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Friday, August 27, 2004

New York Times > Bush Dismisses Idea That Kerry Lied on Vietnam
August 27, 2004
FARMINGTON, N.M., Aug. 26 - President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly.
Mr. Bush's comments, in a half-hour interview with The New York Times, undercut a central accusation leveled by the veterans group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose unproven attacks on Mr. Kerry have dominated the political debate for more than two weeks.
In the interview, which included topics like preparations for the Republican National Convention, the reconstruction of Iraq and the twin nuclear threats of North Korea and Iran, Mr. Bush portrayed himself as a victim of the same type of political interest groups - called 527 committees for the section of the tax code that created them - that are attacking Mr. Kerry.
"I understand how Senator Kerry feels - I've been attacked by 527's too,'' he said, adding that he had spoken earlier in the day to Senator John McCain and had agreed to join him in a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to bar the groups.
Mr. Bush also acknowledged for the first time that he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be'' in postwar Iraq. But he insisted that the 17-month-long insurgency that has upended the administration's plans for the country was the unintended by-product of a "swift victory'' against Saddam Hussein's military, which fled and then disappeared into the cities, enabling them to mount a rebellion against the American forces far faster than Mr. Bush and his aides had anticipated.
He insisted that his strategy had been "flexible enough'' to respond, and said that even now "we're adjusting to our conditions'' in places like Najaf, where American forces have been battling one of the most militant of the Shiite groups opposing the American-installed government.

Manorama Online > Malaysia > Bush admits Iraq "miscalculations": NY Times

27th AUG 10:27 hrs IST
New York: President George W. Bush acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that he had miscalculated post-war conditions in Iraq, the New York Times reported.

The paper quoted Bush as saying during a 30-minute interview that he made "a miscalculation of what the conditions would be" in post-war Iraq.

But he insisted that the 17-month-long insurgency was the unintended by-product of a "swift victory" against Saddam Hussein's military, the Times reported.

Bush said his strategy had been "flexible enough" to respond. "We're adjusting to our conditions" in places like Najaf, the paper quoted him as saying.

The Times said Bush deflected further inquiries as to what had gone wrong with the occupation.

According to the Pentagon, 969 US troops have died in Iraq since the invasion, 828 of them since April 30, 2003. An additional 6,690 service members have been wounded, most of them during the occupation.

The president also discussed the issue of North Korea and Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying that he would not be rushed to set deadlines.

The newspaper said "Bush displayed none of the alarm about North Korea's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq".

It quoted him as saying about the leaders of North Korea and Iran: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."

Bush told the newspaper he would continue diplomatic pressure. It said he gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.

"I'm confident that over time this will work -- I certainly hope it does," the newspaper quoted Bush as saying of the diplomatic approach.

Russia finds air crash explosive
Russian officials say traces of explosive have been found amid the wreckage of one of two airliners that crashed on Tuesday.
Russian news agency Interfax quoted the FSB security service as saying at least one of the almost simultaneous crashes was a "terrorist act".
Investigators are still working to decode the flight data recorders from the crashes, which left 8

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The race for the White House between President Bush and CNN > Sen. John Kerry remains a statistical tie
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The race for the White House between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry remains a statistical tie, with Kerry holding a single-point edge among registered voters, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
The survey of 876 registered voters found Kerry leading Bush 48 percent to 47 percent. The margin of error in that poll, conducted August 23-25, was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Muslim Malaysia Backs Korea's Troop Deployment to Iraq -- 08/24/2004

Muslim Malaysia Backs Korea's Troop Deployment to Iraq -- 08/24/2004: "Muslim Malaysia Backs Korea's Troop Deployment to Iraq
By Patrick Goodenough Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
August 24, 2004

Pacific Rim Bureau ( - The government of Malaysia, an influential voice in the Muslim world, is supporting South Korea's decision to send thousands of troops to join the multinational force in Iraq.

During a visit to Seoul, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi expressed 'full understanding' of the deployment and said he hoped it would help to bring peace to Iraq, according to presidential spokesman Kim Jong-min.

