry's presidential ambitions or troubled by his conduct after returning home from Vietnam, the Kansas City story shines a welcome light. It may even do the senator some damage. But it is unlikely that Kerry's disgraceful behavior as a member of VVAW -- slandering American soldiers, spreading fictitious atrocity stories, theatrically discarding someone else's war medals -- will be a major factor in the campaign. The Vietnam records of Kerry and Bush have been given a going over, almost as if they are preludes to the real campaign, when the two candidates can tackle real issues like prescription drugs, gay marriage, and outsourcing.

Our political culture has been irrevocably altered by the Clinton ethos of "moving on." There is a widely held sentiment among the media, and perhaps even the public at large, to let sleeping Vietnam dogs lie. Let's just agree to disagree, the thinking goes. Besides, George Bush is hardly an articulate advocate for the merits of the Vietnam War. In his February interview with Tim Russert, he denounced the war because "we had politicians making military decisions," as if this is not a feature of every war.

Kerry has little to fear from the Kansas City story. Even if there is a bombshell revelation yet to come, the story is already playing out on the familiar terrain of "gotcha" personal campaigning, devoid of genuine historical context. Kerry faces an opponent who has no desire to discuss Vietnam-era politics and a public that has long-since accepted the liberal narrative of Vietnam as a wrongful war. And he operates in a political culture in which a Democrat's sins are easily forgiven, if in fact they are viewed as sins in the first place.

All of this is to be regretted, because the election of 2004 offered one of the last chances to have a meaningful national debate about the merits of the Vietnam War. Unless I was out of the room the last 30 years, I don't think we've had it yet. As an interested non-expert who grew up in Vietnam's aftermath, it seems to me that Vietnam in the context of the Cold War and Iraq in the context of the Terror War have many points of comparison.

Chief among them is the concept of the Twilight Struggle against an implacable global adversary, where the rules of engagement cannot preclude elective interventions that are part of a long-term strategy. But the only discussion about Vietnam we tend to get is of the quagmire variety whenever an American soldier dies in Iraq; only then is the war in Iraq said to be "like Vietnam."

The Right lacks confidence in its Vietnam arguments and the Left has no moral authority, so the two sides have agreed to a silent truce on the matter. But it's not a truce that serves the interests of the country, any more than VVAW did then or John Kerry does now.

Paul Beston if a writer in New York.

FBI Shadowed Kerry During Activist Era
Mon Mar 22, 7:55 AM ET Add Top Stories - Los Angeles Times to My Yahoo!
By John M. Glionna Times Staff Writer

As a high-profile activist who crossed the country criticizing the Nixon administration's role in the Vietnam War, John F. Kerry was closely monitored by FBI (news - web sites) agents for more than a year, according to intelligence documents reviewed by The Times

In 1971, in the months after the Navy veteran and decorated war hero argued before Congress against continued U.S. involvement in the conflict, the FBI stepped up its infiltration of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the protest group Kerry helped direct, the files show.

The FBI documents indicate that wherever Kerry went, agents and informants were following -- including appearances at VVAW-sponsored antiwar events in Washington; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City; and Urbana, Ill. The FBI recorded the content of his speeches and took photographs of him and fellow activists, and the dispatches were filed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Nixon.

The files contain no information or suggestion that Kerry broke any laws. And a 1972 memorandum on the FBI's decision to end its surveillance of him said the agency had discovered "nothing whatsoever to link the subject with any violent activity."

Kerry, now the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has long known he was a target of FBI surveillance, but only last week learned the extent of the scrutiny, he told The Times. The information was provided by Gerald Nicosia, a Bay Area author who obtained thousands of pages of FBI intelligence files and who gave copies of some documents to The Times.

The FBI files shed new light on an early chapter in Kerry's public life and are another example of the extent to which the U.S. intelligence apparatus monitored and investigated groups opposed to government policies during the Vietnam era, especially the Hoover-run FBI.

FBI harassment of some activists and leaders in the antiwar and civil rights movements -- including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. -- was exposed after Hoover's death in 1972, and reforms were mandated in the bureau to prevent such abuses and restore public confidence.

The files reviewed by The Times on Kerry do not show that the FBI engaged in any illegal actions in its surveillance of him. But the documents also show the lengths the government went to investigate not only Kerry, but the VVAW and other antiwar groups.

Intelligence officials referred to the VVAW in their reports as the "New Left." "Due to abundant indications of subversive influence, we are actively investigating VVAW," read one FBI report from 1971.

The documents could become an important resource for historians because they show the extent of U.S. government surveillance directed against an individual who, three decades later, may become president.

They also suggest that Kerry's memories of some of his antiwar activities, including the date he left his position on the VVAW national steering committee, were inaccurate. Kerry has stated that he left the group in the summer of 1971, but the files show that he did not quit until the late fall of that year.

Kerry said he was troubled by the scope of the monitoring documented in the papers.

"I'm surprised by [the] extent of it," he said in an interview. "I'm offended by the intrusiveness of it. And I'm disturbed that it was all conducted absent of some showing of any legitimate probable cause. It's an offense to the Constitution. It's out of order."

Kerry told The Times that knowing the scope of the government surveillance against him had made him more conscious of selecting the right people to run intelligence agencies. If elected president, he said, he would appoint an attorney general "who knows how to enforce laws in a way that balances law enforcement with our tradition of civil liberties."

"Today's FBI isn't the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI of today is on the front lines of the war on terror, and it's critical that they be effective," he said. "But the experience of having been spied on for the act of engaging in peaceful patriotic protest makes you respect the civil liberties and the Constitution even more."

Kerry said that in 1987, two years after assuming office as a senator from Massachusetts, he requested and received an FBI dossier on himself. He later told aides it was "boring," and mostly included news clippings. The senator was apparently unaware that a much larger file existed that included reports on his activities as a VVAW leader.

Kerry said he was disturbed by "this extensive component of spying" on him that wasn't in his file. "If I was the subject of individual surveillance and individual tape recordings, I'd have thought it would have been released to me," he said.

Fourteen boxes of FBI files standing 12 feet high have been sitting for five years at Nicosia's home in Corte Madera.

Many of the files include mention of Kerry, who became the VVAW's most widely recognized figure after he sought to make the case against the Vietnam War in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971. His appearance was widely reported because of his stature as a veteran who had been awarded a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. As a lieutenant, Kerry had commanded swift boats patrolling the sniper-filled rivers across the Mekong Delta.

"The Nixon people viewed antiwar protesters as anti-American subversives," said Douglas Brinkley, author of "Tour of Duty," a book that details Kerry's Vietnam-era exploits. "Because of his record as a war hero, they feared Kerry's influence with the public."

Many FBI reports on Kerry relied on informants who had infiltrated the VVAW. One report, filed after a gathering in Oklahoma City on Nov. 8, 1971, described how 22 veterans gathered to talk about "alleged war atrocities in which they participated in Vietnam."

The file added: "From four p.m. to five p.m., John Kerry (news - web sites), featured convention speaker and national spokesman for VVAW, spoke to one hundred to two hundred people, followed by brief question and answer period. Kerry spoke against the war and encouraged young people to vote for candidates who will end the war. He said VVAW members will continue to be active in activities to end the war, but indicated that VVAW members are against any type of violence."

Other former VVAW members recalled their suspicion that their telephones were being tapped and their concern that informants had infiltrated their ranks.

"Once, our national office in Washington called the phone company to say they couldn't pay the bill," said Bill Crandell, a writer who lives in Silver Spring, Md. "They were told, 'Don't worry, it's being paid.' "

Crandell said he and others assumed that intelligence agents made sure that the phone lines remained active, though the FBI files reviewed by The Times contain no mention of wiretapping.

Ann Barnes, who worked with the VVAW and who now lives in Milwaukee, said the protesters took the surveillance seriously. "Wherever you went, there'd be people taking your picture, writing down your license plate, doing what they did," she said. "At demonstrations, we'd spot the guys tailing us and say, 'Hey, there's our guys over there.' But we weren't really laughing."

Kerry also recalls the shadow of surveillance. "I wasn't doing anything that I was worried about," he said. "That was the nature of the FBI and the dialogue of the times.... People used to joke about it more than anything, but it was frustrating."

He added: "I remember coming out of a meeting and seeing one of their unmarked cruisers sitting there. Somebody had left a firearm on the seat, as a form of intimidation. In Washington, when I walked the streets ... I knew there were surveillance cars. But never to the depth I know about now."

When Nicosia began researching his book "Home to War," a history of the Vietnam veterans movement, he sent a Freedom of Information request in 1988 to the FBI seeking its VVAW surveillance files.

Eleven years later, in 1999, he received 14 boxes of largely redacted files. But the release came too late for any significant inclusion in his look at the VVAW, which was founded in 1967 and drew 10,000 members nationwide.

He had not read the files before allowing The Times to view a portion of them last week. After a call from Nicosia, Kerry aides came to his home to collect the same 50 pages of documents copied by The Times.

The files show that Kerry and his activities within VVAW were a subject of FBI surveillance throughout the summer of 1971, during a time he had said he had already left the organization.

The documents include evidence that Kerry did not resign from the VVAW's national steering committee until November 1971, during four days of meetings in Kansas City. Several Vietnam-era histories -- and Kerry himself -- had said his resignation occurred at a VVAW gathering in St. Louis in July.

Previously, Kerry had denied being at the Kansas City gathering. But the FBI files, along with interviews with former VVAW members, indicate that he attended at least some portion of the meetings, using the occasion to resign his post as one of the group's national coordinators.

"I still have no memory of a Kansas City meeting.

"I have this stark memory of the humidity that day [I resigned from VVAW].... I just remember forever a dark storm brewing, with these huge thunderhead clouds."

But his recollection was that he resigned at the St. Louis meeting. "And every reminder we have since then has put it there, including Nicosia's book," he said.

But the files include a "priority" memorandum dated Nov. 16, 1971 -- the day after the VVAW's Kansas City meeting ended -- from Hoover to Nixon and other high-ranking administration officials. Quoting a "confidential source," the report said Kerry was there and had resigned from the VVAW for personal reasons.

"It's just weird," Kerry said, when asked about the discrepancy. He attributed his previous assertions to a faulty memory.

For example, he said, "there was a day in where I gave two speeches in Norman, Okla. I remember the first speech. I don't remember the second. It's just the nature of memory."

Several VVAW members also distinctly remember Kerry's presence in Kansas City.

"I remember the Kansas City meeting like it was last week," said Barnes. She said Kerry read an emotional resignation letter while scores of VVAW members sat around long tables in a church classroom.

"He said he was going into public service, that he was going to run for office," said Barnes. "It was a short speech, but it was emotional. Everybody cheered."

Afterward, Barnes recalled, Kerry and others stepped outside the church for a break, only to see FBI agents taking pictures of them from across the street. Barnes recalled saying to Kerry: "You've been thinking about this a long time."

And Barnes recalled Kerry saying: "Yeah, since high school."

The files document other Kerry appearances in 1971.

One report from Oklahoma said, "The entire conference lacked coordination and appeared to be a platform for John Kerry, national leader of VVAW rather than for VVAW."

Another concluded that a speech he gave at George Washington University was "a clear indication that Kerry is an opportunist with personal political aspirations."

But the reports were not always accurate. In one, an informant reported that Kerry planned to accompany VVAW co-director Al Hubbard to Paris to meet with North Vietnamese representatives to negotiate a POW prisoner of war release.

But another FBI file and other historical accounts report that Kerry was critical of Hubbard for making the trip and for exaggerating aspects of his military record. "John Kerry again attempted to have Al Hubbard voted off the executive committee as Kerry stated he did not think Hubbard ever served in Vietnam or was ever in service," reported one Kansas City informant on the tension that existed between Kerry and Hubbard.

Kerry recalled his opposition to VVAW leaders meeting with North Vietnamese officials. "I thought that would be disastrous to the credibility of the organization," he said, "to the people we were trying to convince about the war."

Kerry soon left VVAW, which he thought had lost its focus.

"The group achieved a lot of good, but it eventually splintered and diversified into these various things," he said. "It started to broaden into this diverse tug of war."

On Friday, the Kerry campaign released pages from the senator's personal FBI file, including a May, 24, 1972, memorandum in which the agency decided to end its information- gathering on Kerry's activities.

"It should be noted that a review of the subject's file reveals nothing whatsoever to link subject with any violent type activity," the report said. "Thus, considering the subject's apparently legitimate involvement in politics, it is recommended that no further investigation be conducted regarding subject until such time as it is warranted."

Energy Bill Too Weighted Down to Power the Country
by Charli E. Coon, J.D.
Backgrounder #1736

March 17, 2004 | |

The good news is that U.S. Senate leaders have drafted a scaled-back energy bill: the Energy Policy Act of 2003 (S. 2095). The Senate bill would slash about $17 billion from the conference report, the Energy Policy Act of 2003 (H.R. 6), making the 10-year price tag for this package around $14 billion instead of $31.1 billion.

The bad news is that the new, leaner bill "achieves the same goals the old bill did."1 In other words, special interests would still receive substantial taxpayer subsidies--just not as quickly and as much--due in part to budget gimmicks that delay implementation of most of the provisions until later in 2004.2

For example, large agribusinesses would still be enriched through an ethanol mandate; the coal industry would still receive over $2 billion in subsidies; and uneconomical renewable resources would still be given preferential tax treatment. Moreover, unnecessary programs, studies, and grants would still be authorized--such as a $6.2 million study on the feasibility of converting motor vehicle trips to bicycle trips and $50 million to fund a five-year transit bus demonstration program.

Likewise, under the new Senate energy bill, federal spending would continue to increase, and Congress would still interfere with the marketplace.

The Senate has just replaced one misguided, billion-dollar, pork-laden bill with another.

Regrettably, the new Senate bill still fails to meet the nation's future energy needs. Total energy consumption is expected to increase more rapidly than domestic energy supply through 2025.3 As a result, net energy imports are projected to increase from 26 percent of total U.S. consumption in 2002 to 36 percent in 2025.4 Yet the Senate proposal would do little to narrow the growing gap between supply and demand.

Given the major policy flaws in both the conference report and the Senate bill, Congress needs to scrap both pork-laden proposals, go back to the drawing board, and draft a sensible bill that would enhance the nation's energy security and ensure adequate, reliable, and affordable supplies of energy to consumers. A responsible plan would:

Authorize access to domestic energy supplies that are currently off-limits, such as the Rocky Mountains and offshore;
End taxpayer handouts to special-interest groups representing a wide array of large and small businesses, industries, and companies in the energy sector;
Strengthen the country's energy infrastructure by:
Enhancing the nation's electric reliability standards to ensure transmission grid reliability,
Granting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) limited "backstop" authority to issue permits for interstate electricity lines in bottleneck areas,
Repealing the antiquated Public Utility Holding Company Act,
Reforming the convoluted federal lands permitting process, and
Delaying the FERC plan to create a "standard market design" for the sale of electricity on the wholesale market.
Allow Indian tribes, acting as sovereign nations, to set up their own regulatory systems for energy projects;
Privatize federal power and eliminate the preferences that federal and municipal utilities and electric cooperatives enjoy; and
Allow the market--not Congress--to determine the nation's energy winners and losers.
Moreover, the Senate energy bill would set back movements toward a reformed tax code. Not only does the bill contain enough tax arcana to keep many tax lawyers fully employed--thus, moving the Bush Administration away from its goal of simplifying the tax code--but it would also stand as a monument to using the tax code for economic engineering.

Quite apart from the need for more energy supplies, it is grossly unfair to ordinary taxpayers--both businesses and individuals--for Congress to use the tax code to benefit a few at the expense of everyone else.

Both bills would use the tax code to modify economic behavior, distorting the economic signaling of the marketplace and making the energy sector and the economy more inefficient. For example, if the energy marketplace is signaling that petroleum supplies are currently sufficient, then an effort by Congress to create greater supplies through tax in-centives would drive down spot petroleum prices, distort returns on equity and assets used in exploration, and dislodge plans by companies to heighten their exploration activity when the price of oil justifies it.

Cost of Energy Plans
A closer look at the conference report and the Senate's new--and purportedly leaner--bill shows just how costly, pork-laden, and irresponsible both proposals are. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that the conference report would increase direct spending by as much as $5.4 billion over the 2004-2013 period5 for such activities as research on ultra-deep wells, coastal restoration in the Gulf Coast, and development of rural electric projects in distressed communities in Alaska.

More alarming, however, are the "incentives" purportedly needed to enhance the nation's energy supplies. In fact, these incentives are nothing more than giveaways to special-interest groups to buy their support for the bill. The CBO and the JCT estimate that the tax giveaways would total over $25 billion between 2004 and 2013, making the total price tag about $31 billion over 10 years.

The conference report, however, has even more giveaways and needless federal spending than are reflected in the CBO and JCT estimates--including a minimum of $46 billion in new spending authorizations over five years, subject to appropriation action. This figure does not even include other provisions in the bill that authorize "such sums as are necessary." Given the rapid growth in federal spending over the past several sessions of Congress, these new authorizations understandably call into question "promises" for fiscal restraint this year.

While less costly than the conference report (the Congressional Budget Office has not yet published an official estimate of S. 2095), the scaled-back Senate bill still uses the federal tax code to load the proposal with giveaways to special interests totaling about $14 billion. For example, the bill would still subsidize production of oil, gas, bio-diesel, and other types of fuels; give generous subsidies to large agribusinesses through a new ethanol mandate; and provide an $18 billion loan guarantee for construction of a natural gas pipeline in Alaska.

Giveaways to Special Interests
The generous handouts to special interests come in a variety of forms, such as tax credits, tax deductions, tweaks to the tax code, and other changes in existing laws. The tax titles (Title XIII) of both energy bills contain a number of subsidies, including the following:

Tax Credit for "Favored" Fuels--Production Tax Credit (PTC)
Both the conference report and the Senate bill include a production tax credit (PTC). This market-distorting provision extends preferential tax treatment for uneconomical renewable resources used to produce electricity--including wind, closed-loop biomass, and poultry facilities. The conference report would expand this subsidy to include new resources: open-loop biomass, geothermal energy, solar energy, small irrigation power, and municipal solid waste (the Senate bill would also include bio-solids and sludge). This special-interest handout alone would cost $3 billion over 10 years (2004-2013).

Yet, despite two decades of taxpayer subsidies, grid-connected generators that use renewable fuels are projected to remain minor contributors to U.S. electricity supply--increasing from 9.0 percent of generation in 2002 to only 9.1 percent by 2025.6 Generation from non-hydroelectric renewables is projected to increase from a mere 2.2 percent in 2002 to only 3.7 percent in 2025.7

Instead of subsidizing these uneconomical energy sources, Congress should enact legislation that would permit exploration of areas that are currently off limits, such as the Rocky Mountains, offshore, and the Outer Continental Shelf. This legislation--not taxpayer subsidies--is the responsible way to enhance the nation's energy supplies and provide consumers with abundant, affordable, and reliable energy.

Tax Breaks for Congressionally "Privileged" Fuels and Alternative Motor Vehicles
Both bills also include a variety of provisions that interfere with the marketplace for fuels and the vehicle industry at a cost of $4 billion over 10 years.

One scheme creates an artificial market for four select vehicles (so far rejected by the marketplace) by providing a new tax credit for the purchase of hybrid motor vehicles, lean-burn diesel vehicles, alternative-fuel motor vehicles, and fuel motor vehicles. The conference report would also repeal (the Senate bill would modify) the current-law phase-out for the credit for electric motor vehicles. The free marketplace--not Congress--should determine whether consumers want these particular vehicles.

Select fuels, such as bio-diesel and certain bio-diesel mixtures, would also receive special treatment by means of a new tax credit. Additionally, the eligibility for the small-producer ethanol credit would double from a production capacity of 30 million gallons per year to 60 million gallons, and cooperatives would be allowed to pass through this credit to their patrons.

Taxpayer Subsidies for Specific
Residential and Business Property
Likewise, the conference report and the new Senate bill include a variety of market-distorting, energy efficiency measures--including tax credits, deductions, and provisions to entice the purchase of specific products; the manufacture of particular appliances; the construction of certain homes; and specified improvements to existing property--at a price tag of $2 billion over 10 years. While conservation and energy efficiency are important components of a responsible energy policy, accurate price signals from the market--not congressional meddling with the market--should determine which energy efficiency measures consumers take and which products they purchase.

Subsidies for the Coal Industry
Coal-fired electricity generation is expected to continue growing in 2004 and 2005, driven by increasing demand for electricity.8 While coal is essential to electricity production and the national economy, the costs of new, innovative, clean coal technologies should be borne by the industry--not the taxpayers. Both proposals include over $2 billion in handouts to the coal industry over 10 years.

Handouts for Oil and Gas Industries
Proponents of the generous tax breaks for the oil and gas industries--such as a tax credit for oil and gas production from marginal wells (wells that produce fewer than 15 barrels of oil a day and less than 90 thousand cubic feet of natural gas per day)--argue that these subsidies are not handouts, but merely incentives needed to increase domestic energy supplies. In the conference report, these subsidies would enrich the oil and gas industry by about $7 billion over 10 years. The Senate bill would delay some of these subsidies to make the proposal appear less costly in hopes of garnering votes from fiscal conservatives.

However, these incentives are needed only because Members of Congress do not have the political will to ensure that U.S. consumers have adequate, affordable, and reliable supplies of energy. If this were their goal--not special-interest handouts--they would have authorized oil and gas exploration in Alaska, in the Rocky Mountains, and on the Outer Continental Shelf. The tax breaks for the oil and gas industries would likely increase domestic supplies to some degree, but this is the wrong way to do it.

Tax Breaks for Reliability
The tax tweaks in this category are intended to enhance the delivery of the nation's energy supplies. For example, these provisions shorten the class life and recovery periods for natural gas gathering lines, distribution lines, and electric transmission property. They permit small-business refiners to claim an immediate deduction for up to 75 percent of the costs of complying with environmental regulations on sulfur emissions, and they also modify special rules for nuclear decommissioning costs. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that these handouts would cost taxpayers about $4.3 billion if Congress adopted the conference report.

The new Senate bill contains similar provisions. While well-intended, these tax tweaks favor certain investments rather than allowing market signals to determine where those investment dollars should go.

Additional Special-Interest Giveaways
The conference report also includes miscellaneous tax breaks for a variety of special interests. In fact, one of these taxpayer subsidies even gives a two-year suspension of tariffs on imported ceiling fans. According to The Wall Street Journal, this provision was added as a favor to Atlanta-based Home Depot, Inc.9 While still too costly, the new Senate bill strikes this industry-specific handout from the energy bill.

Loan Guarantees
Regrettably, Congress's largesse is not limited to the tax title. Buried in both bills are various loan guarantees for specific projects. For example, the report authorizes a loan guarantee of up to $18 billion to support the construction of an Alaska natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the lower 48 states--a project that industry has considered too economically risky to attract private investments.

Likewise, the bills authorize the Secretary of Energy to make loan guarantees (amounts to be determined by the Secretary) for a variety of clean coal projects around the country--including coal gasification, integrated gasification combined cycle technology, and petroleum coke gasification. While advancing clean power is commendable, the private sector should finance these projects without taxpayer subsidies.

The bills also authorize the Secretary of Energy to provide loan guarantees (no amounts given) for the construction of facilities to produce Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel10 and its commercial byproducts. Likewise, both bills authorize the Secretary of Energy to provide loan guarantees (no amounts given) for construction of facilities to process and convert municipal solid waste and cellulosic bio-mass into fuel ethanol and other commercial byproducts. If these facilities really merit construction, the marketplace will attract the private capital needed without the generous "assistance" of taxpayer dollars.

More Excessive Spending
Lest any special interest connected to the energy sector be left out of these generous taxpayer subsidies, Congress also created a host of unnecessary programs, studies, and grants. Under the conference report, these new spending authorizations would cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the 10-year period.

The new Senate bill also includes costly and unwarranted new authorizations, such as $1.1 billion to restore the coastal impact of offshore oil and gas drilling, and $500 million for the development of rural electric projects in Alaska.

More Favors for Special Interests
Among the major beneficiaries of these handouts are corn farmers and big agribusinesses. One company alone, Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), produces over 40 percent of the nation's ethanol. Under the Clean Air Act of 1990, the federal government mandated reformulated gasoline (RFG) to improve air quality in smoggy cities. RFG requires either methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) or ethanol to make gasoline supposedly burn cleaner.11 Both bills create an artificial market for ethanol by mandating a doubling of its use by 2012. Consumers will pay for ethanol's special treatment with increased prices at the pump. Consumer demand--not congressional favors for special interests--should determine whether there is a viable market for ethanol.

Further, due to concerns about ground water contamination, both the conference report and the Senate bill ban the use of MTBE by December 31, 2014, and provide $2 billion in grants to assist producers of MTBE in converting to production of other fuel additives.

Given that the federal government established a fuel oxygenate standard that encouraged the use of MTBE, the conference report includes liability protection for producers and users of MTBE during the industry's 10-year phase-out. This safe harbor provision became one of the most contentious provisions in that report. The House approved the conference report on November 18, 2003, by a bipartisan vote of 246 to 180.

Due in large part to this MTBE liability protection, however, Senate proponents of the report have been unable to garner the votes necessary to break a filibuster. Senate leaders recently negotiated an agreement on a new energy bill (S. 2095) that deletes the safe harbor provision, and the Senate is expected to vote on the new bill in the near future. Nonetheless, the House and Senate versions will still need to be reconciled before either energy plan can become law.

Other generous handouts for ethanol and motor fuels programs in these bills include $12 million for a resource center to further develop bioconversion technology using low-cost biomass for the production of ethanol at the Center for Biomass-Based Energy at the University of Mississippi and the University of Oklahoma; $125 million for research grants and development of renewable fuel production technologies; and $750,000 in grants to producers of cellulosic biomass ethanol and waste-derived ethanol in the U.S.

Moreover, in both bills, Congress would continue to meddle with the market by authorizing spending for research and development in specific areas of the energy sector. For example, the conference report authorizes $2 billion over five years for a hydrogen research program and almost $38 billion over five years for other select categories of energy research and development. These include commercial application activities such as $3.9 billion for energy efficiency; $3 billion for renewable energy; $2 billion for nuclear energy; $2.9 billion for fossil energy; and almost $24 billion for science projects.

The list of new spending authorizations for unnecessary taxpayer-funded programs, grants, and projects in these bills goes on and on. Congress needs to stop trying to micromanage the energy sector and allow the marketplace do what it does best--choose the nation's energy winners and losers.

Congress needs to remember that the primary purpose of a comprehensive energy plan is to provide consumers with sufficient, affordable, and reliable energy supplies. Regrettably, neither the conference report on H.R. 6 nor the new, slimmed-down S. 2095 achieves this objective. Instead, both bills simply enrich a wide range of special interests at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. Consumers would be better off without an energy bill than with either of these seriously flawed energy plans.

Charli E. Coon, J.D., is Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and the Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Erin Hymel, Research Assistant in the Roe Institute, contributed to this paper.


1. Press release, "Domenici Introduces Lean Energy Bill in Wake of Frist-Daschle Agreement for Swift Consideration," Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, February 13, 2004, at (February 17, 2004).

2. Update for Tuesday a.m., Environment & Energy Daily, February 17, 2004, at

3. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2004 with Projections to 2025, DOE/EIA-0383 (2004), January 2004, p. 6, at

4. Ibid., pp. 6-7.

5. Congressional Budget Office, Conference Agreement for H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, letter to Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, November 18, 2003, at

6. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook with Projections to 2025, DOE/EIA-0383 (2003), January 2004, p. 85.

7. Ibid.

8. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook--January 2004, released January 7, 2004, at

9. Shailagh Murray and John J. Fialka, "Energy Bill Is Laden with Tax Breaks," The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2003.

10. Fischer-Tropsch diesel fuel contains less than 10 parts per million of sulfur and is produced from coal or coal waste through liquification.

11. Ben Lieberman, "NY's New Gas Crunch," Competitive Enterprise Institute, November 16, 2003, at (February 6, 2004).

? 1995 - 2004 The Heritage Foundation
All Rights Reserved.

Posted by maximpost at 5:20 PM EST

March 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - U.N. bureaucrats are stonewalling requests from Iraq's new government for records from the scandal-plagued oil-for-food account set up in Saddam Hussein's handpicked French bank, officials said yesterday.
The mysterious activities over the handling of the U.N. account at the French banking giant BNP Paribas, where $100 billion worth of oil-for-food transactions flowed until the war, has emerged as a central focus of several investigations in the wake of the massive bribery-kickback scandal that has rocked the world body at its highest levels.
United Nations custody of the account was so secretive and unusual that even Saddam, who stole $10.1 billion from the program and bribed sympathetic pols with some of the proceeds, pressed unsuccessfully to have the account transferred out of the bank he originally insisted handle the program, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British businessman advising Iraq's Governing Council on the issue.
"The key question in this investigation is, what was the relationship between the U.N. and this French bank?" Hankes-Drielsma added.
Hankes-Drielsma said serious questions arose shortly after the war ended, when files were found in Iraq's Oil Ministry indicating that four earlier audits of the account unearthed "discrepancies" in some of the oil transactions.
Saddam's Central Bank of Iraq was asking questions that the United Nations refused to answer, he said.
After the war, the U.S.-run coalition provisional authority and Iraq's new government began making similar inquiries of the United Nations, not only about the earlier audits, but also about issues like interest payments and whether any funds were transferred to other banks.
A spokesman for the United Nations said records had been turned over the coalition authority, although he was not sure whether the bank statements were included.
A spokesman for BNP Paribas could not be reached for comment, but the company said in a previous statement: "We believe we were appointed by the United Nations for this contract, because they were looking for a large European institution, and we are the largest bank in Continental Europe."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week said he wants an independent investigation to look into allegations of widespread graft within the program.
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March 24, 2004 -- 'IN my prayers, I always beg the God Almighty to bless me with the honor of martyrdom." This is how Sheik Ahmed Yassin often expressed his deepest desire.
Despite such pronouncements, the sheik was extra careful not to be caught in a situation in which he would meet martyrdom. Yet the other day the Hamas leader had his wish fulfilled at the hands of an Israeli commando dispatched to eliminate him on the orders of his most determined foe, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
But why would Sharon want the sheik out of the way - and why now?
Yassin's "targeted killing" could be seen as part of Sharon's broader plan to withdraw Israeli forces from Gaza and to dismantle Jewish settlements there.
Sharon does not want his withdrawal from Gaza to look like Ehud Barak's retreat from southern Lebanon, which Hezbollah translated into a great triumph for itself. Sharon wants to leave Gaza from a position of strength. So he needs to dismantle as much of the Hamas infrastructure as he can.
Before leaving, Sharon must find someone to assume control of Gaza. Secret negotiations have been going on with Egypt for months. Egypt, which administered Gaza between 1947 and 1967, had indicated interest in returning in an interim role - on two conditions:
* It should not face radical armed groups that could turn their guns and suicide bombers against Egyptian forces after the Israelis are gone.
* The Western world must provide a package of urgent aid to revive Gaza's economy and provide jobs for at least part of the working population - which, shut out of the Israeli labor market, would be in total despair.
Sharon's hope is to revive the "Gaza first" plan first worked out by Shimon Peres in 1993. The idea is to let Gaza shape its own destiny as best as it can. But Gaza could easily become another southern Lebanon, which means another Damocles' sword hanging above Israel's head.
This is why Sharon wants all Palestinian groups in Gaza disarmed before the enclave is put under the control of Egypt, one of only two Arab states that have signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Sharon also believes that by decapitating Hamas - and in this context one must expect more "targeted killings" - he could bring the current Intifada (uprising) to a quick end. A similar tactic was used when the first Intifada was brought to an end with the elimination of its principal leaders, notably Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), Yasser Arafat's No. 2 and closest associate.
The timing of Yassin's killing may also be linked to two other facts:
* It came just days before the Arab summit at Tunis - where Syria, backed by its client state of Lebanon, plans to promote a new version of the "rejection front" both against Israel and the American initiative for a new Middle East.
* Sharon is scheduled to visit Washington soon to discourage moves to take Hamas off the State Department's list of international terrorist organizations.
BUT possibly the most important reason why Sharon believes he can hit Hamas at the highest level of its leadership is the Israeli belief that the Palestinian radical movement is losing momentum. In 2003, the number of Israelis killed by Hamas and other radical groups such as Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine was down by almost 50 percent compared to 2002. Although this was partly due to more effective prevention work, there has also been a sharp decline in the total number of planned attacks.
Hamas and virtually all other Palestinian radical groups have been experiencing growing difficulties in attracting new recruits, especially for suicide operations. Hamas is also facing financial difficulties.
The fall of Saddam Hussein closed what had become the single biggest source of funds for Hamas in the past five years. Several other Arab countries have been forced to close channels through which funds were collected for and directed to Hamas.
Both the United States and the European Union have also plugged sources of finance for Hamas. (Until 2001 nearly half of all foreign contributions to Hamas came from front organizations in the United States.)
Talks between Hamas and Iran, held in Tehran in February, failed to produce a massive increase in Iranian contributions. Since last November, the cash prize offered to the families of "suicide-martyrs" has been reduced from $25,000 to just over $11,000.
SHARON'S Gaza gamble may look like a daring tactical move. What is needed, however, is a strategy aimed at enabling a new Palestinian leadership to emerge. Caught between "suicide" leaders like Yassin and corrupt despots like Arafat, the Palestinians have no opportunity to put together a moderate and clean political leadership to lead the nation out of the current impasse and onto the path of peace based on the two-states principle.
Most Palestinians know that suicide attacks have never secured freedom and independence for any nation. They also know that the Arafat coterie is unable, if not actually unwilling, to lead the nation at this juncture. Yet the combination of Arafat, with his financial clout, and Yassin, with his suicide squads, has left little space for an alternative leadership to emerge.
And without such a Palestinian leadership, prospects for a durable end to violence shall remain dim.
In the 1980s, Israel helped create Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization. In the 1990s, Israel brought Arafat back from his political tomb in order to outflank the moderate Palestinian leadership that had emerged under people like Faisal al-Hussaini and Heidar Abdul-Shafi.
That leadership had made a strategic choice of accepting Israel as a reality, something that neither Yassin nor Arafat were able to make. The result is that the majority of Palestinians are excluded from any meaningful role in shaping their future.
Yassin's demise may provoke a final bouquet of suicide attacks. But once that is over, we shall still be left with the real issue: how to help Palestinians and Israelis to emerge from the impasse of violence and terror.

