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Saturday, November 12, 2005

NPR : Georgia Protesters Angry over Use of Tasers

NPR : Georgia Protesters Angry over Use of TasersGeorgia Protesters Angry over Use of Tasers

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by Laura Sullivan

All Things Considered, November 12, 2005 · About 150 people gathered in Atlanta Saturday to protest the use of taser guns by police. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the rally. It's one more sign of the growing controversy over tasers.

Japan Today - News - 5,800 police officers put on alert in Kyoto before Japan-U.S. summit - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - 5,800 police officers put on alert in Kyoto before Japan-U.S. summit - Japan's Leading International News Network5,800 police officers put on alert in Kyoto before Japan-U.S. summit

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Sunday, November 13, 2005 at 04:00 JST
TOKYO — Some 5,800 police officers have been put on alert throughout Kyoto, where Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W Bush are to hold a summit Wednesday, the Kyoto prefectural police said Saturday.

Bush is to pay a two-day visit from Tuesday to the ancient capital. The prefectural police have gathered together 2,800 police officers from 41 of Japan's 47 prefectures. The prefectural police will make Kyoto's imperial palace garden, in which the guest house is located, off-limits to citizens and tourists, starting Monday.

Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort - New York Times

Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort - New York TimesNovember 12, 2005
Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON

TOBYHANNA, Pa., Nov. 11 - President Bush on Friday sharply criticized Democrats who have accused him of misleading the nation about the threat from Iraq's weapons programs, calling their criticism "deeply irresponsible" and suggesting that they are undermining the war effort.

In a Veterans Day speech at an Army depot here, Mr. Bush made his most aggressive effort to date to counter the charge that he had justified taking the United States to war by twisting or exaggerating prewar intelligence. That line of attack has deepened his political woes by helping to sow doubts about his credibility and integrity at a time when public support for the war is ebbing.

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges," Mr. Bush said. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

Mr. Bush's comments, using language far more direct and provocative than in his previous efforts to parry the criticism, brought an angry response from Democratic leaders in Congress, who said questions about his use of prewar intelligence were entirely legitimate and proper.

"Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, said in a statement. "Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses."

In his speech, Mr. Bush asserted that Democrats as well as Republicans believed before the invasion in 2003 that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons, a conclusion, he said, that was shared by the United Nations. He resisted any implication that his administration had deliberately distorted the available intelligence, and said that the resolution authorizing the use of force had been supported by more than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate based on the same information available to the White House.

Before the war, the administration portrayed Iraq as armed with weapons that made it a threat to the Middle East and the United States. No biological or chemical weapons were found in Iraq after the American attack, and Mr. Hussein's nuclear program appears to have been rudimentary and all but dormant.

Mr. Bush has acknowledged failures in prewar intelligence but has maintained that toppling Mr. Hussein was still justified on other grounds, including liberating Iraqis from his rule.

Two official inquiries - by the Senate Intelligence Committee and by a presidential commission - blamed intelligence agencies for inflating the threat posed by Iraq's weapons programs, but stopped short of ascribing the problems to political pressures.

But the Senate review described repeated, unsuccessful efforts by the White House and its allies in the Pentagon to persuade the Central Intelligence Agency to embrace the view that Iraq had provided support to Al Qaeda. According to former administration officials, in early 2003, George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, and Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, rejected elements of a speech drafted by aides to Vice President Dick Cheney that was intended to present the administration's case for war, calling them exaggerated and unsubstantiated by intelligence.

And some assertions by administration officials, like Mr. Cheney's statement in 2002 that Mr. Hussein could acquire nuclear weapons "fairly soon" and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's statement the same year that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," have been proven overstated or wrong.

In defending his administration against the new round of Democratic criticism, Mr. Bush said Friday, "While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

"Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war," he said. "These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

"They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction."

After simmering for much of this year, the issue of how the administration used prewar intelligence has boiled over again in the last few months, leaving Mr. Bush on the defensive. The C.I.A. leak investigation focused new attention on the role of the White House, and especially Mr. Cheney, in assembling the intelligence used to justify the invasion.

The rising death toll and the difficulty American and Iraqi forces have had in containing the insurgency have depressed public support for the war. With Mr. Bush weakened politically on many counts, Democrats have been emboldened to take him on more aggressively than they have in the past, and have pushed in particular to keep a focus on the White House's justifications for the war.

Under pressure from Democrats, the Senate Intelligence Committee has begun closed-door meetings about how to proceed with a long-promised second phase of its inquiry into prewar intelligence. That effort is to focus in part on the use of intelligence by the Bush administration, Congress and others.

But that inquiry is unlikely to be completed any time soon, given the complexities of assessing how the White House, the Pentagon, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, Iraqi exile groups and others employed intelligence in setting policy and making public statements. Republicans have rebuffed an effort by Democrats to begin a similar review in the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Bush's comments on Friday only intensified the partisan battle. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Bush's Democratic rival in the presidential campaign last year, accused him of "playing the politics of fear and smear on Veterans Day."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, called Mr. Bush's speech "a campaignlike attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war."

The White House, which has sought to define its opponents on the issue as liberals who are out of the mainstream on national security, struck back quickly at Mr. Kennedy as part of a new rapid-response plan through which administration officials hope to blunt the Democratic message about Mr. Bush.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said it was "regrettable that Senator Kennedy has found more time to say negative things about President Bush than he ever did about Saddam Hussein."

"If America were to follow Senator Kennedy's foreign policy," Mr. McClellan said, "Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, he would be oppressing and occupying Kuwait."

In responding so strongly to the criticism, the White House seems to be throwing fuel on a political fire that it may not be able to control.

But the administration appears to be calculating that it has always benefited so far from focusing the debate on national security, where the Democrats in recent years have been divided and tentative in advocating alternatives to Mr. Bush's stay-the-course policy in Iraq. And with Mr. Bush's poll numbers crumbling, the White House may have little choice but to take the risk; an Associated Press-Ipsos Poll released Friday found that 42 percent of Americans viewed Mr. Bush as honest, down from 53 percent at the beginning of the year.

Beyond taking on the Democrats over prewar intelligence, Mr. Bush used Friday's speech to make a case that despite the violent insurgency, Iraq is making steady progress that is creating the foundations of a stable democracy.

"By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq had made incredible political progress - from tyranny to liberation to national elections to the ratification of a constitution - in the space of two and a half years," he said, speaking to a friendly audience of veterans, military personnel and their families under a banner reading "Strategy for Victory."

At the same time, he said, Iraqi troops are showing increased ability to battle the insurgency.

"Our strategy is to clear, hold and build," Mr. Bush said, referring to the military tactic of sweeping suspected insurgents from towns and cities, leaving Iraqi forces behind to keep the insurgents from re-establishing a foothold, and then creating political institutions that can sustain a stable peace.

He also continued his effort to cast Iraq as part of a broader struggle against a virulent strain of radical Islam.

With Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania, Mr. Cheney took up traditional Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort - New York Times

Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort - New York TimesNovember 12, 2005
Bush Contends Partisan Critics Hurt War Effort
By RICHARD W. STEVENSON

TOBYHANNA, Pa., Nov. 11 - President Bush on Friday sharply criticized Democrats who have accused him of misleading the nation about the threat from Iraq's weapons programs, calling their criticism "deeply irresponsible" and suggesting that they are undermining the war effort.