The endorsement is noteworthy, coming as it does from a government that chairs both the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, a grouping of 116 mostly developing countries." / News / World / Asia / N. Korea nukes may not be resolved soon / News / World / Asia / N. Korea nukes may not be resolved soon: "N. Korea nukes may not be resolved soon
By Burt Herman, Associated Press Writer | August 26, 2004
PANMUNJOM, Korea -- Chirping birds no longer compete for attention with speakers blaring North Korean propaganda across its border with South Korea, and the view across the verdant landscape of the Demilitarized Zone is now uninterrupted by billboards that once boasted 'Our General is No. 1!'
But despite the recent concessions at the world's last Cold War frontier, the communist nation's war of words with the United States has heated up -- and is casting doubt on a resolution of the nuclear crisis on the divided peninsula before the November U.S. elections."

People's Daily Online -- Taiwan landslide buries 15 people

People'sDaily Online -- Taiwan landslide buries 15 people: "Taiwan landslide buries 15 people
At least 15 people were buried by typhoon-led landslide and were feared dead in Taiwan Hsinshu county, Hong Kong radio stations quoted local authorities as saying Thursday.
After an inspection of the landslide-hit village by helicopter, Hsinshu county authorities said three of the buried people are tourists to the county.
Typhoon Aere brought storm and heavy rainfalls to Taiwan Tuesday and Wednesday, leading to the suspension of air and sea traffic, the financial market and school classes.
Typhoon Aere has already killed five others and injured over 20 people in Taiwan, according to Hong Kong radio reports.
Source: Xinhua "

Asia Times Online - The trusted news source for information on Japan

Asia Times Online - The trusted news source for information on Japan: "Japan

Quest for UN seat spotlights pacifist constitution
By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO - As Japan seeks a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, there is a growing perception that the country's 1946 anti-war constitution does not represent the current state of the world, nor the realities of Japanese society.

The UN General Assembly convenes on September 21, and Japan is expected to again press its case for a permanent seat on the Security Council, the world's leading body focused on keeping - not always successfully - international peace and security. Reforming and expanding the current Security Council - a snapshot of the world at the end of World War II - is a perennial issue.

At the root of the controversy is Article Nine of Japan's constitution and whether the country can exercise the right to collective self-defense. The government's constitutional interpretation is that the nation has the right, but it cannot be exercised. Article Nine prohibits Japan from taking part in combat operations.

But as the world's second-largest economy, Japan is in a position to play a large global political role as well. Hopes are rising for its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to make greater contributions to maintaining world peace and stability under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping forces. "

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe rejects 'boycott' threat

BBC NEWS | Africa | Zimbabwe rejects 'boycott' threat: "Zimbabwe rejects 'boycott' threat
Zimbabwe's government has dismissed a threat by the main opposition party to boycott future elections unless 'real' democratic reforms are implemented.
Anti-Corruption Minister Didymus Mutasa told the BBC the government would not do what the Movement for Democratic Change was asking for.
'Going into politics is not child's play. We do not have to concede to their demands,' he said.
Parliamentary elections are due to take place in March next year.
The MDC challenged the results of polls in 2000 and 2002 alleging widespread fraud.
Mr Mutasa added that the MDC was losing popular support anyway. "

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Attack on Iraq mosque 'kills 25'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Attack on Iraq mosque 'kills 25': "Attack on Iraq mosque 'kills 25'
At least 25 people have been killed and dozens injured in a suspected mortar attack on a mosque near the troubled city of Najaf, say hospital officials.
The compound of the mosque in Kufa was packed with people about to go to Najaf where Iraq's top Shia cleric has now arrived in a bid to end fighting there.
In another incident, gunmen opened fire on marchers heading to Najaf from Kufa, reportedly killing at least three.
It is not known who is behind either of the attacks. "

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Lawyer for Bush Quits Over Links to Kerry's Foes

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Lawyer for Bush Quits Over Links to Kerry's Foes: "