Amir Taheri will be speaking in New York tomorrow night. For information and registration, go to

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March 24, 2004 -- JERUSALEM - A fiery Palestinian hard-liner claimed the leadership of Hamas yesterday and vowed to increase attacks on Israel - even as Israel put him and other members of the terrorist group at the top of its new hit list.
New Hamas chieftain Abdel Aziz Rantisi told tens of thousands of cheering supporters at a Gaza City soccer stadium that he would avenge Monday's slaying of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin.
"We will fight them everywhere. We will hit them everywhere," Rantisi vowed.
He rejected even the temporary truce that Hamas considered last year when Israel first tried - and failed - to kill him and Yassin.
Rantisi, formerly chief spokesman for the radical Muslim group, told the crowd that he was the designated heir to Yassin and would assume his authority.
But there was no word on whether Rantisi's leadership would be challenged by Khaled Mashal, the Damascus-based radical who had been Hamas' treasurer and leader outside the Palestinian territories.
Israeli officials, meeting for five hours Monday night, agreed to target the entire Hamas leadership.
"Everyone is in our sights," Israeli Internal Security Minister Tsachi Hanegbi told reporters.
Armed Forces Commander Moshe Ya'alon hinted that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Hezbollah guerrilla chief Sheik Nasrallah may be targets.
Arafat, holed up in his headquarters in Ramallah, responded to the news of Yassin's death by telling aides, "I could be next."
Yassin was killed by three helicopter-launched missiles on Monday, eight days after the latest Hamas bomb attack, which killed 10 Israelis in Ashdod.
The Israeli Cabinet marked him for death after debating last week.
It was disclosed yesterday that secret-service chief Avi Dichter opposed the decision during the Cabinet meeting - but only because he wanted to wait for an opportunity to kill all the band of top Hamas figures in one strike when they were together.
Officials in Jerusalem acknowledged that retaliation from Hamas was virtually certain but that crippling the radical group's leadership was more important.
"There is no doubt that, in the short run, we will have to cope with some outburst of violence . . . but [eliminating Yassin] will turn the situation into a positive one later on," Ya'alon said.
Polls indicated most Israelis agreed.
One survey, reported in the newspaper Maariv yesterday, showed a majority expected some revenge attack - yet 61 percent supported Yassin's killing, while only 21 percent opposed.
In other developments yesterday:
* Israeli jets killed two Hezbollah guerrillas as they prepared to launch rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel.
Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel for more than three hours Monday as a sign of solidarity with Hamas.
* A senior Hamas official said Yassin had once refused a U.S. offer of immunity in return for a halt in terrorist attacks.
The offer was extended only to Hamas' political wing, not to its armed militants, and Yassin rejected it by saying, "The blood of Hamas leaders is no dearer than that of a Palestinian child," Sheik Said Siam told Maariv.
* More than 100 people carrying Palestinian flags marched outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan to protest Yassin's killing.
"I'm here to demonstrate as an American that I'm so tired of Israel and their crimes and I'm disgusted in our government," said Rajee Mustafa, a 51-year-old electrical engineer from Jersey City, N.J.

With Post wire services
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He's "off-code."
March 24, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - A French-born marketing guru has a pointed warning for Democratic wannabe John Kerry: You come off as way too French, mon ami.
"The whole French connection is 'off-code,' " said psychologist Clotaire Rapaille, who helps Fortune 100 companies sell everything from shampoo to the PT Cruiser car by psychoanalyzing cultures. He calls it decoding cultural archetypes.
"The French are thinkers - 'I think, therefore I am.' Americans want somebody that is going to take action . . . All this association [of Kerry] with thinking too much and nuance and five-sentence answers is off-code," he told The Post.
Rapaille's upcoming book, "Archetypes of the Presidency," will analyze politicians' behavior as "on-code" or "off-code" - what meshes or clashes with American culture and what people unconsciously yearn for.
But Rapaille also lunched with Kerry's brother, Cam, to offer advice directly to Team Kerry, said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter.
For starters, Rapaille, who stresses that he's now a "very proud" U.S. citizen, says Kerry's fancy ski vacation is a big boo-boo and won't help create a macho image.
"We Americans want to know 'What are you going to do tomorrow to change my life?' and if you say right away, 'I'm going on vacation,' it's going off-code," Rapaille said.
"I think [Kerry] has to buy some cowboy boots and get his hands dirty," adds Rapaille.
He sees Bush in marketing terms as a kind of "Marlboro man - the notion that this is the archetypal guy who doesn't think too much, but acts."
In other words, the "cowboy" epithet that Democrats love to hurl at Bush is exactly why he's more on-code (at least for now) than Kerry, says Rapaille.
He also believes that Bush's actions in Iraq were very much on-code - the perfect proof being how angry they made the French - but the follow-through was off-code because America didn't seem ready to deal with the postwar.

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North Korean leader meets China diplomats
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, on Wednesday March 24, 2004. Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il granted a rare meeting Wednesday with China's visiting foreign minister as the communist allies discussed the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis in a visit Beijing has described as a "very important contact." (AP Photo/Xinhua, Ren Li Bo)
SEOUL, South Korea -- Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il held a rare meeting Wednesday with China's foreign minister as the communist allies discussed the region's nuclear dispute.
Beijing said the session was a "very important contact."
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who arrived Tuesday, is the first foreign minister from Beijing to visit the North in five years. The visit is seen as bolstering the push for a third round of six-nation talks on the North's nuclear programs as efforts to organize working level groups hang in limbo.
As Pyongyang's last major ally, China has taken on the role of host and coordinator of the meetings.
The Chinese diplomat and North Korean officials are expected to discuss a date for the crucial working group meetings, which will seek to nail down details before the next full round of six-nation talks, sometime before July, according to South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.
South Korea has accused the North of dragging its feet on the working groups.
In Hong Kong, a North Korea expert said Pyongyang may skip the next round of nuclear talks because of the uncertainty caused by November's presidential election in the United States.
"What are they going to do there? Now, is anybody going to strike a deal?" said Charles Pritchard, a former U.S. State Department official.
It is unlikely that President Bush will offer a deal before the election, while his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, likely would start a direct dialogue with Pyongyang if he wins, Pritchard said.
In Pyongyang, Li's delegation toured a street market, laid flowers at a statue of national founder Kim Il Sung and met various North Korean dignitaries in a "warm atmosphere," according to the North Korea's official KCNA news agency.
Li also met Kim Jong Il, who assumed control from his father after Kim Il Sung's death in 1994.
Li presented greetings from Chinese President Hu Jintao, KCNA reported. Before Li departed for Pyongyang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Kong Quan described the trip as a "very important contact between our two sides."
Earlier in Seoul, South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban said North Korea likely will attend the next six-nation nuclear talks despite its recent rhetoric over U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the impeachment of South Korea's president.
A recent rupture in inter-Korean relations has fanned concern that the communist North might use the joint war games or South's leadership upheaval as grounds for postponing nuclear negotiations.
The U.S. military describes the annual U.S.-South Korean war games, which began earlier this week, as defensive. But North Korea routinely criticizes them as preparation for an invasion.
The United States, two Koreas, China, Russia and Japan have agreed to convene a third round of talks on North Korea's nuclear program by July. A second round ended in Beijing last month without a major breakthrough.
In the meantime, participants are trying to form a "working group" to nail down details. Ban is scheduled to meet Li in Beijing next week.
The United States insists that the North dismantle its nuclear weapons programs completely and verifiably. North Korea says it will only do so if the United States provides economic aid and security guarantees.
North Korea threatened Friday to boost its nuclear arsenal in "quality and quantity," blaming the United States for the lack of progress in nuclear talks.


Russian ship ordered home

The Russian navy's commander finds a nuclear-powered cruiser so poorly maintained that he orders it back to port.
Knight Ridder News Service
MOSCOW - In another blow to Russia's beleaguered military, the navy's commanding admiral ordered a nuclear-powered battle cruiser to return to port Tuesday for fear that ''it could explode at any moment,'' a statement he retracted hours later.
Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov said the Peter the Great, the flagship of the Northern Fleet, had become unseaworthy and dangerous. During a recent inspection he found the cruiser to be poorly maintained, including ``the contents of the [on-board] nuclear reactor.''
But three hours later, he backtracked, saying that the ship's safety is ''in line with existing norms,'' according to The Associated Press. The issue, however, points up problems in the Russian navy, both in hardware and leadership.
The admiral had told the news agency Interfax that the only parts on the boat that passed muster were ``the areas where visiting admirals walk around.''
His order for all repairs to be finished within three weeks apparently still stands. He also said the crew would have to take another training course before putting out to sea again.
The Peter the Great is worthy of the adjective: It displaces 28,000 tons, stretches the length of three football fields and carries a crew of 610. It reportedly can carry 20 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
But the ship has had a troubled history. During testing in 1996, an explosion in a steam pipeline killed five sailors. The vessel was commissioned in March 1998 -- 12 years after construction started -- but by that June it was back in port for repairs.
Military analysts in Moscow said Kuroyedov's unexpected docking of the cruiser could be part of a personal feud with the ship's commander, Vladimir Kasatonov. The two officers are said not to like each other, and the admiral blamed Kasatonov personally Tuesday for the shoddy conditions.
The Russian military has been in steep decline since the Soviet Union broke up a dozen years ago.
President Vladimir Putin has made military reform and modernization a priority, although little has improved. Putin's own military chief of staff has called the situation ``beyond critical.''
Army troops remain poorly paid and provisioned, and morale is abysmal. Air Force pilots get only a fraction of the necessary flight training because of a shortage of jet fuel and spare parts. Russian firms are manufacturing sophisticated weapons systems, but the impoverished military can't afford them.
The rust on the navy has been particularly dramatic.
The lone aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuzentsov, is undergoing a four-year overhaul. Most of the ships in the Baltic fleet have been sold off or cut into scrap metal. Last winter, the fleet was so far behind in paying its bills that its electricity was cut off.
Andrei Nikolayev, a retired general and the former head of the Parliament's defense committee, said recently that only 1 in 4 of Russia's surface warships was seaworthy.
Putin was embarrassed last month when he attended the launch of two ballistic missiles from a Northern Fleet submarine. The missiles never got out of their tubes.
Kuroyedov said Tuesday that the expiration date on the missiles had been exceeded by nearly a decade.

Navy Chief Makes Explosive Remark

By Simon Saradzhyan
Staff Writer

Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

The Pyotr Veliky, the flagship of the Northern Fleet, seen off Severomorsk in 2001.
The commander of the Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, sent international news agencies scrambling Tuesday morning when he said the Pyotr Veliky, the nuclear-powered flagship of the Northern Fleet, was in such bad shape it could explode "at any moment."
A few hours later, he retracted his statement, which appeared aimed at shifting blame for a series of accidents in the Northern Fleet ahead of a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
"Everything is in order in those parts of the ship where admirals walk, but as to places where they don't walk, everything is in such a condition that it could blow up into the air. I mean the contents of the nuclear reactor, among other things," Russian news outlets quoted Kuroyedov as saying in the morning.
The 19,000-ton cruiser, which was designed to battle U.S. aircraft carrier groups and was commissioned in 1998, has two nuclear reactors and 10 Granit cruise missiles that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.
Kuroyedov said he personally discovered the "faults" when on board the ship in open sea last Wednesday to witness a ballistic missile launch from a submarine, and he ordered the ship docked for three weeks so the crew could fix the problems.
The Navy chief blamed the ship's commander, Vladimir Kasatonov, and the commander of the Northern Fleet, Gennady Suchkov, for the condition of the Pyotr Veliky, reported. Last year, the cruiser was declared the best-maintained and readiest of all the Northern Fleet's vessels.
As international news agencies moved urgent news items with Kuroyedov's statement and reporters bombarded the Navy press service with calls, he retracted his statement, saying the nuclear power unit of the Pyotr Veliky cruiser was safe and that he was unhappy only with "the living quarters and noncombat sections."
When reached by phone Tuesday, a Navy spokesman said the press should focus only on Kuroyedov's afternoon statement, as the one from the morning was "made on the sidelines" and "was not meant for the press." He would not elaborate.
Kuroyedov had made his explosive remarks while taking questions from reporters in a smoking room at the Defense Ministry's downtown headquarters ahead of a meeting of the top brass, attended by Putin, to discuss housing issues, reported.
In reality, however, Kuroyedov did not discover any glaring hazards during his inspection of the Pyotr Veliky last week, according to, which said it had obtained a list of the problems uncovered during the inspection. These included fire extinguishers that were not checked and poorly equipped crew's quarters. The Navy chief was outraged by overfilled ashtrays, said, citing sources in the Northern Fleet. He also was unhappy that paintings were badly hung in the crew's quarters, NTV reported Tuesday evening.
Kuroyedov's alarmist remarks were aimed at discrediting his former deputy, retired Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the uncle of the cruiser's commander, and also Suchkov, according to and NTV.
At a recent closed-door hearing on the sinking of the K-159 submarine, Kuroyedov testified that Suchkov was responsible for the accident, which took the lives of nine crew members. Igor Kasatonov testified at the same hearing that Kuroyedov was to blame. The submarine sank in the Barents Sea last August while being towed to a scrap yard.
Now the Navy chief may be trying to settle scores with his former deputy through his nephew and shift the blame for the K-159 sinking onto Suchkov, also a longtime rival, speculated.
Calls to the Northern Fleet's press service went unanswered Tuesday afternoon, but the shipyard that built the cruiser was adamant that its nuclear reactors were safe and the ship itself combat-ready.
"The nuclear units are in absolutely fine, safe condition ... and the ship is technically ready for any mission," said Oleg Shulyakovsky, director general of the Baltiisky shipyard in St. Petersburg. He told Interfax that the shipyard's engineers regularly inspect the warship and that the reactors, which were designed in Nizhny Novgorod and built in Khabarovsk, could serve at least for 12 years.
Tuesday's controversy came one month after Kuroyedov was roasted in the press for publicly denying a missile launch failure.
The Northern Fleet's Novomoskovsk nuclear-powered submarine was to launch an RSM-54 ballistic missile during a strategic war game on Feb. 17 attended by Putin. The launch failed.
Later that evening, however, Kuroyedov made a television appearance to assert that no actual launch had been planned. He claimed that only simulations were planned and thus no failure could have occurred, even though the Defense Ministry's Red Star daily had reported that the war game's "official scenario" called for an RSM-54 ballistic missile to be launched from the Novomoskovsk and fly across Russia to the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Under Kuroyedov's command, the Northern Fleet has suffered from a series of accidents, including the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000, which killed all 118 men on board. Shortly after the Kursk sank, the Northern Fleet command told Russian news agencies that the crew was in no danger and that air was being pumped into the submarine.
Kuroyedov's statements Tuesday were clearly a PR blunder and, given the submarine sinkings and his awkward attempts to hush up the February missile launch failure, he is not likely to be promoted, despite recent speculation in the press, and may be forced to retire, said Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Center for Defense Information.
Kuroyedov, who has commanded the Navy for five years, reportedly has maintained good relations with Putin and was once tipped to become either defense minister or chief of the General Staff. Now, however, he may have to step down after he turns 60 in September, the mandatory retirement age for senior commanders.
He can ask Putin to extend his active service, but the commander-in-chief may now choose not to do so, Safranchuk said.

? Copyright 2002, The Moscow Times. All Rights Reserved.


Naval chief 'should shoot himself'
March 24, 2004 Posted: 15:08 Moscow time (11:08 GMT)
MOSCOW - Russia's naval commander, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said on Tuesday that the Russian fleet's flagship, the nuclear-powered missile cruiser `Peter the Great', had been sent for repairs because of fears "it could blow up at any moment". Later in the day he officially retracted his remarks made in an informal conversation in a smoking room at the Defense Ministry ahead of a meeting of the top brass, attended by Putin.
However, some suggested Kuroyedov's dramatic remarks were aimed at discrediting his potential rivals, in particular, the cruiser's commander Vladimir Kasatonov, his uncle, retired Admiral Igor Kasatonov, and the Northern Fleet commander Gennady Suchkov. Gazeta.Ru has asked Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technology, to comment on the situation.

Gazeta.Ru: Ruslan Nikolayevich, what, in your opinion, has prompted the head of the navy, Vladimir Kuroyedov, to make such a harsh statement on the state of the Russian fleet, in particular, of its flagship, `Peter the Great'?

This problem has two aspects. The first one is connected with the situation in the Russian fleet proper. Everyone knows that along with the Soviet Union our fleet has experienced a national catastrophe by losing one of its bases and one-third of its numerical strength. The only aircraft carrier is out of service and can only take part in naval exercises under tow, as was the case during the latest strategic war games in February.
The `Peter the Great' has long had problems with its power generator, which has failed to operate at its full capacity since it was serviced by conscripts.
Those are routine problems, just as the roads in Moscow are not very good despite the all-powerful Luzhkov being the city's mayor. Over the past three to four years measures have been taken to solve those problems as the general situation in the country has been improving, with oil prices soaring and the military budget increasing.
And the fleet has always received the best financing. That is why, let's say, over the past four years, and especially last year, the situation became better than it used to be. It is just that earlier no tests were held, no test launches and so on. But now it has become clear that there are problems with servicing, though they are routine problems.
Besides, there is Admiral Kuroyedov himself, who turns sixty this year, which is retirement age for military servicemen. He can only continue his service if his contract is extended. It may be extended for a year, three years, but it cannot be extended indefinitely. The one to decide on an extension is the president, or, in certain cases, the prime minister.
Kuroyedov did everything he could to have his contract extended for another year, but following the failure [of the test-firing of a ballistic missile] during February's exercises, other candidacies have been proposed. As that became obvious, he began drowning everyone who could possibly replace him
I am not a big fan of the fleet, rather its opponent, and when the chief commander makes a downright moronic statement that the cruiser is about to explode into the air... After all, its nuclear power-plant is not a nuclear bomb. It cannot just explode into the air. It might die quietly, but nothing there can ever blow up.
And when he makes such statements, it means that he is either an incompetent fool, or he is pursuing some definite purpose. Kuroyedov has commanded the fleet that is "about to explode into the air" for the past four years, but for some reason the one who is to blame for the situation now is the ship's commander [Vladimir] Kasatonov. I think Kuroyedov is keeping his rivals down.
The point is that by tradition when the government resigns and the defence minister turns acting defence minister, all the commanders of fleets, troops and departments tender their resignations.
Then those resignations are either accepted or the military personnel are asked to continue their service. So it is quite possible that when Kuroyedov handed in his resignation he knew his prospects were good and it was a mere formality, but then the situation changed and he found himself on a hook.
Apparently, other candidacies have been proposed, though earlier Kuroyedov was believed to be the only candidate for the post. And that is why Kuroyedov arranged a news conference where he blasts everyone. And I regard his "may-explode-at-any-moment" remark as nonsense unworthy of an officer.

And what about Kuroyedov's order to remove the ship's standard?

That's also just another cheap publicity stunt. In that case then, Kuroyedov should have shot himself in the middle of that news conference - remove the flag, comb his hair and blow out his brains.

But were there technical problems on board the `Peter the Great'?

Maintaining the fleet is a very expensive affair, especially when it is projecting its strength, i.e. not merely drifting within 100 km of the coast, guarding the coastline and seeing off foreign fishermen, but setting a course for somewhere to show off the flag, threatening with missiles, doing some shooting. That is all very expensive.

And it is absolutely clear that, until recently, we could not afford that. That is why we should have given up some of the ships to preserve the others. But we tried to preserve everything and everything is now in a deplorable condition. Iron has some margin of safety but even iron wears out.

Kuroyedov took the job at a time when funding had already begun to improve and the fleet was faced with new tasks. It became clear that there were problems. But instead of frankly admitting: yes, we have problems, so we will work towards solving them, he began by lying, saying that no actual launches had been planned, only simulations, though earlier the military made it clear that the president himself would observe those launches. In other words, Kuroyedov seems to be a very weak man and does not suit the position he occupies. GAZETA.RU

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Posted by maximpost at 4:37 PM EST

Fukuyama in Tel Aviv
Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres, and Francis Fukuyama come together to discuss the end of history in Israel.
by Peter Berkowitz
03/19/2004 12:00:00 AM

Tel Aviv
FAMOUSLY, Zionism founding father Theodor Herzl proclaimed that the aim of the Jewish state should be to permit Jews to live as a nation like other all other nations. A century later, contradicting his hopes in ways that might have made Herzl proud, Israel continues to distinguish itself. Witness the remarkable gathering of 1,200 Israelis at Tel Aviv University last Monday evening, along with foreign diplomats, from, among other countries, Switzerland, South Africa, Guyana, and Egypt. Under the auspices of the university's new School of Government, the audience had come to hear Johns Hopkins University professor Francis Fukuyama discuss with former prime ministers and current Knesset members Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu "The End of History 15 Years Later" (disclosure: as a co-director of the Jerusalem Program on Constitutional Government, I shared responsibility for bringing Fukuyama to Israel for separate seminars).

Indeed, it was in the late summer of 1989 in the National Interest that Fukuyama maintained that evidence had reached a critical threshold suggesting liberal democracy was establishing itself around the world as the regime most consistent with the desires for freedom and equal recognition built into human nature. Almost before the ink had dried on his article, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union silently disintegrated. The provocation of his thesis, the acuteness of his analysis, and the prescience of his timing helped transform Fukuyama, at the time a policy analyst at the Rand Corporation, into a public intellectual of world stature.

His writings on the end of history remain mandatory reading in political science classes throughout Israel. Of course, following the outbreak of the second Intifada in October 2000, which unleashed three and a half years (and counting) of suicide bombers and which dashed dreams among a wide swath of the Israeli public for a stable and lasting peace with the Palestinians, the end of history seems much further off than it did in the heady 1990s when globalization was on everybody's lips and the Oslo Accords were full of promise.

It was the anticipation of how Fukuyama would relate his thesis to the persistence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the excitement of watching two former prime ministers display their intellectual prowess by going head to head with an internationally acclaimed scholar that accounted for the rock concert like atmosphere in the hall.

THE PROTAGONISTS DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Because of a crucial no-confidence vote in the Knesset, Peres and Netanyahu were delayed. But the show went on, and Fukuyama rose to the occasion. Under the bright lights on the large auditorium stage, the diminutive professor held forth for 40 minutes. With his characteristic calm cogence, Fukuyama rehearsed the key elements of his argument: history displays a broad pattern of human progress; bourgeois civilization will not be transcended; history will terminate not in a socialist utopia but in liberal democracy and market capitalism; this conclusion is fortified by the empirical evidence of people around the world who have voted with their feet for freedom, democracy, and modernization; and it is further fortified by theoretical reflection on human nature which discloses the rationality of economic and political systems based on individual rights and the consent of the governed.

The key question thus far posed by the 21st century, Fukuyama observed, is whether there is a Muslim exception to the end of history. Fukuyama doubts it. He pointed out that the real democracy deficit is not in Muslim or predominantly Muslim countries but in Muslim Arab countries of the Middle East. And there the problem, he suggested, was not Islam, though he indicated it still awaits its Luther, but bad government and dismal economic prospects that produce an angry alienation on which purveyors of radical Islam prey. What is necessary on the part of the liberal democracies of the world, according to Fukuyama, is the right kind of politics, one that knows that individual freedom is the long term goal but which takes careful account of, and learns to work with, the distinctive culture of Arab and Muslim societies.

BEFORE FUKUYAMA COULD FIELD MANY QUESTIONS, Peres and Netanyahu, briefed by phone on Fukuyama's handling of the first hour during their ride from the Knesset in Jerusalem, walked onstage to warm applause. Both were funny, smart, and well-spoken. It would be an exaggeration to say that either former prime minister addressed Fukuyama's thesis. But it would be peevish to deny that the stump speech each used the opportunity to deliver about his signature theme connected, or could be connected to, Fukuyama's big ideas.

Peres spoke first. We stand, he said, not at the end of history but at the end of a certain history and the beginning of a new one. Never mind that the new history which Peres evoked, and which he urged his listeners to promote, one in which science and democracy work hand in hand to produce unparalleled peace and prosperity, corresponded roughly to Fukuyama's characterization of the end of history.

Netanyahu began by explaining that he rejected the descriptive part of Fukuyama's thesis but embraced the prescriptive part. Never mind that the descriptive and prescriptive parts of Fukuyama's thesis--liberal democracy was in fact and appropriately triumphing around the world because it satisfied genuine and powerful human wants, needs, and desires--were inseparably connected. What Netanyahu really wanted to dwell upon was that terrorism is a monumental threat to liberal democracy, and while inflamed by poverty and oppression, it "is a product of the totalitarian mindset." In concluding that the issue in connection to Fukuyama is not whether he is right about the end of history but rather how we can insure that he is right, Netanyahu agreed with Fukuyama as well as Peres that the world's liberal democracies have a moral and strategic interest in the spread of liberal democracy.

With the hour growing late, Fukuyama was invited to respond to the prime ministers. Again, he rose to the occasion. No professorial qualifications or quibbles or corrections from him. Instead, looking first at the former prime ministers and then turning to face the crowd he brought the evening to a close by remarking with awe that it says a great deal about Israel that two former prime ministers and current members of Knesset would take time from their busy schedules to discuss ideas with a professor and that 1,200 people would fill an auditorium to watch and listen.

So it does.

Peter Berkowitz teaches at George Mason University School of Law and is a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Live from Baghdad
Watching the anti-American foreign press in action, fixing hotel toilets, and dining out in Kurdistan.
by Fred Barnes
03/24/2004 12:00:00 AM

THE IRAQI PRESS CORPS routinely peppers spokesmen for the American military and the Coalition Provisional Authority with loaded questions about why U.S. soldiers are picking on innocent Iraqi citizens. The Spanish reporters here make it clear they're not sympathetic to America's role in Iraq. But nobody in the media covering postwar Iraq can top the Brits for injecting anti-American themes in their questions.

Examples? At a press briefing last Friday, CPA administrator Paul Bremer offered his assessment of progress in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was toppled a year ago. Then a "senior coalition official" took "questions," including three from British reporters.

The fellow from the Guardian in Manchester began this way: "You mentioned the protest today by the journalists being an expression of democracy. But that was an expression of great anger because they feel those men were shot by American troops at a checkpoint. There is widespread resentment and hatred for American troops."

Thanks for that statement of opinion, but what's the question? "How do you explain the fact that there is much less attacks on coalition forces in Basra, Nasaria, and so on where there are non-American troops?" he asked. You can see what he was getting at--that American troops alone are detested by Iraqis and thus attacked more. Of course, the scribbler had to know the truth: American troops are stationed in the most dangerous areas where attacks are far more likely.

Then there was the lady from Reuters. She stated that "resentment" of American soldiers by Iraqis "is coming from civilians being randomly shot at by U.S. soldiers." Another statement without a question. But she did have two queries. "Is there something you'd like to see the military do differently to gain the confidence of the civilians?" The answer was no. "And why has the CPA been resistant to give the amount of civilian casualties?" This is a frequent question that always gets the same answer: The CPA doesn't keep track of civilian casualties.

Just because a Brit works for the American media, he doesn't need to shrink from sticking a hostile statement in a question. So the Brit working for ABC News here declared, "There was no terrorism in Iraq before the United States and the coalition came to Iraq." Really? The official flared at this one, noting Saddam's Iraq was the home of state terrorism. If you're doubtful, the official said, just check out the mass graves at Hilla and Halabja.

* * *

THE FIRST THING I LEARNED when I got to Baghdad was that the Sheraton, where I'm staying, is not the Ritz. It's not even a Sheraton. The hotel was cut loose from the American chain at the time of the Gulf War in 1991, and it shows. My reservation had been made, confirmed and reconfirmed, but when I arrived the desk said it had never heard of me. I got a room, thanks to friends here, but no points on my Sheraton frequent-stay card.

A common problem in the hotel is that the toilet seat is disconnected from the toilet. One journalist here asked to hotel to fix it, and the hotel said it would do so quickly. When the journalist got back to his room, he found that the seat had been carefully put back in place on the toilet. But fastened to it in any way? Nope.

But the Sheraton has one great selling point. It's safe. As many as eight American tanks are parked around the hotel, plus a few armed Humvees. Moreover, there's a well-guarded perimeter that's guarded aggressively by armed civilians. Safety trumps an attached toilet seat.

* * *

MOST AMERICANS will never go to Kurdistan in northern Iraq. I never thought I would, given that it's in a remote part of the world near the borders of Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Yet it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been--mountains, rolling green hills, lovely lakes, scenic valleys. Offered a chance to travel to Kurdistan by helicopter with Paul Bremer, the American viceroy in Iraq, I jumped at the opportunity. Also on the trip was the Washington Post correspondent in Iraq, Rajiv Chandrasekaran.

The single most beautiful spot is the internationally known town of Halabja. It looks like a Swiss skiing village. But Halabja is famous for another reason. Sixteen years ago, 5,000 women and children were gassed there by Saddam Hussein's operatives, led by Chemical Ali. An excellent museum commemorates the atrocity. It has a re-creation of what was found after the gas attacks: men and women lying dead and holding their children tightly to try to protect. It is a wrenching experience to tour the museum, a kind of Holocaust Museum for the Kurds.

The Kurds are quite pro-American and would be happy for American troops to stay permanently to protect them. Bremer is popular too. He and Robert Blackwill, the former ambassador to India and now a top National Security Council official in Washington, dined at the guest house of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. Barzani laid out a spread of about 25 Kurdish dishes and Chandrasekaran and I were invited. It was as good as any food I've ever had. I couldn't name the dishes, but I tried 10 or so of them.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Selling the Rough and Tumble of Democracy
How Dan Senor gets the word out for Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority.
by Fred Barnes
03/23/2004 12:00:00 AM

DAN SENOR'S WORST DAY was Friday, March 5. Senor is the chief spokesman for Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority. Members of the Iraqi Governing Council and their families had gathered for the signing of the new Iraqi constitution. The Baghdad press corps was assembled in full force for the ceremony, having waited restlessly for hours. And Senor had to tell the families, the media, and the world that the constitution was, well, still being worked out.

Senor never made it to the podium in the briefing room of what was once Iraq's convention center under Saddam Hussein's regime. He was swarmed by reporters who had concluded that the whole process of drafting a constitution agreeable to the full 25-member governing council had gone awry. Senor's explanation: democracy isn't neat but includes a lot of rough and tumble. If you want neat, Senor said, Saddam provided that. But there would be a constitution, he said.

The writing of a constitution had indeed experienced a serious glitch. Some Shiite members of the council balked at a provision allowing 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces to veto the constitution if voters decided against it by a two-thirds margin or better. The Shiites said this would let the Kurds alone block the constitution.

Over the weekend, the Shiites backed down under pressure from Bremer, the CPA chief. And the new constitution, which will stay in effect until a new government elected by January 30 takes office, was signed with much fanfare. It represented an historic moment in Iraq's evolution towards democracy.

SENOR, 32, was a year out of Harvard Business School and working for an investment company in Washington, the Carlyle Group, when he was tapped to come to Iraq. He'd had political experience as an aide to Republican senator Spence Abraham of Michigan during3 the 1990s, but not in dealing with the press. Abraham is now President Bush's energy secretary.

When the White House first called, Senor was asked to go to Qatar during the war in Iraq as a press official. "I was a strong supporter of the war," he said. "I said if I had any skill set they could use, I'd do it. I was just helping out." Less than two weeks after the April 9, 2003, fall of Saddam, he rode with the first convoy of civilians into Iraq from Kuwait. Upon arrival at the presidential palace of Saddam designated as the coalition headquarters, he found it had no electricity, no phones, no water, no bathrooms, and no air conditioning. He and his colleagues--seven in all--slept on the floor.

Bremer showed up a few weeks later, but it appeared Senor would not be his press secretary. On a trip with Bremer to Washington in July, Senor was officially announced as the new deputy press secretary at the White House. He never spent a day in that job. It was decided he was needed more critically in Baghdad than in Washington.

In Iraq, Senor and others found there was no manual to work from. "There was no substitute for being there," says Senor. The Bush administration had a plan for Iraqi democracy, but it didn't include mundane details such as how to repair the crumbling electricity grid. The administration had figured on serious problems in Iraq, but not all of the ones that actually emerged (such as rampant looting).

Once the CPA got established, Senor began daily briefings, with simultaneous translations for Arabic-speaking reporters. Now, he and Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the military spokesman, brief and answer questions together. Like Bremer, Senor wears sand-colored soft Army boots with a suit and tie. Nearly everyone else in the CPA is tieless. When Bremer travels, Senor is invariably by his side.

SENOR GREW UP in the United States and Canada and went to the University of Western Ontario before getting his undergraduate degree at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He keeps to a kosher diet, which is difficult in Iraq.