In a Veterans Day speech at an Army depot here, Mr. Bush made his most aggressive effort to date to counter the charge that he had justified taking the United States to war by twisting or exaggerating prewar intelligence. That line of attack has deepened his political woes by helping to sow doubts about his credibility and integrity at a time when public support for the war is ebbing.

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges," Mr. Bush said. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

Mr. Bush's comments, using language far more direct and provocative than in his previous efforts to parry the criticism, brought an angry response from Democratic leaders in Congress, who said questions about his use of prewar intelligence were entirely legitimate and proper.

"Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, said in a statement. "Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses."

In his speech, Mr. Bush asserted that Democrats as well as Republicans believed before the invasion in 2003 that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons, a conclusion, he said, that was shared by the United Nations. He resisted any implication that his administration had deliberately distorted the available intelligence, and said that the resolution authorizing the use of force had been supported by more than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate based on the same information available to the White House.

Before the war, the administration portrayed Iraq as armed with weapons that made it a threat to the Middle East and the United States. No biological or chemical weapons were found in Iraq after the American attack, and Mr. Hussein's nuclear program appears to have been rudimentary and all but dormant.

Mr. Bush has acknowledged failures in prewar intelligence but has maintained that toppling Mr. Hussein was still justified on other grounds, including liberating Iraqis from his rule.

Two official inquiries - by the Senate Intelligence Committee and by a presidential commission - blamed intelligence agencies for inflating the threat posed by Iraq's weapons programs, but stopped short of ascribing the problems to political pressures.

But the Senate review described repeated, unsuccessful efforts by the White House and its allies in the Pentagon to persuade the Central Intelligence Agency to embrace the view that Iraq had provided support to Al Qaeda. According to former administration officials, in early 2003, George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, and Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, rejected elements of a speech drafted by aides to Vice President Dick Cheney that was intended to present the administration's case for war, calling them exaggerated and unsubstantiated by intelligence.

And some assertions by administration officials, like Mr. Cheney's statement in 2002 that Mr. Hussein could acquire nuclear weapons "fairly soon" and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's statement the same year that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," have been proven overstated or wrong.

In defending his administration against the new round of Democratic criticism, Mr. Bush said Friday, "While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began."

"Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war," he said. "These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

"They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction."

After simmering for much of this year, the issue of how the administration used prewar intelligence has boiled over again in the last few months, leaving Mr. Bush on the defensive. The C.I.A. leak investigation focused new attention on the role of the White House, and especially Mr. Cheney, in assembling the intelligence used to justify the invasion.

The rising death toll and the difficulty American and Iraqi forces have had in containing the insurgency have depressed public support for the war. With Mr. Bush weakened politically on many counts, Democrats have been emboldened to take him on more aggressively than they have in the past, and have pushed in particular to keep a focus on the White House's justifications for the war.

Under pressure from Democrats, the Senate Intelligence Committee has begun closed-door meetings about how to proceed with a long-promised second phase of its inquiry into prewar intelligence. That effort is to focus in part on the use of intelligence by the Bush administration, Congress and others.

But that inquiry is unlikely to be completed any time soon, given the complexities of assessing how the White House, the Pentagon, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, Iraqi exile groups and others employed intelligence in setting policy and making public statements. Republicans have rebuffed an effort by Democrats to begin a similar review in the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Bush's comments on Friday only intensified the partisan battle. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Bush's Democratic rival in the presidential campaign last year, accused him of "playing the politics of fear and smear on Veterans Day."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, called Mr. Bush's speech "a campaignlike attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war."

The White House, which has sought to define its opponents on the issue as liberals who are out of the mainstream on national security, struck back quickly at Mr. Kennedy as part of a new rapid-response plan through which administration officials hope to blunt the Democratic message about Mr. Bush.

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said it was "regrettable that Senator Kennedy has found more time to say negative things about President Bush than he ever did about Saddam Hussein."

"If America were to follow Senator Kennedy's foreign policy," Mr. McClellan said, "Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, he would be oppressing and occupying Kuwait."

In responding so strongly to the criticism, the White House seems to be throwing fuel on a political fire that it may not be able to control.

But the administration appears to be calculating that it has always benefited so far from focusing the debate on national security, where the Democrats in recent years have been divided and tentative in advocating alternatives to Mr. Bush's stay-the-course policy in Iraq. And with Mr. Bush's poll numbers crumbling, the White House may have little choice but to take the risk; an Associated Press-Ipsos Poll released Friday found that 42 percent of Americans viewed Mr. Bush as honest, down from 53 percent at the beginning of the year.

Beyond taking on the Democrats over prewar intelligence, Mr. Bush used Friday's speech to make a case that despite the violent insurgency, Iraq is making steady progress that is creating the foundations of a stable democracy.

"By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq had made incredible political progress - from tyranny to liberation to national elections to the ratification of a constitution - in the space of two and a half years," he said, speaking to a friendly audience of veterans, military personnel and their families under a banner reading "Strategy for Victory."

At the same time, he said, Iraqi troops are showing increased ability to battle the insurgency.

"Our strategy is to clear, hold and build," Mr. Bush said, referring to the military tactic of sweeping suspected insurgents from towns and cities, leaving Iraqi forces behind to keep the insurgents from re-establishing a foothold, and then creating political institutions that can sustain a stable peace.

He also continued his effort to cast Iraq as part of a broader struggle against a virulent strain of radical Islam.

With Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania, Mr. Cheney took up traditional Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

Japan Today - News - U.S., Japan to begin moving Marines to Guam in 2008 - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S., Japan to begin moving Marines to Guam in 2008 - Japan's Leading International News NetworkU.S., Japan to begin moving Marines to Guam in 2008

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Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 17:43 JST
WASHINGTON — Japan and the United States plan to begin moving U.S. Marine Corps troops in Okinawa to Guam in 2008 with completion by 2012, U.S. House of Representatives Delegate Madeleine Bordallo from Guam said in a recent interview.

The two nations intend to start the construction of new facilities in Guam for the Marines, for which Japan has committed to share the cost, in 2006, Bordallo said in the interview Thursday, noting that costs are estimated at more than $4 billion.

Japan Today - News - Japan to get 124 Patriot missiles - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Japan to get 124 Patriot missiles - Japan's Leading International News Networkjapantoday > national
Japan to get 124 Patriot missiles

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Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 17:46 JST
TOKYO — The Defense Agency is planning to procure 124 Patriot surface-to-air missiles in the coming years through fiscal 2010 and to have a domestic defense contractor build them to replace imports, which will meet initial demand, informed sources said Saturday.

The PAC-3 missiles are intended to hit cruise missiles at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers that have escaped interceptors launched by the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyer. Costing an estimated 500 million yen each, the missiles will first be imported from the United States, but the agency is planning to switch to delivery from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which will be licensed to produce them domestically, the sources said.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Annan urges Iraq reconciliation

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Annan urges Iraq reconciliation Annan urges Iraq reconciliation
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has stressed the importance of national reconciliation in Iraq as he made a surprise visit to Baghdad.

His comments came after talks with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other Iraqi leaders.

He arrived as the latest car bombing killed at least four people and injured 19 in an attack near a market.

Iraq's US-backed interim government is battling a mainly Sunni insurgency that has killed thousands of people.

Iraq is going through a critical political transition. This political transition must be all-inclusive
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

Mr Jaafari said earlier that reports of the death of one of Saddam Hussein's closest aides would - if confirmed - have "a positive effect on Iraqis and a negative effect on terrorism".