August 26, 2004
Lawyer for Bush Quits Over Links to Kerry's Foes

CRAWFORD, Tex., Aug. 25 - The national counsel for President Bush's re-election campaign resigned on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he acknowledged that he had provided legal advice to a veterans group that has leveled unsubstantiated attacks on Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record in a book and on the air.
Hours later, Senator John McCain, a Republican who is both a friend of Mr. Kerry's and an increasingly vigorous supporter of President Bush's, said in an interview that he was so annoyed over the veterans' television advertisements attacking Mr. Kerry's war record that he intended to personally 'express my displeasure'' to the president when they campaign together next week.
Mr. McCain said that he was taking the president at his word that he was not responsible for the ads, which were initially largely financed by Texas Republicans, but that he did not think Mr. Bush had gone far enough in condemning them. He also said he wanted the Kerry campaign to stop using images of his own 2000 primary fight against Mr. Bush in its advertising. [Page A24.]
The resignation of the counsel, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, was announced in the morning by the Bush campaign, which released a letter Mr. Ginsberg had written to the president saying he had done nothing wrong but did not want to hamper the president's re-election effort.
'I cannot begin to express my sadness that my legal representations have become a distraction from the critical issues at hand in this election,'' "

The New York Times > Washington > Abu Ghraib Report: Abuses at Prison Tied to Officers in Intelligence

The New York Times > Washington > Abu Ghraib Report: Abuses at Prison Tied to Officers in Intelligence: "Abuses at Prison Tied to Officers in Intelligence

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 - A high-level Army investigation has found that military intelligence soldiers played a major role in directing and carrying out the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The report undercut earlier contentions by military officials and the Bush administration that a handful of renegade military police guards were largely to blame.
The report, released at the Pentagon on Wednesday, cited for punishment the top two military intelligence officers at the prison, Col. Thomas M. Pappas and Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, and three other intelligence officers involved in the interrogations at the jail, near Baghdad, saying they bore responsibility for what happened even though they were not directly involved in abusing prisoners.
The inquiry, by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, also implicated 29 other military intelligence soldiers in at least 44 cases of abuse between July 2003 and February 2004. These soldiers could face disciplinary action ranging from criminal charges to administrative punishments, like reductions in pay and rank. Even lesser penalties can effectively end a military career.
While the involvement of intelligence soldiers, as well as civilian contractors, was reportedly significantly greater than previously disclosed, many of the allegations had been described before, sometimes in less detail."

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Ayatollah Arrives in Najaf; Attack on Kufa Mosque Kills 27

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Ayatollah Arrives in Najaf; Attack on Kufa Mosque Kills 27: "August 26, 2004
Ayatollah Arrives in Najaf; Attack on Kufa Mosque Kills 27

NAJAF, Iraq, Aug. 26 - Accompanied by thousands of supporters, Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric arrived today in Najaf, where American forces have been battling the militia of the rebel cleric, Moktada al-Sadr.
The cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, returned to the country on Wednesday from a hospital stay in London, calling for a mass demonstration here to end three weeks of fighting. Hours later, American forces made their way almost to the gate of the Shrine of Imam Ali, where Shiite insurgents had established a base.
Ayatollah Sistani, who commands the loyalty of millions of Shiite Muslims, came across the border in a convoy from Kuwait and left early Thursday morning from the southern city of Basra for Najaf, his home. He urged his followers, who began flocking toward Najaf from around the country late Wednesday, not to enter the city's gates until he arrives there. Today, a mortar barrage slammed into a mosque filled with Iraqis preparing to march on Najaf, killing 27 people and wounding 63 here, according to The Associated Press."

Yahoo News > Swift Boat Writer Lied on Cambodia Claim Wed Aug 25, 7:17 PM ET
By ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The chief critic of John Kerry (news - web sites)'s military record told President Nixon in 1971 that he had been in Cambodia in a swift boat during the Vietnam War — a claim at odds with his recent statements that he was not.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

ABU GHRAIB REPORT New York Times > Abuses at Prison Tied to Officers in Intelligence
August 26, 2004
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 - A high-level Army investigation has found that military intelligence soldiers played a major role in ordering and carrying out the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The report refuted earlier contentions by military officials and the Bush administration that a handful of renegade military police guards were largely to blame.
The report, released at the Pentagon on Wednesday, recommended that the Army punish the top two military intelligence officers at the prison, Col. Thomas M. Pappas and Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, and three other intelligence officers involved in the interrogations at the jail, near Baghdad, saying they bore responsibility for what happened even though they were not directly involved in abusing prisoners.