Senor's plan is to return to the States with Bremer after the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30. But officials here tease Senor about signing up for another year in Iraq, working for the new U.S. embassy. That's not likely, but it's not inconceivable either. Senor says a big reason for his coming to Iraq was that he "was drawn to the historic moment." In Iraq, that moment will continue after June 30.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

? Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Posted by maximpost at 12:51 AM EST

SecDef McCain
Is John McCain auditioning for a non-veep Kerry admin spot?
John McCain provided crucial cover for John Kerry on his defense votes last week, vouching for his Senate colleague and friend's toughness on national security. This was a priceless endorsement for Kerry, and it played on the front pages of both the Washington Post and the New York Times. There may be more at work here then McCain's senatorial courtesy (not something he has been famous for to this point) or his smoldering animosity toward Bush. McCain is speaking as a potential member of the Kerry Cabinet.
Recent speculation has focused on McCain as a potential vice-presidential pick for Kerry. This doesn't make much sense. The political differences are just too stark and would be difficult to defend in a campaign. It's also not clear that McCain would want to be vice president, a second-fiddle job by its nature. There's another post in the Kerry administration that makes much more sense and has been the focus of a rumor going around Capitol Hill -- McCain as Kerry's secretary of defense.
This would work on all sorts of levels. The Kerry team would obviously want to tap into McCain's magic, so would be happy to have him in the cabinet. McCain as SecDef would project an image of toughness on national security, which Kerry would probably want given the current political environment. Also, the Democratic bench isn't that deep when it comes to defense and military affairs, making McCain a natural to fill this hole. Finally, every administration wants to make some gesture toward bipartisanship, which is why Norman Mineta is in the Bush administration. And there is a direct precedent for McCain as secretary of defense in a Kerry administration -- Bill Cohen, another Republican senator, as secretary of defense for Bill Clinton.
For McCain, this job would make sense as well. It would be a great capstone to his political career. It would accord with his personal interests and his family history -- his father and grandfather were admirals, and McCain could match their achievements in his own way by running the Pentagon. Finally, it would cement his image as the impossible-to-categorize, beyond-partisanship American statesman. The media would eat it up.
So when McCain assists the Kerry campaign, he is not just helping his senatorial friend, but his potential boss.

Why Are Oil Prices So High?
Several reasons -- but a new era of high prices is not upon us.
The sharp rise in oil prices to $37 a barrel has coincided with a number of significant events involving geopolitics, macroeconomics, and the petroleum industry. These have piqued the interest of investors and have caused many portfolio managers to ask whether this is the start of a new era of sustained high oil prices.
Is it? No. But to understand why, here are the most common questions being asked about oil on Wall Street, followed by the answers more people should know:
What role is the weak dollar playing in oil pricing?
Largely, it is a psychological and speculative role. So far, the weak dollar has had no impact on supply, demand, or inventories. For example, no producer has cut oil production because the dollar value has declined. Although OPEC has cited erosion of buying power due to the currency shift, and has given this as a reason to justify the current high barrel price, OPEC production (excluding Iraq) is estimated to have increased each month between October and January, with members persistently exceeding quotas.
Is fast growth in Chinese oil demand the impetus behind rising oil prices, and won't this result in sustained high oil prices?
Estimates of Chinese oil demand in 2003 and so far in 2004 are hovering in the 8 to 10 percent range per annum. This compares with an average growth rate of 6.5 percent from 1992 to 2002. By any measure, this growth is significant. If it persists at this level of growth, China might be responsible for higher world oil demand. But this may or may not result in sustained high oil prices depending on changes in supply and inventories. More, put in perspective, China's oil consumption is about the same as Japan's, one-quarter of the U.S.'s, and one-third of Europe's. Also, China's accelerated oil demand is at least partially offset by a slowdown in demand growth rates in Japan, Europe, Russia, Latin America, Africa, and the United States.
Why is the U.S. government filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) when oil prices are so high? When will this stop and what will happen when it does stop?
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush decided to fill the SPR to its authorized level of 700 million barrels for national security reasons. Since then, 103.8 million barrels have been added, and the SPR now holds 647.5 million barrels. Since last April, following the allied invasion of Iraq, the fill rate has averaged over 1 million barrels a week, or about 1 percent of U.S. crude oil demand. Obviously, this program is not sensitive to oil prices. At the current pace, the fill would need to go on for about another year to reach the 700-million-barrel target. Given the budget deficit, the high oil price, and the presidential-election season, the administration should cease purchases sometime in the first half of the year -- which would have the same impact as a sudden 1 percent drop in crude oil demand, causing prices to fall. (Other countries are also building their SPRs, which may also be playing a role in the speculative fervor behind the oil-price rise.)
Are rising finding-and-development costs leading to higher oil prices?
Not likely. F&D costs are cyclical and have risen from a low point. But historically, costs are not that high right now.
Are we running out of oil?
But hasn't oil production been disappointing for the major oil companies?
Yes. However, some of the reasons for the disappointing production are complicated and do not suggest oil supplies have been constrained. To begin, there is a difference between production growth and production growth relative to expectation. In 2002, for example, BP's oil-production growth rate was a "disappointing" 4.5 percent relative to company expectations of 5.5 percent, even though BP's rate outstripped the growth rate for world oil demand seventeen-fold. Of course, oil companies make more money with higher oil prices and therefore prefer this environment, even though they show lower production volumes. Oil company volumes are also influenced by OPEC quotas and production, and it is difficult to time many of the factors that influence production -- such as new field start-ups, maintenance, labor strikes, and weather delays.
Does the fact that Persian Gulf nations conduct a low level of exploration mean they don't have much exploration potential? Will these countries be able to supply more oil when the world calls for it?
OPEC production is constrained by demand. Utilization for Saudi Arabia, for example, is 75 percent. Since Saudi Arabia has not been able to produce anywhere near current capacity (except for very short periods) for decades without causing a sharp downturn in oil prices, it certainly does not make sense to expand capacity further.
Going forward, OPEC will not be required to supply more oil. Rather, its production and market share will continue to shrink as has been the case since the early 1970s. Rising oil production from non-OPEC sources combined with the growth in alternative energy and market-share-grab by other fuels will force OPEC to reduce output over time. High oil prices in the past three years will only hasten this process.
If OPEC is cheating on quotas and overproducing, as the oil analysts say, why haven't inventories built to high levels?
Inventories have built, but probably not as much as forecasted by analysts. And again, part of the build has been undertaken by government SPRs. Adjusting for the slower-than-expected inventory-build in the first quarter of 2004 may mean that OPEC needs to cut production by about 2.3 million barrels a day -- which will be difficult for OPEC to do.
So -- why are oil prices so high?
Today's high prices are owing to low commercial inventories and speculation. Again, inventories are not low -- in fact, total crude-oil inventories in the U.S. are at the highest level since 1995, when oil prices were $18 a barrel. It's just that crude-oil traders have chosen to focus only on commercial stocks and have ignored oil in the SPR. The level of inventories today is consistent with a barrel price in the mid-to-high $20s.
Speculators take into account many variables, including terrorism, currencies, faith in OPEC, and momentum. Put yourself in the shoes of an oil trader. Would you leave the trading pit on a Friday night with a large net short position and risk the event of a terrorist strike that could push oil prices higher over the weekend? While the decline in the dollar has had no impact on oil supply, demand, or inventories, traders cite dollar weakness as a reason to be bullish. This stems from speculation that the dollar will keep falling and that eventually it will become attractive for consumers outside the U.S. to purchase higher quantities of oil.
Finally, after three-and-a-half years of high oil prices, with prices spending most of that time within OPEC's target-price band, OPEC has credibility. Crude-oil traders see no strong reason to doubt that OPEC will cut production to balance the market in the next two quarters, just as the organization is promising. Traders feel that there will be time to short crude-oil futures if OPEC does not do what it says. But for now, why not go with the flow.
-- Frederick P. Leuffer, CFA, is senior managing director and senior energy analyst for Bear Stearns & Co. Inc.
FBI verifies Kerry at 'assassination summit'
Records back claim he was at meeting that discussed killing senators
Posted: March 23, 2004
5:00 p.m. Eastern
Editor's note: WorldNetDaily is pleased to have a content-sharing agreement with Insight magazine, the bold Washington publication not afraid to ruffle establishment feathers. Subscribe to Insight at WorldNetDaily's online store and save 71 percent off the cover price.
By Scott Stanley Jr.
? 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc.
News management may have reached an embarrassing low in the Los Angeles Times for March 23 where an article by staff writer John M. Glionna purports to offer selections from the FBI file on soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, who was under surveillance by the G-Men as a member of the executive board of the pro-Viet Cong Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Presenting items from 50 documents carefully selected from what it reported were 14 boxes of related government papers 12 feet high, the Times confirmed from the FBI and other witnesses that Kerry had resigned from the VVAW leadership in November 1971 at a Kansas City board meeting to run for Congress.
For years Kerry claimed that he had resigned after a July 1971 meeting in St. Louis and had not been present for the Kansas City meeting that was moved from venue to venue to try to avoid FBI surveillance of the group's most secret plans.
The reason official confirmation that he did not leave the group until after the Kansas City meeting is important, say specialists on radical activities during the Vietnam era, is that the FBI documents confirm earlier reports by those present that Kerry participated in a closed-door discussion of a proposal to assassinate seven U.S. senators who were special targets of Hanoi, with whose agents selected leaders of VVAW had been meeting.
The Los Angeles Times made no mention of this part of the story, broken 10 days earlier in the New York Sun by founding New York Times books editor Tom Lipscomb and since spiked by editors coast to coast.
Kerry reportedly voted against the killings but did not leave the meeting and call a cop. Until the FBI surveillance report surfaced to put him in the middle of the assassination discussion, Kerry claimed to have resigned before the meeting at which VVAW discussed the murder plan.
After Kerry left the board of VVAW, with which he had made his national reputation, the FBI ceased surveillance of his activities according to a bureau memo in early 1972.

In '99, Clarke saw
Iraq-al-Qaida link
But Bush critic told '60 Minutes' Sunday there was 'absolutely' no evidence 'ever'
Posted: March 23, 2004
11:10 a.m. Eastern
? 2004
Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism official promoting a book critical of the Bush administration, insists Saddam Hussein had no connection to al-Qaida, but in 1999 he defended President Clinton's attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant by revealing the U.S. was "sure" it manufactured chemical warfare materials produced by Iraqi experts in cooperation with Osama bin Laden.
Richard Clarke
Clarke told the Washington Post in a Jan. 23, 1999, story U.S. intelligence officials had obtained a soil sample from the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, which was hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles in retaliation for bin Laden's role in the Aug. 7, 1998, embassy bombings in Africa.
The sample contained a precursor of VX nerve gas, which Clarke said when mixed with bleach and water, would have become fully active VX nerve gas.
Clarke told the Post the U.S. did not know how much of the substance was produced at El Shifa or what happened to it.
"But he said that intelligence exists linking bin Laden to El Shifa's current and past operators, the Iraqi nerve gas experts and the National Islamic Front in Sudan," the paper reported.
However, Sunday night in an interview with Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes," Clarke denied Saddam had any connection to al-Qaida.
Stahl pressed Clarke further, asking, "Was Iraq supporting al-Qaida?"
Clarke replied: "There is absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaida ever."
Clarke, who served under the Clinton and Bush administrations, has accused President Bush of ignoring threats to al-Qaida prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and focusing on Saddam Hussein at the expense of the war on terror.
In an interview with Rush Limbaugh yesterday, Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed Clarke's criticism as coming from an ineffective former official.
"He was the head of counterterrorism for several years there in the '90s, and I didn't notice that they had any great success dealing with the terrorist threat," Cheney said.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had a similar reply in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"I really don't know what Richard Clarke's motivations are, but I'll tell you this: Richard Clarke had plenty of opportunities to tell us in the administration that he thought the war on terrorism was moving in the wrong direction and he chose not to."
Clarke, the author of "Against All Enemies," is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the independent federal commission probing the 9-11 attacks.
The "60 Minutes" interview Sunday has raised ethical concerns for not disclosing the connection between Clarke's book publisher, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, and CBS News. Both are owned by Viacom.
At the time of the 1999 Post interview, Clarke occupied the newly created post of national coordinator of counterterrorism and computer security programs under President Clinton.
The Post story concluded with Clarke affirming the U.S. strategy of fighting terror by legally prosecuting perpetrators of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.
"The fact that we got seven out of the eight people from the World Trade Center [bombing], and we found them in five countries around the world and brought them back here, the fact we can demonstrate repeatedly that the slogan, 'There's nowhere to hide,' is more than a slogan, the fact that we don't forget, we're persistent - we get them - has deterred terrorism," he said.


Putin resurrects
Cold War threats
Presides over practice of Russian nuclear attack on U.S.
Posted: March 23, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Editor's note: WorldNetDaily is pleased to have a content-sharing agreement with Insight magazine, the bold Washington publication not afraid to ruffle establishment feathers. Subscribe to Insight at WorldNetDaily's online store and save 71 percent off the cover price.
By J. Michael Waller
? 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc.
It was the ultimate campaign stunt: The president, clad in a navy uniform and white gloves, at sea on a sunny morning, standing on the deck of a giant titanium-hulled ballistic-missile submarine. He looked on smartly as the military began a weeklong exercise to unleash its triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers in the biggest nuclear doomsday drill since the coldest days of the Cold War.
The president's administration officially billed it as an "antiterrorism" exercise. But as land-based missiles arched their way a third of the way around the planet to the warhead target range in the Pacific, and as the bombers followed their dreaded Arctic route to fire cruise missiles over the top of the earth, the reality of the massive exercise was clear: The threat of Cold War nuclear extermination is as real as ever.
An American president well could have been run out of office for personally commanding and celebrating such political theater. The commander in chief in this case, however, was Russian President Vladimir Putin. The date was Feb. 17, less than a month before the March 14 elections that everyone expected him to win. Bezopastnost-2004, as the strategic command and staff exercise was called, was a mock nuclear attack on the United States, the largest since Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev ruled from the Kremlin in 1982.
Weeks later, Putin further consolidated his already strong control of the country. According to Jacques Amalric of the leftist French daily Liberation, Putin has placed former KGB officers in nearly 60 percent of all presidential administration posts. In early March he fired his prime minister and named to replace him a relatively anonymous technocrat with no political base but with a murky KGB background. Mikhail Fradkov has an incomplete official r?sum? that Russian critics say indicates an early KGB career. At the time of his appointment, he was head of the tax police, Russia's equivalent of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Russian tax police, however, has a notorious past. Under Soviet rule, it was the dissident-hunting KGB Fifth Chief Directorate.
The White House expressed no concern with either development. Few American media commentators seemed to notice. The Kremlin had wanted the world to see Putin atop the conning tower of the Arkhangelsk nuclear submarine. Pravda loved the carefully orchestrated action, almost lovingly reporting on how Putin personally inspected the nuclear-reactor control room and exhorted sailors in the mess to eat pancakes in observance of Shrove Tuesday.
The Typhoon-class vessel, with the hatches of its 20 vertical missile tubes running the deck in pairs, was cruising on the surface of the Barents Sea off Russia's northwestern coast, waiting for an SS-N-23 strategic nuclear missile to burst through the ocean surface from another sub, the Novomoskovsk, which was lurking in the deep nearby. The missile's dummy warhead, according to the Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), was set to strike the Kura target range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, across the Eurasian landmass, 120 degrees around the world.
There was Putin, in front of the TV cameras, waiting for the geyser of the missile from below. But there was nothing. Word came up that the missile had stuck in the tube. The Novomoskovsk, an older Delta-IV hull, fired a second missile. Again, nothing. The test was a flop - a big embarrassment for the Northern Fleet, coincidentally not far from the August 2000 Kursk disaster when a submarine was lost along with its crew of 118 men. The Russian navy was humiliated by its failure to fire the missiles, but if Putin was, nobody could see. Russia's state-controlled TV networks made sure that the dapper tough-guy Putin was seen in command - and that nobody knew the launches had failed.
For good measure, another Delta-IV sub, the Karelia, launched a missile the next day. The SS-N-23, which the Russians call Sineva, shattered out through the surface, veering wildly off course in a 98-second flight that ended when the missile blew up in midair. Putin wasn't there. He was back on land at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, another KGB man, this time out of his navy gear and sporting green army fatigues for the campaign cameras. The Russian president witnessed the flawless launch of a Kosmos-2405 spy satellite aboard a Molnia-M rocket as part of the nuclear-war exercise. Talking to reporters at Plesetsk, Putin announced a bold initiative to modernize the Strategic Rocket Forces with next-generation weapons and, according to United Press International and Russian press accounts, said he might authorize an upgrade of the nation's Soviet-era missile-defense system.
The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, provided a platform for Moscow to launch two more ICBMs: an SS-19 and the brand-new SS-27 Topol-M, the latter aboard a mobile launcher. Their dummy warheads sailed across the continent to Kamchatka. The Russian government is deploying the modern Topol-M even as the United States provides Moscow with resources to dismantle its obsolete and deteriorating nuclear missiles - aid that allows the Kremlin to deploy the next-generation nukes and keep its arsenal within the limits set in arms-control agreements with Washington.
At least 14 strategic bombers fanned out to the west, north and south with supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack bombers heading toward the North Atlantic and old but dependable Tu-95 Bear bombers, the old Soviet Union's answer to the American B-52, firing cruise missiles at an Arctic target on Novaya Zemlya island, according to Nikolai Sokov of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Putin's nuclear political theater and choice of a KGB man as chief of government are only parts of his aggressive re-election campaign. The recentralized Russian state has squeezed the once-free news media into exercising self-censorship and prevented the rise of political parties or politicians who could challenge him. Members of the state Duma, or lower house of Parliament, complain of harassment. Some allege that Putin or forces loyal to him were responsible for the 1998 assassination of Duma member Galina Starovoitova and the more recent mysterious death of journalist turned lawmaker Yuri Shchekochikhin.
Since becoming president in 2000, Putin has sacked Parliament, forced governors out of office, driven opposition businessmen into exile and pressured the courts to rule on issues only in his favor.
"The character of Russia under Putin has been a steady gravitation toward a security state," according to Ilan Berman, a senior scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council. "Everybody talks a lot about Russia's oligarchs. What they don't understand is that Putin himself is an oligarch. His currency is not natural resources like oil or business, it's intelligence."
Anticipating the campaign, Putin cracked down on the main financier of the reformist, pro-Western opposition last year. Oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, age 40, who openly funded the Yabloko and Union of Right Forces parties and who bought Moscow's prestigious and, in the last 15 years, openly pro-Western Moscow News, suddenly became a target of criminal investigations. He decided to finance his own campaign to replace Putin, only to disappear for several days and wind up, disheveled and disoriented, in Ukraine. He says he was kidnapped, drugged and forced to commit embarrassing acts that his captors videotaped.
It's not an accident that the teetotaling, athletic, notoriously foul-mouthed Putin is so popular.
"The Russian people are very comfortable with the type of 'managed democracy' he brings to the table. After years of economic and political decline, they're very enamored with the type of assertive foreign policy that he's been pursuing," Berman says.
"Putin is espousing ideas larger than himself. He is espousing a Great Russia. Whether it's regional or ideological, it re-establishes Russia as a central player in the Middle East, in the Asian theater, even in places like Latin America," Berman says. "The idea is that Russia is reassuming its natural place as a great power. That is very appealing to Russians who have suffered from a decade of decline."
According to Berman, "Putin is really balancing between strategic partnership with the United States" and the priorities of selling weapons and technology to China, nuclear technology to Iran, and other issues. "There is a limit to the strategic partnership with the United States," he says. "The Russian-Iranian relationship, the Russian-Chinese relationship - these are geopolitical and inimical to American interests."
And what of the White Hoquse's policy toward Russia? Berman says, "This administration is enamored with the idea of partnership. And Putin is exploiting it."

J. Michael Waller is a senior writer for Insight magazine.

Report: Iran, N. Korea building secret underground nuke plant
North Korea and Iran are building a secret underground facility in northwestern North Korea to produce centrifuges to enrich uranium, according to a Japanese press report. The Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported March 10 that the factory would be located north of the Yongbyon facility near the town of Kusong. The report, quoting a military source, stated that a high-ranking Iranian military official visited Pyongyang in late January and stayed several days for negotiations with the North Koreans. The centrifuges would be used in a "cascade" - a series of such machines to produce enriched weapons-grade uranium...
N. Korea significantly eases restrictions on border trips to China
The al-Zawahiri fiasco
By Pepe Escobar
It featured all the trappings of a glorified video game. Thousands of Pakistani army and paramilitary troops played the hammer. Hundreds of US troops and Special Forces, plus the elite commando 121, were ready to play the anvil across the border in Afghanistan. What was supposed to be smashed in between was "high-value target" Ayman al-Zawahiri, as Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf enthusiastically bragged - with no hard evidence - to an eager CNN last Thursday. But what happened to this gigantic piece of psy-ops? Nothing. And for a very simple reason: al-Qaeda's brain and Osama bin Laden's deputy was never there in the first place. And even if he was, as Taliban-connected sources in Peshawar told Asia Times Online, he would choose to die as a martyr rather than be captured and paraded as a US trophy.
It now appears that world public opinion fell victim to a Musharraf-inspired web of disinformation. In the early stages of the battle west of Wana in South Waziristan, Taliban spokesman Abdul Samad, speaking by satellite telephone from Kandahar province in Afghanistan, was quick to say that talk of al-Zawahiri being cornered was "just propaganda by the US coalition and by the Pakistani army to weaken Taliban morale". Subsequently, Peshawar sources were quoting al-Qaeda operatives from inside Saudi Arabia as saying that both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri had left this part of the tribal areas as early as January.
On the Afghan side, General Atiquallah Ludin at the Defense Ministry in Kabul was saying that "al-Qaeda cannot escape or enter Afghan soil". But by this time the majority of the mujahideen previously based in South Waziristan had already managed to cross back to Paktika province in Afghanistan - mostly to areas around Urgun, Barmal and Gayan. This rugged, mountainous territory is quintessentially Taliban. Many local Pashtun tribals don't even know who (Afghan president) Hamid Karzai is.
It would have been almost impossible for the mujahideen to cross to Paktika after the start of operation "hammer and anvil". By last Saturday, Mohammed Gaus, district mayor of Orgun - where the Americans keep a base - was saying that "the Pakistanis seem to have closed the border". The Americans have a main base in the village of Shkin, in Paktika, less than 25 kilometers to the west of the battleground cordoned off by the Pakistani army in South Waziristan. This base accommodates not only the US Army, but contingents of the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Forces, as well as members of commando 121 itself (the "anvil" side). On the "hammer" side, the Americans supply the Pakistani army with satellite photos, intelligence collected by drones and listening stations, and have installed electronic sensors and radars along the border.
All the time the Pakistani government and army were insisting that the US did not put any pressure on them to launch operation hammer and anvil. So according to military spokesman Major General Sultan, it was "just a coincidence" that US Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Islamabad at the height of the operation, and that Pakistan was being rewarded with the status of major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally.
High-value target
Musharraf swore that his commanders told him a "high-value target" was in the South Waziristan tribal area, based on American intelligence. Washington believed it, quoting Pakistani intelligence. In the end, it was local intelligence that revealed that the target may in fact be Tahir Yuldash, who took control of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan after its leader Juma Namangani was killed by American bombing in November 2001 in Afghanistan.
Yuldash may be the man in charge of coordinating all Central Asian al-Qaeda and/or affiliated jihadis: Uzbeks, Tajiks, Uighurs from China's Xinjiang and Chechens. He is suspected of being holed up in South Waziristan ever since he escaped the American bombing of Tora Bora in December 2001. Alongside him there is one Danyar, a Chechen commander, and of course hundreds of Pashtun tribals.
Sources in Peshawar told Asia Times Online that the "high value target" actually managed to escape in the early stages of the battle last week in a black, bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser with tinted windows from a fortress-cum-farmhouse right in the middle of the battlefield, in the village of Kolosha. These sources also confirm the Taliban claim that al-Zawahiri may have left South Waziristan as early as January and no later than early February, when word was rife all over the tribal areas about the upcoming spring offensive.
The connection in Wana of Cobra helicopters shooting missiles and a local hospital receiving a stream of civilian victims, including women and children, inevitably led the coalition of six religious parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, which won last year's elections in the tribal areas, to furiously accuse the Musharraf government. Many people believe that the operation has been undertaken at the insistence of the US, and as such it is tearing national unity apart. Maulana Fazlur Rahman, the firebrand leader of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), said this would lead to "more terrorism in reaction to the persecution of innocent civilians". And Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, who directs one of the most important madrassas (religious schools) in Karachi and who is close to the Taliban, added that "it will only create more hatred in the country, and it won't solve the problem of terrorism".
The way in which Islamabad has alienated the Pashtun tribals suggests that the whole operation may end up as a complete fiasco. The Pakistanis had to arrest the wives of some mujahideen to extract some kind of intelligence. Peshawar sources tell Asia Times Online that average Pashtun tribals have been the main victims all along. Local trucks and minibuses have been nowhere to be seen for days. The roads are sealed. Electricity has been cut off. Families fled heavy bombing of "strategic targets" - on foot for dozens of kilometers. Villagers were hit by mortar fire. The Pakistani army used 15 Cobra helicopters, two F-17 fighters and dozens of artillery batteries. Contrary to Islamabad's version, the mujahideen were not cornered in one area - but in eight villages around the cities of Wana and Azam Warsak: Kluusha, Karzi Kot, Klotay, Gua Khua, Zera Lead, Sarahgor, Sesion Warzak and Wazagonday.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party, grumbled that elected tribal leaders were not consulted about an operation which had been planned for three months: "Every high value target was allowed to escape months in advance while the tribal population was used as a sacrificial lamb to satisfy the power lust of the regime." Benazir added that "even the international media were duped into believing that al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri was besieged, when in fact Chechen and Uzbek fighters were said to be holed in the area".
The roughly 100 "suspects" captured so far by thousands of Pakistani troops amount to an overwhelming majority of Pashtun tribesmen - with a few low-ranking Chechens and Uzbek fighters and certainly no high-value Arab jihadis thrown in the mix. Word in Peshawar is that the Pashtun fighters and jihadis had much better intelligence than the Pakistani military. Peshawar sources estimate that less than 10 jihadis were killed, as opposed to almost 70 Pakistani soldiers and paramilitary troops.
A graphic sign of failure is that Islamabad was actually forced to negotiate after a de facto ceasefire. Three-hundred to 500 mostly Pashtun tribals, along with some low-level jihadis and Taliban, do remain surrounded. Islamabad's line is that tribes protecting "foreign terrorists" have no option but to surrender them, or else die fighting. Coincidentally, General John Abizaid, head of the US Central Command, happens to be in Islamabad at the moment on a semi-secret visit.
Any remaining "high value target" in Wana may have escaped by now - in a scheme not totally dissimilar to bin Laden's spectacular escape from Tora Bora in December 2001. At that time, hundreds of Arab and Chechen mujahideen put up very strong resistance in the frontline, while the "Sheikh" escaped to the Pakistani tribal areas using, among other means, a few tunnels. So it's no surprise that the Pakistanis have now also "discovered" a two kilometer long tunnel under the houses of the most-wanted tribal, Nek Muhammad. The tunnel may be instrumental in covering the Pakistani army's backs.
An occupation army
As Islamabad has declared the tribal areas a no-go area for the foreign press - unless in short, highly-choreographed escorted tours - it's crucial to get a feeling of the terrain. There's no "border" to speak of between both Waziristan tribal agencies, North and South, and the Afghan province of Paktika. During the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s, Waziristan was a prime mujahideen base. Afghan jihadis married locally and became residents, along with their families. During the Afghan war in 2001, al-Qaeda jihadis also took local Pashtun wives. This means that every mujahideen - Arab, Afghan and Arab-Afghan - enjoys popular support.
As in most latitudes in the tribal areas, most people carry a tribal-made Kalashnikov and have been raised in madrassas maintained by the JUI. Musharraf may now call them terrorists, but the fact remains that every mujahideen is and will be respectfully regarded by the locals as a soldier of Islam. Moreover, al-Qaeda jihadis who settled in Waziristan have managed to seduce tribals young and old alike with an irresistible deluge of Pakistani rupees, weapons and Toyota Land Cruisers.
The Pakistani army is regarded as an occupation army. No wonder: it entered Waziristan for the first time in history, in the summer of 2002. These Pakistani soldiers are mostly Punjabi. They don't speak Pashto and don't know anything about the complex Pashtun tribal code. In light of all this, the presence of the Pakistani army in these tribal areas in the name of the "war on terror" cannot but be regarded as an American intervention. These tribes have never been subdued. They may even spell Musharraf's doom.
What disappeared from the news
Musharraf's version of "wag the dog" - call it "wag the terrorist" - may have served to divert world attention from the tragedy in Iraq to the real "war on terror". It was great public relations for Washington, as the hunt for the invisible "high value target" buried the fact that two Iraqi journalists working for the al-Arabiya network were killed by the US military; it buried Amnesty International reminding everyone that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have died because of the war; and it buried weekend protests against the war in the US and Western Europe.
Musharraf himself has a lot to answer for. Why did his government and the Pakistani army not arrest al-Qaeda jihadis after Tora Bora in December 2001, when everybody knew they were in the tribal areas? It could have been only a matter of military incompetence. But the word in Peshawar is different: then, this was part of an American-organized covert ops destined to keep the al-Qaeda leadership alive, the main reason for the "war on terror". Today, the "war on terror" still has no credibility in these parts because it allows civilians to be terrorized - just as has happened in Wana.
As Asia Times Online has warned ( More fuel to Pakistan's simmering fire) what Islamabad has bought with hammer and anvil is not just the resentment of a particular tribal clan, but a full-fledged tribal revolt. Without the support of tribal leaders and mullahs, there's no way that Musharraf can play George W Bush's local cop in the "war on terror" to Washington's satisfaction. Yet he risks civil war in trying to do just this.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact for information on our sales and syndication policies.)