Iraq's former ruling Baath party released a statement on Friday announcing the death of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri of natural causes.

Mr Douri, 63, was the most senior figure in the ousted regime still at large. The US had offered a $10m reward for information leading to his capture.

Message for Sunnis

Mr Annan was in Baghdad ahead of next month's planned general election that will replace the transitional government.

"The idea is that reconciliation is absolutely essential in Iraq," Mr Annan said at a joint news conference with Mr Jaafari.

"I don't think anyone would argue with that."

Mr Annan backed an Arab League reconciliation initiative which begins with a conference in Cairo in a week's time and also envisages a broad-based peace conference for Iraq in January.

Mr Annan also met a Sunni delegation.

The message from him is that the outside world fully supports the Iraqi political process and really wants the Sunnis to get on board, isolating the hardcore of the Sunni-based insurgency, reports BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad.

Car bomb

Mr Annan's visit to Iraq - his first since the US-led invasion in 2003 - follows separate trips by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in recent days.

The UN pulled out of Iraq after a bomb at UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 killed 22 people, including envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The latest car bomb attack took place in the south-eastern New Baghdad area.

Eyewitnesses said the explosion sparked fires in several shops in the busy market, trapping people inside.

Eyewitness Ali Saleh told Reuters news agency: "A car parked near a pharmacy suddenly blew up and we saw smoke and people started running.

"Women were searching for their children. The shrapnel flew everywhere, the force of the blast was so strong."
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Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak - New York Times

Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak - New York TimesNovember 12, 2005
Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak
By JONATHAN D. GLATER and ADAM LIPTAK

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has vigorously defended freedom of expression, adopting a stance that places him among a group of conservative judges with a libertarian streak.

Judge Alito's broad reading of the freedom of speech and press clauses of the First Amendment stands in contrast with his narrower interpretation of other constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and the Sixth Amendment's guarantees of fair trial rights for criminal defendants.

Judge Alito, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, has found First Amendment violations in a school board's antiharassment policy, in a ban on liquor advertisements in a college newspaper and in the removal of a boy's drawing of Jesus from a schoolhouse wall.

But this willingness to protect expression has not extended to cases involving prisoners and government employees. In a dissent this year, for instance, he argued that officials in a maximum security prison were free to punish inmates by barring their access to newspapers and magazines.

"Judge Alito is part of the new breed of conservative libertarian jurists who are sensitive to safeguarding our free-speech freedoms," said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, a research and advocacy group in Virginia. "They're particularly sensitive when it comes to issues involving speech and commerce and political orthodoxy."

These judges tend to be very protective of speech rights when they involve the marketplace of ideas, or the core of the First Amendment, said Jesse H. Choper, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Among the generally conservative judges who share Judge Alito's approach to free expression are Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Judge Alex Kozinski on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Justice Antonin Scalia may also be considered in this group; his vote was critical in a 1989 case holding that burning the American flag was a form of protected political speech.

In Judge Alito's 15 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, his most expansive meditation on the contours of the First Amendment's speech protections came in a 2001 case challenging a code of conduct.

David Saxe, a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and the legal guardian of two students in the State College school district, challenged the district's antiharassment policy, which forbade jokes and demeaning comments about various personal characteristics, including race, sexual orientation, clothing, social skills and values.

Mr. Saxe said the code interfered with his family's right to speak out in opposition to homosexuality. Judge Alito, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, ruled in his favor.

There is, Judge Alito wrote, "no question that the free speech clause protects a wide variety of speech that listeners may consider deeply offensive, including statements that impugn another's race or national origin or that denigrate religious beliefs."

Telling students not to be catty about clothes and social skills, he went on, "may be brave, futile or merely silly." But banning speech about values, he said, "strikes at the heart of moral and political discourse - the lifeblood of constitutional self-government (and democratic education) and the core concern of the First Amendment."

The judge's views in this case contrast with his position in a lawsuit filed by Phyllis J. Sanguigni, a teacher at the Taylor Allderdice School in Pittsburgh, who argued that the school retaliated against her after she wrote in a newsletter about poor morale and stress among teachers. She was removed from a coaching position.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Alito decided that the teacher had no free speech claim. "Sanguigni did not comment on any broad social or policy issue," he wrote, and her statements conveyed little useful information to the public. "Nor did she comment on how the Taylor Allderdice School was discharging its educational responsibilities or how the school authorities were spending the taxpayers' money."

In another case involving students, Judge Alito, again writing for a unanimous panel, struck down a Pennsylvania law that banned alcohol advertisements in college newspapers. The law was intended to combat under-age drinking.

Judge Alito said it violated the First Amendment in two ways. First, he ruled that the commercial speech rights of advertisers were curtailed for no good reason. Even if students do not see advertisements for alcohol in their college newspapers, he wrote, "they will still be exposed to a torrent of beer ads on television and radio, and they will still see alcoholic beverage ads in other publications." The law did such a poor job of achieving its goal, he said, that it violated the First Amendment.

The law also violated the newspapers' rights, Judge Alito ruled, by singling them out for a financial penalty. "If government were free to suppress disfavored speech by preventing potential speakers from being paid," he wrote, "there would not be much left of the First Amendment."

Judge Alito sided with the mother of a kindergarten pupil whose son's depiction of Jesus was removed from a schoolhouse wall after all students were asked to draw what they were thankful for. The appellate panel of 14 judges did not decide the case on First Amendment grounds, a move strongly criticized by the judge, and sent it back to a lower court.

"Instead of confronting the First Amendment issue that is squarely presented by that incident," Judge Alito wrote, "the court ducks the issue and bases its decision on a spurious procedural ground."

He added: "I would hold that public school students have the right to express religious views in class discussion or in assigned work, provided that their expression falls within the scope of the discussion or the assignment and provided that the school's restriction on expression does not satisfy strict scrutiny."

Judge Alito's most significant libel decision involved a quirky claim against Time and Newsweek magazines by C. Delores Tucker, who had campaigned against vulgarity in rap music. In an earlier libel suit by Ms. Tucker against the rapper Tupac Shakur, Ms. Tucker's husband had filed a common claim, for "loss of consortium," a legal term meaning that the injury she had suffered had also caused him to lose her marital companionship.

A lawyer for Mr. Shakur's estate pointed out that loss of consortium commonly includes damage to the couple's sexual relationship, and Time and Newsweek had some fun at the Tuckers' expense. "A lyrical attack by Tupac iced their sex life," Newsweek said of the Tuckers. They sued, saying the mockery was libel.

Judge Alito dismissed the claims. The Tuckers, he ruled, were public figures and had to prove that the magazines had acted with actual malice, that is, knowing their statements were false or entertaining doubts about their truth when they published them. The Tuckers had, he said, failed to do that.

Judge Alito seemed comfortable with the meaning of "loss of consortium" but turned to the Encyclopedia Britannica for a definition of "gangsta rap," which he reproduced in a footnote ("a marriage of languid beats and murderous gang mentality").

Judge Alito has exhibited little patience for the First Amendment claims of prisoners. In addition to his dissent in favor of barring access to publications for prisoners, he wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel in 1999 to reverse a lower court's ruling that the rights of incarcerated pedophiles were violated when their access to pornography was restricted.

"It is beyond dispute," he wrote, "that New Jersey has a legitimate penological interest in rehabilitating its most dangerous and compulsive sex offenders."