New York Times > 2 Planes Crash Near Moscow; 88 Feared Lost

August 25, 2004

MOSCOW, Wednesday, Aug. 25 - Two Russian passenger jets on domestic flights crashed nearly simultaneously after departing from the same terminal in Moscow on Tuesday night, officials said. At least 88 people were presumed dead.

While precise details surrounding the crashes were unclear, the Russian news service Interfax, citing an anonymous official source, reported that minutes after the first plane went down, the second jet issued a distress signal indicating it had been hijacked. Then it, too, disappeared from radar.

As airport security was tightened throughout Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin, who has been vacationing and working in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, ordered the F.S.B., one of the successor agencies to the K.G.B., to begin immediate investigations into the crashes, a spokesman for the president told the news service.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

My Way News > Kerry Urges Bush to Demand Attacks Stop

Aug 22, 5:56 AM (ET)

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Saturday night urged President Bush to "stand up and stop" what he called personal attacks on him over his combat record in Vietnam.

At a fund-raiser attended by about 750 people, Kerry said the attacks by a group of Vietnam veterans and former Swift Boat commanders have intensified "because in the last months they have seen me climbing in America's understanding that I know how to fight a smarter and more effective war" against terrorists.

"That's why they're attacking my credibility. That's why they've personally gone after me. The president needs to stand up and stop that. The president needs to have the courage to talk about it."

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group funded in part by a top GOP donor in Texas, has been running ads featuring veterans who served in Vietnam at the same time as Kerry and question his wartime record.

New York Times > Debate Over Anti-Kerry Ad Continues on Sunday Talk Shows

August 22, 2004


he debate over John Kerry's Vietnam record showed no sign of abating this morning as a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group running advertisements attacking Mr. Kerry's record, denied involvement with the Republican Party while Democrats called on the president to stop the advertisements.

"Our message is our message, and no one tells us what to say," Van Odell, a member of Swift boat veterans group, said on the Fox News program "Fox News Sunday."

For the past several weeks the group has run television advertisements stating that Mr. Kerry, who was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, "has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam." In one advertisement, Mr. Odell says that Mr. Kerry "lied to get his Bronze Star."

John Hurley, the national director of Veterans for Kerry, also speaking on "Fox News Sunday," called the Swift boat veterans group "a Republican smear campaign."

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, called the advertisements "disgusting" and a "despicable attack" on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."

"The same effort was made by some Republicans with Bush against John McCain four years ago," Mr. Levin said. "It was resented then. It's resented now by the American people. And I would hope President Bush would listen to John McCain and tell those folks, get those ads off the air. It is not right."

Earlier this month Mr. McCain condemned an advertisement accusing Mr. Kerry of lying about his Vietnam War record and called on President Bush to condemn the advertisement as well.

Jennifer Millerwise, the deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said on CNN's "Inside Politics Sunday" that the president has condemned all of the group's 27 ads.

"The president's position is very clear on John Kerry's service," she said. "He said it's honorable. We've never questioned his service and we never will."

But Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, said: "President Bush twice now was asked directly, will you condemn this Swift boat ad. And you know what his answer was? He looked into the camera, shrugged, smirked and walked away."

While campaigning today in McAdenville, N.C., Senator John Edwards said that Mr. Kerry "put his life on the line for his country."

"This is a moment of truth for President Bush," Mr. Edwards said. "I said that yesterday and in the 24 hours that has passed since, we haven't heard anything from President Bush. Mr. President, the clock is running. The American people deserve to hear from you and they deserve to hear from you that these ads should come down."

With the United States at war, both presidential candidates find themselves having to defend the choices they made in the Vietnam era. Mr. Kerry, who has made his service in Vietnam a large part of his campaign, finds his record being closely scrutinized. And Mr. Bush, who served in the Texas Air National Guard, has had to deny accusations that he relied on his family's connections to escape combat.

On Friday, Mr. Kerry asked the Federal Election Commission to force the group to withdraw the advertisements, a move that some say is an indication that the advertisements are hurting his campaign.

Ken Mehlman, the Bush-Cheney campaign manager, said Mr. Kerry's charge was "entirely baseless."

