In his first press conference since before the invasion of Iraq, President George Bush yesterday vowed that weapons of mass destruction would still be found in Iraq.
He backed his controversial tax cuts despite the worsening economy. He said he took responsibility for including a false claim about Iraq’s weapons program in the State of the Union. He defended National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice. He denied repeatedly that he oversold the case of war against Iraq. And he announced White House lawyers were actively looking for a way to bar same sex couples from being allowed to get married.
It was only the ninth press conference of Bush’s term. By comparison, Bill Clinton had held 33 by this stage of his presidency, and Bush’s father 61.
A New York Times editorial described Bush’s responses on Iraq and the economy to be “vague and sometimes nearly incoherent” and said that he issued a series of “rambling non-answers.” The Times points out that this may be part of a strategy. The editorial reads “The president and his advisers obviously still believe that the constant repetition of several simplistic points will hypnotize the American people into forgetting the original question.”
Finally the editorial points out Bush was concise on one matter, campaign fundraising. When asked how he could spend a record $170 million in the Republican campaign without any opponents, Bush simply said, “Just watch me.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that John Poindexter will announce his resignation in a matter of weeks as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
Poindexter, who was convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-contra affair, has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy over proposed DARPA programs. He oversaw the proposed Big Brother-like Total Information Awareness program to snoop on U.S. citizens. The program has since been renamed Terrorist Information Awareness. This week it was revealed his office had designed a stock market like system where investors could bet on the likelihood of events occurring in the war on terror including suicide bombings and assassinations.
The British Foreign Office has admitted that the CIA warned the Blair government that it could not back up the claim that Iraqi forces could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes or that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger.
The Blair administration went ahead anyway announcing these claims in its controversial September Iraq dossier as part of the government two main reasons to go forward with an invasion of Iraq.
While President Bush maintained yesterday that evidence would emerge that Iraq had a program to develop weapons of mass destruction, the Washington Post reports that U.S. has failed to find any Iraqi scientists to back this claim.
The government has detained and questioned at least four senior scientists and dozens of lower level scientists but all of them have denied Saddam Hussein had reconstituted an illegal weapons program.
The Guardian of London is reporting that the Bush administration has quietly disbanded an independent panel that reviews the development of the US nuclear arsenal. The decision to disband the national nuclear security administration advisory committee comes at a time when the Bush administration is seeking to develop a new generation of mini nukes and bunker buster bombs.
Democrat Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts said “The Bush administration is considering policy changes that will alter the role of nuclear weapons in national defence.
Markey went on to say ” Given the importance and sheer complexity of the issues raised … why was the only independent contemplative body studying nuclear weapons disbanded–and disbanded in such a surreptitious fashion?”
Guatemala’s highest court has ruled that former dictator Efrain Rios Montt can run for president in November despite a constitutional ban on former coup leaders running for the presidency.
The court ruled the law could not be applied retroactively. Montt seized power in 1982 in a military coup. He has been accused of genocide. An estimated 17,000 political opponents and dissidents were murdered under his rule.
Last week his supporters rioted in the capital city donning ski masks, machetes and hand guns. Mott had warned of more violence if he were not allowed to run.
Former Sierra Leone warlord Foday Sankoh, who led a massive terror campaign, has died in UN custody apparently of natural causes. He was awaiting a war crimes tribunal for committing crimes against humanity. He was charged with overseeing a decade of terror in Sierra Leone that began in 1991. He was known for chopping off the hands, arms and legs of civilians. An estimated 75,000 people died during the civil war. Sankoh was trained in a Libyan guerilla camp alongside his friend Charles Taylor, the embattled Liberian president.
The Senate yesterday rejected a measure that would have required the automobile industry to dramatically increase the fuel efficiency of new cars by 2015.
By a vote of 65 to 32, the Senate rejected a move to force automakers to produce a fleet of cars that get an average of 40 miles per gallon, up from the current level of 27 and a half miles per gallon.