But his past First Amendment opinions may offer little insight into Judge Alito's views on looming controversies, notably how far the government can go in controlling information as it battles terrorism.

"There are some areas where he is untested, like free speech in wartime," Mr. Collins said. "Will the vibrant free speech spirit in his commercial speech and speech code cases translate into free speech in wartime, where the First Amendment butts up against executive power?"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Liberian May Be 1st Female African Leader - New York Times

Liberian May Be 1st Female African Leader - New York TimesNovember 11, 2005
Liberian May Be 1st Female African Leader
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 12:52 a.m. ET

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) -- A former finance minister and Harvard graduate claimed victory Thursday in Liberia's presidential election as a large early lead showed her poised to become the first elected female leader ever in Africa. But her rival, former international soccer star George Weah, refused to concede defeat and maintained his allegations of fraud.

With just over 91 percent of the ballots counted, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had 59 percent of the vote and Weah had nearly 41 percent, the National Elections Commission said.

''It's clear that the Liberian people have expressed confidence in me,'' Johnson-Sirleaf told The Associated Press. ''They have elected me to lead the team that will bring reform to the country and that will deliver development.''

Weah, watching a soccer match on satellite television at his Monrovia villa just before midnight, slammed the poll as unfair.

''She brought in fraud, she brought extra ballots and stuffed them in the boxes,'' Weah said of Johnson-Sirleaf and her supporters. ''Somebody must be disqualified instead of claiming to be the president ... this is not about who wins or who loses. This about democracy.''

Officials called for calm amid Weah's accusations of fraud, which Johnson-Sirleaf's campaign vigorously denied.

It could take days for the National Elections Commission to complete ballot counting and officially certify the results in Liberia's first election since the end of a 1989-2003 civil war and subsequent formation of a transitional government.

Johnson-Sirleaf earlier reached out to Weah, promising to lead ''a government of inclusion'' and saying she would offer her rival a post in government -- perhaps the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

''We hope that Mr. Weah will get over his disappointment that has led to his rejecting the results, and that ultimately he'll accept it and we'll find a way forward together,'' she said.

On Thursday, Weah met with Alan Doss, who heads the 15,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia, and said he would press his formal complaint with the Elections Commission.

''We are seeking the advice of the international community and all the people that are involved to see if everybody can arrest this situation,'' Weah said. ''While we are preparing ourselves for the legal side, we are also asking our people to be very calm.''

Weah's supporters include many former warlords, rebel leaders and young men who fought in Liberia's 14-year civil war that killed up to 200,000 people and plunged the country's 3 million residents into abject poverty.

While international observers who monitored the poll said preliminary findings indicated it was fair, Doss said the fraud allegations were being taken seriously.

''Any allegation of any fraud is serious and we don't want allegations of fraud to mar the election,'' he said.

The U.S. State Department also said any allegations of wrongdoing in Liberia's election should be investigated.

''We also believe that during this period all sides need to remain calm and pursue grievances through established legal channels,'' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Thursday. He added that the overall U.S. view is that the process was orderly and efficient with few irregularities.

Johnson-Sirleaf's campaign denied the charges.

''It's all lies,'' said Jemima Caulcrick, a top official of Johnson-Sirleaf's Unity Party. ''They just don't want a woman to be president in Africa. But she shall be.''

David Carroll, leading a 28-person team from the Atlanta-based Carter Center, said that while ''minor irregularities'' had been noted, ''none of our observers saw any serious problems.''

Across the country's bombed-out capital, large groups of excited Liberians stood on crumbling street corners, listening to results as they were announced on radio. Some argued with each other, shaking fingers and shouting.

The winner will have to govern a country left in ruins by war, its buildings smashed and nearly one-third of its people in relief camps.

Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, has a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University and has held top regional jobs at the World Bank, the United Nations and within the Liberian government. Her supporters call her the ''Iron Lady,'' borrowing the nickname of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In elections in 1997, Johnson-Sirleaf ran second to warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, who many claimed was voted into power by a fearful electorate. Taylor was forced from power two years ago and lives in exile in Nigeria.

Weah's ascent from Monrovia's slums to international soccer stardom had earned him much support in a dirt-poor country short on heroes. The 39-year-old is a high school dropout with no experience in government, but that is seen as a plus by many in a country long-ruled by coup leaders and warlords.

Founded by freed American slaves in the mid-1800s, Liberia was once among Africa's most prosperous countries, rich in diamonds, ancient forests and rubber. Years of war ended in 2003 when Taylor was forced to step down as advancing rebels shelled the capital.

Elected women in high office are rare across Africa. Earlier this year, women were appointed deputy president of South Africa and prime minister of Mozambique. Liberia briefly had an unelected woman president, Ruth Perry, in the mid-1990s.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Poll: Americans Doubt Bush's Honesty

CBS 46 Atlanta - Poll: Americans Doubt Bush's HonestyWashington
Poll: Americans Doubt Bush's Honesty
Nov 11, 2005, 10:08 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most Americans say they aren't impressed by the ethics and honesty of the Bush administration, already under scrutiny for its justifications for an unpopular war in Iraq and its role in the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity.

46 FORUM: What Do You Think?

Almost six in 10 - 57 percent - said they do not think the Bush administration has high ethical standards and the same portion says President Bush is not honest, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Just over four in 10 say the administration has high ethical standards and that Bush is honest. Whites, Southerners and white evangelicals were most likely to believe Bush is honest.

Bush, who promised in the 2000 campaign to uphold "honor and integrity" in the White House, last week ordered White House workers, from presidential advisers to low-ranking aides, to attend ethics classes.

The president gets credit from a majority for being strong and decisive, but he's also seen by an overwhelming number of people as "stubborn," a perception reinforced by his refusal to yield on issues like the Iraq war, tax cuts and support for staffers under intense pressure.

More than eight in 10, 82 percent, described Bush as "stubborn," with almost that many Republicans agreeing to that description. That stubborn streak has served Bush well at times, but now he is being encouraged to shake up his staff and change the direction of White House policies.

Concern about the administration's ethics has been fueled by the controversy over flawed intelligence leading up to the Iraq war and the recent indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for his role in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name.

That loss of trust complicates Bush's efforts to rebuild his standing with the public. His job approval rating remains at his all-time low in the AP-Ipsos poll of 37 percent.

"Honesty is a huge issue because even people who disagreed with his policies respected his integrity," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist from the University of Texas.

The mandatory White House lectures on ethics for its employees came after the Libby indictment, and some people say they aren't impressed.

"It's like shutting the barn door after the horse escaped," said John Morrison, a Democrat who lives near Scranton, Pa.

"This week's elections were just a preview of what's going to happen," he said, referring to Tuesday's New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races, both won by Democrats. "People are just fed up."

Some Republicans are nervous about the GOP's political position.

"A lot of elected Republicans are running for the hills in the Northeast," said Connecticut GOP strategist Chris DePino after what he called "a waterfall of missteps" by Republicans. Bush and the GOP must return to their message that the United States has been safe from terrorism during his administration, DePino said.

Only 42 percent in the new poll said they approve of Bush's handling of foreign policy and terrorism, his lowest rating yet in an area that has long been his strongest issue.

The war in Iraq is at the core of the public's unrest, polling found.

An AP-Ipsos poll last week asked people to state in their own words why they approved or disapproved of the way Bush was doing his job. Almost six in 10 disapproved, and they most frequently mentioned the war in Iraq - far ahead of the second issue, the economy.