"We've actually sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission, which the Kerry campaign had contacted, asking them to look into this," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "We've told them to dismiss the complaint that the Kerry campaign has put forward. There is absolutely no connection between the Bush campaign and this organization."

Mr. Mehlman continued: "Our president from the beginning has praised Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam. I can't think of a campaign in history where the campaign has so strongly praised the opponent's service in Vietnam."

On Saturday, retired Col. Kenneth Cordier, a Vietnam veteran and a member of Mr. Bush's steering committee to help reach out to veterans, resigned from the committee over his appearance in one of the commercials. Mr. Cordier was also a Bush supporter in the 2000 election.

In his television interview today Mr. Odell was asked about apparently contradictory statements by a member of the group, George Elliott. Mr. Odell was shown an advertisement in which Mr. Elliott says that Mr. Kerry has not been truthful about what happened in Vietnam. Mr. Odell was then shown an October 1996 campaign video for Mr. Kerry in which Mr. Elliott praises him.

"The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is not something to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage," Mr. Elliott says in the earlier video.

Mr. Odell was also shown statements by another member of the group, Adrian L. Lonsdale, who in an advertisement says Mr. Kerry "lacks the capacity to lead." In a 1996 news conference, Mr. Lonsdale spoke of the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift boats," and said that "Senator Kerry was no exception."

"He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers," Mr. Lonsdale said.

When asked to explain the apparent contradictions, Mr. Odell said that Mr. Elliott and Mr. Lonsdale were defending Mr. Kerry "against lies that he was a war criminal."

Mr. Odell did not elaborate on the tapes, saying that he did not want to speak for the other veterans. But he did say that the members of veterans group all have the same opinion when it comes to John Kerry.

"All of us agree that he's not fit to be commander-in-chief," Mr. Odell said.

Among the group's accusations is that Mr. Kerry was not in Cambodia at Christmas in 1968, as he declared in a statement to the Senate in 1986.

Mr. Hurley, the national director of Veterans for Kerry, said it was difficult to determine whether Mr. Kerry was near or in Cambodia, on or after Christmas. "There's no sign that says `Welcome to Cambodia,' " Mr. Hurley said.

Mr. Hurley emphasized that this election should not be about where Mr. Kerry was on a single night 35 years ago. "We could ask similar questions of President Bush," Mr. Hurley said.

Members of the Swift boat veterans group also contend that Mr. Kerry's Bronze Star citation is inaccurate in stating that the event unfolded under enemy fire.

According to the citation, on March 13, 1969, Mr. Kerry turned a Swift boat around to rescue one of his compatriots, Jim Rassman, who had fallen into the water while the boat was under enemy fire. Mr. Rassman, who says he is a Republican, has been describing the incident in support of Mr. Kerry's campaign since the Iowa caucuses in January.

But Mr. Odell said this morning that "there was no enemy fire."

To make matters murkier, the recommendation for Mr. Kerry to receive a Bronze Star was signed by George Elliott, now a member of the veterans group that is disputing the validity of the citation.

Mr. Odell said that Mr. Kerry wrote the spot reports that led to the citation. When asked if he has any documents from 1969 to prove this, Mr. Odell said he did not.

Support for Mr. Kerry recently arrived in the form of a 1,750 first-person article by William B. Rood, a Chicago Tribune editor who served in Vietnam alongside Mr. Kerry. The article, which was published on the Tribune's Web site on Saturday in its newspaper today, disputes the attacks on Mr. Kerry's war record and breaks Mr. Rood's 35-year silence about his experience in Vietnam.

While the Bush administration asserts that the veterans group has no links to its administration, there remain numerous connections between the group's members and the Bush family, as well as Texas political figures and to President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

According to Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks political donations, Bob J. Perry is the top donor to Republicans in the state. He is also a longtime associate of Mr. Rove and gave $200,000 to the group.

"I'm thankful that Bob Perry gave us that seed money to get started, but he's not the biggest contributor," Mr. Odell said. "The biggest contributor right now is the American people. We were getting about $20,000 a day in donations. When Kerry came out against us and said he was going to land his boat, that first day we got over $100,000 and Friday we got $260,000."