Policy paralysis over Roh's impeachment
By Bruce Klingner
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.
The National Assembly's impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun on March 12 has plunged South Korea into a leadership crisis that will stall implementation of necessary political and fiscal reforms, impede progress on six-way talks with North Korea and undermine confidence in South Korea's economic future.
In the near term, the impeachment has unleashed a furious public backlash against the opposition parties that will likely result in a dramatic downturn in the April 15 legislative elections, while Roh and his favored Uri (Our Open Party) Party will gain favor from the populace. In the longer-term, however, although it is expected that the constitutional court will restore Roh's presidential powers, his ability to effectively govern during the remaining four years of his term has been permanently damaged.
The president has faced a blistering series of attacks during his 13 months in office, led by an opposition bitterly opposed to his policies, which it perceives as accommodating North Korean transgressions while straining the crucial bilateral relationship with Washington. Roh's troubles have also, to some degree, been self-inflected and he has been widely criticized for political ineptitude for needlessly alienating both his core base of supporters and Washington through a vacillating series of policy revisions.
The nine-member constitutional court will decide within six months if the impeachment will stand, based on a determination of the seriousness of the president's violation of the election law, which prohibits government officials from influencing political campaigns. Six of the nine justices must rule to uphold the vote in order for a new presidential election to be scheduled. Chief Justice Yun Young-chul said that the court will reach a decision "as early as possible and as precisely as possible".
Analysts expect the court will rescind the impeachment vote, based on the infraction not meeting the threshold of an impeachable offense. The court may also adopt a holistic approach by taking into account public opinion, which has been overwhelming against the impeachment decision.
Inter-Korean relations
Seoul will strive to maintain an appearance of stability and continuance of existing policies in order to reassure foreign investors as well as Washington and regional capitals concerned with the potential for North Korean actions. Existing North-South projects will continue, although inter-Korean economic talks scheduled for March 15 in the southern city of Paju were scuttled by North Korean concerns about "political instability" in the South.
New initiatives with Pyongyang, however, are unlikely given the caretaker status of the interim president. The already glacial pace of six-way talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear weapons impasse will likely be further slowed by uncertainties, both within the South Korean government as well as its negotiating partners, over the direction of Seoul's policy or even its ability to deliver on negotiations. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon sought to downplay concerns over the future of the six-way talks, claiming there would be no impeachment effect, "The North Korean nuclear issue and impeachment are completely separate issues," he said.
Ban also sought to signal Pyongyang not to endanger progress in inter-Korean and international fora. "If North Korea is passive or decides to sit out a future round because of impeachment, we will have to question North Korea's commitment to resolving the nuclear issue peacefully," the foreign minister said.
Economic stability
South Korean Minister of Finance and Economy Lee Hun-jai was widely praised for implementing a series of measures in the weekend immediately following the impeachment in order to insulate domestic financial markets from uncertainty. Lee's commendable efforts allayed initial fears of a dramatic downturn in South Korea's financial markets and enabled him to announce that international credit ratings agencies had all kept Korea's sovereign ratings unchanged.
The real danger, however, will arise from longer-term uncertainty over government fiscal and monetary policies and a consensus that the fallout from the impeachment will further delay restructuring, which investors have articulated as critical for maintaining South Korea's nascent economic recovery. A drawn-out deliberation by the constitutional court, or perception of a seriously weakened Roh presidency, will pose greater challenges for the South's recovery than the immediate reaction following the vote.
Further poisoning the domestic political well
The greatest impact of the impeachment vote will be on South Korea's domestic political landscape. Regardless of the constitutional court's ruling or the results of next month's legislative elections, Roh has been seriously injured. Roh could have likely prevented the constitutional crisis with an apology or mea culpa but his determination - some will say arrogance - will reinforce his image as reckless and politically inept, even as he is credited by some with gaining popular support through deft political tactics.
The populace, even as it rallies against the impeachment vote, will remember Roh's previous unusual, even strange, articulations of his "unworthiness" to be president and his promises to resign if his party's corruption exceeded 10 percent of his opponent's. Over time, the spike in public support for Roh will decline, as it did following a similar increase after his earlier call for a referendum on his presidency and pledge to depart if the populace did not provide a sufficient mandate.
The president has repeatedly warned of the dangers of chaos and instability if he is removed from power, but the populace may be growing tired of his political brinkmanship, which comes at the expense of progress on domestic policy reform. After the current constitutional imbroglio is resolved, the strategic question will become, "Can Roh provide effective leadership for the nation at a time of critical domestic and international challenges?"
Regardless of the outcome of the constitutional court's deliberations, the ability of the political parties to work together has been dealt a resounding blow, with the fissures between the parties exacerbated by the impeachment. The level and ferocity of acrimony within the National Assembly will escalate and further impair its ability to reach consensus on necessary legislation.
In its collective quest to attack Roh, the opposition parties have neither addressed the impact on the country of a weakened president nor articulated alternative policies that could acquire sufficient support across the political spectrum. It appears unlikely that any politician, including Roh, will take the higher moral road and advocate a collective step back from the political precipice and espouse a policy that would provide effective leadership for progress.
The Grand National Party appears too wedded to its destructive anti-Roh campaign and the Millennium Democratic Party may be unable to overcome the fierce public backlash against its part in the impeachment to be a viable voice for conciliation. If Roh and the Uri Party gain an absolute majority during next month's elections, they may be able to force through legislation, but it will be a rule marked by arrogance. If, as is more likely, the Uri party doesn't attain a majority, South Korea will be faced with a bickering, bitter partisanship that though stable, will be mired in a quagmire of stagnation.
Bruce Klingner is director of analysis for the Intellibridge Corporation in Washington, DC. Intellibridge provides customized open-source intelligence analysis for government, corporate and sovereign clients. His areas of expertise are strategic national security, political and military affairs in China, Northeast Asia, Korea and Japan. He can be reached at .
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.
Flawed interim constitution

By Bruce Fein

The appointed and much scorned Iraqi Governing Council promulgated an interim constitution on March 8, 2004. Its defects are alarming. When the Coalition Provisional Authority dissolves on June 30, 2004, Iraq is destined to disintegrate on the installment plan or faster. Styled the "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period," the interim constitution is illegitimate, amateurish and unenforceable.
It was fashioned by unelected Iraqis untutored in the arts of democratic governance and the rule of law. According to some polls, prominent IGC member Ahmed Chalabi commands less popular confidence than Saddam Hussein.
Neither through popular referendum nor elected representatives have the Iraqi people conferred moral legitimacy on the interim charter, which is no more popularly respected than the French Monarchy of Louis XVI. But no constitution consistent with democratic freedoms is worth a farthing unless voluntary compliance and popular veneration are likely to be forthcoming.
The interim constitution neglects to establish rules for creating an Iraqi government entrusted with its enforcement when the CPA dissolves concurrent with the termination of United States sovereignty on June 30, 2004. Article 2 cryptically declares the Iraqi Interim Government "shall be constituted in accordance with a process of extensive deliberations and consultations with cross-sections of the Iraqi people conducted by the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority and possibly in consultation with the United Nations."
Left undecided is whether the Interim Government will be appointed or elected; who will do the appointing or electing; whether members will represent regions, religions, ethnic groups, or equal populations on the one-person-one vote principle. At present, even crumbs of consensus are difficult to discern among Kurds, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Turkmen and other factions with less than 100 days before the June 30 deadline. And eleventh-hour political pacts concluded between sharply divided constituencies typically break at the first serious quarrel.
The unviability of the interim constitution is further established by centerpiece provisions that celebrate an Islamic theocracy and an anemic rule of law unadorned with fundamental freedoms.
Article 7 crowns Islam as the official state religion and a source of legislation. It further ordains that, "No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam" is valid. Thus, the Holy Koran is every bit as much the supreme law in Iraq under the interim constitution as the United States Constitution is in the United States.
The Islamic theocracy enshrined in Article 7 mocks the stipulation of Article 12 that religious discrimination is prohibited. If the latter were true, then papal encyclicals would be as legally binding on Iraq as the Holy Koran. To borrow from George Orwell's "Animal Farm," all religions are equal in the interim constitution, but Islam is more equal than others.
Article 7 also discredits secular government. To determine the universally agreed tenets of Islam requires the learning of mullahs, not law school graduates. In other words, the interim constitution will be administered by Islamic scholars debating religious points, not by secular judges debating points of law.
Articles 7 and 12 additionally war over equal rights for men and women. Islam discounts the testimonies, inheritance, divorce and child custody rights of women. Four eyewitnesses are generally required to prove rape. These gender discriminations are compelled by the interim constitutional mandate that no law contradict Islamic teachings.
On the other hand, Article 12 insists that, "All Iraqis are equal in their rights without regard to gender." But to make equality and inequality equally mandatory is to enter the nonsensical domain of "Alice in Wonderland" denuded of legal principles.
The individual rights enumerated in Article 13 are ridiculously empty.
Subsection (A) promises protection of "[p]ublic and private freedoms," but declines any clues as to their core meanings. For instance, a private freedom might plausibly embrace abortion, polygamy, obscenity, contraceptives, drugs, liquor or prostitution. A judge interpreting the subsection will be unconstrained in imposing an idiosyncratic moral code. A government of men, not of laws, will prevail.
Companion rights enumerated in Article 13 are similarly hopelessly ambiguous or empty.
Subsection (B) protects freedom of expression without limitation. Does that mean defamation, child pornography, incitement to violence or criticism of the Holy Koran is protected?
Subsection (H) provides that, "Each Iraqi has the right of privacy." It is uninformative, however, on whether that right reaches same-sex marriage, sodomy or protection against wiretapping, electronic surveillance or informants.
Subsection (F) guarantees freedom of religious practice, which would seem to include jihads against Christians, Jews or non-orthodox Muslims.
Other Article 13 rights are illusionary. Freedoms to peacefully assemble, to form political parties, labor unions, or professional associations, or to demonstrate are permitted only to the extent permitted by laws enacted by the Interim Government. Article 14 rights are utopian and unenforceable: namely, individual rights to security, education, health care and social security.
Emblematic of the deep suspicions that the majority Shi'ites will seek to crush minorities, Article 61 empowers Kurds in the north occupying three governorates to block a final constitution by a two-thirds vote.
In sum, the flimsy interim constitution confirms the probability Iraq will be torn asunder after United States control ends on June 30. President George W. Bush will pay a steep political price.

Bruce Fein is a constitutional lawyer at Fein & Fein and international consultant at the Lichfield Group.

Pentagon 9/11 memorial delayed
By Sean Salai
The nonprofit group in charge of building a memorial to the victims of the terror attack at the Pentagon has raised less than $1 million of the project's projected $20 million goal and has postponed for two years opening day -- originally set for September 11 this year.
"That [first] estimate was made before we understood we weren't going to receive any tax dollars," Brett Eaton, communications leader for the Pentagon renovation team, said yesterday. "It was done before we understood what would be required for a fund-raiser of this magnitude."
At the current pace of donations, he said, the project will not open until fall 2006 at the earliest.
James Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, said $972,000 of the project's multimillion-dollar budget had been raised as of yesterday.
Although it was reported in October that the group is attempting to raise $20 million from private sources exclusively, Mr. Laychak declined to give an updated estimate of the memorial's overall budget requirements.
"This is not a schedule-driven project," Mr. Laychak said. "We want to get it done right the first time."
Some family members of the victims said they fear the memorial will lose impact if the fund raising drags on much longer.
"I would definitely like to see it as soon as possible," said Brian P. Donovan, whose youngest brother, William, was a Navy officer who died in the Pentagon.
"I don't think this country will ever forget what happened on 9/11," Mr. Donovan said. "But if we're talking five years after the fact, the memorial will lose its edge. There have been so many memorials already."
Patricia Deconto, who lost her son, Gerald, the senior captain on duty in the Navy Command Center, said there is a chance the American public is already tuning out.
Mrs. Deconto, who described the final design for the memorial as "very appropriate," said she thought the fund raising was going very slowly. "I understand it's difficult to raise money right now, given the economy, but it's a shame that it's taking so long," Mrs. Deconto said.
Other relatives of victims said they have been unmoved by the Pentagon's efforts thus far to promote and implement the memorial, which will feature 184 metal alloy benches devoted to each victim.
The mother of the late Lt. Cmdr. Eric Allen Cranford said she has seen "maybe" one newspaper article on the memorial project.
"I think they were hoping for 2004," said Betsy Ann Cranford of Drexel, N.C., whose son served in the Navy.
Curtis Elseth, father of the late Lt. Cmdr. Robert R. Elseth, said he had purchased one of the Peter Max-designed posters being sold to help raise funds for the project, but added that he was not aware the project is making any progress.
"We get a newsletter, but I really don't know what's going on right now," Mr. Elseth said.
Mr. Laychak lost his brother, David W. Laychak, in the attack. Mr. Laychak said construction of the memorial is in the research-and-development phase.
"We've started the construction process," Mr. Laychak said. "Everybody loves the design."
Keith Kaseman and Julie Beckman, the New York architects who won the design contest in March 2003, said they are already on the payroll of the Pentagon's contractor, Fairfax-based Centex Lee LLC.
"We're just waiting for the fund raising to come through," Mr. Kaseman said.
Mr. Kaseman said the polished metal benches of the memorial will be organized by the age of victims in the shape of the doomed plane's flight path and will distinguish between those who were on the ground and those who were aboard American Airlines Flight 77.
"We're calling them memorial units," Mr. Kaseman said. "They're not just benches, but individual reflecting pools of water."
Ms. Beckman said she and Mr. Kaseman are eager to get started on the benches, as they have been inactive with the project since their design was selected.
Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Jean Koeppel, who was a finalist for the Pentagon design contest and an entrant in the Ground Zero memorial competition, said she was shocked the Pentagon memorial is not receiving congressional funding.
"It seems there should be a big pile of money available for a project of this kind," Miss Koeppel said. "The Pentagon memorial also has been receiving much less press than the New York memorial."
Miss Koeppel said she was also surprised that private donations have not been more forthcoming.
Mr. Eaton, the Pentagon renovation leader, said professional fund-raiser Linda Webster of the Webster Group is launching a national fund-raising campaign next month to give the project a shot in the arm.
"This is a unique project that is contingent on how much funding we can raise," he said.
Mr. Eaton said the overall renovation of the Pentagon is scheduled to conclude in 2010 and added that the 1.93-acre site for the memorial is currently being used as a staging ground for other Pentagon renovation efforts.
The site, Mr. Eaton added, is littered with trash bins, survey equipment and other heavy-duty construction materials being used for various unrelated projects.

Bringing Iraq Back From the Brink
Posted March 23, 2004
By John M. Powers
Bechtel helped to establish the Iraqi Telephone Exchange.
The reconstruction effort began in Iraq even before President George W. Bush announced that the regime of Saddam Hussein had been defeated. Even before the Iraqi army was driven from the field, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a host of other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private contractors were either hard at work on logistics and staging or waiting impatiently in Kuwait to rebuild a nation torn apart by tyranny.
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and USAID, working with Iraqis and other advisers, would operate under a massive plan to reconstruct Iraq, the likes of which has not been seen since the Marshall Plan that restored Europe in the years after World War II. Government workers, volunteers and private employees have been flowing into Iraq ever since to provide both consultancy and hands-on expertise for the many programs the United States and its allies have put on their to-do list. The CPA and USAID are working hard to restore essential infrastructure, to restore and support health care and education, to expand economic opportunity, and to improve the efficiency and accountability of governance.
Lewis Lucke, USAID's mission director in Iraq, tells Insight he reached Kuwait while the war was still raging and that on April 21, 2003, as soon as control of southern Iraq was secured, his team moved over the border into Iraq. He reports that the first goal for USAID was to rehabilitate Iraq's only deep-water seaport at Um Qasr so that food could be shipped in to avert a humanitarian crisis.
Lucke and his team were shocked at what they found. "The state of Iraqi infrastructure in general was in pretty sad shape, but it wasn't because of the conflict," he says. "It was because of ... decades of complete and utter neglect by the regime. ... It was truly unbelievable ... even to the experts." The mission director says the condition of the power plants was especially poor. He inspected one such plant with a team of subcontractors from the German company Siemens, which had built it 30 years earlier. Engineers who remembered building the plant were astounded at the state of disrepair in which they found the generator units.
For many years the Iraqi engineers had not even had replacement parts but somehow found a way to keep the machines running, Lucke says. These are "ingenious" and "clever and very capable folks technically," he says, but there are only so many times a machine can be fixed with bailing wire and chewing gum. Even so, according to the USAID mission director, Iraqi engineers sometimes were executed by Saddam's men when they could not keep a power unit on-line.
The condition of the power plants has been vastly improved, and by October 2003 power production surpassed prewar levels, says a USAID report. And supported by engineers and logistical wizards from Bechtel Corp., a private contractor based in San Francisco that has taken on enormous projects all over the world, USAID soon had put in place the new Iraqi Telephone Exchange. Assessing the situation with professional aplomb, USAID identified 1,700 "critical breaks" in the water network of Baghdad alone and teams set to work to repair them. The Army Corps of Engineers, USAID and the private American corporations have been busy rebuilding the critical Khazir, Tikrit and Al Mat bridges and nearly have completed reconstruction of the Baghdad and Basra airports.
Though many of these reconstruction projects were handled quickly under emergency conditions by Western companies, Lucke says, it is the policy of USAID and the CPA to use local Iraqi subcontractors "to the absolute extent possible" because of their in-country experience and to stimulate local employment. "This is going to work best if the Iraqis are not only involved in it but take the lead," says the mission director.
"It's large! It's the largest reconstruction operation the U.S. has undertaken since the Marshall Plan," reports Lucke, who stresses that repairing the infrastructure is not the only reconstruction that must go on in Iraq. To support all of this, the CPA and USAID have put in place an intense program of maintenance that didn't exist under Saddam. And the infrastructures of Iraqi schools and the Iraqi judicial system also are getting a much-needed overhaul.
The condition of schools in Iraq was "abysmal," Lucke says. He reports that USAID and the CPA found schools without electricity and lighting fixtures. Blackboards had been torn from the walls and desks were in a "terrible state." Saddam's regime stored weapons in schools, the mission director says, and buildings fell into such disrepair that his team discovered raw sewage backed up in school hallways.
Working with Bechtel and the NGOs, the CPA and USAID have rehabilitated 2,200 schools. Lucke anticipates another round of school rehabilitation because Congress recently appropriated $18 billion more to help Iraq recover and move toward democratic rule. And USAID has started the Accelerated Learning Program to help students who have missed or dropped out of school because of cruel punishments or because they could not afford the bribes that were extorted under Saddam's rule.
The program is designed to give children two years of accelerated schooling in one year. It provides a "master teacher" to assist classroom teachers (whom the reconstruction partners will train in modern teaching techniques) and also a community-outreach counselor to encourage attendance. All of these positions are filled by Iraqis. So far, USAID reports, 55 teachers are working in the accelerated program and 644 students have been enrolled.
Another area that is receiving attention is the Iraqi judicial system. Stephen M. Orlofsky, a former U.S. District judge, is one of three federal judges invited by the CPA to be part of a 13-member judicial-assessment team, which also includes court clerks, public defenders and defense attorneys. Orlofsky tells Insight that Iraq's courthouses "had been stripped of everything from lightbulbs to doorknobs. They had no power or had it only intermittently. No furniture, books, no telephone service. All of this was compounded by the fact that the temperature hovered at 130 degrees." Orlofsky adds that a massive amount of court documents and official records had been destroyed.
Under Saddam, Orlofsky says, judges were required to join the Ba'ath Party to gain their positions, though about 35 of the judges he interviewed insisted they were not members of the Ba'ath Party or were low-ranking members. Only one admitted he was a high-level Ba'athist, says Orlofsky, and "I remember thinking at the time, 'We should probably keep this guy because he's the only one who's told me the truth.'"
Bribery was routine in the practice of Iraqi law, taking the form of cash, gifts or sexual favors. "When I met with the attorneys, they told me the Iraqi judicial system was rife with corruption. Money changed hands frequently. The Saddam regime often intervened to influence the outcome of cases" by providing gifts to judges, Orlofsky says. Adding to the already deformed system, many of the judges who were in place had little or no legal training. Instead, they were sent to a "judicial institute" that Orlofsky says was nothing more than a propaganda school.
Even so, he observes, most members of the judiciary seemed to be excited to start reforms with the CPA despite pressure from hidden Ba'athists who continue to threaten and strike against those working for modernization. Orlofsky says he met one judge who expressed thanks to the United States for toppling Saddam. A month after their meeting, he learned the man had been killed for cooperating with the Americans. Although the Iraqi judicial system was not proactive and case management was a foreign concept, Orlofsky believes there is hope because of the commitment of key Iraqi jurists. "There's certainly a pool of talent on the Iraqi bar that can be drawn upon to select fair, impartial and independent judges," he says.
For Iraq to be fully reconstructed, the American judge tells Insight, Iraqis must establish the rule of law. Among other things that means banning torture, establishing the right to remain silent and providing counsel for suspects - all revolutionary ideas in Iraq.
Meanwhile, there is little that the CPA, USAID or other reconstructors can take from the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, says Ron Cruse, head of Logenix International, a Virginia-based company that supports agencies such as USAID in war-torn countries. He says the cultures and internal conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan are so completely different as not to translate. But for the moment, he says, it is most important that Iraqis "stand up and make their country a safer place."
Lucke and Orlofsky report the willingness of many Iraqis to join with coalition partners to make their country a better place. As Orlofsky puts it: "Because we committed 150,000 of our troops to win the war ... to those who won the war, we owe the winning of the peace."

John M. Powers is a writer for Insight.

Machiavelli in the Middle East
By David Ignatius
Tuesday, March 23, 2004; Page A19
PARIS -- "It is much safer to be feared than loved," wrote the philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli nearly 500 years ago. That harsh logic can be seen in Israel's assassination Monday of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of the terrorist group Hamas.
It follows that for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, it's better to be seen as ruthless than as weak. That's especially true now, when Sharon plans to make a concession to the Palestinians by withdrawing from settlements in Gaza. The danger in this unilateral withdrawal, one of Sharon's advisers told me several months ago, is that terrorist groups such as Hamas might think they had "won" by forcing an Israeli retreat. Israeli defense analyst Zeev Schiff explained in the online edition of the newspaper Haaretz on Monday: "The message that Israel sent out by assassinating Sheik Ahmed Yassin is that when the disengagement from Gaza is finally implemented, Hamas will not be able to claim that the withdrawal was promoted by the group's operations."
But even Machiavelli believed that intimidation has its limits. Just a few sentences after the famous passage quoted above, he cautioned: "Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred."
By that Machiavellian measure, Sharon has failed. An enraged Hamas has vowed new suicide bombings in retaliation, and governments across the Middle East and Europe issued statements on Monday condemning Israel. "It's unacceptable, it's unjustified and it's very unlikely to achieve its objective," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
But will the Israeli operation work? That's the question a modern Machiavelli would ask. The killing of Sheik Yassin might be justified -- politically if not morally -- if it stopped the spread of the terrorism Yassin had helped foment. But even by this test, the assassination seems unlikely to achieve its intended result.
A pragmatic critique came from Sharon's own interior minister, Avraham Poraz. He explained Monday to Israeli reporters why he voted against the operation in a secret cabinet meeting: "I'm afraid that Hamas's motivation will increase. [Yassin] will become some sort of martyr . . . a national hero for them, and, I'm sorry to say, this won't prevent Hamas from continuing its activities."
Killing the partially blind and paralyzed Yassin "will only reignite and re-energize Hamas," agreed Daoud Kuttab, a prominent Palestinian journalist. "There is nothing in this operationally, except to show they are leaving Gaza strongly, not weakly." And how does Israel imagine that Gaza will be governed once it pulls out? Before the Yassin assassination, Egypt had signaled a willingness to help with security. And Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority had drawn up plans (with the tacit approval of Yassin) for restoring law and order after the Israeli army leaves. Both efforts may now collapse in the uproar over Yassin's death. It's hard to see how Israel will benefit from the resulting anarchy.
So why did Sharon do it? One obvious answer is that he is a gambler. Throughout his career, he has been willing to roll the dice on bold military operations that promise to transform the strategic landscape. That risk-taking instinct is part of Sharon's charisma among Israelis, and it explains his continuing popularity despite his many failures over the years.
But there is a deeper issue, one that goes to the heart of Israel's dilemma in dealing with the Arabs. Sharon symbolizes the belief that the Palestinians can be intimidated by military force -- and that peace will be possible only when they are sufficiently weakened and humbled. If Israel is tough enough, by this logic, it will eventually break the Arabs' will and force them to accept Israel's right to exist.
That rationale sent Israeli tanks rolling into Lebanon 22 years ago, in an operation Sharon believed would break the PLO and open the way to peace. But it didn't work out that way, and many Israelis now agree that the Lebanon war was a costly failure.
It would be fatuous to give the Israelis advice about their security. They live under the shadow of terrorism, and they must find their own solution. But they should consider the evidence of more than two decades that Sharon's approach isn't working. Rather than being humbled into submission, the Palestinians have embraced a strategy of suicidal rage. How will this gruesome cycle of violence end? Today that's impossible to answer. But perhaps both sides could begin by considering the possibility that Machiavelli was wrong. Sometimes it may actually be safer to be loved than feared. An Israel that took risks for peace might find unexpected rewards.

Posted by maximpost at 12:27 AM EST
Tuesday, 23 March 2004

Washington Must Head Off European Arms Sales to China
by John J. Tkacik, Jr.
Backgrounder #1739

March 18, 2004 | |

Recent moves to lift the European Union (EU) embargo on arms sales to China have caused consternation on both sides of the Atlantic, and Washington should be more concerned about it than it appears to be. Under pressure from France and Germany, EU leaders will likely lift the arms embargo at the March 25-26 summit in Brussels, although some EU member nations have expressed concerns over human rights in China and China's policy toward Taiwan.

The EU members need to ask two questions: Which country is the most likely adversary against which China would employ advanced European military systems, and have the conditions that justified imposing the EU ban changed significantly?

The Administration, supported by Congress, should protest the impending European action by:

Reminding the EU why the embargo exists,
Pointing out that lifting the embargo could threaten U.S. forces and could be interpreted as an unfriendly act, and
Excluding from defense technology cooperation those companies that sell arms to China.
In the past week, senior Chinese diplomats held talks with EU officials in Brussels in an attempt to persuade the EU to lift its 15-year-old ban, which prevents EU firms from soliciting contracts with the Chinese military. The embargo was a punitive EU response to the brutalities that the Chinese People's Liberation Army inflicted on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The Chinese position is--and always has been--that the arms embargo is "inappropriate." The Chinese imply that, if the EU lifts the sanctions, China will direct their big-ticket civilian purchases, including aircraft, power stations, and urban mass transit, away from U.S. vendors to EU firms. This is in addition to big-ticket weapons purchases that would be directed away from the Russian Federation to EU defense contractors.

Trading Weapons for Commercial Contracts
On his visit to Beijing in December 2003, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told Premier Wen Jiabao, his Chinese host, that Germany was amenable to ending the EU arms embargo. Pointing to the huge delegation of German businessmen that accompanied Schroeder, a senior German official declared, "[T]here are some [in the EU] that are for the end of the embargo--for example our French partners--and that is our position as well."1 The following day, European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy expressed a willingness to "reconsider" the EU weapons ban as well.2

a few days later, the German defense ministry said that it had no objection to the transfer of a plutonium-fueled nuclear power plant to China as long as there "is a guarantee from the Chinese government that the plutonium factory will not be used for military purposes but for peaceful purposes to produce atomic energy."3 Even Germany's anti-nuclear Green Party, which opposes such power plants in Europe, shrugged its shoulders. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green Party) deadpanned that there were "sometimes situations where you have to make bitter decisions."4

Not to be outdone, French President Jacques Chirac invited Chinese President Hu Jintao to Paris, ignoring complaints of French human rights groups, and lavished on him one of the most extravagant receptions that France has ever given a foreign leader--including the night-time spectacle of the Eiffel Tower bathed in rich red floodlights, a first ever for the Parisian landmark, and designating 2004 as the "Year of China."

In the course of fawning over his Chinese guest, Chirac ignored China's massive missile threat to Taiwan--over 500 short-range ballistic missiles now aimed at the island, with 75 new missiles deployed each year--and vehemently condemned Taiwan's plans to hold a referendum to protest the missiles. On the embargo, Chirac was firm. At a joint news conference with Hu, Chirac spoke out strongly in favor of lifting the European arms embargo, saying that "This embargo no longer makes any sense'' and "will, I hope, be lifted in the months to come."5

Even the British seemed to be waffling. When asked about the British government's position on lifting the China weapons ban, Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean (British Minister of State, International Trade and Investment) could only respond that the "ministers are currently considering the United Kingdom's position [and] in the meantime, we shall continue fully to implement the arms embargo."6

On January 27, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin explained to reporters that "China is now a special partner...playing a key and responsible role in the international system," and declared that the EU "should encourage it in this direction to contribute to international stability and security, especially in Asia."7 Fortunately, on the same day, de Villepin's attempt to lift the China arms ban was voted down 14 to 1 at an EU foreign ministers conference. The ministers were concerned that China's human rights record did not warrant the action and that China's missile deployments against Taiwan made it unwise. But the ministers did agree to reconsider the French proposal to lift the ban by April 1 at a future session.

Press commentary in Europe charged that President Chirac's drive to ease sanctions was motivated not only by the prospect of commercial sales, but also by Chirac's hope of drawing China into strategic multipolar alliance with the EU to counter American hegemony.8

The appearance of the Chinese vice foreign minister in Brussels in the past week signals that both the French and the Chinese, and no doubt the Germans and probably the Italians, are intent on lifting the embargo sooner rather than later. Indeed, when Zhang Yesui, China's vice foreign minister in charge of relations with Western Europe, raised the issue with EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, Patten seemed willing to acquiesce. Without a hint of irony, according to one source, Patten told Zhang that "more assurances from Beijing on human rights would make it easier for EU governments to explain any decision to lift the embargo."9

Even Denmark has fallen under the spell of the Chinese market. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in early March that Denmark favored removing the embargo if China improved its human rights behavior. Among EU members, only the Netherlands and Sweden are said to be reluctant to lift the ban--again citing China's human rights record.10

The U.S. Response
In the meantime, the U.S. State Department seems unsure about how to approach America's European allies. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage allowed that the United States had "talked with Europeans about the wisdom of lifting the embargo because of our concerns about human rights."11 Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the House International Relations Committee on February 11 that the United States was continuing to pressure the European Union not to lift the ban.

Whether the State Department is doing enough is uncertain. On February 6, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless told a congressional commission that if Europe sold arms to China, Beijing's ability to use those arms would be far more advanced than when the EU embargo was imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. "China's ability to acquire, integrate and thereby multiply its force posture has really increased dramatically," said Lawless. "What the EU may have to offer now may make a lot more sense in the context of where China needs to go than it ever has in the past."12

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randall G. Schriver told the commission that the State Department had informed America's European partners that the U.S. opposed lifting the China arms embargo for three reasons:

The ban was originally imposed because of concerns over human rights, and the human rights situation in China has not improved to the point where it merits lifting the ban. In fact, there are continuing problems.
The U.S. has concerns about Chinese export controls and the ability to protect sensitive technology from being transferred to a third country.
The U.S. has obligations and interests in maintaining a balance between Taiwan and China and ensuring that Taiwan can defend itself.
On this last point, Secretary Schriver alluded to, but did not explicate, the nub of American concerns: "There are scenarios where we could actually be involved in this. So any contribution to the other side of the equation complicates our position and that is why we're opposed."13

Schriver might more accurately, if less diplomatically, have said that China still threatens Taiwan with war and that the United States has obligations under law to help Taiwan defend itself and "maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."14 If the Europeans are not concerned about Taiwan, they should at least understand that American security could be threatened.

Gravest National Concern
In other words, China is most likely to use advanced weaponry from European defense firms against the United States. (China's existing arsenal is already sufficient to take on Taiwan and more than enough to meet any other security threat on its borders.) China's acquisition of European arms, therefore, should be a matter of the gravest national concern in Washington.

China's $65 billion defense budget is the second largest in the world after the U.S., and China is aggressively modernizing its military to increase combat capability. It seeks to acquire the most modern military technology available, including French Mirage fighter jets and German stealth submarines.

While the Europeans balked at selling China full weapons systems during the 1990s, their arms embargo was honored more in the breach than in the observance. France sold over $122 million in defense articles to China between 1993 and 2002. The United Kingdom sold China Racal/Thales Skymaster airborne early warning radars and Spey jet engines for the Chinese JH-7 fighter-bombers (a MiG-21 derivative), and the University of Surry cooperated with China micro-satellite development, a technology that the Chinese acknowledge will be used in "parasitic" anti-satellite weapons. Germany sold diesel marine propulsion systems for the Chinese Song-class submarine. In the past few years, both the French and the Italians have sold helicopter technology to Chinese aircraft firms. In November 2003, the European Defense giant EADS purchased a large share of a Chinese aerospace firm at its initial public offering. In the fall of 2003, the EU revised its scientific security rules to permit scientists from China's military-run space program to have free access to Europe's basic space science research.15

Already, Chinese technical and scientific penetration of European defense firms offers the People's Liberation Army a potential intelligence backdoor to trans-Atlantic alliances in the defense industry. The European Union is already pressing the United States to permit China to participate in the International Space Station, and reports indicate that the White House welcomes this prospect.16

Human Rights in China Have Not Improved Since Tiananmen
The U.S. and European bans on weapons-related exports to China were a direct reaction to China's violent suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The U.S. embargo is statutorily contingent on significant improvements in China's human rights behavior.17 A review of the State Department's annual human rights reports from 1990 to 2003 shows that China either has made no progress from year to year or has grown worse.

The fact remains that China has failed to improve its human rights situation significantly. The State Department reports that China's abuses include "extrajudicial killings, torture and mismanagement of prisoners, forced confessions...and denial of due process." Political dissent is rewarded with "violated legal protections" and lengthy spells in "reeducation-through-labor camps."18 In 15 years of human rights reports, not one has shown concrete and substantive progress in the PRC's treatment of its own citizens. Why, then, should a government that cannot act responsibly within its borders be rewarded with weapons that will allow it to enforce its will outside its borders?

Indeed, in mid-December, after the German chancellor lofted his sanction-ending trial balloon, the European Parliament, which is much more sensitive to human rights than the EU foreign ministers council, voted against easing the EU embargo, citing human rights violations and quoting an EU report critical of China's human rights lapses. That report said that "persistent rights violations overshadow China's remarkable economic growth" and called the gap between China's rights record and international standards "worrisome."19

Lest any Europeans believe that Tiananmen has been forgotten, they should read a letter by retired Chinese military surgeon Dr. Jiang Yanyong, who wrote a moving description of his experiences on the night of June 3-4, 1989, to the National People's Congress. The doctor was the same brave man who warned the world of China's mendacity during the height of the SARS crisis in 2003. He now calls for a "reversal of the verdict" against the pro-democracy movement 15 years ago.20

The U.S. and European prohibitions on sale of defense items to China were imposed for the same reasons. Those reasons remain valid. Without a strong European commitment to the prohibition, the U.S. embargoes will become worthless as similar advanced defense technologies are exported from Europe.

What the Administration Should Do
European Union leaders will be reviewing this issue as early as March 25-26. The Administration should immediately take firm action.

The Bush Administration should continue to state its opposition on the diplomatic level. NATO's political committee would provide an appropriate forum for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to take up the issue with the Europeans. Further, NATO's intelligence committee would provide a behind-closed-doors venue for the Administration to make its point privately, forcefully, and directly. Similarly, this could be a matter for the NATO-Russia Council. NATO's military, political, and intelligence committees were set up to address exactly this kind of issue, where the United States can speak privately and candidly to interlocutors and gather support from like-minded nations.
By discussing these issues at NATO, the Administration will place them on the radar screen for upcoming summits. At the series of June summits in Europe--the NATO summit, the U.S.-EU summit, and the G-8 summit--President Bush should make clear to European leaders that America opposes EU arms sales to China.
The Administration should also target sanctions at specific defense contractors21 that sell sensitive military-use technology or weapons systems to China. These companies can be restricted from participating in defense-related cooperative research, development, and production programs with the United States in specific technology areas or in general. Such measures are allowable under the rules of the World Trade Organization, which permit protectionist measures based on national security concerns.
John J. Tkacik, Jr., is Research Fellow in China Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.


1. Associated Press, "Schroeder Backs Sales to China of EU Weapons," December 2, 2003, at,,SB107031748329778700,00.html.

2. Dow Jones Newswires, "EU's Lamy Signals Review of Embargo on Arms to China," December 3, 2004, at,,SB107039952717946100,00.html.

3. Agence France-Presse, "China Must Vow Peaceful Use of German Plutonium Plant: Ministers," December 5, 2003.

4. Ibid.

5. John Leicester, "French Lawmakers Snub Chinese Leader," Associated Press, January 27, 2004.

6. Melody Chen, "UK `Strongly Opposed' to Force Across Taiwan Strait," Taipei Times, January 20, 2004, p. 2, at

7. Reuters, "EU Upholds Arms Embargo on China," Taipei Times, January 28, 2004, at

8. See Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Philip Delves Broughton, "EU Snubs Paris over Arms for China," The Daily Telegraph, January 28, 2004, at

9. Richard Lawless and Randy Schriver, "Administration Views on U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations," testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, February 6, 2004, at

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Taiwan Relations, 22 U.S. Code 48, Section 3301(b)(6), at

15. Fisher makes the case that "the European space consortium Astrium has...lobbied to allow the PRC [People's Republic of China] to join the International Space Station. A 2003 agreement to secure a PRC financial contribution to the future European GALILEO navigation satellite constellation marked a new high-point in space cooperation." Fisher says that by October 2003, the PRC and the European Space Agency would sign a five-year space cooperation agreement on "space science, Earth observation, environmental monitoring, meteorology, telecommunications and satellite navigation, microgravity research for biology and medicine, and human resource development and training." For a comprehensive look at the impact of European defense technology on Chinese weapons development, see Richard D. Fisher Jr., The Impact of Foreign Weapons and Technology on the Modernization of China's People's Liberation Army, draft report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, January 2004.