"To use an unfortunate metaphor, Iraq is a roadside bomb in American politics," said Rich Bond, a former national Republican chairman.

Many of those who approve of Bush's job performance cited his Christian beliefs and strong values, the second biggest reason for support after backing his policies.

"I know he is a man of integrity and strong faith," said Fran Blaney, a Republican and an evangelical who lives near Hartford, Conn. "I've read that he prays every morning asking for God's guidance. He certainly is trying to do what he thinks he is supposed to do."

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Nov. 7-9 by Ipsos, an international polling firm, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Clinton Recaps 8 Years in About an Hour - New York Times

Clinton Recaps 8 Years in About an Hour - New York TimesNovember 11, 2005
Clinton Recaps 8 Years in About an Hour
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., Nov. 10 - Bill Clinton took an early stab yesterday at inscribing his place in the history books, opening a three-day conference about his presidency with a heartfelt speech recounting the highs and lows - mostly the highs - of his eight years in office.

Working from notes and bullet points his aides said he had spent more than a week pulling together, Mr. Clinton spoke for more than an hour at Hofstra University's sports arena before an enthusiastic and near-capacity audience of faculty members, students and others.

Hardly a single development of his presidency escaped discussion: Bosnia, deficit reduction, news media coverage, family leave legislation, the 1994 assault weapons ban, the earned income tax credit, Northern Ireland, after-school programs, and more.

He also challenged criticisms that his impeachment incapacitated the White House during his second term.

"I want to make a confession here. I'm doing this partly because I'm sick and tired of people saying, "If only that impeachment hadn't happened; think of what we haven't done.' " Mr. Clinton reeled off a list of accomplishments from his last year in office, including the preservation of millions of acres of land as federal monuments.

Mr. Clinton began by promising a "little bit of an academic and perhaps disappointing speech," insisting that he "didn't have anything to say about the last four years not on this program."

But it did not take long for the president to circle back to more current events. He cast Democratic victories this week in New Jersey's and Virginia's races for governor - both of which featured intense mudslinging - as a sign that the "politics of personal destruction" might be dissipating because "people voted based on performance, and the election was about their kids and their future."

He also touched briefly on President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, saying that he "could stand up here and make you the current administration speech on that, that Bill Clinton, he wanted to tie America's hands." But the United States' current difficulties there, he said, showed that "it is very difficult to solve conflicts, problems, when we're essentially alone."

"We need to be working to create a world we would like to live in when we are no longer the largest dog on the street," he said.

Overall, the speech was a vintage Clinton performance: Long, leavened with a touch of folksy humor, rich in policy detail, and (slightly) late in coming. More reminiscent of his winding - but generally popular - State of the Union addresses than of a stump speech, Mr. Clinton's remarks for the most part left aside grand themes and soaring language.

Instead, he delivered a blow-by-blow account of his presidency, starting with his decision to jump into the 1992 Democratic primary when "nobody but my wife and my mother thought I had a remote chance," and ending with a long critique of his impeachment and its relative importance to any account of his presidency.

Mr. Clinton emphasized that his "reputation deserved to suffer" for what he called "my misconduct," a reference to his relationship with the White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky. But the impeachment itself, he said, was "an egregious abuse of the Constitution and law and history of this country, and I should get credit for standing up to it."

The former president also took stock of failures, including a rare public discussion of the 1993 Waco debacle, when dozens of cult members died after an assault by federal law enforcement officers.

"We should have waited them out," said Mr. Clinton, who noted that his attorney general at the time, Janet Reno, was new to the job and under "enormous pressure from the F.B.I." to enter the compound. "I am responsible for that because I told her, if that's what they want to do, and she thought it was right. "It was a mistake and I'm responsible. And that's not one of those you get A for effort on."

As for health care - the signal failure of his first term - Mr. Clinton said he had fewer regrets. "When it did not pass we were able to do an enormous number of things because we tried," he said, including expanding children's health insurance and financing for medical research.

The conference, which will run through Saturday, is the 11th presidential conference Hofstra has held since 1982. The first focused on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and later ones have covered every president since.

Mr. Clinton also received an honorary degree, presented by Hofstra's president, Stuart Rabinowitz. And with that the former president did what he often does with crowds: He hurried down the steps, stage left, and waded in to begin shaking hands.

Japan Today - News - China reports new bird flu case - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - China reports new bird flu case - Japan's Leading International News NetworkChina reports new bird flu case

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Friday, November 11, 2005 at 14:51 JST
BEIJING — Chinese agriculture officials reported late Thursday 300 more chickens have died from avian influenza in Liaoning Province in northeast China, where a string of bird flu cases have been reported since last month.

The Ministry of Agriculture said it had confirmed a Sunday report of mass deaths among domestic chickens in four villages of Beining, part of the northeastern coastal city Jinzhou, was from the H5N1 virus, which has spread to humans in other countries. Local authorities killed 2.5 million more poultry within a 3-kilometer radius after the Beining discovery, the ministry said in a statement.

Rice, in Iraq, Says Strategy Against Rebels Is Working - New York Times

Rice, in Iraq, Says Strategy Against Rebels Is Working - New York TimesNovember 11, 2005
Rice, in Iraq, Says Strategy Against Rebels Is Working
By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

MOSUL, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 11 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise stop on Friday in this violent, Sunni-dominated city in northern Iraq , declaring that it had recently become a success story for the strategy of using Iraqi forces to quell the insurgency.

On her way to Mosul, a detour in her trip to the Middle East, Ms. Rice said she wanted to show that the American approach of "clear, hold and build" was working despite criticism at home that the Bush administration lacked a plan for success in Iraq and for the eventual withdrawal of American forces.

"We are working to better unify our political and military activities in the field," Ms. Rice said, citing the creation of three "provincial reconstruction teams," one in Mosul and two in other northern cities, Kirkuk and Hilla. In general, she said, the American objective was to "redefine the mission" toward more cooperation between military forces and the effort to rebuild the area.

Her visit to an area that voted last month against the proposed Iraqi constitution was also intended to underscore American neutrality as Iraqi political factions squabbled over the country's future.

"The United States is not going to support any particular political candidate or any particular party or list," Ms. Rice told reporters before landing here.

But the visit also reflected the delicate situation in Mosul as Ms. Rice - making her second trip to Iraq as secretary of state and her first trip to a Sunni-dominated area outside Baghdad - flew from Bahrain directly to a heavily fortified military base north of the Tigris River, surrounding an old palace of Saddam Hussein's on the city's northern outskirts. The area is now known as Camp Courage.

A month ago, four State Department security officers were killed in Mosul by a roadside bomb, and the city, Iraq's third largest, was not deemed safe enough for her to visit.

Mosul, which is dominated by Sunnis but is ethnically diverse, has had an up-and-down history since the American-led invasion in 2003. It was secure in the occupation's first year, but fell to insurgents after American forces withdrew a year ago. Virtually the entire local Iraqi police force collapsed, overwhelmed by the growing violence that American officials attributed in part to Al Qaeda.

Though two American brigades remain as a backup, American officials say security is mostly provided by the Iraqi Army, which is heavily Kurdish and Shiite, and by the largely Sunni police force.

But American officials say the area remains volatile. The province of Nineveh voted against the constitution, though with a margin short of the two-thirds threshold that would have caused it to be rejected outright.