BBC > China celebrates Deng centenary

China has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Deng Xiaoping, its late supreme leader.
For most Chinese, Deng was the man who set the country on a pragmatic reformist course after decades of political upheaval.

At an official ceremony President Hu Jintao praised Deng as a statesman driven by a passion for his people.

He was also the man who ultimately authorised troops to fire on democracy demonstrators in Beijing in 1989.

President Hu spoke as a giant portrait of Deng smiled down on hundreds of gathered officials.

"We are here to commemorate him for his great achievements in national independence, people's liberation, national prosperity," Mr Hu said.

Let some people get rich first
Deng saying on reform

He praised Deng's determination to maintain a tight grip on the country despite what he referred to as "political upheavals".
The BBC's Francis Markus in Beijing says the argument used during the time of the Tiananmen protests and which is repeated often by Chinese leaders now is that the need for stability is paramount in such a vast country.

Our correspondent adds that although Mao Zedong might have been known as the Great Helmsman, Deng is seen as the architect of China's economic reforms.

The Deng reforms first freed agriculture from the shackles of collectivism.

"It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse," was one of his key slogans.

Fanfares and tension

Deng opened up foreign trade and set the stage for the rapid development of China's coastal regions in the hope of kick-starting the whole economy.

"Let some people get rich first," said Deng.

Many Chinese feel that his successor, Jiang Zemin, took that doctrine to an extreme, forcing the current leadership to try to address a growing wealth gap.

A flurry of commemorative material was advertised on state television and on sale across the country.

Stamps and books have been published, a new film made, a symphony performed and huge posters have been hung along streets.

Some analysts believe the fanfare with which Deng's centenary is being celebrated may highlight tensions between China's present leaders and ex-President Jiang, who remains in charge of the army and a powerful figure behind the scenes.

There have been pointed references to the fact Mr Deng surrendered all his official positions when he retired.

Deng died in 1997 just months before the UK returned Hong Kong to China.

BBC > Kerry comrade breaks war silence

A US officer who commanded a swift boat alongside John Kerry in Vietnam has broken a 35-year silence to condemn the presidential candidate's detractors.
William Rood, now a journalist on the Chicago Tribune, said in an article he could not keep silent after seeing TV ads aimed at discrediting Mr Kerry.

"It's... harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue," he wrote.

Mr Rood defended a controversial Kerry tactic of charging ambushers.

He [Kerry] was aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgement, often with disregard to specific tactical assignments
Rear Adm Roy Hoffmann
John Kerry's ex-commander

During a Viet Cong rocket and gun attack in February 1969, Mr Kerry led his boat and two others - including Mr Rood's - at the enemy.
A recent book, Unfit for Command, condemns the tactic as "stupidity, not courage" but Mr Rood said it had been praised by their task force commander as a "shining example of completely overwhelming the enemy".

The BBC's Dan Griffiths reports from Washington that despite Mr Rood's dramatic testimony, there is no sign of the row going away.

On Saturday, Mr Kerry's campaign issued an internet advertisement claiming that the group behind the ads, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), were co-ordinating their work with the Republican Party.

Silver star

SBVT accuse Mr Kerry of embellishing his war record for electoral gain - a charge denied by the Kerry campaign.

"There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam... three officers and 15 crew members," said Mr Rood.
"Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened... One is John Kerry... who won a Silver Star for what happened... I am the other."

The journalist said Mr Kerry, the tactical commander, had asked his fellow officers to join him in charging the enemy in the event of an ambush - a common occurrence at the time.

"We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats' twin .50-calibre machine-guns on the attackers and beaching the boats," he said.

"We routed the ambush, killing three of the attackers. The troops, led by an army adviser, jumped off the boats and began a sweep, which killed another half dozen VC, wounded or captured others."

Mr Rood quoted his task force commander, Rear Adm Roy Hoffmann, as congratulating the three boats and praising the tactic at the time.

However, Mr Hoffmann, now a Kerry critic, said earlier this year that Mr Kerry's action had shown him to be a "loose cannon".

"He was aggressive, but vain and prone to impulsive judgement, often with disregard to specific tactical assignments," the retired admiral said in May.