16. "[W]hen President Bush outlined his ambitious vision last week for a new era of space exploration, one country in particular was on his mind as he extended an invitation for international cooperation: China." Jim Yardley and William J. Broad, "The Next Space Race: China Heads to the Stars," The New York Times, January 22, 2004, at

17. See the 1989 Authorization of the State Department, which codified the economic sanctions applied to China after Tiananmen, including suspension of Overseas Private Investment Corporation assistance to U.S. businesses in China, cancellation of trade development initiatives, a ban on military and dual-use exports, and a ban on all high-technology goods on the munitions list (including satellites and police equipment). Public Law 101-246.

18. See U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)," February 25, 2004, at

19. Associated Press, "EU Considers End to Ban on Arms Sales to Beijing," Taipei Times, January 25, 2004, at

20. Jiang Yanyong, "...And Call for a Reversal of the Tiananmen Verdict," The Asian Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2004, at,,SB107904531592653133,00.html.

21. U.S. Code, Title 41, Chapter 1, Section 50, at

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Posted by maximpost at 12:09 AM EST

France says recent bin Laden location found
International troops discovered refuge on Afghan-Pakistani border
Posted: March 22, 2004
5:00 p.m. Eastern
? 2004
French troops and other international forces on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan believe they have found a location where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden recently had taken refuge.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview to be published tomorrow in Express, the French magazine, she could not provide more details because of security reasons.
A ministry spokesman said, according to Reuters, Alliot-Marie was referring to a location where bin Laden was believed to have been "at a certain time," but it was unclear where he is now.
"Our men are well established and know the terrain well," Alliot-Marie told Express magazine, according to Reuters. "Thanks to certain information, they were recently able to make an effective contribution to locating him."
The defense minister was asked whether the man located definitely was bin Laden
"Everything leads us to think so," she replied.
Alliot-Marie said, however, bin Laden's capture would not improve security much, because terror networks had become increasingly autonomous, Reuters reported.
The ministry spokesman clarified: "What she wanted to say was that, with the information they provided, French forces contributed to locating him at a certain time. It is a terrible hunt for a rat on the loose."
Last week, senior Pakistani officials claimed thousands of local troops had surrounded bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in an operation near the Afghan border.
A report today, however, said the top al-Qaida terrorists might have escaped the siege through several secret tunnels, including one as long as a mile.

Withheld evidence to sink case against Nichols?
Massive FBI intel failure, wider conspiracy in 1995 terror expected to emerge

Posted: March 20, 2004
7:05 p.m. Eastern
By J.D. Cash
? 2004 McCurtain Daily Gazette

In a phone call from a federal prison yesterday, convicted bank bandit and former Aryan Republican Army leader Peter Kevin Langan Jr. made a startling revelation to the McCurtain Daily Gazette - that former associate Richard Lee Guthrie Jr. robbed a Hot Springs, Ark., gun dealer in November 1994, not accused Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols.
That revelation from Langan is expected to be one of a number coming to light as the Nichols trial opens Monday in McAlester.
Defense evidence is expected to provide both a much wider conspiracy in the bloody 1995 bombing as well as exposing a massive intelligence failure by the FBI.
Documents, a videotape and a large number of photographs obtained and/or reviewed by the Gazette provide a compelling case that the FBI has for many years maintained extensive information linking a white supremacist group of bank robbers to the bombing conspiracy in Oklahoma.
In 1997, shortly before the federal trials of Timothy McVeigh and Nichols began in Denver, the Gazette broke two important stories: One was related to an affidavit McVeigh's sister gave the FBI, where she swore her brother was involved with a group of bank robbers. The other spelled out warnings the Tulsa office of the ATF received from one of their informants before the April 19, 1995 blast - warnings that men at a paramilitary camp called Elohim City, near Muldrow, were planning to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.
It is undisputed that only weeks before the bombing, the ATF's raid at Elohim City was stopped by then-Special Agent in Charge of the Oklahoma City FBI office, Bob Ricks, who sought help from U.S. Attorney Steve Lewis in squelching the planned arrests. While the FBI has never denied the agency had information from Jennifer McVeigh about her brother's involvement with a gang a bank bandits, the agency continues to vehemently deny it had prior warning of a plan to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building.
Newly discovered evidence
From court filings and statements recently made by lawyers for Nichols during pretrial motions, the defense team has indicated it will use newly discovered evidence to shift the jury's focus away from their client toward a group of neo-Nazi bank bandits called the Aryan Republican Army (ARA) and very possibly others once linked to McVeigh.
Among this wide-ranging new evidence are photographs of a number of items seized from some bank bandits suggesting that the ARA robbed Roger Moore, a Hot Springs, Ark., gun dealer. It was a crime the FBI has long said was performed by Nichols to help raise money for the bombing in Oklahoma.
Further, Langan said the pistol-grip shotgun used in the Moore robbery, a Winchester Model 1300 Defender, was seized after Guthrie's arrest along with a substantial amount of other gear used in the Moore robbery.
Despite statements made recently by retired FBI special agent Danny Defenbaugh, that the OKBOMB Task Force (which he headed) did not receive details of the ARA's involvement in the bombing, the Gazette has found documents specifically directed to the task force about the gang and its links to McVeigh.
At his trial set to begin Monday, Nichols faces 161 first-degree murder charges as a result of the incredible loss of life in the 1995 truck-bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
The state trial for Nichols was moved to McAlester after the judge in the case ruled excessive pretrial publicity made it unlikely the defendant could be fairly tried in Oklahoma County.
Nichols was found innocent of first- and second-degree murder in Denver federal court in 1997. The defendant, however, did receive a life sentence for conspiracy and manslaughter in the deaths of eight federal agents who died in the blast.
McVeigh, Nichols' co-conspirator, was executed in 2001.
Shifting the blame
Certain to face a barrage of objections from state prosecutors, the tactic of shifting the blame to others for the gruesome crime will be closely scrutinized by District Court Judge Steven Taylor.
Recently, Taylor turned down some 40 pretrial motions by the state asking the court to bar evidence of a wider conspiracy.
Specifically, the state of Oklahoma does not want the defense to show the jury any evidence that might link the April 19, 1995 bombing to persons who lived at, or frequented, a place Elohim City.
Materials obtained by the Gazette reveal that state and federal investigators believed Elohim City was once a stronghold for neo-Nazi skinheads from around the U.S. to train in subversive tactics, including bomb-building and converting weapons to full-automatic.
Central to the illegal activities at Elohim City at the time of the bombing was the presence of a number of young men calling themselves the Aryan Republican Army.
Evidence can be admitted
Regarding the introduction of evidence of a wider conspiracy, Taylor ruled that Nichols would be allowed to put on such evidence in his case, "As long as it stays within case law and rules of evidence."
Taylor has also commented recently that should he find that the state has withheld any evidence that might prove important to Nichols, he would dismiss the case "with prejudice" - effectively barring any future prosecution of Nichols in this state.
With evidence linking the bombing in Oklahoma City to the ARA gang, members of the Nichols defense team will be able to offer the jury an alternative theory to the one prosecutors for the state of Oklahoma present.
The FBI came across evidence of a nexus between the bombing in Oklahoma and the ARA years ago, and most of the evidence has been copied and held in case files related to the ARA's crime spree known as BOMBROB.
While some of this evidence was copied and forwarded to agents involved in the OKBOMB investigation, in many cases, this paper has confirmed, important evidence of the ARA's involvement in the Oklahoma bombing was withheld from defense attorneys in the federal trials of Nichols and McVeigh.
Recently a former leader of the gang, Peter Langan, began cooperating with the Nichols defense about this evidence and its relevance to the bombing case. Of particular interest to the Nichols defense would be any evidence that the ARA perpetrated the robbery of an Arkansas gun dealer in Nov. 1994.
When Nichols was tried in Denver, federal prosecutors told jurors that the defendant robbed Hot Springs gun collector Roger Moore in order to raise funds for the bombing. Paperwork from Langan's federal trial indeed shows that the government collected considerable evidence that should have linked the gang to the bombing in Oklahoma and caused investigators to focus on members of the ARA.
As an example, documents obtained by the McCurtain Daily Gazette indicate that just prior to the arrest of Langan and his partner Richard Lee Guthrie, Jr., the OKBOMB task force in Oklahoma City was notified and put on alert that the FBI was gathering intelligence on Guthrie's military records.
Those records show that Guthrie received considerable training in explosives while in the US Navy.
Days later, on Jan. 15, 1996, the FBI apprehended Guthrie after a brief car chase in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A leader of a gang of bank bandits sworn to overthrow the U.S. government, Guthrie received extensive training with explosives during his five-year stint with the Navy.
This extraordinary training included five months in the prestigious SEAL program before the subject entered the Navy's explosives and ordinance (EOD) program at Indian Head, Md. The FBI also notified the OKBOMB task force that Guthrie had studied explosives for a brief period at the Redstone Arsenal EOD school in Alabama.
After his arrest, Guthrie reluctantly agreed to cooperate with the FBI in the capture of fellow gang member Langan.
With Guthrie's help, an FBI SWAT team surrounded Langan's parked van at dawn on Jan. 18, 1996. Without warning, the FBI opened fire on Langan. Incredibly, after 47 rounds pieced the subject's van, the fugitive was able to emerge only slightly wounded.
Gang had bomb factory
Inside Langan's van and his rent house in Columbus, Oh., FBI agents located a portable bomb factory.
During an intense search FBI evidence technicians and investigators located functional improvised explosive devices plus blasting caps, nitro-methane, an exotic military blasting device that is used to set off timed charges, mercury switches, hand grenades, pipe bombs in various stages of completion, gunpowder, a library on how to build complex explosive devices and the tools to complete them.
Along with sophisticated radio equipment with top-secret FBI codes already installed, agents also located several pre-addressed envelopes containing videotapes the gang made in late January of 1995.
Video links to OKC plot
Contained in the two-hour video made to aid the recruitment of other like-minded radicals, gang members wore masks and boasted about robbing banks to finance acts of terror.
Of particular interest is a portion of the video where one of the gang members brags that his men possessed the components and training to build "weapons of mass destruction."
At another point in the video, Langan asked three other masked figures if they were ready to join another ARA cell to commit "the courthouse massacre."
On still another part of the tape, members warn the government, "If we are pushed, we will take action against post offices and federal buildings."
Phone records link
Along with the evidence of the gang's far-flung and bloody plans, agents discovered a number of telephone cards the members were using to communicate.
While the records provide clear links between the gang and other far-right groups, the records also show that members of the gang made calls from Elohim City immediately prior to the bombing - placing them in close proximity to the crime. Additional research into the records provides clues to the gang's whereabouts after the bombing, as well.
With these records, FBI agents could compare phone calls made by a calling card used by McVeigh and Nichols, including one from a motel room registered to McVeigh in Kingman, Ariz., on April 5, 1995.
Placed just seconds after that same phone was used to call a Ryder truck rental, McVeigh next called the Elohim City compound.
Days after the phone call to Elohim City, a Ryder truck was rented in central Kansas and subsequently used to deliver a powerful ammonia-nitrate and fuel bomb to the Murrah federal building.
Arkansas robbery linked
Along with phone records and the gang's videotape describing their plans, federal agents also found a pair of Israeli combat boots, black knit masks, camouflage clothing, a pistol-grip shot-gun, bulletproof vests and other clues that combined to match precisely what the victim of a home invasion and robbery in Arkansas said the perpetrator was wearing when he was confronted.
Prosecutors have indicated they will put on proof that Nichols robbed a Hot Springs, Ark., gun dealer on Nov. 5, 1994. Prosecutors are expected to tell jurors that the purpose of the robbery was so Nichols and McVeigh would have the funds necessary to purchase ingredients for a fertilizer and fuel bomb.
Indeed, when the Nichols home was raided by the FBI after the bombing, they found a large number of firearms and other property that Roger Moore had earlier re-ported stolen.
Known by an alias, Bob Miller, Moore testified in Denver that Nichols did not fit the description of the man who approached him that morning.
Key evidence
Moore's testimony on the subject of the robbery indicated that his assailant was wearing a pair of Israeli combat boots, was wearing camo pants and shirt, likely had on a bulletproof vest under his shirt, a black ski mask and was holding a pistol grip shotgun. The assailant was further described as standing 5' 10, weighing 165 and having some facial hair.
At his arrest, the FBI noted that Guthrie weighed 165 pounds, stood 5 ft, 9 in. and had a moustache.
Langan is expected to testify that Guthrie and at least one other member of the ARA robbed Moore's home.
Additional evidence recovered by the FBI shows that Guthrie had an Arkansas driver license made with a Hot Springs, Ark., address with his own photograph on it. The name on the license was Moore's alias: Robert Miller.
The FBI also recovered another fake ID in the raid, one with the photo of Langan, also with a Hot Springs post office box and an alias.
The FBI also seized a videotape from the gang that's wrapped in mystery.
Inside a file cabinet belonging to the gang, the FBI found a videotape which agents noted contained surveillance of "several locations." On the cover was scribbled the word, "Contract."
Langan claims the tape has foot-age of Moore's farm. He says Guthrie made the surveillance film in preparation for the robbery.
The defense for Nichols is expected to subpoena a copy of the video for review.
J.D. Cash is a veteran reporter for the McCurtain Daily Gazette.

Prosecutor: Nichols Hated U.S. Government
Mar 22, 12:57 PM (ET)
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - Terry Nichols hated the U.S. government and worked hand-in-hand with Timothy McVeigh in the deadly, "monstrous" bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
"These two were partners, and their business was terrorism," Assistant Oklahoma County District Attorney Lou Keel said in opening statements in Nichols' state trial. Proceedings got under way after two jurors and an alternate were excused by the judge, who blamed prosecutors for the problem.
Keel said Nichols purchased the fertilizer, which was used with fuel oil to create the bomb, and stole the blasting caps used to detonate the device from a Kansas quarry.
"This huge, monstrous bomb was detonated right in front of that building," Keel said. He said those not killed in the initial blast died because of glass projectiles that were sent "flying like bullets" by the force of the blast.
Drill marks on a padlock at the quarry matched a drill bit found in Nichols' basement, Keel said.
"He had more to do with gathering the various components of the bomb than did Timothy McVeigh," Keel said.
And he offered a motive.
"Terry Lynn Nichols had long been mad at the federal government," Keel said.
He said the evidence will show that Nichols told his ex-wife, Lana Padilla, that he was angry at the government's actions at Waco, Texas, in the deadly end to the standoff with the Branch Davidians, exactly two years before the Oklahoma City bombing.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001, for the bombing.
Before opening arguments began Monday, two jury members and an alternate juror were excused because they are distant cousins of an attorney with the prosecutor's office, George Burnett. Judge Steven Taylor criticized prosecutors for "inexcusable conduct" in not revealing the links sooner.
Except for consulting on jury selection, Burnett, who was born in McAlester and has many relatives in the area, is not a Nichols trial attorney. But he is an assistant district attorney with the Oklahoma County district attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case.
It was not clear how prosecutors learned of the problem, or why they didn't let the judge know of it earlier.
Burnett did not immediately return telephone calls Monday to ask about the judge's comments. Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane was out of state and unavailable for comment, his office staff said.
The trial had been moved to McAlester, about 130 miles from Oklahoma City, because of pretrial publicity.
The trial will go on with 12 jurors and three alternates, instead of the six alternates that the judge had planned to use. Prosecutors learned of the problem on March 9, but didn't notify the judge about it until March 12, one day after the jury was seated.
"Unfortunately, the court's plan to have six alternate jurors has been cut in half due to the inexcusable conduct by the state," Taylor said.
Taylor said that if there are further problems with the jury and he runs out of alternates, he will dismiss the case.
The trial for Nichols, who is already serving a life sentence on federal changes, is expected to take four to six months. Prosecutors have lined up more than 400 witnesses.
Nichols, 48, was already convicted and sentenced to life for the deaths of eight federal law enforcement officers in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The 161 state charges are for the other 160 victims and one victim's fetus.
He could be sentenced to death if convicted. Defense attorneys claim Nichols was set up by unknown coconspirators, suggesting a 1994 robbery in Arkansas that prosecutors blame on Nichols was actually committed by white supremacist bank robbers who may have helped McVeigh.
Some of those directly affected by the bombing differ on whether the trial is necessary.
"The last nine years, I've just put my life on hold. Almost everything I do, it has something to do with the bombing," said Jannie Coverdale, who lost two grandsons in the blast. "If Terry Nichols does not get the death penalty, we might as well abolish the death penalty in this country."
Others oppose the trial because of its cost and the fact that Nichols is already serving life in prison. The case already has cost the state about $3.4 million, not including prosecution expenses and security costs.
"We think it's a waste of money, a waste of time. This is a black mark on our justice system," said Jim Denny, whose two children were injured in the explosion.
Bud Welch, a death penalty opponent whose daughter, 23-year-old Julie Marie Welch, was killed, said the trial "has nothing to do with the healing process."
"Family members are being victimized again," he said.


The 3rd terrorist: Mideast tie to OKC bombing
Investigative reporter has 'dead-bang' evidence of Islamic plot
Posted: February 12, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
? 2004
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were not the lone conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing but were part of a greater scheme involving Islamic terrorists and at least one provable link to Iraq, according to a new release by WND Books.
Backed by stunning evidence, author Jayna Davis explains in detail the complete, and so far untold, story behind the failed investigation in The Third Terrorist: The Middle Eastern Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing."
The investigative reporter who first broke the story of the Middle East connection, Davis shows why the FBI closed the door, what further evidence exists to prove the Iraqi connection, why it has been ignored and what makes it more relevant now than ever.
Told with a gripping narrative style and vetted by men such as former CIA director James Woolsey, Davis's piercing account is the first book to set the record straight about what really happened in the bombing that killed nearly 170 people in a few short seconds April 19, 1995.
Last April, Davis' reporting on the Oklahoma City bombing was vindicated when the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed against her after finding "defendants did not recklessly disregard the truth" in reporting on an Iraqi soldier's alleged involvement in the bombing.
"After eight years of oppressive litigation, the courts have vindicated my work ethic as a dedicated journalist," Davis told WorldNetDaily at the time. "The lawsuit was obviously designed to silence a legitimate investigation into Middle Eastern complicity in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing."
In an interview with WND in October 2001, attorney David Schippers, who prosecuted the House of Representatives' impeachment case against Bill Clinton, said his examination of the evidence Davis presented him was conclusive.
"I am thoroughly convinced that there was a dead-bang Middle Eastern connection in the Oklahoma City bombing," he said.
Read WorldNetDaily's extensive coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing case.
Jayna Davis's blockbuster -- "The Third Terrorist: The Middle Eastern Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing" -- is available now from the source, WorldNetDaily.

Five Kerry homes valued at nearly $33M
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's Ketchum, Idaho vacation home on the Wood River is seen in this March 17, 2004 photo. Kerry is vacationing at his Ketchum home through Wednesday, March 24. He plans to return to the campaign trail Thursday with a Democratic fund-raiser in Washington.(AP Photo/Troy Maben)
WASHINGTON -- From a sailing mecca to a ski resort, presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, enjoy the trappings of their wealth in at least five homes and vacation getaways valued at nearly $33 million.
Some are private escapes for the family, while others serve as prime spots to host fund-raisers and exclusive gatherings for wealthy donors. All reflect the couple's status - he is a four-term Massachusetts senator, she is heiress to the $500 million family ketchup fortune - with breathtaking vistas, elegant furnishings and enclosures that protect the property from prying eyes.
Each home has a place in the family's life, with its own history and mission, from the preppy island of Nantucket and Boston's Beacon Hill to the Pittsburgh countryside, from the Idaho mountains to the nation's capital.
Kerry is on a weeklong break from the campaign at the home in the wooded mountains of Ketchum, Idaho. Located near the banks of the Big Wood River, the nearly $5 million house is a reassembled barn, originally built in England in 1485, and brought to Idaho by Heinz Kerry's late husband, H. John Heinz III. The Pennsylvania Republican senator died in a plane crash in 1991.
The classic yet comfortably furnished farmhouse, profiled in Architectural Digest magazine in 1993, was inspired by Heinz Kerry's memories of an inn in Swaziland where she vacationed with her parents. Its central point is an enormous, 57-by-24-foot great room with a 25-foot ceiling framed with original oak beams.
The Heinz family has had the house since 1966, and traditionally spends time there in August and during the Christmas holidays - often throwing a New Year's Eve party capped with fireworks.
This is also where Heinz Kerry, while on one of her frequent hikes, wrestled with the prospect of Kerry's presidential bid - a political move she had opposed for her first husband and Kerry.
"While taking a long walk in Ketchum, she finally realized she couldn't hold him back, that he had too much to offer the country," said Heinz Kerry's spokeswoman Christine Anderson. "She said they're not getting any younger and this was a contribution she knew he could make."
While Ketchum provides a respite from politics, the tony Beacon Hill brownstone in Boston has been a more frequent campaign way-station for Kerry and his wife. It is the only residence that is theirs as a couple. And, assessed at nearly $7 million, it is the residence that Kerry mortgaged last year to finance more than $6 million in loans to his campaign.
Their other homes, ranging in value from more than $3 million to nearly $9.2 million, belong to Heinz Kerry, and predate her 1995 marriage to the Massachusetts senator. Several are still listed under the name of her late husband.
Formerly part of a convent, the five-story, 12-room Boston town house - with six fireplaces, a rooftop deck and an elevator - is Kerry's main residence. It is where he is registered to vote, where his cars and motorcycle are registered and is located blocks from the State House where he began his political career as lieutenant governor.
Visitors say the town house, with its modern two-story kitchen built for entertaining, is filled with books, decorated with family photos and Dutch still-life paintings and boasts a striking portrait of "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville that hangs in the small library just inside the entrance.
While that is their newest home, Heinz Kerry has had a Massachusetts presence for years.
Just beyond the historic Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket's harbor is Heinz Kerry's $9.1 million waterfront estate. Rimmed by tall hedges, with a wide deck and a lawn that reaches to the beach, the three-story, five-bedroom manse was the site of the couple's Memorial Day weekend wedding in 1995.
Since then, the house has been used for campaign retreats and Democratic receptions for the party's big money donors.
Visitors say that while the homes are adorned with pricey art and antiques, they are generally friendly and comfortable and not ostentatious. "Their homes have always been places for friends and family to come together," Anderson said. "And their homes reflect that."
While Kerry calls Boston home, Heinz Kerry's base is Pittsburgh, which is her longtime residence and the headquarters of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, which she chairs.
Located on a $3.7 million, 90-acre family farm in Fox Chapel, the home is a nine-room white colonial fronted with six columns, and at the end of a steep drive, hidden from the road by a curtain of woods. The property includes a deep-red, nine-room carriage house.
This is where Heinz Kerry raised her three sons, where she is registered to vote, and where - on one day in the early 1980s - the late "Mister (Fred) Rogers" filmed an episode of his "Old Friends, New Friends" show. Rogers was the godfather to Heinz Kerry's youngest son, Christopher.
Their fifth home, in Georgetown, is perhaps the most utilitarian, and is necessary to accommodate the time they spend in Washington when the Senate is in session. Also belonging to Heinz Kerry, the 23-room, $4.7 million town house, with its wide stairway and landscaped courtyard, is filled with antiques, fine art, including paintings by Dutch masters, and family photos.
In Germany, Mosque-Building Boom Regarded With Fear
Published: Mar 21, 2004
BERLIN - The chink and scrape of stonecutters echo through the gray-domed mosque that rises like a glimmer of misplaced architecture in a city where the Muslim call to prayer is a widening whisper.
Dusted in marble, workmen scurry in the muted glow of stained glass. Some paint Quranic verses on the walls; others make last-minute alterations to golden-tipped minarets pricking a drizzly skyline. Anxious Berliners sometimes peek into the courtyard, where Ali Gulcek, a husky, nimble man, assures them his religion is not a threat.
``I need to enlighten the Germans so their prejudice of Islam will go away,'' said Gulcek, a German citizen born to Turkish parents whose Muslim organization is building the mosque. ``Our mosque will be completed in May. We've wanted a legitimate mosque for so long. For years, we've been meeting in back yards and basements. We don't want to hide anymore.''
Gulcek's mosque reflects the surge in Islamic construction sweeping Germany. The number of traditional mosques with their distinctive minarets nearly doubled in Germany from 77 in 2002 to 141 in 2003, according to Islam Archive, a Muslim research group in the city of Soest. An additional 154 mosques and cultural centers are planned, many of them in the countryside where vistas are dotted with symbols of crescent moons and crosses.
Like the cultural battles over allowing Muslim women to wear head scarves in European schools, mosques are another indication that immigration is transforming social, religious and aesthetic landscapes. Staccato Turkish and throaty Arabic syllables whirl amid European vernaculars, and where once there was a German bakery, there is now a Moroccan kebab stand. In some bookshops, the Quran is as prominent as the Bible, and Muslim worry beads sometimes rattle alongside rosaries.
Signs Of Change
Mosques are landmarks of faith. But in Europe they also are symbols of change that can instigate fear, especially as congregations at Christian churches steadily decline on a continent with the fastest-aging population in the world. A mosque often means a neighborhood is no longer what it was. Skin hues are darker, customs different, and society's failure at integration is laid bare.
For many Europeans since Sept. 11, mosques are perceived - unlike churches or synagogues - as caldrons of radicalism instead of places of worship. That sentiment is likely to endure if Islamic militants were involved in the train bombings in Madrid that killed more than 200 people and wounded 1,400 others.
``Building a mosque won't create integration,'' said Werner Mueller, a pharmacist in a Berlin neighborhood where proposals for two mosques are encountering opposition from government agencies. ``These new mosques will make Islam more visible, and jobless and angry Muslim men will go to them. They can become places infiltrated by political Islam.''
Such sensitivity is rooted in Al Quds mosque in Hamburg - a warren of rooms above a gym with smudged windows where Mohamed Atta and other Sept. 11 hijackers prayed before moving to the United States. Thousands of nondescript mosques, some tucked in alleys, others half-hidden in old factories, are scattered across the continent. There are nearly 2,400 in Germany, according to the Islam Archive.
The Berlin government is seeking more control over blueprints for larger mosques. The city's planning office wants veto power on all building projects that may impinge upon a borough's character. The veto proposal is expected to take effect this year and could complicate plans for four mosques in the city boroughs of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln. The government says it is not singling out mosques, but trying to bring uniformity to the skyline.
Building Relations
``Berlin has a large Turkish population,'' said Petra Reetz, a spokeswoman for the planning office. ``That always has to be a consideration. But we are still a central European town and we'd like to keep the face of a central European town, not a Turkish town.''
Such sentiments have made Mehmet Bayram a patient architect. The projects he treasures most, including mosques and Islamic cultural centers, are yet to be built, tangled in negotiations with government agencies. Bayram splices architecture, folding Islamic nuances into European designs to make Muslim edifices more palatable to the German eye. What could be considered minarets on the facade of one of his proposed cultural centers, for example, are instead spiraling stairwells.
Gulcek's mosque is being built south of the city center by the Turkish Islamic Union, one of several Muslim organizations in Germany overseeing construction plans for such projects. At 3 million, Turks are the the nation's largest minority.
Gulcek moved to Berlin with his parents 24 years ago from the Turkish city of Kayseri.
``It's taken 13 years to build,'' said Gulcek, a smiling, yet exasperated, diplomat of sorts between cultures. ``The biggest problem was raising money from Berlin Muslims. Then we found out our minarets were too high and we had to raise more money for a $100,000 fine from the borough. Why? It came down to a misunderstanding. We didn't know about German law, and the borough didn't tell us.
``It was difficult to explain our idea of the mosque to the Germans. We should have explained it better. If you communicate, there are fewer problems, but there always seems to be a lace curtain between Germans and Muslims. Europeans have a prejudice and a fear of change.''

Arafat orders his security on alert after Yassin hit
Monday, March 22, 2004
RAMALLAH - Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat believes Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin was a message to the Fatah chief that he could be next.
Arafat ordered his security forces to be on alert in wake of the killing of Yassin, Palestinian sources said. They said Arafat appeared concerned that Yassin's death was part of a new Israeli policy that ended the immunity enjoyed by the PA chairman.
Meanwhile, Arafat may be moving to fill the void in Hamas leadership left by the assassination.
PA radio and television reported the assassination of Yassin and the threats of Hamas retaliation, Middle East Newsline reported. But PA television refrained from showing footage of Yassin and other casualties after the attack. Gulf-owned satellite channels, such as Al Arabiya and A-Jazeera, broadcast such footage.
Palestinian sources said Arafat might seek to fill the vacuum left by Yassin by offering to increase cooperation with Hamas. With the exception of Yassin, most senior Hamas commanders have dismissed Arafat as a force in Palestinian society.
The sources said Arafat has ordered his commanders to prepare for large-scale Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They said Arafat was placed in a special "security room" to avoid being a target of Israeli snipers.
"We believe the president is a target," an Arafat aide said.
The sources said PA commanders were told to allow Hamas and other insurgency groups to organize protests and activities to prevent any Israeli invasion. Arafat and Yassin had known each other since the 1960s and over the last decade engaged in regular consultations. The sources said Arafat found Yassin to be the most cooperative among Hamas leaders.
Earlier, the Palestinian High Court unfroze the accounts of nine Hamas-aligned charities said to have funded insurgency groups. In August 2003, the PA froze 39 accounts - including those of Al Jamiya Al Islamiya, A-Salah, Islamic Young Women's Association, Social Care Committee, Islamic Charity for Zakat and Al Aqsa Charity Association - under pressure from the United States. Sunday's decision by the court requires approval by Arafat, who in the past has ignored the High Court.

Bahrain rioters hit streets, torch cars of Arab playboy boozers
Monday, March 22, 2004
ABU DHABI - Shi'ite attacks against foreigners are now targeting playboys from neighboring Arab states who come to Bahrain for the more readily available alcohol.
Western diplomatic sources said last week's street violence appears to have shifted its focus from Westerners to Gulf Arab nationals who use Bahrain as the watering hole of the region. The kingdom is the only Gulf state that approves the public sale and consumption of alcohol, banned by Islam.
Most of the patrons in the La Terrasse restaurant, one of the targets of last week's rampage, were Gulf Arabs, particularly Saudi nationals. Two cars owned by Saudi nationals were torched.
The diplomatic sources said the Shi'ite vigilante campaign appears to be supported by members of Bahrain's parliament, dominated by fundamentalists. Many parliamentarians have called for a ban on alcohol and the expulsion of the U.S. military presence in the kingdom.
Bahraini police and security forces have been unable to quell Shi'ite attacks against foreigners, including those from other Gulf Cooperation Council states, Middle East Newsline reported.
The diplomatic sources said police have often seemed unwilling to respond to complaints of attacks by Shi'ites against Westerners or other GCC nationals said to have been in violation of Islamic law.
Last Wednesday, Arab and Western expatriates came under attack by Shi'ite militants in the capital Manama. Shi'ites torched cars and attacked patrons in a restaurant in what was termed a campaign against the sale of alcohol in the kingdom.
Scores of Shi'ites, armed with knives and batons, attacked customers, looted and vandalized restaurants and torched cars. At least three people were injured and several of the attackers were arrested.
The rampage began with attacks on suspected Asian alcohol dealers in Manama. Shi'ite rioters, who sought to break bottles of alcohol, clashed with Bahraini security forces throughout the night as the violence spread toward the affluent suburbs.
"I doubt that I will continue to operate in Bahrain after what happened," J.J. Bakhtiar, the co-owner of La Terrasse restaurant said. "Customers are afraid, and I had to spend all day today convincing the customers who had reserved places at the restaurant that it was safe for them to come here and enjoy a meal."
This was the second Shi'ite attack in as many weeks in what was termed an Islamic campaign against alcohol. In early March, hundreds of Shi'ite youngsters rampaged through the Asian section of Manama, beating expatriate laborers and destroying property. Bahrain has a Shi'ite majority that regards itself as close to neighboring Iran, but is ruled by a Sunni royal family.


Posted by maximpost at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 22 March 2004


Kerry -- Yuck!
By Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder
Published 3/19/2004 12:05:01 AM
Phonies are like trolley cars. There's usually another one coming down the tracks. Just after we were getting over one phony -- Clinton -- we have another one waiting in the wings.
Clinton, of the lies and double-talk -- it depends what is is -- who smoked but did not inhale, who remembered black churches being burned in the South, although the last time it happened was thirty years before he was born, who felt your pain and, if you are a female, anything part of you that is in reach, and who even at the end of his reign debased the presidency by granting criminals last-minute politically and personally enriching pardons, and then left like the visitor who walked off with the family silver. Okay, so he didn't take the silver -- it was just White House odds and ends, and then, shamelessly he sent out invitations for housewarming gifts for his new home. Obviously, we could go on and on about the subject, but it is the next Democratic candidate for his position that compels our interest.
John Kerry is the second -- Gary Hart was the first --wannabe Kennedy imitator to inhabit our political landscape. He and Hart combed their hair like Kennedy, dressed like Kennedy, motioned with their hands like him, womanized like him -- although in fairness to Kerry, after landing a rich widow (making him the richest member of the Senate) he stopped chasing girls. Well, at least if he didn't actually stop, he managed damage control brilliantly, and at least in this respect, out-Clintoned Clinton.
On a Thursday, when his relationship with an intern surfaced, instead of becoming a semantic expert like Clinton, he went immediately to work. On the Thursday, the girl's father said he would not vote for Kerry, and her mother, as reported by the father, always felt that Kerry was despicable. By Saturday the father was voting for him, and the girl was located in Africa and said all the rumors were lies and Kerry never laid a hand, or anything else, on her. There are those who would argue that just for the way he handled this problem alone, he deserved to be president. If Kennedy was half as smart in defusing the Cuban missile crisis we would not have been at the brink of war, and he would not have committed American troops to Vietnam beginning the slippery slide into an unpopular and probably wrong war. At least Vietnam served one purpose -- it gave Kerry something to talk about.
All during the Democratic primaries, the airwaves were saturated with Kerry's activities in Vietnam. If there was a possibility we could forget he was in Vietnam, he would drag a veteran up on the podium with him -- usually the more injured the better, in order to exploit them and this country's mistakes.
We naively believed that this election was not about something somebody did or did not do 35 years ago, but rather, what Kerry as a president would do today. We had the unworthy thought that the next president would not be called upon to drive a boat up a river as part of his presidential duties.
WHEN THE REPUBLICANS CALLED into question Kerry's recent votes to undercut the military and security of the country, he immediately screamed that his bravery and patriotism were being called into question. In short, his maneuver was to cut off constructive debate about the problems of today by name calling. Worse yet, when Republicans made TV commercials that focused on President Bush's actions surrounding 9/11, Kerry called it exploiting a tragedy.
We believe, however, that 9/11 was a defining moment in modern history, not only for us, but for the rest of the world as well, and that the way this president has dealt with history's greatest assault on America and how he will deal with the problem of protecting the country from future 9/11s is the issue of most life-and-death interest to the country. Kerry feels most comfortable with this great debate stagnating over a boat going up a muddy river three decades ago, and apparently will pull out all demagogic stops -- including insulting the President's patriotism -- to prevent the real issues from being argued. Can anyone seriously believe that President Roosevelt should not have mentioned Pearl Harbor when he ran for a fourth term?
It should also fairly be noted that some of our greatest wartime presidents like Lincoln and Roosevelt had virtually no heroic service records, or even any military service at all, and some of our worst, like Grant and Kennedy, were wartime heroes.
Kerry's record, his real pertinent record -- the flip-flops on issues, eviscerating military budgets -- should be the stuff of legitimate public discourse, and Kerry should be allowed to explain and discuss. He should save the river tales to tell to his grandchildren, while counting their trust funds.
We try to approach Kerry with an open mind, putting political affiliation and party aside. So far he comes up as, at best, a windbag who takes himself too seriously, and at worst a demagogue. We would love to be proved wrong. Stifling honest debate is not the way to do it.