A senior State Department official said the United States was "very concerned" about allegations of vote fraud but was convinced that any irregularities did not affect the final result. Ms. Rice was due to meet in Mosul with the "provisional reconstruction team" for its official inauguration even though many team members have been here for weeks.

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About KoreaSix-Party Talks Break Without Progress
Six-party talks in Beijing aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs went into recess on Friday without so much as a date for their resumption agreed. However, an official close to the South Korean delegation said, "Everything considered, it looks like a resumption this year will be difficult.” The fresh round only lasted three days and was largely taken up with a rehash of old arguments.

Wu Dawei, China's chief delegate to the talks, in a chairman’s statement said the six countries involved “will take steps to realize a verifiable denuclearized Korean Peninsula within a short time and move on to contribute to the establishment of permanent peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” The remarks show how little progress has been made since a statement of principles adopted in the last round of talks in September.



North Korea reportedly continued stalling on the last day with more complaints about U.S. sanctions against North Korean firms for allegedly funneling Pyongyang’s ill-gotten gains from counterfeiting and drug smuggling. After earlier protesting that the matter was not on the agenda, Washington’s delegation head Christopher Hill said North Korea’s financial transactions required close monitoring since the country had been developing nuclear weapons and had withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

South Korean chief negotiator Song Min-soon was nonetheless cautiously optimistic. “It is difficult to expect a resolution of the issue within a couple of months, but it looks as though a way of bringing harmony to the talks will be found,” he said.

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees - New York Times

Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees - New York TimesNovember 11, 2005
Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees
By ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 - The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

The vote, 49 to 42, on an amendment to a military budget bill by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, comes at a time of intense debate over the government's treatment of prisoners in American custody worldwide, and just days after the Senate passed a measure by Senator John McCain banning abusive treatment of them.

If approved in its current form by both the Senate and the House, which has not yet considered the measure but where passage is considered likely, the law would nullify a June 2004 Supreme Court opinion that detainees at Guantánamo Bay had a right to challenge their detentions in court.

Nearly 200 of roughly 500 detainees there have already filed habeas corpus motions, which are making their way up through the federal court system. As written, the amendment would void any suits pending at the time the law was passed.

The vote also came in the same week that the Supreme Court announced that it would consider the constitutionality of war crimes trials before President Bush's military commissions for certain detainees at Guantánamo Bay, a case that legal experts said might never be decided by the court if the Graham amendment became law.

Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans in backing the amendment, but the vote on Thursday may only be a temporary triumph for Mr. Graham. Senate Democrats led by Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico said they would seek another vote, as early as Monday, to gut the part of Mr. Graham's measure that bans Guantánamo prisoners from challenging their incarceration by petitioning in civilian court for a writ of habeas corpus.

So it is possible that some lawmakers could have it both ways, backing other provisions in Mr. Graham's measure that try to make the Guantánamo tribunal process more accountable to the Senate, but opposing the more exceptional element of the legislation that limits prerogatives of the judiciary. Nine senators were absent for Thursday's vote.

Mr. Graham said the measure was necessary to eliminate a blizzard of legal claims from prisoners that was tying up Department of Justice resources, and slowing the ability of federal interrogators to glean information from detainees that have been plucked off the battlefields of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"It is not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint," Mr. Graham said. "We have done nothing today but return to the basics of the law of armed conflict where we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals."

Opponents of the measure denounced the Senate vote as a grave step backward in the nation's treatment of detainees in the global war on terror. "This is not a time to back away from the principles that this country was founded on," Mr. Bingaman said during floor debate.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of four Republicans to vote against the measure, said the Senate was unduly rushing into a major legal shift without enough debate. "I believe the habeas corpus provision needs to be maintained," Mr. Specter said.

A three-judge panel trying to resolve the extent of Guantánamo prisoners' rights to challenge detentions sharply questioned an administration lawyer in September when he argued that detainees had no right to be heard in federal appeals courts.

The panel of the District of Columbia Circuit is trying to apply a 2004 Supreme Court ruling to two subsequent, conflicting decisions by lower courts, one appealed by the prisoners and the other by the administration.

In its June 28, 2004, decision in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that the Guantánamo base was not outside the jurisdiction of American law as administration lawyers had argued and that the habeas corpus statute allowing prisoners to challenge their detentions was applicable.

Under Mr. Graham's measure, Guantánamo prisoners would be able to challenge only the narrow question of whether the government followed procedures established by the defense secretary at the time the military determined their status as enemy combatants, which is subject to an annual review. The District of Columbia Circuit would retain the right to rule on that, but not on other aspects of a prisoner's case.

Detainees would not be able to challenge the underlying rationale for their detention. "If it stands, it means detainees at Guantánamo Bay would have no access to any federal court for anything other than very simple procedural complaints dealing with annual status review," said Christopher E. Anders, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Otherwise, the federal courts' door is shut."

If the measure is enacted, civil liberties groups said it would appear to render moot the Supreme Court's decision on Monday to decide the validity of the military commissions that Mr. Bush wants to try detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial. But some legal experts said the court might be able to move ahead if determined to do so.

Under the Graham amendment, the measure would apply to any application or action pending "on or after the date of enactment of this act."

Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, said: "The Senate acted unwisely, and unnecessarily, in stripping courts of jurisdiction over Guantánamo detainees. Particularly now, as the string of reports of abuse over the past several years have underscored how important it is to have effective checks on the exercise of executive authority, depriving an entire branch of government of its ability to exercise meaningful oversight is a decidedly wrong course to take."

The Senate vote on Thursday came just days after senators voted, for the second time in recent weeks, to back a measure by Mr. McCain to prohibit the use of cruel and degrading treatment against detainees in American custody.

Vice President Dick Cheney has appealed to Mr. McCain and to Senate Republicans to grant the C.I.A. an exemption to allow it extra latitude, subject to presidential authorization, in interrogating high-level terrorists abroad who might know about future attacks. Mr. McCain said Thursday that negotiations with the White House on compromise language were stalemated.

In addition to Mr. Specter, Republicans voting against the bill were Senators John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Japan Today - News - Blair's anti-terror measure voted down - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Blair's anti-terror measure voted down - Japan's Leading International News Networkjapantoday > world
Blair's anti-terror measure voted down

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Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 07:21 JST
LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced his first parliamentary defeat in his eight years as leader of the country Wednesday as MPs voted against his proposal to hold terrorist suspects for 90 days without trial.

The elected lower chamber of parliament voted by 322 to 291 against pushing forward the highly controversial detention laws and instead adopted a 28-day proposal by 323 to 290 in favor.

Japan Today - News - Democrats hope Republican defeats a good omen for future elections - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Democrats hope Republican defeats a good omen for future elections - Japan's Leading International News Networkjapantoday > world
Democrats hope Republican defeats a good omen for future elections

Thursday, November 10, 2005 at 08:01 JST
WASHINGTON — Long-suffering Democrats hoping to retake control of the U.S. government glimpsed the beginnings of a possible comeback, after major defeats for Republicans in election contests across the United States on Tuesday.

Republicans on Tuesday lost two key elections in New Jersey and Virginia, while California's action-hero-turned-Republican Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered a stinging repudiation at the polls, failing to win approval for any of four referendum measures he proposed.


The setbacks are viewed as a bad omen for President George W Bush's floundering party with national balloting looming next year and in 2008 — and consequently a hopeful sign for opposition Democrats eager to reclaim the White House and Congress.

In the days before the voting, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean said he felt a sea change coming as voters tire of the scandal-plagued Republican administration.