BBC > Singapore 'would not back Taiwan'

By Andrew Wood
BBC correspondent in Singapore

Singapore's new prime minister says he would not support Taiwan if it provoked a war with China over independence.
Lee Hsien Loong visited Taiwan before he was sworn in earlier this month, causing official outrage in Beijing and a chill in Singapore-China relations.

In a national address, Mr Lee explained that he needed to understand the views of Taiwanese politicians first-hand.

After visiting Taiwan, his assessment was that there was a real risk of miscalculation and mishap, he added.

Singapore has enjoyed good relations with both China and Taiwan.

China is an important partner in both trade and investment.

Taiwan is too - and it is also an important training ground for the Singapore army.


Mr Lee's comments on Taiwan were part of his three-hour National Day Rally speech, given in Malay, Mandarin Chinese and English.

Mr Lee said that if war broke out, Singapore would be faced with a difficult choice between good friends.

As prime minister, he needed to understand the thinking of Taiwanese politicians first-hand, he said.

He felt meeting in person was better than sitting in his office reading secret reports and watching the TV news, he explained.

After visiting Taiwan, his assessment was there was a real risk of miscalculation and mishap. He was alarmed by the rise of independence forces.

He said Singapore would not recognise an independent Taiwan, and he felt European and Asian countries would not either.

But he said most Taiwanese politicians did not recognise that reality.

Mr Lee said he regretted his visit to Taiwan had caused such a severe reaction in China.

But he said it had not breached Singapore's One China policy, which had been followed since 1965.

In the speech, he also announced measures to encourage Singaporeans to have more babies and to promote family life. They included longer maternity leave for women and a five-day working week for civil servants.

BBC > Rebels fight on as US presses in Renewed clashes

Rebels fight on as US presses in
Renewed clashes pitting Iraqi rebels led by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr against US-led forces continued in the southern city of Najaf on Sunday.
US tanks and armoured vehicles appeared to be moving closer to the Imam Ali mosque, still held by the rebels after 18 days of fighting, witnesses said.

US planes have carried out more airstrikes, punctuated by the sound of mortars and heavy machine-gun fire.

Correspondents say talks to end the stand-off seem to be going nowhere.

French-American journalist Micah Garen was released by his kidnappers in the southern city of Nasiriya.
Two French journalists were reported missing and an Italian reporter is feared to have been kidnapped.
Iraqi oil exports resume normal levels after a cut in output after threats to attack major oil installations.
Police say three people were killed during an ambush in the northern city of Mosul.
The Iraqi interior ministry claims 40 rebels had been killed in fighting with US-led forces in Kufa, near Najaf. There has been no confirmation of the claim.
US military officials said four marines have been killed since Saturday in separate incidents in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.
A car bomb explodes in Baquba, 65km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, killing two people in an apparent attack against a local official.
Talks obstacle

About 1,000 unarmed Sadr followers are believed to be inside the Imam Ali shrine while armed fighters of the radical cleric's Mehdi Army militia roam the streets and Najaf's vast cemetery.

After repeated air strikes overnight on Saturday, US-led forces and Moqtada al-Sadr's militia fought battles in the street around the old city as the stand-off at the shrine continues.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Najaf says US forces appear to have edged closer to the Imam Ali mosque, and are perhaps 400 metres (yards) away as the crow flies.

However, our correspondent notes, to get any closer would mean entering the narrow alleyways of the old city - a location that is easier to defend than to attack.

No sign of endgame

Some civilians told reporters they were forming a human shield to deter attacks on the shrine.

Mr Sadr's whereabouts remain unclear.

A spokesman for Mr Sadr has said the cleric's militia will continue to protect the site from the outside, preventing any Iraqi and US troops from entering it.

An aide said on Saturday that talks on handing control of the shrine to Iraq's leading Shia authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, had stalled.

Mr Sadr was asking for Ayatollah Sistani to send a delegation to take an inventory of precious items in the mosque, said the aide, Ali Smeisim.

He said Mr Sadr wanted to make sure his men could not be accused of taking anything.

The BBC correspondent in Najaf says that negotiations appear to be going nowhere and that there is little sign of an imminent conclusion to the crisis.