The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have begun examining ways to postpone November’s presidential election in the event of an attack near election day. This according to a report in Newsweek. Last week the Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit the cancellation and rescheduling of the election. This came in response to a request from the chief of the newly created US Election Assistance Commission for Congress to pass emergency legislation to empower the Commission to cancel and reschedule elections. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security told Newsweek “We are reviewing the issue to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election.”
On Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a damning 511-page analysis that found the pretext for the U.S. invasion on Iraq was based on bad intelligence and fabricated information.
Iraq did not have unmanned aircraft to disperse weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was not collaborating with Al Qaeda. Iraq did not reconstitute its nuclear weapons program. Iraqi did not have a fleet of seven mobile labs used to manufacture deadly biological weapons.
The Senate also found that Saddam Hussein’s army had been weakened significantly after the first Gulf War and posed little threat to US interests in the Middle East.
The report found many of the most alarming claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were handed to the US by defectors.
Even after the report, President Bush continued to defend the invasion, which has now cost the lives of 1,000 coalition troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis. He said “We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction.”
The leading Democrat on the intelligence committee Jay Rockefeller said Congress would not have authorized the war if it had known then what it knows now. He called what happened one of the “most devastating.. . intelligence failures in the history of the nation.”
The New York Times described the report as the harshest congressional indictment of U.S. intelligence agencies since the Church Committee report of the mid-1970s on CIA abuses of power.
The Senate has yet to issue its report on how the Bush administration handled the intelligence on Iraq. That report is not expected until after the election.
David Corn of the Nation reports that while the CIA exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq, the Bush administration in turn exaggerated what the CIA was saying. Corn writes “Bush and his lot overstated the overstatements of the intelligence community.”
Corn points out that the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate said Iraq had an extensive biological weapons program, Bush turned around and said Saddam Hussein was sitting on a “massive stockpile” of biological weapons. When the CIA said Iraq was developing unmanned drones, Bush warned that Iraq already had a growing fleet of the vehicles and that the fleet could attack the United States.
In addition Senator Rockefeller and two fellow Democrats wrote in the report that the Bush administration ignored the CIA’s findings that Iraq was not collaborating with Al Qaeda.
While the report is being dubbed as a bipartisan product, a major divide has emerged over how much the Bush administration pressured intelligence analysts to read the intelligence to fit the administration’s policy.
In an addendum to the report, the CIA ombudsman told the committee that he felt the 'hammering' by the Bush Administration on Iraq intelligence was harder that he had previously witnessed in his thirty-two-year career with the agency.
Supporters of Congressman Dennis Kucinich failed over the weekend to persuade the Democratic leadership to rewrite a portion of the party’s 2004 platform dealing with Iraq. Kucinich delegates called for the party to endorse the quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for the party to state that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Instead the platform continues to reads “people of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq.”
The state of Florida has thrown out its list of potential felons who shouldn’t vote in the November election, after the list was found to be deeply flawed. If the list had been used it could have helped George Bush win Florida in November. Of the 47,000 voters on the list, Latinos made up one tenth of one percent — even though roughly 20 percent of the state is Latino. Governor Jeb Bush claimed a mistake in the databases caused Latino names not to appear on the purge list. In Florida the Latino population, especially the Cuban immigrants, historically vote Republican. In addition the Miami Herald found nearly 2,500 felons, mostly African American, appeared on the list even though their voting rights had been restored. The makeup of the list was not publicly known until last week when a judge forced the state to make the secret list public. During the 2000 election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris ordered the purging of tens of thousands of alleged felons from the rolls five months before the election. According to BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast the list included at least 8,000 voters, mostly African-American, who had only committed only misdemeanors and should not have been purged.
In a major 3,000 word article today, the Washington Post is reporting leading Republican Congressman Tom Delay sought $100,000 in donations to his political action committee from Enron’s top lobbyists in May 2001 so he could help bankroll the redistricting of Texas to ensure the Republicans gain more House seats in Texas. With help from Delay, Republicans in Texas took control of the Texas House for the first time in 130 years and then redrew the state’s congressional map. The redistricting will likely force five Democrats to lose their House seats to Republicans in November. According to the Washington Post, Deley solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from several corporations including Enron. They money would be sent to either Delay’s PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, or straight to the Republican Party. Then the money would be sent to individual Republicans running for a seat in the Texas House legislature under the guise of non-corporate money. Delay may have broken Texan law which bars corporate financing of state legislature campaigns.
The Bush administration is coming under criticism at the 15th International AIDS conference in Bangkok for blocking many top federal scientists from attending the conference. Two years ago the U.S. sent a delegation of about 230, but this year only 50 were sent. At the conference at least 40 sessions had to be canceled because of the absence of U.S. scientists. The Bush administration claimed the cut backs were financially not politically motivated. But some say the decision is rooted in the last conference in Spain, when AIDS activists booed Tommy Thompson, the head of Health and Human Services, so loudly his speech was nearly inaudible.
Israeli Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon has ordered construction of a massive wall through the West Bank to continue even though the World Court ruled on Friday it was illegal under international law. Sharon said he would fight the court’s ruling using all diplomatic and legal means. His announcement came shortly after a 19-year-old female Israeli soldier was killed by a bomb in Tel Aviv. It was the first fatal bomb blast in Israel in nearly four months. Sharon blamed the bombing in part on the court ruling. In campaign news, Senator Kerry said on Friday he was “deeply disappointed” by the World Court’s ruling.
Clear Channel Rejects Anti-War Billboard
In New York, an anti-war group is expected to file a lawsuit today against Clear Channel Communications for reneging on an agreement to allow the group to buy billboard space in Time Square for a billboard that reads “Democracy Is Best Taught by Example, Not by War.”
In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party suffered a setback in elections Sunday and is no longer the largest party in the upper house. Analysts said the prime minister’s party suffered for his unpopular decision to send Japanese troops to Iraq as well his moves to overhaul the country’s pension system.