"Whether it's the string of arrests and indictments of corrupt Republican leaders or their pandering to extremist ideologues, America cannot afford to be in this situation," Dean said in an exhortation to fellow party members.

"We need fundamental change in Washington to hold this administration accountable and begin doing the work to solve real problems. It's our responsibility to create that change by electing Democrats," he said.

Until just recently, Democrats showed little sign of being able to capitalize on Republican misfortunes.

But just last week the opposition party put on a more combative face, forcing the Senate into a surprise closed-door session to debate Iraq war intelligence, and leaving Republicans sputtering in disapproval.

And on Tuesday, election day, they threw down the gauntlet again, demanding that Vice President Dick Cheney clean house in the wake of his top aide Scooter Libby's recent criminal indictment, while insisting that Libby not be granted a presidential pardon if convicted.

The Democrats' restored vigor signaled a renewed effort to present themselves to voters as a viable alternative in advance of national midterm elections next year and presidential polls in 2008.

"Enough is enough," said Dean. "We're ready to lead."

The Republican Party's biggest rising star, Schwarzenegger, took perhaps the hardest fall on Tuesday as voters rejected a slate of four referendum measures on which he had staked his reputation.

It was a stinging defeat for the populist Hollywood hero, 58, who swept to power in a landslide recall election two years ago and who faces a re-election challenge in just 12 months.

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the vote represented a repudiation of Schwarzenegger's policies.

"The election results should send a strong message that the voters are tired of having issues that should be solved by their representatives placed before them on the ballot," she said.

Only Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg kept up party honor, winning a new term after digging deep into his large personal fortune. His victory was all the more impressive considering the fact that Democrats in the city outnumber Republicans five to one.

But the party that governs the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives had little else to show for itself.

Republicans were worst hit by their gubernatorial defeat in the conservative state of Virginia, where Democrat Tim Kaine eked out a narrow win over Republican challenger Jerry Kilgore.

The loss was all the worse because Bush personally stumped for Kilgore in the waning hours of the campaign — a sign perhaps of the president's diminished clout as he remains bedeviled by the lowest opinion ratings of his presidency.

The Washington Post said the campaign, marked by bitter, negative Republican tactics, could provide "political lessons" for Democrats nationwide ahead of elections next year.

Meanwhile, Democrat Jon Corzine won the race for governor of New Jersey after another campaign that turned nasty in its closing stages. Corzine beat his Republican rival Douglas Forrester by 54% to 43%.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman explained away the defeats, saying Republicans always faced a "difficult road" in the two states, both which were led by Democratic incumbents.

He hailed Bloomberg's thrashing of Democratic challenger Fernando Ferrer by a margin of 57% to 41%.

"Michael Bloomberg is the kind of leader Republicans are proud to support," Mehlman said, glossing over the fact that liberal Bloomberg is often at odds with the party's conservative leadership.

The Republican setbacks accented the concerns spreading throughout the party. Earlier this month the Republican governor of Minnesota declared that his party was "on the ropes" while fretting that he would be "lucky to get re-elected." (Wire reports)

BBC NEWS | Americas | Japanese officials visit Fujimori

BBC NEWS | Americas | Japanese officials visit Fujimori Japanese officials visit Fujimori
Japanese diplomats have visited Peru's ex-President, Alberto Fujimori, in Chile, where he is in custody while Peru seeks his extradition.

The delegation checked the health of Mr Fujimori, who holds both Japanese and Peruvian nationalities.

He was detained on Monday shortly after reaching Chile from self-imposed exile in Japan.

Mr Fujimori, 67, is wanted in Peru on charges of corruption and human rights abuse, but denies any wrongdoing.

Tokyo has vowed to defend the rights of Mr Fujimori and has called on the Chilean government to treat him fairly.

Mr Fujimori told the officials from the Japanese embassy that he was in "good health" and "satisfied" with his treatment, according to Japan's foreign ministry.

However, some media reports suggested that he expressed concerns about the safety of his family, who accompanied him to Chile.

Suspension

Earlier, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos criticised what he said was Japan's failure to notify his government that Mr Fujimori was travelling to Santiago.

But Japanese officials say they had not been aware of the flight to Chile.

Two Chilean police officers have been suspended from their duties at Santiago airport for allowing Mr Fujimori into Chile ignoring that there was an international arrest warrant against him.

Protesters have been demanding Mr Fujimori's extradition to Peru

The ex-president reportedly entered the country showing his Peruvian, not his Japanese passport.

Meanwhile, the government in Peru described Japan's intervention in the case as an "intromission" that could complicate Mr Fujimori's extradition process.

Mr Fujimori - whose parents were originally from Japan - received Japanese citizenship after fleeing Peru in 2000.

Tokyo has repeatedly turned down requests from Lima for his extradition.

On Tuesday, Chilean Supreme Court judge Orlando Alvarez denied bail to Mr Fujimori saying that his ruling was definitive. But the ex-President's lawyers immediately filed an appeal.

A high-level Peruvian delegation is in Santiago for extradition talks. But Chile says the request will have to run its course through the courts.

Mr Fujimori, who was president from 1990 to 2000, faces a long jail sentence if sent back to Peru.

He has vowed to run for the Peruvian presidency next April despite being barred from holding public office until 2010.

'Moving closer'

Mr Fujimori's arrival in Santiago was a surprise for both the Chilean and Peruvian governments.

He had so far preferred to conduct his unofficial electoral campaign from Japan, where he has been living in self-imposed exile.

Correspondents say he chose Chile carefully when he decided to move closer to Peru ahead of next year's presidential elections.

The Chilean judicial system - considered one of the most independent in the region - has rejected extradition requests in the past.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case - New York Times

Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - Laying the groundwork for a possible strategy of attacking Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Senate Democrats are ratcheting up their questions about the judge's failure to disqualify himself from a case involving Vanguard, the mutual fund company that managed his investments.

While Judge Alito, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, continued Wednesday to pay courtesy visits in the Senate, all eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter about the Vanguard case to Judge Anthony J. Scirica, who is chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where Judge Alito sits.

The letter asked for documents relating to the Vanguard case, including records of "any communication between Judge Alito and you, any other member of the court, or the court's staff" discussing a promise by Judge Alito in 1990, made in a Senate questionnaire submitted as part of his appeals court confirmation, to recuse himself from matters involving Vanguard.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, circulated a so-called talking points memo to fellow Democrats on Wednesday titled "The Alito Alert," raising questions about the Vanguard case.

There were also signs that concerns about the case were spreading beyond the judiciary panel, to Democrats who might otherwise be inclined to support Judge Alito's candidacy.

One such Democrat, Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, spoke highly of Judge Alito after an hourlong meeting and said he would be "very unlikely" to back a filibuster blocking the nomination. But Mr. Conrad said he was troubled by Judge Alito's handling of the Vanguard matter.

"That bothered me," Mr. Conrad said. "He said, Well, there was a computer glitch, or one thing or another. I said, 'Well, I understand all those things, but ultimately you are the check on whether or not you kept your pledge. You indicated you would recuse yourself and you did not.' I must say, that troubles me. It doesn't unduly concern me, but it troubles me."

Two experts in judicial ethics, whose views were solicited by Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee, have said Judge Alito had no obligation to recuse himself from the Vanguard case.