Jackie Mason is a comedian. Raoul Felder is a lawyer.
Home Office, Tower of London Division
By Mark Griffith
Published 3/19/2004 12:06:13 AM
In case you thought governments were usually embarrassed about putting people in prison for crimes they hadn't committed, check out Britain, mother of parliaments, sceptered isle, home of Magna Carta etc.
On Tuesday, the Home Office, Britain's avuncular-sounding ministry for lawcourts and prisons, asked to the Royal Courts of Justice to uphold an amazing practice of charging bed and board to innocent people held for years in UK prisons for crimes they never committed.
That's right, charge wrongfully-convicted people when they are let out for food and accommodation they enjoyed during the prison term they served. Not a few of these unjustly-imprisoned inmates only served sentences because another Home Office employee, such as a police officer, fitted them up with fake evidence.
TAKE ROBERT BROWN, a Glasgow man who at age 19 was found guilty in 1977 of murder. In 2002 he was freed, after 25 years imprisonment in which he continually protested his innocence, his conviction finally overturned by a court.
Cue a bill for the ?80,000 (over $140,000) his stay cost the British government.
Or Michael O'Brien, freed in 1999 after it emerged he had not after all murdered a man he was locked up 11 years earlier for killing. He was billed ?37,000, except that, to the fury of the Home Office, a court overturned this particular bed-and-board charge. Mr. O'Brien was finally permitted not to pay for being imprisoned for the crime he didn't commit.
Which is why the Home Office went to court this week -- to put a stop to this irritating business of innocent people getting out of paying for their time in jail.
Charges tend to be overlooked, because they appear as deductions from compensation. Wrongfully-imprisoned people get compensation in Britain (fairly mean amounts by U.S. standards), which they are then stunned to find has had a sum deducted for "food and lodging." Home Office officials claim, seemingly with straight faces, that as the food and board would have been consumed by the prisoner anyway during those decades, it is quite reasonable to bill people locked up by miscarriages of justice.
So O'Brien got compensation of ?650,000, just over a million dollars. Not generous, but something with which to rebuild a broken life. Finding that ?37,000 ($67,000) was deducted from that compensation is perhaps more insult than injury -- but what an insult. Not surprisingly, O'Brien argued the amount symbolically reasserted his guilt, even after he had been cleared completely of the crime.... as if the police, courts, and prison system could only admit they had made a mistake in the most grudging, sour-faced way imaginable.
HOME SECRETARY DAVID BLUNKETT, Britain's most powerful blind man, is being criticized for pressing his department's right to claw back chunks of settlements wrongly-imprisoned people get once someone listens to them. Settlements the Home Office clearly resents, with startlingly public pettiness.
But though Blunkett, whose guide dog has become a familiar figure in TV talk shows and the House of Commons, does seem to be channeling his Inner Kommandant ever more keenly, this prison-cost clawback is not just him. It is deeply rooted in the department's eerie, authoritarian culture. Several British politicians since the mid 1970s rapidly became darker, flintier figures after spending too long among Home Office employees.
Michael Howard, current leader of the Conservative Party -- possibly the next British Prime Minister -- was said to have "something of the night" about him when he was Home Secretary. Newspapers referred to Merlyn Rees, Labour Secretary of State in the 1970s, as "the sinister Merlyn Rees." Ann Widdecombe, Minister of State at the Home Office in the late 1990s, was frequently called "scary" and "weird." Recent Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw started to sound sneering and bitter in the post. The Home Office is often called "the graveyard of political reputations" by Westminster-watchers.
The sightless Blunkett advocates scanning every eyeball in Britain to create the ID card system the Home Office yearns for, complains juries mean the government gets fewer convictions (that can't be good, can it?), and this week demanded powers to charge bars and restaurants for drunken violence in streets nearby. He's clearly not shy about bossing people around. But is he just another politician to have fallen among hard-faced advisers at the Home Office?
Westminster wits privately claim that Home Office civil servants are bitter about their own life sentence -- having to work in the ugliest ministry buildings in British government. The address "Queen Anne Gate" suggests an early-18th-century Augustan terrace along the civilized lines of Williamsburg. But since the '60s it has been a darkly forbidding concrete building in a style literally known among architects as "New Brutalist." The Home Office is moving to another site in 2005.
Will we see fewer spiteful gestures towards men like Vincent Hickey and his cousin Michael (both wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, both billed 60,000 pounds for bed and board) once Britain's law-and-order officials work a year or two in pleasanter premises?
Mark Griffith is a freelance British journalist based in Eastern Europe. He may be reached at
Ex-mobster who ratted on boss sentenced
By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press Writer, 3/22/2004
BOSTON -- A former lieutenant to fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger who helped authorities unravel his gang's cozy relationship with the FBI was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison, including time served.
Kevin Weeks, a one-time gravedigger and lookout for Bulger's Winter Hill Gang, has already served nearly five years, meaning he could be released by the end of this year with good behavior.
Before he was sentenced, Weeks stood to address the court, saying he decided to cooperate with investigators to give closure to the families of the gang's victims.
"I apologize to those families, and I hope my actions over the last five years show that my apology is sincere," he said.
With his assistance, investigators were able to uncover the relationship between Boston FBI agents and their underworld informants.
Weeks, 48, helped recover the bodies of six people murdered by Bulger and fellow mobster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi and helped solve murders in Florida and Oklahoma. He also helped convict former FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr. of charges he protected gangsters.
"The defendant has fully cooperated in some of the most significant prosecutions in this district's history," U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan wrote in a letter to the court.
Bulger, who disappeared in 1995, is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list and is sought in connection with 21 murders.
Weeks was charged with racketeering, extortion and money-laundering, but struck a plea deal in 1999. Federal prosecutors had recommended that he serve nine years in prison.
Flemmi was sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 killing of a World Jai Alai executive, John Callahan, in Miami. Flemmi reached a plea deal after implicating his former FBI handler, H. Paul Rico, in the 1981 murder of another World Jai Alai figure, owner Roger Wheeler, in Oklahoma. Rico died before he could be tried.
? Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Mutual fund firms adding disclaimers
Market timing said to spur bid for legal cover
By Andrew Caffrey and Beth Healy, Globe Staff, 3/22/2004
Mutual fund companies stung by charges of fraud in the market-timing scandals that have engulfed the $7.5 trillion industry for the past six months are amending their legal documents to fend off future litigation.
Even as it was settling fraud charges for $250 million last Monday, FleetBoston Financial Corp.'s Columbia funds unit filed with regulators clarifications to the company's policies on market timing. In addition to warning investors against market timing, Fleet included this disclaimer: "There is no guarantee that the Fund or its agents will be able to detect frequent trading activity or the shareholders engaged in such activity, or, if it is detected, to prevent its recurrence."
Fleet-Columbia spokesman Charles Salmans said the new language is intended to warn fund shareholders that no amount of diligence may be able to stop market timers intent on using evasive techniques.
"This is an effort to make sure our shareholders understand the reality of the situation, and it does not reflect an effort to ease up on our dedication to detect and deter market timing," Salmans said.
But industry critics said the new warnings seem to be an effort by companies to shield against future legal problems should investigators find more instances of market timing in their funds.
"There is no excuse for this," said Secretary of State William F. Galvin, chief of the Massachusetts Securities Division. "It shows me they've learned nothing at all from their recent experience, and they're unrepentant."
Mutual fund companies "have a fiduciary duty to stop it once they know it's going on," said Mercer Bullard, a former US Securities and Exchange Commission attorney who founded the watchdog group, Fund Democracy. "That disclosure cannot insulate them from liability."
MFS Investment Management, which settled a $350 million fraud case with regulators last month, also added disclaimers to its fund prospectuses in recent days, as did State Street Research & Management Co., whose brokerage operations paid a $1 million fine in February for failing to stop outside brokers from making excessive trades in the company's mutual funds.
In many of the recent prosecutions, regulators seized on what mutual funds said about market timing in their prospectuses as the basis for bringing fraud charges. Now, mutual fund attorney Roger Joseph says, funds are trying to protect themselves.
"Companies don't want to promise that they can absolutely control the issue," said Joseph, a partner at the Boston law firm Bingham McCutchen. "One of the ways in which you can be sued by either the regulators or by investors is by having prospectus disclosure that is misleading."
"The fact of the matter is there have been people who have circumvented the system, and it's just alerting the shareholders that it happened," said State Street Research spokeswoman Robyn Tice. Keeping out timers, she said, is "a challenging process."
The disclaimers usually accompany other details mutual fund companies are telling investors about the new steps they're taking to deter market timing and other improper trading. For example, MFS is telling investors about new fees they would have to pay if they tried to make rapid trades in and out of its funds.
The new language appears to be at least partly a reaction to a proposed SEC rule calling for greater disclosure in mutual fund prospectuses of the risks of market timing and fund groups' policies for combating market timing.
There is, however, an important difference between the market-timing behavior that has gotten so many mutual fund companies in trouble, and the kind of excessive trading the companies are referring to in the new disclaimers. In the fraud cases so far, the SEC and state regulators have brought charges when companies knowingly allowed market timing and even conspired with select traders when their official policies prohibited such abusive trading. The new disclosures purportedly address market timers the companies don't want -- and try to kick out -- but who somehow find a way back into the funds undetected.
In particular, the new disclaimers discuss the difficulty of policing such trades that are buried inside so-called omnibus accounts. These are giant collections of individual investors, or "beneficial owners" in industry parlance, such as a corporate 401(k) plan, where mutual fund's contract is with the plan, rather than the individual members of the plan. The trades of all these members are bundled together at the end of the day and shipped en masse to the mutual fund company by a financial intermediary, such as a brokerage firm or retirement plan administrator.
Many fund groups argue that it's difficult for them to monitor these group accounts, and hard to stop abuses even once they are identified. In one widely publicized case last year, Putnam Investments did identify rampant market timing by 10 members of a union group, Boilermakers Local 5 in New York, who managed to make more than $4 million in a rapid-trading scheme over three years. Galvin's office sued Putnam for securities fraud in the matter, alleging that the Boston firm failed to police those trades. Putnam said its contract with the union local did not give it direct control over individual accounts.
Fleet's Columbia unit said in its filing this week that, "The fund typically is not able to identify trading by a particular beneficial owner, which may make it difficult or impossible to determine if a particular account is engaged in frequent trading." Fleet and other companies also have cited "operational and technological limitations" that prevent them and financial intermediaries from cracking down on market timers in omnibus accounts.
But that argument is flimsy, according to high-tech executives who sell systems to investment firms. While much of the investment industry didn't have this capability in 2002, many brokers, fund groups, and retirement plan administrators in the past year have spent heavily on new technology that can more precisely trace trading.
"There is an enormous amount of money being put into technology to remedy these problems," said David Tilkin, chief executive of Protegent Inc., a Hingham firm that sells software to brokerage houses.
Fidelity chief executive Edward C. Johnson III, in his letter to customers in annual reports of Fidelity funds sent out in recent days, said the company has taken pains to shut out market timers. But even he leaves room for improvement: "It is reasonable to assume that another structure can be developed that would alter the system to make it much more difficult for predatory traders to operate." And he indicates the responsibility doesn't rest solely with the fund group: "This, however, will only be achieved though close cooperation among regulators, legislators, and the industry."
In a comment letter last month to the SEC, Fidelity said it would prefer to make market-timing disclosures in an even more arcane document than the prospectus -- the "statement of additional information" fund companies must file with regulators. In addition, Fidelity expressed concern about having to reveal its methods for keeping out timers, saying such a disclosure would only help timers circumvent the rules.
Mercer Bullard, the fund activist, said fund companies could force financial intermediaries to crack down on improper traders in their large accounts, but are afraid to. He said companies fear these middlemen will simply take the investment business to a more compliant mutual fund.
"This isn't a matter of being unable to identify who that trader is," Bullard said. "It's a matter of being unwilling to bear the risk" of losing that business.
Andrew Caffrey can be reached at; Beth Healy at

? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

E.U. Arrests Reporter Who Exposed Corruption

Apparently the apparatchiks who rule the European Union don't always agree with freedom of the press.
According to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who covers the E.U. for the Telegraph, fellow journalist Hans-Martin Tillack, the Brussels correspondent for Germany's Stern magazine, was arrested and held for 10 hours without counsel by police in Belgium after his office and home were raided by six officers.
Pritchard said police seized Tillack's computers, address books and archive of files "in a move that stunned Euro-MPs."
Tillack, who describes himself as a "pro-European federalist," said the raid on his equipment was triggered by a complaint from the E.U.'s anti-fraud office, OLAF.
Tillack "was accused of paying money to obtain a leaked OLAF dossier two years ago, which he denies," Pritchard wrote.
The European Ombudsman has already criticized Tillack's arrest.
Tillack has been OLAF's most vocal critic, accusing the agency of covering up abuses by the European Union system.
OLAF was created to replace the old fraud office, UCLAF, which was accused of covering up abuses by the disgraced Santer Commission. The UCLAF staff largely transferred to OLAF.
"As the author of a recent book on E.U. corruption, [Tillack] has the greatest archive of investigative files of any journalist working in Brussels," Pritchard wrote.
The European Superstate is here and not so nice.

Posted by maximpost at 10:20 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 22 March 2004 11:36 PM EST

Horse-trading for top IMF job starts in earnest
Reuters, 03.22.04, 9:33 AM ET
By Brian Love
PARIS, March 22 (Reuters) - There's an eery sense of deja-vu as European governments try to work out who should succeed Horst Koehler as chief of the International Monetary Fund, the organisation that tackles economic crises worldwide.
Spain's outgoing finance minister, Rodrigo Rato, is the only publicly declared candidate but a resounding lack of endorsement elsewhere is reminiscent of an ill-fated bid by Germany's Caio Koch-Weser to get the job in 2000 before it went to Koehler.
French President Jacques Chirac is, for example, believed to be reticent about Rato, and France's only official comment so far is that whoever is nominated must be a "consensus candidate".
"Saying that Chirac is against Rato goes too far, but saying Chirac is for Rato goes too far as well," said one source familiar with the horse-trading that the filling of key public postings tends to trigger in Europe.
The Washington-based IMF job has gone to a European since the IMF was set up after World War Two. The decision on who fills the post is usually taken at the level of the European Union, despite unhappiness about this outside the EU and the United States -- which traditionally gets the top job at the IMF's sister organisation, the World Bank.
A spokeswoman at Chirac's office said on Monday that keeping the job in European hands was a priority but declined comment on a media report that Paris could try to place Frenchman Jean Lemierre in the job, with German backing.
Business newspaper La Tribune quoted an unnamed official in Chirac's office as saying Lemierre, currently president of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, was "a very worthy candidate...who merits thinking about".
That smacked of the kind of tactics seen in the past when European capitals want to test the waters before anyone declares their hand officially.
La Tribune said Berlin would be ready to back Lemierre in return for Paris support for a German to become vice-president of the Brussels-based European Commission with responsibility for economic issues, a new position that does not yet exist.
Lemierre has already been proposed for another four years as head of the EBRD from July and is sole candidate for a mandate due to be decided upon at an April 18-19 meeting of the EBRD.
No European country apart from Spain has said anything publicly about fielding a candidate to replace Koehler after his abrupt resignation to run for the post of president of Germany.
Some experts say Germany's silence on the issue is notable because Berlin had insisted that the job go to a German in 2000.
Back then, Berlin initially fielded deputy finance minister Koch-Weser but his name was opposed by Washington and he got no more support form Paris than Rato is enjoying this time round.
That was when Koehler was proposed as an alternative and the situation finally unblocked.
On Monday, German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and French counterpart Francis Mer declined to discuss names when questioned after a meeting in Berlin, saying only that the job should go to a European.
Mer said "there were lots of candidates lining up" and that he had not gone into details on names with Eichel.
Eichel confirmed that the goal was to sort out the issue in time for a twice-yearly top-level IMF meeting in late April.
"The most important thing is that we in Europe can agree as quickly as possible on our candidate. The longer this takes the more difficult it will be," he said.
Another name in the frame on Monday was Pascal Lamy, whose job as European Trade Commissioner expires later this year.
Asked about the IMF on French Europe 1 radio on Sunday, he said: "I am not hiding the fact that I like this kind of international post."
The signs are, however, that many other countries across the globe are unhappy about the power struggles that took place in Europe in 2000 and want a fair, more open process this time.
Switzerland and a group of some 100 countries from regions such as Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East issued a statement in Washington on Friday calling for more transparency in the way the selection takes place.
The division over Koch-Weser last time round prompted Japan to challenge the tradition by proposing former financial diplomat Eisuke Sakakibara for the job, but that got shot down once the Europeans and Washington managed to settle on Koehler.
Sakakibara said last week he was unlikely to try again.
Europe's grip is also being questioned in Africa. Ivory Coast's finance minister, Bohoun Bouabre, said earlier this month that African finance ministers and central bankers wanted the field thrown wide open and the European monopoly brought to an end.
Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service

At the IMF, Discord on How to Pick Next Chief
By Paul Blustein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2004; Page A11
In an unusual show of dissension within the board of the International Monetary Fund, directors representing more than 100 countries have issued a public statement calling for the next IMF managing director to be chosen "regardless of nationality."
The statement, in a press release issued by the IMF on Friday, was a rebuke aimed at Europe and the United States for a longstanding arrangement in which the top job at the IMF has always gone to a European and the presidency of the World Bank has always gone to an American.
Controversy over the method of choosing the IMF and World Bank leadership has mounted since the surprise resignation of Horst Koehler from the IMF's managing directorship on March 4 to run for president of Germany.
European officials have made it clear that they expect Koehler's successor to come from their ranks, and a number of them have signaled their preference for Rodrigo Rato, the finance minister in Spain's outgoing government. The newly elected Socialist government in Madrid has said it would back Rato's candidacy. But the selection process involves backroom dealings among European finance ministries, and some European news organizations have reported that France may oppose Rato.
This process has drawn criticism for years from economists, editorial writers and non-governmental organizations as an arbitrary system for appointing the chief executives at two of the world's most powerful institutions. Many insiders expect it to prevail again, because both U.S. and European officials value the control that the selection process affords them, and together they hold a majority of votes on the board. Votes of board members at the IMF and World Bank are weighted based on the size of the countries' financial contributions.
The statement issued Friday showed that the countries excluded from this arrangement intend to register a strong protest. It came from a group of directors calling itself the "G-11," representing just less than half the 24 IMF board members. The directors represent "emerging and developing countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East," the statement said, plus directors from Australia and Switzerland, which represent several countries each, plus the director from Russia.
"The process of identifying and selecting the candidate must be open and transparent, with the goal of attracting the best person for the job, regardless of nationality," the statement said.
The statement was welcomed by IMF critics who complain the IMF tilts its policies toward the interests of rich nations at the expense of the developing world.
"This is an unprecedented challenge coming from within the IMF's own Board of Directors," said Soren Ambrose of the 50 Years is Enough Network, in an e-mail. "I am unaware of any previous instance where a significant group of Board members has issued a public statement calling on the board as a whole -- and the most powerful members of the board as individual actors -- to change their behavior."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company

Berlin, Paris want European to head IMF
22 March 2004
BERLIN - France and Germany said Monday they agreed that a decision should be made as quickly as possible on naming a new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that, in keeping with tradition, the person should be a European.
In talks in Berlin as part of the regular Franco-German economic consultations, German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and his French counterpart Francis Mer also insisted that the next IMF chief should be from Europe.
They did not put forth any names, but said that the issue should be resolved by the time the IMF holds its spring meeting at the end of April.
Eichel and Mer said that the European Union members should quickly agree on a joint candidate, with Eichel saying there were "very good grounds" for the next IMF boss being from Europe.
But it was important that a decision be reached soon, he said, because the longer the debate was drawn out, the more difficult the decision could become.
Mer said he was convinced that the EU would agree on a joint candidate. "In any case our European candidate will be a good one," he said.
The IMF director-general post has been vacant since Horst Koehler, a German, stepped down in early March after his name was officially put forward by Germany's opposition camp as its nominee for the country's presidency. The election in the national federal assembly is set for May.
Traditionally, a European heads the IMF while an American leads the sister organization, the World Bank, with both institutions based in Washington D.C.
But a number of developing and threshold countries have been calling for a transparent election proceedings.
While Germany made clear, after Koehler's resignation, that it would not put forth a candidate for the IMF spot, France, according to French press reports, is favouring Jean Lemierre, currently chief of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Also at the Franco-German consultations, the head of the German Bundesbank, Ernst Welteke, said that he saw no need to revise current projections about Germany's economy this year despite "certain risks".
Welteke also indicated that the European Central Bank was not planning any change in its interest rates.
Welteke said that the current liquidity in the eurozone was sufficient in order to "generate inflation-free growth", a comment hinting that the ECB would not move to reduce its main rate now at 2 percent, double the US Federal Reserve's main rate.

IMF G-11 group urges open contest to find chief
By Andrew Balls in Washington
Published: March 21 2004 17:57 | Last Updated: March 21 2004 17:57
A group of executive directors of the International Monetary Fund representing more than 100 countries has called for the fund's new managing director to be chosen from among the best candidates for the job, regardless of nationality.
The G-11 executive directors, representing Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, are joined by the directors from Russia, Australia and Switzerland in saying that the process of selecting the new managing director should be an open and transparent process, a challenge to the convention under which western Europe in effect chooses the managing director.
The G-11 statement comes after calls from lobby groups, academics and other parties for the process for selecting the IMF managing director to be thrown open, rather than sealed in negotiations between European finance ministries.
It calls for all executive directors, who represent the fund's shareholders, to be consulted "in a timely manner" about the candidates, including their credentials and knowledge of the institution.
Rodrigo Rato, finance minister in Spain's outgoing conservative government, is seen as the leading candidate for the post, with European governments expected to unite behind him. The US is also expected to back Mr Rato, though so far the US Treasury has gone no further than saying that it will support the most qualified candidate.
Mr Rato is a respected minister but is not seen as an expert in international finance and development, nor in the workings of the IMF. Some observers argue that a former finance minister or central banker from a emerging country would bring useful experience and added credibility when dealing with the fund's members.
The G-11's intervention echoes a report to the boards of directors of the IMF and World Bank in 2001 by a working group of executive directors that recommended the institutions establish clear criteria for nominating candidates, consultation of all executive directors and a "regionally representative" advisory group of experts to assist.
The report was endorsed but not officially adopted by the IMF's board.
By convention, Europe appoints the head of the IMF and the US selects the president of the World Bank, confirmed by votes on the institutions' boards. The IMF board is dominated by the US and Europe, while non-European countries outside the Group of Seven leading industrial countries command only a third of the votes.
In 2000, after the US blocked Caio Koch-Weser, Germany's candidate for the job, a group of 20 African countries proposed Stanley Fischer, then the fund's first deputy managing director, to be managing director.
Mr Fischer, now an executive at Citigroup, would be a popular choice for managing director among the fund staff and in developing countries.
However, although born in Africa, Mr Fischer is a naturalised US citizen.

John Dizard: Powering a charged Iraqi economy
By John Dizard
Published: March 19 2004 19:47 | Last Updated: March 19 2004 19:47

I sincerely hope that when I next go to Baghdad, my favourite hotel, the Hammurabi Palace, will still be there. It was an island of safety when most of the terrorist attacks in Iraq came from the Baathists.
The hotel is heavily patronised by Russians, French and foreign Arabs, whom the Baathists rather liked. Now that al-Qaeda and its friends seem to be doing most of the damage, I am not sure I will take another room facing the street.
For all the recent headlines, though, the real story in Iraq is the rapid recovery in the economy. Unemployment has dropped dramatically from last year, from about half the labour force to a fifth. In truth, it will be very hard for Iraq to avoid a powerful investment-led boom over the next several years. Within a year to 18 months, the principal economic problem will be a shortage of skilled labour.
And if it is politically acceptable by then to allow massive immigration of foreign workers, then the real limit on economic growth in Iraq will become electricity capacity.
Even before the main wave of US reconstruction aid hits the country, Iraq is reviving thanks to repatriated cash from overseas stashes, returning Iraqi migrants and foreign Arabs intent on getting in on a boom. Tom Foley, a private equity investor temporarily running the US private sector development programme, estimates that "the money being spent from the [US reconstruction aid] will add between 35 per cent and 40 per cent to the non-oil part of the economy".
Of the $18.5bn appropriated for reconstruction over the next two years, about 40 per cent will be spent in Iraq on local procurement and salaries. The rest will go to imported equipment (useful) and consultants and other overhead (not useful).
Eighteen and a half billion dollars does not sound like all that much for a country of 25m people, even when you add in the money spent by the military locally. The labour force, however, is only some 7m strong, and only about 55 to60 per cent of that group are literate. Given that a good monthly wage in Iraq is about $200, you can see where the impact on domestic demand will be dramatic.
It is already possible to see the effect of the US presence on local workers. Before the war, private sector employers had their pick of the good people, since they paid a premium wage. Now that government wages have increased perhaps five or six times in real terms, the private sector workers are getting grumpy and looking around for something better.
The last time Iraq had a labour shortage, in the late 1970s, it imported several million foreign workers. Ali Awali, the Minister of Trade, says "We want to avoid that this time". But it is hard to see how that can be done. You do, however, get performance for money spent on Iraqi skilled workers. Cliff Mumm, programme director for Bechtel's reconstruction work, says "they have a great work ethic, are naturally organised and have a high level of enthusiasm.
"At some of the craft levels, they needed some additional training, for example on welding techniques. When they got that training, the rejection rate on their work dropped significantly.
"Our Iraqi staff are very tough on dealing with our subcontractors; they beat them up for a few dinars. They take it very personally."
Fixing the electricity industry, Bechtel's main task, is a demanding job and a moving target. Supply will not catch up with demand for the foreseeable future. Saudi Arabia, with a population close in size, has about 16,000 megawatts of electrical capacity. Iraq now has about 4,500 MW of working capacity out of 10,000 MW of nominal "nameplate" capacity in the old system.
Unquantifiable but very large imports of electrical appliances mean the contractors and Iraqi government will still get blamed for power blackouts in Baghdad this summer. A reasonable goal is to get 6,000 MW of capacity up and running by September, and 8,000 MW by next summer. After that, repairs to the existing system will be largely completed, and increases in capacity will take longer and require new plants with long lead times.
Since the California power crisis passed, Iraq is the only place I know, apart perhaps from China, where you can attract a circle of listeners by discussing electricity development. For the next several years, there will be gaps that have to be filled by portable diesel and small gasoline generators, which are turning Baghdad's air into something like that of Athens or Mexico City.
As the reconstruction aid boom tails off, the momentum of oil and gas development will pick up. The oil companies will not get seriously involved until a truly independent government is elected, or somehow chosen, and Iraq's international debts are rescheduled. Then the Iraqis can sign production sharing agreements with the companies, and development will start in earnest, probably late next year. The capital expenditures for that will extend the construction-intensive boom. Iraq's oil is much cheaper and quicker to produce and ship than, say, Russia's.
So while the terrorist acts get the air time, the real Iraq story is the start of an extraordinary period of growth.

