Massachusetts Senator John Kerry won the Iowa caucus Senator John Edwards came in a strong second in a night that shook up the race for the Democratic presidential nominee. Kerry received 38 percent of the Iowa delegates, Edwards received 31 percent. Coming in third was former Vermont Governor Howard Dean with 18 percent. Up until this week Dean was widely viewed as the race’s frontrunner. Congressman Richard Gephardt received 11 percent and Congressman Dennis Kucinich received one percent. Less than a month and a half ago, Zogby released a poll that former Howard Dean winning Iowa with more than 26 percent of the vote. Gephardt polled a close second. Neither Kerry nor Edwards cracked 10 percent. But over the past two weeks the campaigns of Kerry and Edwards soared while Dean and Gephardt’s faltered. The Christian Science Monitor described it as "one of the biggest turnabouts in modern electoral history." Writing in the Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, writes that "just about everything you heard and read about the Iowa caucuses in November and December was wrong. The press would have done better if all the reporters had taken a long vacation."
In Baghdad Monday, tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims marched through the streets demanding direct elections be organized to choose a new government. The Washington Post said the demonstration was the largest in Iraq since the U.S. began 10 months ago. A similar rally was held in Basra last week. The demonstration came as U.S. and Iraqi officials met at the United Nations with Secretary General Kofi Annan and other UN leader to discuss how the UN could take a greater role in the transfer of power in Iraq. Annan suggested that he would send UN election experts to Iraq to give recommendations on transferring authority to an Iraqi-led government. According to the New York Times, a representative from the Shiite Ayaltaloh Sistani was involved in the meetings and said Sistanti would go along with the UN’s recommendations on transferring power. Sistani has been the lead critic of the U.S. plan for indirect elections. On Sunday, a massive bomb outside the gates of the U.S. occupation headquarters killed at least 31 people and wounded about 120. Most of the dead and injured were Iraqis.
Meanwhile the White House announced Monday Special Presidential Envoy James Baker is traveling this week to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Baker is scheduled to meet with officials about reducing Iraq’s debt.
On Friday House Republicans privately warned the White House to limit spending in the next year or risk potential backlash against some of his budget priorities. Conservative Republicans have criticized Bush for proposing initiatives including the expansion of the space program at a time of record deficits. The conservative Heritage Foundation has estimated discretionary spending under Bush has increased at least 12 percent each of the past two years. Bush is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union tonight at 9 Eastern time. Republican officials have acknowledged they purposely scheduled the date of Bush’s speech to follow the Iowa caucus. A Republican close to Bush told the New York Times, "Was it planned? Yes. The fact that the Iowa caucus was going to be held on a certain date was not unknown to people in the White House."
In other Washington news, the White House and House Speaker Denis Hastert are expected to reject any call from the independent 9/11 commission to extend the panel’s deadline to complete the investigation. Meanwhile family members of 9/11 victims are protesting the recent revelation of close ties between the executive director of the independent 9/11 commission, Philip Zelikow, and the Bush administration. Zelikow served as an advisor to National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice after Bush took office, he once co-authored a book with Rice and he served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in October 2001. He was close enough to the White House that he was interviewed by the commission as part of the investigation. Meanwhile the commission has also interviewed one of its own commissioners, Jamie Gorelick. She served as a deputy attorney general in Janet Reno’s Justice Department during the Clinton administration. According to UPI, Gorelick and Zelikow are the two officials to whom the White House has granted the greatest access to the most secret and sensitive national security documents, the presidential daily briefings. Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband died in the World Trade Center responded to the news by saying "This is beginning to look like a whitewash."
In Afghanistan, a U.S. air strike on Sunday killed 11 villagers including four children and three women. This according to a report from local Afghan officials. The U.S. has denied the report and claimed it killed five militants during a raid in the region.
On Friday, President Bush appointed Charles Pickering to become a federal judge in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bush first nominated Pickering in May 2001 but Congress refused to appoint him. Civil rights and women’s groups led the opposition to Pickering. We’ll have more on this later in the show. He once lobbied the Justice Department to reduce the sentence of a man convicted of burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple. Critics said he backed laws barring interracial marriage and had ties to segregationist groups.
The nation’s fourth largest airline, Northwest Airlines has admitted it gave the government personal information on millions of passengers shortly after Sept. 11. The data was given to a research center at NASA that was working on a secret air-security project. Three months ago JetBlue Airways admitted it had turned over personal data. At the time officials at Northwest denied the airline had ever committed such a breach of privacy. The secret arrangement between NASA and Northwest was uncovered by the Electronic Privacy Information Center which had received documentation through the Freedom of Information Act.