Posted by maximpost at 2:30 PM EST


Turtle Bay's Carnival of Corruption
Digging deeper into the scandalous Oil-for-Food program.
By Claudia Rosett
With United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan finally conceding the need for an independent investigation of the U.N.'s 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, the next question is how investigators might begin to get a grip on the U.N.'s central role in this huge scandal.
Naturally, the rampant signs of corruption are important, and leads on graft involving U.N. personnel -- including the program's executive director, Benon Sevan -- need pursuing. If Sevan did receive oil from Saddam, as it now appears, then the immediate follow-up question is: What might Sevan have done in return, given his responsibilities for "overall management and coordination of all United Nations humanitarian activities in Iraq"?
It would also be prudent, if only to clear up any doubts, for investigators to look into the relationship between Annan's son, Kojo Annan, and the Swiss-based company, Cotecna Inspection SA, which two years into the seven-year Oil-for-Food program won a contract from the U.N. for the pivotal job of inspecting all Oil-for-Food shipments into Iraq -- a responsibility Cotecna has held ever since. Kojo Annan worked for Cotecna in the mid-1990s, a possible conflict of interest which neither Cotecna nor the U.N. bothered to declare.
A spokesman in Kofi Annan's office has now offered in Kojo's defense that Kojo was no longer in the pay of Cotecna on the day the company won the U.N. contract. But the timing was close: Kojo had resigned from a consulting job for Cotecna earlier that same month. According to Annan's spokesman, Kojo held a staff job at Cotecna in a junior position from December 1995 through February 1998. Just two months later, Kojo reappeared on Cotecna's payroll as a consultant, via a firm called Sutton Investments, from April 1998 to December 1998, resigning from that consultancy just before Cotecna clinched the U.N. contract on December 31, 1998.
It might all be mere coincidence. Kojo's recent statements, relayed to me last Friday by Kofi Annan's U.N. office, convey that Kojo's consulting work for Cotecna was limited to projects in Nigeria and Ghana, unrelated to Oil-for-Food. But given the U.N.'s tendency to take several months to process contracts, and considering that the U.N. had to review several competing bids, the dates here suggest that Kojo resigned from Cotecna's staff only to return as a consultant during precisely the period in which Cotecna would most likely have been assembling and submitting its bid for the U.N. job, and the U.N. Secretariat would have been reviewing the bids. That certainly warrants attention by an independent panel.
But beyond such specific questions, the larger issue is the U.N. setup of secrecy and lack of accountability that fostered the Oil-for-Food fiasco in the first place. The damage at this point includes Iraqis deprived of billions of dollars worth of relief, and signs of massive corruption quite likely involving hundreds of U.N.-approved contractors in dozens of countries, as well as the U.N.'s own head of the program, Sevan. An inquiry should also look into the U.N. Secretariat's silent assent to Saddam's efforts to buy political influence in the Security Council. In this bribe-riddled program, Saddam tipped vast amounts of business to contractors in such veto-wielding Security Council member states as Russia, France, and to a lesser extent, China. In the heated debates over Iraq, leading up to the beginning of the war last March, Annan brought none of Saddam's influence-peddling to public attention, though he had access to specific information about the huge sums going from Saddam's regime to select nations, and the public did not.
Even more disturbing is the $10.1 billion that the General Accounting Office estimates Saddam Hussein was able to salt away "in illegal revenues related to the Oil-for-Food program." By GAO estimates, recently revised upward, Saddam acquired $4.4 billion via kickbacks on relief contracts and illicit surcharges on oil contracts; plus $5.7 billion via oil smuggling. All this took place under cover of repeated Oil-for-Food "good housekeeping" seals of approval. The U.S. has so far located only a small portion of these assets. That leaves billions of Saddam's secret stash still out there. The danger is that Baathists, terrorists (with whom Saddam did indeed have connections), or some combination of the two, will get to these billions first, if they haven't already. It is worth asking if some mix of U.N. secrecy, incompetence, and corruption may have allowed the accumulation of money now backing terrorist attacks in Iraq, or elsewhere.
In any event, the first practical step should be to secure the U.N.'s own records of Oil-for-Food. In Baghdad, Oil-for-Food-related documents kept by Saddam have already proven a source of damning information and are under investigation. The Iraqi Governing Council has already commissioned a report by the private accounting firm KPMG International, due out in a few months. And U.S. administrators in Baghdad have now frozen the records there relating to Oil-for-Food, to help with congressional inquiries in advance of hearings expected next month.
But at the U.N.'s New York headquarters, not all records have been rendered up. The U.N. treasurer's office still controls the Oil-for-Food bank accounts, held in the French bank, BNP Paribas. And, the U.N. still has in its keeping all U.N. records of these BNP accounts, according to officials both in Baghdad and at the U.N.
These accounts are highly relevant to any independent look at the U.N. itself. As Sevan reminded Saddam's regime on July 12, 2001, "the signatories are United Nations staff members." Through these accounts passed more than $100 billion in U.N.-approved oil sales and relief purchases made by Saddam, and toward the end of the U.N.'s administration of Oil-for-Food, they held balances of more than $12 billion.
Outside the U.N. these bank accounts have long been a source of some mystery. The U.N. has refused to disclose BNP statements, or the amount of interest paid on those balances of billions. Even such directly concerned parties as the Kurdish regional authorities of northern Iraq -- entitled to 13 percent of the proceeds of Saddam's Oil-for-Food sales -- who for years have been requesting a look at the books, have received no details.
The U.N. bank records of Oil-for-Food could be especially important in filling in gaps in U.N. documentation on other fronts. For example, the U.N.-processed relief contracts were often brief, vague, and in some cases involved suppliers who could not later be located, as confirmed both by notes on the U.N.'s own website, and in a phone interview with officials of the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency, which together with the Defense Contract Audit Agency last summer reviewed hundreds of top-dollar Oil-for-Food contracts, culled from the thousands still open after the fall of Saddam. The bank records should at least include full details of all transfers of funds -- the accounts whence they came, and the accounts to which they went.
Why did the U.S. allow the U.N. to keep control of the accounts (and the records) after responsibility for winding down all other aspects of the Oil-for-Food program was turned over to the CPA last November? One CPA official explains that the BNP accounts were left in the hands of U.N. personnel because the bookkeeping was so Byzantine the CPA feared any attempt to intervene might interrupt needed deliveries of relief to Iraq.
It now appears that neither the Iraqi Governing Council nor the CPA has thus far received a single bank statement from either BNP or the U.N. treasurer's office. A frustrated CPA official, connected with the wrapping-up of some $8.2 billion worth of relief contracts inherited from the U.N., tells me there has been no answer to his repeated requests to see current statements: "They never say no, but they never do it either." Neither has the Iraqi central bank received any statements, he adds. For the Iraqis and CPA officials now administering the remaining contracts in Iraq, this source explains, there is no way to tell "what activity has taken place" in the BNP accounts, or "how much money's left."
U.N. Treasurer Suzanne Bishopric, reached by phone in New York last Friday, confirms that she has sent no bank statements either to the CPA or to the Iraqi Governing Council. As she explains it, "They never asked me." Bishopric says that in any case, after the U.N.'s withdrawal from Iraq following the bombing of the U.N.'s Baghdad offices last August, she has not been able to deliver current bank statements because "we have no mechanism to send them."
Asked if it would not be possible to transmit the statements by fax, email, or express-delivery service, Bishopric says, "I'm not going there."
Bishopric further explains that the U.N. does plan to turn over all the records to the CPA, "with absolutely full disclosure." Asked why the delay of many months, she says the U.N. is busy scanning all the records into computer files, in order to turn over the collected works all at once. She expects this project will be finished "in a few weeks."
Perhaps the U.N.'s delay of almost a year in delivering to the Iraqis and the CPA any bank statements, either past or current, is simply a function of the lumbering U.N. bureaucracy. In this CPA-U.N. version of he-said she-said, it is hard to know whether the U.S. government failed to deliver to the U.N. the CPA's request for the information, or the U.N. received the requests but ignored them.
Either way, two questions leap out. Why should the U.N. records of the BNP accounts be in a condition such that it is taking months to assemble and turn them over? And why would the U.N. not forward regular updates to the CPA now running the program? In the context of the Oil-for-Food program, so beset by allegations of bribes, kickbacks, and shady financial dealings that Annan after months of denials and resistance has finally bowed to demands for an independent investigation, it would be a lot healthier to have the bank records, right up to the latest statement, and in whatever condition, turned over post-haste to the Iraqis, the CPA, and any other authorities who might be able to preserve them -- as they are -- until an independent investigation can begin.
If the problem is lack of a delivery vehicle, and the more than $1 billion in U.N. administrative fees collected from Saddam under the Oil-for-Food program have already been used up, it would seem worthwhile for the U.S. government, on top of its usual 22-percent-or-so contribution to the U.N.'s core budget, to donate to the U.N. treasurer's office the cost of express delivery of all BNP-related documents. Or maybe just back a truck up to the U.N. loading dock and haul away every last Oil-for-Food-related file and CD-ROM, right now. Annan, who recently expressed his wish that the reputation of the U.N. should not be impugned, would surely be glad to cooperate.
An independent panel will also have to be genuinely independent -- not as defined within the incestuous U.N. Secretariat, but by lights of the same commercial world in which the U.N. Secretariat ran this program. There has been much protest by the U.N. that Oil-for-Food was the most audited U.N. program ever. Back in 1995, in U.N. Resolution 986, authorizing Oil-for-Food, the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to hire "independent and certified public accountants" to audit the program's bank accounts and "to keep the Government of Iraq fully informed." These are the same escrow accounts on which the U.N., post-Saddam, has kept all the records and statements to itself.
According to the U.N. treasurer, Bishopric, the auditing of the escrow accounts was entrusted by the secretary-general to a "board of auditors" consisting of government agencies of a revolving trio of member states. There has been no public disclosure of their findings. This three-member board of auditors was chaired in 2002 by the Philippines, and in 2003 by France -- home base to BNP. That may qualify as U.N. in-house supervision, but hardly as an independent audit.
Yet more "auditing" was carried out by the U.N.'s own Office of Internal Oversight Services, which is not an independent firm, but a U.N. agency within the Secretariat, with every incentive to protect in public the reputation of the same U.N. bureaucracy it is supposed to be auditing. Nor has this oversight office been forthcoming. Nothing remotely approaching a full audit report has been released outside the U.N. According to an adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council, Claude Hankes-Drielsma, even Saddam's regime saw little of these audits. Early in Oil-for-Food, from 1997-1999, they were sent to Baghdad. But it now appears that after 1999, they stopped coming. Whether Security Council members saw all the documents is hard to say. One diplomat linked to the Security Council notes that the volume of paperwork associated with Oil-for-Food was so huge that not everything was sent over automatically to members of the Security Council. Some material had to be specifically requested. It's not clear everything was.
Once a genuinely competent and independent panel is set up, the task should be not simply to look for discrepancies in the records, or clear evidence of corruption. The larger problem is that the U.N., while running largely on public money, operates with a degree of secrecy that means graft has to reach Vesuvian proportions before outside watchdogs can easily prove anything.
There is also the problem that at the U.N., the buck seems to stop nowhere. In Oil-for-Food, the Secretariat agreed to shoulder enormous tasks requiring a high degree of integrity and responsibility. But when allegations of corruption and mismanagement began to emerge, the immediate defense of U.N. officials, including Annan, was to present the Secretariat as nothing more than a hapless and humble servant of the Security Council. U.N. officials argued that Oil-for-Food staffers were not responsible for spotting Saddam's pricing scams, but were merely supposed to check that the paperwork was in order (a goal the treasurer's office seems to have missed).
If U.N. staff in truth had no responsibility for sounding an alarm on obvious kickbacks, oil smuggling, and gross, damaging, and dangerous violations of U.N. sanctions and relief rules, then why bother with the U.N. staff at all? The Security Council might as well have let Saddam handle his own paperwork.
But the Secretariat was, in fact, expected to supervise the program. For example, Resolution 986, authorizing the Secretariat to set up Oil-for-Food, specifically laid out the goal of ensuring "equitable distribution of humanitarian relief" -- not the embezzlement by Saddam of $10.1 billion. If carrying out this mandate was an impossible job -- and given the habits of Saddam, perhaps it was -- Sevan and Annan themselves, in the interest of upholding the integrity of the Secretariat, should have stepped forward to voice the problem, just as Annan found occasion to voice his criticisms of U.S. policy in Iraq.
Instead, U.N. officials urged the rapid growth of Oil-for-Food, with Annan and Sevan using their public platforms to complain that the U.S. and U.K. were spending too much time scrutinizing contracts (France, Russia, and China evidently were not). In the final year of the program, Annan agreed to a revised plan that cut the Security Council out of the loop on all Oil-for-Food contract approvals except those involving goods that might be used for weapons. This allowed the Secretariat to more swiftly and directly process what have now turned out to be thousands of relief contracts involving billions in bribes to suppliers and kickbacks to Saddam.
Could Kofi Annan -- no fool -- really have been oblivious to the carnival of corruption under his jurisdiction? "I don't think that's plausible," says Hankes-Drielsma.
Ultimately, the big questions here are not just who profited from graft under Oil-for-Food, but the extent to which the U.N. setup of secrecy, warped incentives, and lack of accountability allowed it to supervise the transformation of Oil-for-Food into a program of theft-from-Iraqis, cash-for-Saddam, and grease-for-the-U.N. Were this a corporation, the CEO, Enron-style, would already be out the front door, and a major restructuring underway. The least that needs to come out of an independent investigation, or congressional hearings for that matter, is a clear understanding of the ways in which the U.N. Secretariat must be not simply reprimanded, but deeply reformed, starting with the introduction of complete transparency in U.N. use of public money -- and proceeding to any further incentives that might be devised to ensure it will better honor the public trust.

-- Claudia Rosett is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and an adjunct fellow with the Hudson Institute. Rosett previously wrote on the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program for NRO here.


'Al-Qaeda hideout' tunnels found
Pakistan says more than 100 suspects have been detained
Pakistan says al-Qaeda suspects surrounded by the army near the Afghan border may have escaped using a tunnel.
A military spokesman said the army had found a number of tunnels, one being two kilometres long, under villages in the South Waziristan tribal area.
The army is downplaying reports that the al-Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahri was in the area.
The army operation has been aimed against al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects and tribesmen sheltering them.
After nearly a week of heavy fighting near the town of Wana, there is now a lull while tribal elders try to negotiate an end to the confrontation.
The army is insisting that the surrounded men must surrender.
It is the army's biggest-ever operation in the tribal areas along the Afghan border which have traditionally run their own affairs without outside interference.
'Tunnel between homes'
The army said on Tuesday it had located several man-made tunnels that al-Qaeda suspects could have used to escape.
Brigadier Mehmood Shah told reporters that one of them was "a two-kilometre-long tunnel running between the homes of two wanted tribesmen and leading to a stream."
Map of the wider region
The brigadier said the army had temporarily stopped firing at suspect positions while 22 local tribal elders had entered the cordoned off area.
The army has said that about 500 militants are holed up in the area - seen as a safe haven for Islamic militants.
Last week it was reported that there was a "high-value al-Qaeda target" in the area among those surrounded by the army.
Military chiefs are now saying that it is probably not Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man, Ayman al-Zawahri.
More likely, they say, it would be a senior Chechen or Uzbek militant - because of the large number of Central Asians arrested and radio conversations intercepted in Chechen and Uzbek.
Fifteen soldiers were killed on the first day of the offensive. The bodies of six men killed by the army have been taken to the city of Rawalpindi for DNA analysis.
Surrender call
Military officials said a Pakistani army camp came under fire overnight.
US-led forces are backing the operation involving more than 5,000 Pakistani troops by patrolling the area on the Afghan side of the border.
Pakistani forces have arrested about 100 suspects who they say include al-Qaeda members, renegade tribesman and Uzbek and Chechen militants.
Some of the detainees have been taken to be questioned in the provincial capital, Peshawar, officials said.
Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan told AFP: "They are being interrogated by military intelligence experts.
"They are a mixed bag of locals, Chechens, Uzbeks - there could be Arabs. But since they do not carry any identification on them and there is no-one to identify who is who, this can only be confirmed after interrogations."
Separately, the Pakistan military confirmed that up to 13 civilians were killed on Saturday when their vehicle came under fire in South Waziristan.
But officials insisted that the rocket which hit the van came from the militants, not an army helicopter as has been claimed.
As the operation continues, it has emerged that a senior United States army figure, General John Abizaid, in in Pakistan on an unannounced visit.
General Abizaid is head of the US Central Command. Pakistani officials would not give details of his visit.


Kerry's Tax-Return Shuffle
Has he released his records, or not?
In January, as the battle for the Democratic nomination raged in Iowa and New Hampshire, the campaign of retired General Wesley Clark sent a letter to fellow candidate John Kerry. "Release your tax returns for the past five years," the letter asked Kerry. "In the interest of full disclosure for the voting public, join General Clark in making the full public record available to voters."
On January 18, during an interview on ABC's This Week, Kerry was asked to respond. "I began the process of putting out tax returns long before Wesley Clark was a Democrat," Kerry said. "I released all my tax returns for 20 years. I have never not released my tax returns throughout my political career."
The answer seemed simple enough, but it turns out the reality is not so simple. Despite Kerry's claim, it is not at all clear that he has released his tax returns for a significant part of his time in the Senate, especially in recent years. At best, Kerry appears to have released information about his taxes on a sporadic and piecemeal basis.
Unlike Clark, Kerry has not made his tax information available in a public forum, such as his campaign website. A Kerry campaign spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, saying Kerry has released his returns "every year," promised on Friday to e-mail NRO copies of the candidate's returns for the last five years. The e-mail never arrived, nor did Cutter respond to several follow-up calls.
That leaves a check of news databases as the best way to determine whether Kerry has in fact released information for a given year. And from those sources, the facts about Kerry's taxes appear spotty at best.
Looking at the last five years, as Clark requested, there are no published indications that Kerry has made his full tax returns public for the years 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1998. As for 2002, it appears that last December, at the time Kerry made an $850,000 loan to his then-struggling campaign, he apparently released his 2002 return to some reporters.
The issue is likely to come to the fore in the next few weeks as millions of Americans prepare to file their income tax forms by the April 15 deadline. Cutter says Kerry will release his 2003 returns. And President Bush is expected to make public his returns, as he has done each year he has been in the White House. The president also released his tax returns during his years as governor of Texas, from 1994 to 2000, and also from the years 1991 to 1993, which he made public when he was running for governor.
From the record available, it appears that Kerry has released some information, and some full returns, from the years before 1998. There are indications in the press that Kerry told at least some journalists his 1997 taxable income and charitable donation totals. In April 1997, Kerry gave the Boston Globe his 1996 returns. And during his hard-fought 1996 reelection race, Kerry released returns from 1990 through 1995.
In his first race for reelection, in 1990, Kerry criticized opponent Jim Rappaport for not releasing his tax returns. "The real issue is why Jim Rappaport won't come clean with the citizens of Massachusetts," Kerry told the Boston Globe. "What's he hiding?"
As for the details that are known about Kerry's finances, in 2002, he reportedly had an income of $144,091. He paid $29,946 in federal taxes, $7,286 in Massachusetts state taxes, and gave $18,600 to charity. The Associated Press also reported that Kerry filed separately from his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who has a fortune estimated at more than half a billion dollars.
In 1997, Kerry reportedly had a taxable income of $217,338 and gave $21,795 to charity. In 1996, according to the Boston Globe, Kerry had a taxable income of $143,795 and paid $31,328 in federal taxes and $8,235 in Massachusetts state taxes. He donated $14,325 to charity.
Kerry's returns from 1995 and earlier, before his marriage to Heinz, have sometimes attracted criticism over the issue of charitable giving. In 1995, according to published reports, Kerry reported a taxable income of $126,179, and charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he reported income of $127,884, and charitable donations of $2,039. In 1993, he reported income of $130,345, and contributions of $175. In 1992, he reported income of $127,646, and contributions of $820. In 1991, he reported income of $113,857, and contributions of $0.
As far as Bush is concerned, in 1991, the future president, then a private citizen, reportedly had income of $179,591, and charitable contributions of $28,236. In 1992, Bush reported income of $212.313, and contributions of $31,914. In 1993, Bush reported income of $610,772, and contributions of $31,292. In 1994, Bush reported income of $474,937 and in 1995, income of $419,481. Published reports at that time did not list Bush's charitable contributions for those two years.
Bush first released his tax returns in April, 1994, when he challenged Texas Governor Ann Richards. Bush released returns going back to 1991, he said, because those were the years that Richards had been in office. His action spurred a number of negative stories, as reporters and Richards criticized business arrangements detailed in the returns.
When he became governor himself, Bush's returns revealed sometimes-major changes in his financial health. For example, after his 1997 return showed income of $271,920, his 1998 return revealed income of $18.4 million. The vast majority of that came from the sale of the Texas Rangers baseball team, in which Bush held an 11-percent ownership stake. Bush's tax bill that year was $3.7 million. "I never dreamed I'd write a check that big," he told reporters at the time. "Of course, I never dreamed I'd make that much money, either." That year, Bush donated $334,425 to charity.
It is not clear whether Kerry's returns, if he chooses to release them, will reveal much about his financial arrangements. But it does seem clear that Kerry can expect criticism from Republicans unless he releases his returns for the last several years. "The president has shown a consistent willingness to be upfront and to disclose these types of things to the American people," says one GOP official. "It remains to be seen whether John Kerry will follow that high example."


Un texte attribu? ? Al-Qaida menace d'attentats "les valets de l'Am?rique"
LEMONDE.FR | 18.03.04 | 09h09
Le communiqu? indique qu'Al-Qaida a d?cid? de ne pas mener d'attentat d'envergure aux Etats-Unis pour ne pas provoquer la d?faite de M. Bush ? la pr?sidentielle de novembre, car "la nation islamique a besoin de la stupidit? et du chauvinisme religieux d'un tel pr?sident pour se r?veiller".
Un communiqu? attribu? ? Al-Qaida menace d'attentats similaires ? ceux de Madrid "les valets de l'Am?rique". Le texte cite le Japon, l'Italie, la Grande-Bretagne, l'Arabie saoudite, l'Australie et le Pakistan, rapporte le quotidien Al-Qods Al-Arabi sur son site jeudi matin 18 mars.
L'authenticit? de ce communiqu? dat? du 15 mars et sign? des "Brigades Abou Hafs Al-Masri/Al-Qaida", n'a pu ?tre v?rifi?e. Il a ?t? re?u par le journal arabe bas? ? Londres.
Le texte appelle aussi ses "brigades" en Europe ? suspendre "les op?rations contre les civils en Espagne, en attendant de conna?tre les orientations du nouveau gouvernement qui a promis de retirer son arm?e d'Irak et qu'on s'assure de sa non-ing?rence dans les affaires des musulmans".
"Nous avons laiss? le peuple espagnol choisir entre la guerre et la paix. Il a choisi la paix en ?lisant le parti qui ?tait oppos? ? l'alliance avec l'Am?rique dans sa guerre contre l'islam", estime le texte, en allusion ? la d?faite du parti de Jos? Maria Aznar aux l?gislatives de dimanche, trois jours apr?s les attentats des trains ? Madrid dans lesquels 201 personnes ont p?ri.
"Aux valets de l'Am?rique, nous disons : voil? qu'un valet de l'Am?rique a d?truit son avenir (politique) en s'alliant au tyran du si?cle. Voil? Aznar qui sera jet? dans la poubelle de l'histoire", affirme le texte.
"Tirez la le?on ? valets de l'Am?rique, les brigades de la mort sont ? vos portes. Nous allons vous frapper d'une main de fer, ? l'endroit et au moment ad?quats", poursuit le texte, mentionnant "les valets arabes et musulmans, comme Moucharraf et les Al-Saoud", le pr?sident pakistanais et la famille r?gnante en Arabie saoudite. "Nos brigades se pr?parent maintenant ? la nouvelle frappe. Est-ce que ce sera le tour du Japon, de l'Am?rique, de l'Italie, de la Grande-Bretagne, des Al-Saoud, de l'Australie...", interroge le texte.
"Qui vous prot?gera des voitures, des trains et des avions de la mort ?" poursuit le texte qui constitue une nouvelle revendication des attentats de Madrid.
Le 11 mars, jour des attentats, un communiqu? attribu? au r?seau terroriste Al-Qaida et re?u par Al-Qods Al-Arabi, a revendiqu? ces attentats. Une deuxi?me revendication, ?manant aussi des "Brigades Abou Hafs Al-Masri" et contenue dans une vid?o, a ?t? trouv?e trois jours plus tard par les autorit?s espagnoles.
Le nouveau communiqu? explique aussi la rapidit? inhabituelle avec laquelle Al-Qaida avait revendiqu? les attentats de Madrid par "le facteur temps qui ?tait tr?s important pour d?truire le gouvernement Aznar".
Il ajoute en outre qu'Al-Qaida a d?cid? de ne pas mener d'attentat d'envergure aux Etats-Unis pour ne pas provoquer la d?faite de M. Bush ? la pr?sidentielle de novembre, car "la nation islamique a besoin de la stupidit? et du chauvinisme religieux d'un tel pr?sident pour se r?veiller".
"Nous savons que tu vis les pires jours de ta vie, de peur des brigades de la mort. Nous savons aussi qu'une op?ration d'envergure (aux Etats-Unis) d?truira ton administration. Nous ne souhaitons aucunement ta d?faite aux ?lections car nous ne trouverons personne d'autre plus stupide que toi, quelqu'un qui comme toi recourt ? la force plut?t qu'? la sagesse. Nous avons besoin de ta stupidit? et ton chauvinisme religieux pour que notre nation se r?veille", selon le texte.
"En fait, il n'y a pas de diff?rence entre toi et Kerry (le candidat d?mocrate John Kerry) mais les d?mocrates sont suffisamment rus?s pour maquiller l'infid?lit? et la faire passer pour de la modernit?, pour tuer notre nation arabo-islamique. C'est pourquoi nous voulons ta victoire, Bush le criminel", conclut le texte.
Abou Hafs Al-Masri, chef des op?rations militaires d'Al-Qaida, avait ?t? tu? durant les op?rations de l'arm?e am?ricaine en Afghanistan en octobre 2001.

Avec AFP

Comment j'ai chang? d'avis sur l'Irak, par Michael Ignatieff
LE MONDE | 20.03.04 | 13h11 * MIS A JOUR LE 20.03.04 | 13h33
Il y a un an, j'?tais un partisan peu enthousiaste mais convaincu de la guerre en Irak. Un an plus tard, les armes de destruction massive n'ont pas ?t? trouv?es, les Irakiens trouvent la mort sur le chemin de la mosqu?e, la d?mocratie est renvoy?e ? l'ann?e prochaine et mes amis me demandent tous si j'ai chang? d'avis. Qui pourrait faire autrement ?
J'ai commenc? ? changer d'avis au moment du d?bat de l'an dernier. Nous pensions ?tre en train de discuter de l'Irak, mais la recherche de la meilleure option pour les 25 millions d'Irakiens n'apparaissait gu?re dans la discussion. Comme d'habitude, nous parlions de nous-m?mes : de ce qu'est l'Am?rique et de la fa?on d'utiliser sa puissance effrayante dans le monde.
Le d?bat se transforma en une dispute sur les id?ologies d?guis?es en histoires. Les r?publicains conservateurs nous ont servi l'Am?rique lib?ratrice ; les lib?raux nous ont servi l'Am?rique sournoise qui soutient des dirigeants sc?l?rats et qui renverse ceux qui ont ?t? ?lus d?mocratiquement.
Aucune de ces histoires n'?tait fausse : le plan Marshall a vraiment montr? que l'Am?rique pouvait bien faire les choses.
Le renversement du pr?sident Allende au Chili et le soutien aux escadrons de la mort en Am?rique latine ont montr? que l'Am?rique pouvait causer des torts graves.
Quoi qu'il en soit, les pr?c?dents et les id?ologies ?taient hors de propos, car l'Irak ?tait l'Irak. Et il s'est av?r? que personne ne savait vraiment grand-chose sur l'Irak.
Un an plus tard, l'Irak n'est plus un pr?texte ni une abstraction. C'est un endroit o? des Am?ricains, et des Irakiens aussi, meurent en nombre croissant. Ce qui rend ces morts particuli?rement obs?dantes, c'est que personne ne peut honn?tement dire - du moins pas encore - si elles seront rachet?es par l'?mergence d'un Irak libre ou rendues inutiles par un plongeon dans la guerre civile.
J'ai soutenu la guerre comme la moins mauvaise des options possibles. Le confinement - garder Saddam Hussein dans une bo?te - aurait pu rendre la guerre inutile, mais la bo?te a montr? des fuites. Hussein ?chappait aux sanctions, s'enrichissait par des ventes ill?gales de p?trole et, c'est du moins ce que je pensais ? l'?poque, commen?ait ? reconstituer ses programmes d'armement qui avaient ?t? d?truits par les inspecteurs des Nations unies. S'il acqu?rait des armes, on pouvait le dissuader de s'en servir lui-m?me, mais il risquait d'?tre capable de faire passer des technologies meurtri?res ? des kamikazes impossibles ? dissuader. Cette ?ventualit? paraissait peut-?tre lointaine mais, apr?s le 11 septembre, il semblait imprudent de ne pas en tenir compte.
Pourtant, me disais-je, la force doit ?tre le dernier recours. Si Hussein avait ob?i aux inspecteurs, je n'aurais pas soutenu l'invasion, mais ? l'?vidence, du moins jusqu'en mars 2003, il continuait ? jouer le m?me jeu. Pour qu'il cesse de jouer ce jeu, il fallait une d?monstration de force cr?dible, et les Fran?ais, les Russes et les Chinois n'?taient pas pr?ts ? approuver l'option militaire. Le d?sarmement passait donc par un changement de r?gime. L? o? j'habite - dans le Massachusetts lib?ral -, cette id?e n'?tait pas populaire.
Je suis apr?s tout surpris qu'on ait d?couvert qu'Hussein n'avait pas d'armes, mais cela ne change pas mon point de vue sur la question essentielle. Je n'ai jamais pens? que le probl?me-cl? ?tait les armes qu'il poss?dait r?ellement mais plut?t quelles ?taient ses intentions.
M'?tant rendu ? Halabja en 1992 et ayant parl? avec les survivants de l'attaque chimique qui a tu? 5 000 Kurdes irakiens en mars 1988, je pensais que, s'il pouvait y avoir des doutes sur les moyens d'Hussein, il ne pouvait y en avoir aucun sur la malveillance de ses intentions. Il est vrai que les intentions malveillantes ne manquent pas dans notre monde, mais Hussein avait r?ellement utilis? des armes chimiques.
Si on regardait l'avenir, une fois les sanctions tomb?es en d?su?tude, lorsque les inspecteurs auraient ?t? embobin?s et quand les revenus du p?trole auraient commenc? ? monter, on ?tait certain que, t?t ou tard, il ferait co?ncider les intentions et les moyens.
Les d?tracteurs de la guerre disaient que tout cela ?tait hors de propos. La v?ritable question ?tait le p?trole. Mais ils ont m?sestim? la pertinence du p?trole. Si l'Am?rique ne se souciait que du p?trole, elle aurait fait de la l?che ? Hussein, comme par le pass?. Le p?trole ?tait un facteur important dans la guerre, pr?cis?ment parce que ses revenus distinguaient Hussein des autres dictateurs malveillants. C'?tait le facteur d?cisif qui devait lui permettre, t?t ou tard, d'acqu?rir les armes pour ?tre en mesure d'attaquer de nouveau les Kurdes, d'achever l'an?antissement des chiites, de menacer l'Arabie saoudite et de continuer ? soutenir les kamikazes palestiniens, ainsi que, peut-?tre, Al-Qaida.
Je ne crois toujours pas que les dirigeants am?ricains et britanniques aient d?form? les intentions d'Hussein, ni qu'ils aient menti sur les armes qu'ils croyaient en sa possession. Dans ses r?cents M?moires, Hans Blix pr?cise bien que lui-m?me et les autres inspecteurs des Nations unies pensaient qu'Hussein dissimulait quelque chose et tous les services de renseignement qu'ils ont consult?s le pensaient aussi.
Si le mensonge n'?tait pas le probl?me, l'exag?ration l'?tait et aucun de ceux qui soutenaient la guerre n'appr?cie la fa?on dont "un danger grave et grandissant" - selon les termes dont Bush a prudemment us? pour qualifier le r?gime de Hussein dans son discours aux Nations unies en septembre 2002 - s'est lentement m?tamorphos? en une menace "imminente".
L'argument l?gitime de la guerre ?tait la "pr?vention" - emp?cher un tyran aux intentions malveillantes d'acqu?rir des moyens meurtriers ou de transmettre ces moyens ? d'autres ennemis. L'argument que nous avons r?ellement entendu ?tait la "pr?emption" - arr?ter un tyran qui poss?dait d?j? des armes et pr?sentait un danger imminent.
Pour moi, le probl?me est que si on avait avanc? l'argument l?gitime - celui d'une guerre pr?ventive oppos? ? celui d'une guerre pr?emptive -, la guerre aurait ?t? encore plus impopulaire qu'elle ne l'a ?t?. C'est ?galement un probl?me pour les opposants. S'ils n'ont pas pens? que l'argument d'une guerre pr?ventive a ?t? prouv? cette fois-ci, qu'est-ce qui pourra les convaincre la prochaine fois ? A moins de menaces imminentes, les peuples d?mocratiques ne veulent pas se battre, mais s'ils attendent l'imminence des menaces, le tribut de la guerre risque de devenir prohibitif.
La prochaine fois qu'un pr?sident am?ricain expliquera le bien-fond? d'une guerre pour r?pondre ? une menace suppos?e d'armes de destruction massive, presque tout le monde, y compris des membres du Conseil de s?curit?, croira qu'il crie au loup. Et si ce n'est pas le cas ? Et si l'exemple de l'Irak am?ne l'?lectorat et les politiciens ? r?pondre trop lentement au prochain tyran ou au prochain terroriste ? M?me si je pensais que l'argument en faveur d'une guerre pr?ventive ?tait fort, il n'?tait pas d?cisif. On pouvait encore soutenir que la menace n'?tait pas imminente et que les risques du combat ?taient trop grands. J'ai pench? en faveur de ces risques, parce que j'?tais convaincu qu'Hussein dirigeait un r?gime particuli?rement odieux et parce que la guerre offrait la seule v?ritable chance de le renverser. C'?tait un argument quelque peu opportuniste en faveur de la guerre, car je savais que l'administration ne consid?rait la lib?ration de l'Irak de la tyrannie que comme un objectif secondaire.
Le 19 mars 2003, la nuit o? les bombardements ont commenc?, j'?tais avec un exil? irakien (oui, je sais, mais certains sont des gens honorables et courageux), et il m'a dit : "Voyez-vous, de ma vie, c'est la premi?re et la seule occasion donn?e ? mon peuple pour cr?er une soci?t? convenable." Quand j'ai dit que c'?tait l? un argument essentiel en faveur de la guerre, des amis se sont mis ? rire. Ne savais-je pas que l'administration se moquait pas mal que l'Irak soit convenable du moment qu'il ?tait stable et ob?issant ? J'ai r?pondu que si les bons r?sultats devaient attendre les bonnes intentions, il nous faudrait attendre ?ternellement.
Ainsi donc, soutenir la guerre voulait dire soutenir une administration dont je n'approuvais pas enti?rement les motivations dans l'int?r?t des cons?quences auxquelles je croyais. Ce n'?tait pas la seule difficult?. Depuis la Bosnie et le Kosovo, un consensus avait ?merg? lentement pour dire qu'une intervention dans le but de mettre fin au nettoyage ethnique ou au g?nocide pouvait se justifier en dernier recours. De nombreux Etats, cependant, paraissent encore croire que l'aspiration ? lib?rer un peuple d'un r?gime tyrannique est un raisonnement en expansion continuelle pour justifier l'agression am?ricaine.
En outre, un changement de r?gime a un co?t ?vident - des morts chez les Irakiens et les Am?ricains, une Am?rique en d?saccord avec beaucoup de ses alli?s et les Nations unies. Je pouvais respecter quiconque soutenait que ces co?ts ?taient trop ?lev?s. Ce que je trouvais plus difficile ? respecter ?tait l'indiff?rence apparente de mes amis oppos?s ? la guerre pour ce que co?tait le fait de permettre ? Hussein de rester au pouvoir. Ce prix - celui de faire ce qu'ils consid?raient comme une attitude juste, prudente et non violente - serait support? par les seuls Irakiens. C'?tait les Irakiens qui devraient rester enferm?s dans un Etat policier. Ce que cela signifiait n'?tait pas une abstraction pour tous ceux qui s'?taient vraiment rendus dans le pays.
Alors, quand on disait : "Je sais que c'est un dictateur, mais...", le "mais" avait l'air d'une d?robade morale. Et quand on disait : "Il a commis un g?nocide, mais c'?tait hier", je me disais : depuis quand les crimes contre l'humanit? ont-ils droit ? des restrictions ? Quand enfin on disait : "Il existe de nombreux dictateurs et les Etats-Unis soutiennent la plupart d'entre eux", j'entendais cela comme un alibi mielleux pour ne rien faire. A pr?sent, un an plus tard, j'entends les m?mes gens me dire qu'ils sont contents qu'Hussein soit parti, mais...
L'argumentation de l'administration Bush en faveur de la guerre aurait certainement ?t? plus convaincante si elle avait reconnu la connivence des administrations pr?c?dentes dans les infamies d'Hussein, illustr?e par exemple par la visite amicale de Donald Rumsfeld ? Bagdad en 1993 en tant qu'envoy? du pr?sident Reagan ou le fait que l'Am?rique s'est abstenue de d?noncer l'invasion sanglante de l'Iran par Hussein en 1980 et son emploi des gaz contre les Kurdes en 1988.
Comme Oussama Ben Laden, que les Etats-Unis ont financ? dans les ann?es 1980, Hussein ?tait un monstre en partie fabriqu? par l'Am?rique. L'exp?rience devrait nous apprendre que deux maximes de la politique ?trang?re am?ricaine suppos?e r?aliste datant de l'?poque de la guerre froide doivent ?tre mises au rebut. La premi?re est : "L'ennemi de mon ennemi est mon ami" et la seconde : "C'est peut-?tre un salaud, mais au moins c'est notre salaud." Ces deux principes nous ont conduits dans les bras de Ben Laden et d'Hussein et des Am?ricains sont morts pour nous lib?rer de leur ?treinte mortelle.
Il aurait ?t? bon que, de temps en temps, les acteurs de la politique ?trang?re am?ricaine reconnaissent ces erreurs. Cela ne veut pas n?cessairement dire, comme les lib?raux semblent le supposer, qu'? cause de son histoire coupable l'Am?rique a eu tort d'aller en Irak. Les bonnes actions sont souvent le fait de gens qui ont une mauvaise histoire. Et je ne voyais pas comment j'aurais pu vouloir la fin - le d?part d'Hussein - sans accepter les seuls moyens dispo-nibles : l'invasion par l'Am?rique, et seule, si n?cessaire. Un changement de r?gime pacifique - par le biais de sanctions, de coups d'Etat foment?s et de soutien ? l'insurrection int?rieure - n'a men? nulle part.
J'ai donc soutenu une administration dont je n'approuvais pas les intentions, pensant que les cons?quences valaient la mise. Je m'aper?ois aujourd'hui que les intentions fa?onnent les cons?quences. Une administration s'int?ressant plus sinc?rement aux droits de l'homme aurait compris qu'il ne peut ?tre question de droits de l'homme sans ordre et que l'ordre ne peut ?tre ?tabli apr?s une victoire si les plans pour l'invasion sont dissoci?s des plans pour l'occupation. L'administration n'a pas compris que d?s le premier instant o? une colonne de blind?s s'emparait d'une ville, il fallait imm?diatement mettre en place une police militaire et, dans la foul?e, des administrateurs civils pour garder les mus?es, les h?pitaux, les stations de pompage et les g?n?rateurs ?lectriques, pour faire cesser le pillage, les meurtres par vengeance et les crimes. Le maintien de l'ordre aurait signifi? l'envoi de 250 000 hommes en Irak au lieu de 130 000. Cela aurait signifi? le maintien et la reprise de l'entra?nement de l'arm?e et de la police irakiennes au lieu de leur dissolution. L'administration, qui ne se lasse jamais de nous dire que l'espoir n'est pas un plan, avait l'espoir comme seul plan en Irak.
L'espoir a entrav? la r?flexion claire, mais l'imagination aussi : elle a fait croire que les chiites, que George Bush p?re a encourag?s ? se soulever en 1991 en se contentant d'attendre et de les regarder se faire massacrer, accueilleraient leurs tra?tres de l'?poque en lib?rateurs, elle a fait croire qu'une minorit? sunnite privil?gi?e s'adapterait avec enthousiasme ? un statut minoritaire permanent dans un Irak chiite. Quand l'imagination gouverne les plans, le chaos en r?sulte.
L'administration a suppos? qu'elle prenait la direction d'un Etat qui fonctionnait et s'est aper?ue, lorsque les pillards ont tout pris dans les bureaux et lorsque les fonctionnaires du parti Baas sont all?s se cacher, que l'Am?rique avait h?rit? de son propre Etat en faillite. L'administration est entr?e en Irak en supposant que son d?fi ?tait humanitaire. Elle a d?couvert en se r?veillant que son d?fi ?tait la r?sistance arm?e. Toutes les interventions comportent certaines illusions, mais si ces illusions sont n?cessaires pour qu'une administration veuille bien risquer une intervention, il faut intervenir moins souvent dans l'avenir.
Maintenant que nous en sommes l?, notre probl?me n'est plus l'espoir et l'illusion, mais le d?sespoir et la d?sillusion. La couverture m?diatique de Bagdad est si sombre qu'il est difficile de se souvenir qu'un dictateur est parti, que le p?trole est de nouveau pomp? et que la constitution int?rimaire propos?e contient d'importantes garanties des droits de l'homme. Nous paraissons ne pas m?me reconna?tre la libert? quand nous la voyons : centaines de milliers de chiites marchant pieds nus dans la ville sainte de Karbala, Irakiens venant ? des r?unions municipales et s'essayant pour la premi?re fois ? la d?mocratie, journaux et presse libre surgissant partout, manifestations quotidiennes dans les rues.
Si la libert? est le seul objectif qui rach?te les nombreux morts, il y a davantage de libert? en Irak qu'? n'importe quel autre moment de son histoire. Et pourquoi devrions-nous supposer que la libert? sera autrement que d?sordonn?e, chaotique, voire effrayante ? Pourquoi devrions-nous ?tre surpris que les Irakiens utilisent leur libert? pour nous dire de rentrer chez nous ? Ne ferions-nous pas la m?me chose ?
La libert? seule ne suffit pas, naturellement. La transformation de la libert? en ordre constitutionnel ? long terme d?pend de l'?ventualit? qu'une r?sistance acharn?e qui n'h?site pas ? monter un musulman contre un autre musulman, l'Irak contre l'Irak, puisse amener une administration craignant pour sa r??lection ? r?duire la pr?sence militaire am?ricaine. Si les Etats-Unis h?sitent maintenant, la guerre civile est parfaitement possible. S'ils h?sitent, ils trahiront tous ceux qui sont morts pour un avenir meilleur.
Les interventions reviennent ? une promesse : nous promettons que nous laisserons le pays en meilleur ?tat que nous l'avons trouv?, nous promettons que ceux qui sont morts pour en arriver l? ne sont pas morts en vain. Ces promesses n'ont jamais ?t? aussi difficiles ? tenir qu'en Irak. L'internationalisme lib?ral que j'ai soutenu au cours des ann?es 1990 - les interventions en Bosnie, au Kosovo, au Timor-Oriental - semble un jeu d'enfant en comparaison. Ces actions ?taient un pari, mais un pari avec une garantie d'impunit? : si nous ne r?ussissions pas, le prix de l'?chec n'?tait pas tr?s s?v?re. En Irak, la partie se joue pour de vrai. Il n'y a plus d'impunit?. De braves gens meurent et aucun pr?sident, d?mocrate ou r?publicain, ne peut se permettre de trahir ce sacrifice.
Michael Ignatieff est directeur du Carr Center ? la Kennedy School of Government de l'universit? Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

Traduit de l'anglais (Etats-Unis) par Florence L?vy-Paoloni. ?The New York Times Company.


Chirac seul au pouvoir
LE MONDE | 22.03.04 | 13h17
Deux ans apr?s sa r??lection, le pr?sident de la R?publique, de plus en plus isol?, affaibli par l'affaire Jupp?, la crise ?conomique et l'impopularit? du premier ministre, r?fl?chit ? la deuxi?me phase de son mandat
Douze ? table, autour de Jacques Chirac : la sc?ne s'est produite maintes fois, avant ce mercredi 17 mars. Les d?put?s de la majorit?, que le pr?sident convie ? d?jeuner par fourn?es mensuelles ? l'Elys?e, sont rarement plus nombreux. "Chirac fait remonter des infos sur l'atmosph?re dans le pays", "il a besoin d'une caisse de r?sonance", "il veut voir des ?lus tr?s proches du terrain" - comme il le fait depuis tr?s longtemps -, expliquent les uns. "Il sait combien l'Elys?e peut ?tre une prison", commente un autre. Dr?le de mot.
Ce 17 mars, donc, le pr?sident ?coute les inqui?tudes et les r?criminations, courtoises mais fermes, des ?lus de l'UMP. On lui parle du "d?samour irrationnel de l'ex?cutif" dans l'opinion, que beaucoup attribuent "? la fa?on dont sont trait?s les dossiers". Le conflit des intermittents - qui dure depuis la fin du printemps 2003 -, celui des chercheurs, le malaise ? l'h?pital, reviennent dans la bouche des convives comme autant d'exemples de ce qu'il ne fallait pas faire. Bernadette Chirac, en campagne en Corr?ze pour les ?lections r?gionales et cantonales, l'a point? aussi, quelques jours auparavant. "Les gens comprennent ce que Raffarin veut faire. Ce qu'ils ne comprennent pas, ils ne me le diront pas, par politesse", a-t-elle gliss?. La remarque n'est pas anodine de la part de celle qui fut l'un des meilleurs soutiens du premier ministre. Jamais le nom de Jean-Pierre Raffarin n'est cit?, parmi les invit?s du pr?sident. On est entre gens polis. Jacques Chirac ne dit rien.
Puis il leur parle de d?sindustrialisation et d'emploi, leur r?pond que les probl?mes ?conomiques ne sont pas li?s ? la seule gestion nationale. Qu'il y a une n?cessit? ? reb?tir les ?quilibres entre le secteur secondaire et le secteur tertiaire ; enfin, qu'il faut "passer d'une soci?t? ? une autre". L'une de ses remarques, en forme de recommandation, laisse quelques convives pensifs : "Il ne faut pas que la droite soit trop ? droite." Voil? le pr?sident, r??lu par 82,2 % de ses compatriotes, qui se rappelle le 5 mai 2002 - s'il l'a jamais oubli? un seul jour, depuis bient?t deux ans.
Une chance folle, au go?t amer, l'a de nouveau port? au pouvoir, apr?s un septennat g?ch? par la dissolution de 1997 et par les affaires. Tous les espoirs lui sont alors permis. En juin 2002, l'Assembl?e nationale lui apporte une grande vague bleue. Cinq mois plus tard, en novembre, l'Union pour un mouvement populaire, rassemblement des familles de droite, devient son bras arm?. M?me si l'UDF, qui fait figure de petit village gaulois, refuse de rentrer dans le rang. Pourtant, aujourd'hui, Jacques Chirac glisse insensiblement dans l'isolement du pouvoir.
A l'Elys?e, peu nombreux sont ceux qui, d?sormais, osent contredire le pr?sident. Effet de l'?ge ? Du deuxi?me mandat ? La libert? de ton s'est envol?e avec le d?part de Dominique de Villepin au Quai d'Orsay. "Il le dynamitait, le bousculait. Il n'h?sitait pas, m?me s'il se trompait parfois. C'?taient deux personnalit?s compl?mentaires", t?moigne un acteur du premier cercle. C'?tait un syst?me "en permanence en dynamique". Depuis qu'il l'a quitt?, le Palais chuchote, au lieu de retentir de contestations, de confrontations. On fait des notes au pr?sident. Il les annote. "C'est ?a la solitude. Il y a un moment o? l'on n'a plus envie d'?tre emmerd?", l?che un ancien collaborateur.
L'actuel secr?taire g?n?ral, Philippe Bas, et ses adjoints, sont aussi peu politiques que possible. Ils ont m?me ?t? choisis pour cela. Grands serviteurs de l'Etat, rien au-del?. Et ce ne sont pas les quelques d?put?s que M. Bas rencontre chaque semaine qui y changeront quoi que ce soit. Il y a bien, toujours, J?r?me Monod et Maurice Ulrich, les vieux compagnons, mais ils contredisent assez peu le pr?sident. Le chef de l'Etat s'est m?me agac? que M. Monod apparaisse si visiblement dans les man?uvres de l'UMP. L'Elys?e ne doit pas ?tre la cuisine o? se mitonne la tambouille ?lectorale. En tout cas, il ne faut pas que cela se voie.
Ah, l'UMP ! Union pour un mouvement populaire. Ci-g?t, pour l'instant, une cruelle d?ception. Et tant de points d'interrogation pour le pr?sident. D'union, elle n'a encore que le nom. Appareil plus que mouvement, il lui reste ? d?montrer qu'elle m?rite l'adjectif "populaire". Surtout, l'UMP est en demi-deuil de son chef, Alain Jupp?. Ce fut le gros coup dur du d?but de l'ann?e 2004 pour Jacques Chirac. Le plus incroyable est qu'il n'ait pas s?rieusement envisag? le sc?nario le plus noir, celui choisi par les juges du tribunal de Nanterre : dix-huit mois de prison avec sursis et dix ans d'in?ligibilit? automatique pour le pr?sident de l'UMP. Le chef de l'Etat ne comptait pas sur l'indulgence des juges. Mais il esp?rait, comme le lui avaient souffl? ses conseillers, que M. Jupp? pourrait obtenir, sur simple requ?te aupr?s du tribunal, une "dispense de B2", c'est-?-dire la non-inscription de la peine au casier judiciaire, qui aurait de facto lev? l'in?ligibilit?.
Au fond, se disait M. Chirac, le d?lit reproch? ? Alain Jupp? ne pourrait-il pas l'?tre ? bien d'autres ? "Il n'y a pas, d'un c?t?, chez les hommes politiques fran?ais, les corrompus et, de l'autre, les vertueux", avait-il expliqu? ? Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, le 11 f?vrier 2002 sur TF1 - pour se d?fendre lui-m?me. "J'ai ?t? le premier (...) ? faire passer une loi (...) sur le financement des partis politiques. A partir de l?, les choses ont ?t? r?guli?res et normales", avait-il assur?. Pas tout ? fait, cependant. M. Chirac n'a pas compris que les juges allaient appliquer la loi pour Alain Jupp? comme pour n'importe quel petit voleur de mobylette. Avec, en prime, des attendus s?v?res. Et que l'opinion trouverait cela juste.
Soudain, c'est ? lui-m?me qu'il pense. Bien s?r, la peine d'Alain Jupp?, dans tous les sens du terme, le choque et le chagrine. Il a pour l'ancien premier ministre "du respect, de l'attachement, de la consid?ration", comme le souligne un conseiller de l'Elys?e qui a pratiqu? les deux hommes. Le caract?re brillant, rapide, de cet ?ternel premier de la classe l'a toujours s?duit. Et voil? que le bon ?l?ve s'effondre, laissant le roi quasi nu. Ce n'est pas tant qu'il perde un dauphin. M. Chirac ne s'est jamais choisi un successeur. Mieux que personne, il sait qu'une ?lection, cela se gagne. Qu'en politique, on n'est pas nomm?, on doit ?tre ?lu. "On n'h?rite pas d'un rapport avec le peuple. C'est quelque chose qui se construit dans un rapport personnel", confirme un proche du pr?sident. Son score massif du 5 mai l'a prouv?. La gauche a vot? pour lui afin de d?fendre des valeurs contre le Front national ; l'aurait-elle fait pour un autre ?
L'affaire Jupp? affaiblit le pr?sident au plus mauvais moment. L'automne 2003 a ?t? un cauchemar, ponctu? par les annonces d?sordonn?es du gouvernement, sur fond de crise ?conomique : hausse du tabac et du gazole, r?duction de la dur?e de versement de l'allocation des ch?meurs en fin de droits, suppression d'un jour f?ri?... Tout cela balaie l'augmentation r?elle du SMIC pour les plus bas salaires, d?cid?e en juillet 2002, la r?forme des retraites et la baisse des imp?ts, promesse de campagne, qui doit ?tre appliqu?e sur la dur?e de la mandature. En priv?, d?j?, M. Chirac s'est montr? f?ch? que le ministre des finances, Francis Mer, ne cesse de critiquer cette mesure, qui ne pourra, selon Bercy, ?tre financ?e.
C'est l'une des raisons - certes annexe - qui le poussent ? pr?parer, dans le plus grand secret, l'exon?ration de la taxe professionnelle pour les entreprises, annonc?e lors de ses v?ux du mois de janvier. Rien ne filtre de l'Elys?e. Plusieurs ballons d'essai ont ?t? lanc?s, dans les mois pr?c?dents, par le secr?taire d'Etat aux PME, Renaud Dutreil. Bercy les a imm?diatement contr?s. Impensable, infaisable, pas finan?able. Un des rares proches du chef de l'Etat, qui n'a pas sa langue dans sa poche, r?sume cr?ment la situation : "On en avait marre que le minist?re des finances nous chie dans les bottes. On l'a fait sans eux."
A ce moment, M. Chirac, qui s'est beaucoup investi dans le dossier de la la?cit? jusqu'en d?cembre, a grand besoin de confirmer qu'il est revenu sur la sc?ne int?rieure, dont la guerre d'Irak l'a tenu ?loign? pendant de longs mois en 2003. Le gouvernement est affaibli. Luc Ferry, le ministre de l'?ducation nationale, s'est signal? par des maladresses frisant le cocasse sur le voile ? l'?cole, Jean-Fran?ois Mattei ne s'est pas montr? plus adroit lors de la canicule, qui a min? tout l'ex?cutif. Une foule de ministricules restent inconnus du grand public dans ce "gouvernement de mission". Jean-Pierre Raffarin d?visse inexorablement dans les sondages.
Seul Nicolas Sarkozy tire son ?pingle du jeu. Populaire, le ministre de l'int?rieur a rempli son contrat en s'attaquant ? l'ins?curit?, tout en envoyant des signes ? la gauche avec l'abolition de la double peine pour les immigr?s. Il s'est m?me offert le luxe d'ouvrir la guerre de succession ? Jacques Chirac. Le pr?sident a bien vu le danger. Pas de "Tout sauf Sarkozy !". Lorsque son ami l'?crivain Denis Tillinac prend la d?fense du ministre de l'int?rieur dans Valeurs Actuelles, le 20 f?vrier, en d?clarant : "On sait bien qu'un jour il faudra choisir entre lui et quelques autres. En attendant, il serait judicieux que, dans son propre parti, on cesse de le traiter en paria", Jacques Chirac l'appelle. "Tu as bien fait. Ils sont tous ?nerv?s. Il faut que chacun se calme."
Mais comment ?teindre cette guerre suicidaire pour la droite, sinon en montrant que le pr?sident reste le seul arbitre possible au-dessus de la m?l?e ? Celui qui sent la soci?t?, qui l'aide ? basculer dans le XXIe si?cle, qui est capable de d?passer les clivages gauche-droite, en pr?sident de tous les Fran?ais. Celui qui, en d?pit de ses 71 ans, comprend la jeunesse, alors que certains de ses amis commencent ? lui dire que la France de 2004 devient aussi explosive que celle de mai 1968. Ce n'est qu'une anecdote, mais M. Chirac, racontant ? des visiteurs qu'il s'?tait mis ? ?couter Fun Radio, ne doutait pas qu'elle serait rapport?e. Un conseil sign? Claude Chirac. "Je me suis appliqu? ? ?couter pendant une dizaine de jours. Faites-le, c'est un exercice int?ressant. Au d?but, je ne comprenais qu'un mot sur deux !", a dit le pr?sident. Les rapports sur les jeunes se succ?dent sur le bureau du ministre de la famille, Christian Jacob. Le pr?sident y tient beaucoup, qui veut cerner les probl?mes de ceux qui feront l'avenir de la France. Sans lui.
En attendant, c'est la France d'aujourd'hui qui l'inqui?te, pour trois ans encore. Le pr?sident sait bien que ses concitoyens se sont d?sint?ress?s de leurs hommes politiques. Ils ne comprennent pas grand-chose ? ce pr?sident qui assure : "Je ne suis pas un lib?ral", quand eux-m?mes s'interrogent en observant la politique du gouvernement. Ils n'ont toujours pas saisi pourquoi leurs dirigeants ont tant tard? ? se montrer, quand des milliers de personnes ?g?es mouraient de chaleur en ao?t, puisqu'on leur avait promis de la "proximit?" en mai 2002.
Qu'a-t-il ? leur proposer d?sormais, sinon le retour de la croissance, qu'il tente de pr?parer ? Des valeurs. Celles, justement, que le peuple fran?ais est all? d?fendre dans la rue, le 1er mai 2002. "Tout ce qui rel?ve des valeurs r?publicaines va demander un effort extraordinairement important dans les ann?es qui viennent", insiste-t-on ? l'Elys?e. R?novation urbaine, lutte contre les discriminations, int?gration, lutte contre l'endettement, emploi des jeunes, ?galit? hommes-femmes, ?ducation seront "au c?ur de son engagement", promettent ses conseillers. En esp?rant qu'il ne restera pas, dans l'histoire, comme celui qui a d??u. Il y a au moins un titre de la presse fran?aise qui a rass?r?n? ses fid?les conseillers, plut?t moroses, ces derniers temps : "Une fois de plus, Chirac a surv?cu ? celui qui l'a sous-estim?", ont-ils lu apr?s la d?faite du premier ministre espagnol Jos?-Maria Aznar. Et lui, que fera-t-il dans la solitude de l'Elys?e ? Peut-?tre se replongera-t-il, une fois encore, dans "un ouvrage remarquable" de Jacques Pimpaneau, retra?ant la vie de grandes figures de l'histoire de la Chine, qu'il a d?j? lu "dix fois". Son titre ? Biographie des regrets ?ternels.

B?atrice Gurrey

La lettre de Jacques Chirac ne convainc pas les chercheurs
LE MONDE | 18.03.04 | 14h50
Le chef de l'Etat a confirm? la pr?paration d'une loi d'orientation, dans un courrier adress?, mercredi 17 mars, au collectif Sauvons la recherche ! Son porte-parole, Alain Trautmann, pr?vient que le mouvement va "entrer en r?sistance". Des manifestations sont pr?vues, vendredi, ? Paris et en province.
Une semaine : c'est le temps qu'il a fallu ? Jacques Chirac pour r?pondre ? la lettre ouverte que les chercheurs lui avaient directement adress?e, le 9 mars.
Mercredi 17 mars au soir, l'Elys?e a rendu public le courrier que le pr?sident a envoy? ? Alain Trautmann, porte-parole du collectif "Sauvons la recherche !". Un calendrier qui ne doit rien au hasard, ? l'avant-veille de la manifestation annonc?e par les chercheurs et ? quatre jours du premier tour des ?lections r?gionales.
M. Chirac prend acte des "inqui?tudes" et des " attentes" qui s'expriment depuis plusieurs semaines et d?plore que la politique de recherche fran?aise ait ?t? marqu?e " par trop d'?-coups, d'incertitudes et de rigidit? d'organisation". La future loi d'orientation et de programmation, dont il a demand? le vote avant la fin 2004, devra d?finir pour la recherche un " nouveau cadre". Il faudra d?sormais hi?rarchiser les objectifs " en termes de disciplines et de projets" et planifier " de mani?re transparente" l'?volution des effectifs et des cr?dits. Le chef de l'Etat consacre aussi un long d?veloppement aux jeunes chercheurs, souhaitant que leur soient ouvertes " des perspectives nouvelles", en particulier dans le domaine des pr?visions de recrutement. Le pr?sident insiste sur le " dialogue approfondi" qui doit avoir lieu entre le gouvernement et la communaut? scientifique dans l'?laboration de la loi, qualifi?e de " texte fondateur".
C'est une d?marche assez classique de "donnant-donnant", confirm?e par les conseillers de Jean-Pierre Raffarin ? Matignon. " On veut bien mettre tout l'argent qu'il faut, mais il faut qu'en contrepartie, les chercheurs s'engagent sur la r?forme des structures, de l'organisation et du fonctionnement de la recherche en France", affirment-ils. Le gouvernement se dit " ouvert aux propositions" des chercheurs, tout en soulignant que ceux-ci devraient r?fl?chir " ? davantage de souplesse et de passerelles entre le monde de la recherche et l'universit?". A Matignon, on insiste ?galement sur le fait qu'il faudra offrir des perspectives d'emplois pour les jeunes chercheurs "en modifiant les modalit?s du recrutement".
A l'Elys?e, on soulignait depuis plusieurs semaines que certaines revendications des chercheurs ?taient " l?gitimes" - et l'on y a re?u plusieurs de leurs repr?sentants - tout en laissant agir le gouvernement. On d?plorait cependant, mezzo voce, que le dialogue n'ait pas ?t? engag? sur de bonnes bases. L'intervention directe de M. Chirac, vers lequel les chercheurs avaient fini par se tourner, souligne, d'une certaine fa?on, les insuffisances du gouvernement.
Parall?lement, les chiraquiens se sont organis?s pour tenter de d?bloquer le dialogue, ? quelques jours d'une ?ch?ance politique majeure. Bernard Accoyer, vice-pr?sident du groupe UMP de l'Assembl?e nationale, a annonc?, jeudi, la cr?ation prochaine d'une mission parlementaire sur la recherche, dans le cadre du " vaste d?bat" engag? par le gouvernement. Le S?nat a, pour sa part, ouvert sur Internet un "forum de r?flexion" sur l'avenir de la recherche fran?aise. Cette initiative s'inscrit dans le cadre d'un groupe de r?flexion informel, r?cemment constitu? par les commissions des finances, des affaires culturelles et des affaires ?conomiques, et qui rendra ses conclusions ? la ministre d?l?gu?e ? la recherche, Claudie Haigner?.
La d?ception d'Alain Trautmann est ? la hauteur de l'espoir qu'il avait form?, avec le collectif, de voir le gouvernement effectuer "un geste envers les jeunes". "La lettre de Jacques Chirac va provoquer une ?norme d?ception chez les jeunes, car elle exprime la volont? du gouvernement de ne pas faire le geste que nous attendions et dont il a les moyens financiers", d?clare le porte-parole en faisant r?f?rence ? la demande de transformation de 550 CDD en postes statutaires fixes et de cr?ation de quelques centaines de postes d'enseignants ? l'universit?.
Jacques Fossey, secr?taire g?n?ral du Syndicat national des chercheurs scientifiques (SNCS-FSU), ne dit pas autre chose. "La lettre de Jacques Chirac n'exprime rien", juge-t-il, ajoutant que le chef de l'Etat fait montre d'une grande "surdit?" devant des "revendications ? la fois tr?s claires et tr?s raisonnables". Ces demandes ne repr?sentent en effet, selon M. Fossey, qu'"une op?ration blanche" pour le gouvernement, par rapport ? la situation de 2002, tant au niveau des postes que des budgets.
M. Trautmann prend note de la r?affirmation de la volont? pr?sidentielle d'?laborer une loi d'orientation et de programmation. Mais il critique le chef de l'Etat lorsque celui-ci laisse entendre que le Comit? d'initiative et de proposition (CIP), lanc? par Etienne-Emile Baulieu et Edouard Br?zin, s'inscrit dans le dispositif gouvernemental de "r?flexion large et ouverte"sur la recherche. "Ces ?tats g?n?raux ne sont pas un cadeau du gouvernement, r?torque M. Trautmann. Ils sont un premier succ?s de la lutte des chercheurs qui les organiseront et les ouvriront tr?s largement". M. Fossey exprime, lui aussi, la crainte que le travail men? par le CIP ne soit marginalis?.
D'autres acteurs pourraient, en effet, participer aux travaux de r?flexion pr?paratoires ? la loi. "Des consultations parall?les ont ?t? annonc?es par Luc Ferry, Claudie Haigner? et certains directeurs d'organismes de recherche tels que le CNRS, note M. Trautmann. Or, des d?bats qui seraient organis?s par des minist?res ou d'autres instances en dehors des ?tats g?n?raux, brouilleraient le paysage. Ils ne pourraient aboutir qu'? affaiblir les conclusions des travaux des Etats g?n?raux. Ils seraient antid?mocratiques et donc ill?gitimes".
Les chercheurs comptent poursuivre leur action, apr?s les manifestations du 19 mars, par "un rappel r?gulier du probl?me de la recherche, en province, aux ministres en d?placement et aux d?put?s". Et M. Trautmann de conclure : "Nous allons entrer en r?sistance."

Services France et Sciences

Analysis: Yassin's demise could generate attacks abroad
Those who thought that hitting Sheikh Ahmed Yassin will serve as a deterrence are mistaken, Dr. Reuven Paz, research fellow of the National Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Institute of Herzliya, told the Jerusalem Post.
As officials mulled over repercussions and the effect Yassin's demise would have on the Hamas movement, Maj Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad, who heads Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's political bureau, declared that PA chairman Yasser Arafat was no less dangerous, describing him as a most destructive force.
According to Gilad, Arafat pretends to want peace whereas Yassin was honest in his statements. "Arafat dreams of a greater Palestine that covers both Israel and Jordan," Gilad said, "and his primary tool of action is terror. If he really wanted peace, he could have had it in 2000."
Gilad's statements led to an immediate boosting of security around Arafat who was confined to safe quarters in his Ramallah complex as Palestinian security officials feared he would become the next Israeli target.
Paz, however, warned that Yassin's demise could have severe repercussions not only in Israel, but will cause reactions throughout the entire Moslem world and lead to attacks against Israelis and Jews abroad.
"We are talking about Moslems in Europe and the United States who identify with the Hamas and its policies, and recruit funds on its behalf," he said. "I believe that the same Hamas supporters abroad will also begin to recruit activists to wage attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, and we could possibly see elements affiliated with Al Qaeda recruiting activists on behalf of the Hamas.
"The Moslem public is already angry due to policies adopted in countries abroad such as the barring of headscarves in France. One thing they are all united in is their hatred for Israel, and this may well escalate," he said.
"Yassin was considered a national symbol, he was far more moderate and did not rule out Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. Without a doubt, Sharon initiated the targeted killing, and if he believed that by doing so it would weaken the Hamas's control of the Gaza Strip, he is mistaken," said Paz.
"I can't see anything good coming out of it. I believe in the coming weeks, we will witness an escalation of violence, not just suicide bomb attacks, but attacks carried out by loners who aren't affiliated with any movement but seek revenge," he said.
"It is also possible that Yassin's death will lead to a further strengthening of ties between the Fatah's Al Aksa Brigades, Islamic Jihad and Hamas who have launched a number of joint attacks in the past and may well decide to continue," he said.
Yassin the founder of Hamas and its political and religious leader gained strength as PA Yasser Arafat's position weakened, turning him into the national symbolic leader not just of the Hamas but of the entire Palestinian public and among supporters in Arab countries abroad, said Paz adding, "and now the entire Moslem world."
Dr. Boaz Ginor, ICT's executive director at the interdisciplinary institute believes that the strike on Yassin will not affect the movement's capability, which is already severely restricted. "Last September in the botched attempt on his life, one would have expected to have seen a shattering response," he said.
Yassin presided over the movement's charity and social infrastructure and issued instructions and political directives, all separate to the military operations carried out by the Hamas, said Ginor. While sharing Paz's assessment that attempts will be made to launch attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, Ginor said, "we may see a rise in attempts to launch mega-terror attacks and attempts by cell leaders in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to launch attacks.
"But I believe we will see a sharp increase in attempts by loners, those who are not sent by anyone but decide to act on their own," he said. "However without a doubt authorities should remain alert and vigilant ,particularly regarding the possibility of attacks abroad," he added.
While Israel will be condemned for its actions, Yassin was not a halachic Islamic leader and not considered one among Arab countries abroad. "He was unable to issue fatwas (religious rulings), and the attitude of many Arab countries towards the Palestinian Israeli conflict is lip talk, no more no less," he said.
According to Gilad, the former Coordinater of Government Activities in the Territories, the attack on Yassin will make remaining Hamas officials more aware that they are targets. Claims that Yassin was the group's spiritual leader are ridiculous, he said adding, "there is no separation between the Hamas spiritual and operational leadership.
The attacks carried out by the movement were carefully planned operations. Reality could have been different, said Gilad, had the Palestinian security forces combated terror. "The Palestinian Authority maintains tactical superiority, all that is lacking is a decision to crackdown on terror," he said.
Paz believes that Yassin's death will not hamper Hamas capability, as he was not of the movement's operational military activities but rather dictated policy and gave instructions. "In the past three and a half years we have wiped out all of the Hamas military leaders, and where are we today, in the same position," he said.
According to Paz, Yassin's demise could mark the end of Ahmed Querie's career as Palestinian prime minister, and he will drop by the wayside, the same as his predecessor Abu Mazen. "While there has not been much of a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, there has been some activity in the background. Now Abu Mazen cannot allow himself to enter any dialogue: support for the Hamas will increase greatly and, at the same time, the Palestinian Authority will lose its power.
"I also fear for Mohammed Dahlan's career," Paz continued. "He is someone who is perceived as trying to protect Israel rather then the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."
Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi is the most likely candidate to be chosen as Yassin's successor, said Paz adding that Mahmoud A- Zaher is also an option.. "Yassin was far less extreme in his beliefs than Rantissi, who takes every opportunity to express them.
Yassin founded the movement's social infrastructure, giving charity, medical and financial assistance to the public. I believe we will see a collective leadership taking over until elections," said Paz.
Unlike Paz, Ginor believes that Arafat's position will only strengthen with Yassin's death, who has no real successor. "Yassin was not part of the movement's military operational activities but was an ideological and political leader," Ginor said. "I cannot think of anyone who can replace him as a spiritual leader; he never appointed a deputy," he added.

Syria: Yassin's killing a grave escalation
DAMASCUS, Syria, March 22 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad Monday said Israel's killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin is a "grave escalation" of the region's volatile situation.
An Israeli airstrike killed Yassin as he was leaving a mosque in Gaza City early Monday morning.
The Syrian News Agency quoted Assad's spokesman as saying "the ugly crime is part of the spate of killings and destruction committed by Israel against the Palestinian people and it is a grave escalation of the situation."
He added: "Israel's policy of mass killing is a flagrant violation of international law which should condemned by the international community, which also must put an end to it."
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

Nuclear reactor workers claim damages for cancer
Some 17 nuclear reactor workers, together with families of workers who died of cancer, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday as part of a long compensation battle against the state.
The workers, from the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Nahal Sorek, claim that the state is using a forbidden rule of law and doing everything possible to prevent them from receiving compensation for illnesses incurred from their work at the facilities.
The state has until now refused to compensate the petitioners by using statute of limitations arguments to reject the claims. According to the state, the petitioners should have submitted their claims years ago, and complaints are now outdated.
The compensation claims, says attorney Ilan Kaner, who is representing the petitioners, "relate to cancer the workers at the nuclear facility incurred as a result of their work at the reactors."
Kaner says that his clients weren't able to file petitions years ago since the administration at the nuclear reactors hid information regarding the worker's illnesses.
"Today I have become privy to documents that show the administration knew I had cancer but decided to hide that information from me," Avraham Benbenishti, who worked 30 years at the Dimona facility told The Jerusalem Post. "I got cancer for the first time in 1972 and for the second time in 1987. In 1969 they saw I had a medical problem following blood tests I took, but did not tell me."
Benbenishti says that his cancer is medically proven to be connected to his work at the reactor. "They found uranium in my blood," he said. " I could have died and they wouldn't have cared or done anything about it."
The legal argument, being raised by the state, according to Kaner, "is improper" since there exists an order by the attorney general from the 1950's, according to which the state cannot claim a statute of limitations.
"We are asking the court to dismiss the defense argument, since there are other cases people want to submit," Kaner said. "The state's motive is to prevent the truth from coming out, partially because of the secrecy surrounding the reactor and the financial aspect involved."

Posted by maximpost at 1:26 PM EST

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