One of the experts, Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr., a professor at the University of Pennsylvania law school, said he has known Judge Alito since the judge was a law student, and the other, Ronald D. Rotunda, teaches at George Mason University, where he is a colleague of Michael E. O'Neill, Mr. Specter's chief counsel.

A White House spokesman, Steve Schmidt, accused Democrats of trying to smear the judge. "It is worrisome that there may be an effort under way by Democrats to try to cut up the judge and attack his integrity, and try to blemish a career of public service where his integrity has never been questioned," Mr. Schmidt said. "His integrity is beyond reproach. There is no substantive basis at all to any allegation of impropriety."

The case involved a woman who said Vanguard had improperly denied her funds that belonged to her late husband. After the woman complained about Judge Alito's participation in the case, he stepped aside, and the matter was reheard.

The judge has told senators, including Mr. Conrad, that a court computer program designed to flag potential conflicts had failed to do so.

The Vanguard issue also came up Wednesday in Judge Alito's meeting with Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Mr. Schumer said afterward that he thought the judge's explanation "was plausible" but that he wanted more information "to check out the facts and see if it backs up the answer."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, has also made an issue of the case and sent Judge Alito a letter about it on Tuesday.

Democratic investigators on the Judiciary Committee are looking into at least two other matters in which, they say, Judge Alito appears to have failed to keep promises to disqualify himself.

One case, reported this month by Newsday, involved a suit against Smith Barney, another brokerage firm that handled some of Judge Alito's investments.

In another case, not previously reported, Judge Alito took part in a 1995 decision of the full court of appeals involving Midatlantic National Bank, which was represented by a law firm in which his sister, Rosemary, was a partner.

In the 1990 questionnaire, when his sister was with a different law firm, Judge Alito pledged to disqualify himself from any case involving that firm.

Democrats said the issue was not whether Judge Alito had a conflict, but whether he had kept his promise and had taken all precautions to prevent a conflict.

Mr. Schmidt, the White House spokesman, said that Bush administration officials knew of both cases and that neither posed a conflict.

Judge Alito, Mr. Schmidt said, "had no ethical obligation to recuse himself from a case involving his sister's firm unless his sister represented a party in the proceeding."

BBC NEWS | Middle East | 'Al-Qaeda' claims Jordan attacks

BBC NEWS | Middle East | 'Al-Qaeda' claims Jordan attacks 'Al-Qaeda' claims Jordan attacks

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has claimed it carried out the bomb attacks which killed at least 57 people in three hotels in Jordan's capital Amman.

The alleged claim was made in a statement posted on the internet.

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher had earlier said that al-Qaeda militants in neighbouring Iraq were a "prime suspect" for the bombs.

At least 300 people, mostly Jordanians, were injured in the blasts at the Grand Hyatt, Radisson and Days Inn hotels.

'Suicide bombers'

"Some hotels were chosen which the Jordanian despot had turned into a backyard for the enemies of the faith, the Jews and crusaders," the message read.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley - who was staying at the Hyatt when the bomb exploded - says that it is always difficult to verify al-Qaeda claims appearing on the internet.

It may simply be that al-Qaeda in Iraq would want to claim the attack, she says.

I lost my father and my father-in-law on my wedding night - the world has to know that this has nothing to do with Islam
Bridegroom Ashraf Mohammad

However, the authorities have been saying that the attack bears all of the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, and in particular the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Mr Muasher said two of the late-evening attacks appeared to have been carried out by suicide bombers strapped with explosives, and the third by a suicide car bomb.

King Abdullah II, who cut short his visit to Kazakhstan to return to Jordan, said the deadly blasts were "terrorist acts" and pledged that "justice will pursue the criminals".

The Jordanian government has declared a day of national mourning for the victims.

Wedding party attacked

The authorities in Jordan have given a breakdown of the nationalities of some of those killed and injured in the explosions. Among the dead are 15 Jordanians, five Iraqis, Arabs from several other countries, one Indonesian and three Chinese.

The authorities say 30 of the dead have not yet been identified.

Among the wounded are several Westerners including one American, five Germans and one person of Swiss nationality.

In the worst attack, hundreds of guests were enjoying a wedding reception at the Radisson SAS when the bomb went off.

The bride and groom each lost a parent and were themselves injured.

"There were a lot of injured people and some dead people. Some of them are from my family and some are from my wife's family," the groom, Ashraf al-Khaled, said.

"We tried to save as many people as we could, but God took some."

"I lost my father and my father-in-law on my wedding night," he added. "The world has to know that this has nothing to do with Islam."


HAVE YOUR SAY
I was just a few blocks away from the Radisson SAS hotel where the one of the explosions took place and I heard a huge thundering bang
Yazeed, Amman

Security has been tightened around Amman and Jordan's land borders have been closed.

Roadblocks were set up around hotels and embassies, and Prime Minister Adnan Badra ordered all schools and public offices to close on Thursday.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has postponed a scheduled visit to Jordan.

A White House spokesman condemned the bombings as "a heinous act of terror".

Our correspondent, who was at the Hyatt, says the device apparently went off in a bar in the lobby.

Western ally

A favourite with businessmen and Westerners, the hotel was packed at the time.

Our correspondent says windows were blown out by the blast, and she saw several badly wounded people. Many of the injured were taken to hospital in taxis and private cars.

There was very little security apparent at the hotel prior to the blast, she adds.

Jordan, a key US ally in the Middle East, has long been regarded as a prime target for attacks by radical Islamic militants, correspondents say.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Jordan says Jordanians had been expecting this for months.

King Abdullah has been planning a visit to the US - as well as to Israel and the West Bank, our correspondent says.

In the past few years, Amman has also become a base for Westerners who fly in and out of Iraq for work.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Mayor Crossed Ethnic Barriers for Big Victory - New York Times

Mayor Crossed Ethnic Barriers for Big Victory - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
The Voters
Mayor Crossed Ethnic Barriers for Big Victory
By SAM ROBERTS

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forged his historic re-election victory on Tuesday by drawing roughly half of New York's black voters and about 3 in 10 Latinos to the Republican line, even though he faced a Hispanic challenger who sought to capitalize on ethnic pride, an analysis of voting returns shows.

The mayor's wide support among minority voters is a sign that the strategy of the Democrat, Fernando Ferrer, to build on a dependable base of black and Hispanic votes fell victim to emerging political realities: that blacks and Hispanics no longer vote reflexively as a bloc, and that a middle-class coalition can trump traditional ethnic-based appeals. The winning multiethnic coalition turned out to be Mr. Bloomberg's.

He won a second term by wooing liberal defectors from Democratic ranks and by carrying every Assembly district in which white Catholics or Jews predominate. He also carried the only district in which Asians outnumber others.

What was most striking was the depth of his support among blacks and Hispanics, whom he aggressively courted in running against the city's first major-party mayoral nominee of Hispanic heritage. Mr. Bloomberg actually won several districts where Hispanics constitute the largest group among the population or the electorate, including the 34th in Queens, which includes parts of Corona, and the 80th District around Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. He also won about half of the mostly black districts.

"If Ferrer got about 31 percent of the white vote, that's about what he would need," said John H. Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center. "But the really interesting thing is that he did not get black and Latino support to the extent he needed."

Yesterday, the Democratic Party engaged in deep soul-searching in the wake of its embarrassing defeat, as its leaders said the party needed to shun the racial and ethnic politicking of the past.

His victory - 59 percent to 39 percent - defied the conventional political calculus in what was projected as the first mayoral race in which non-Hispanic whites would be a minority of the electorate. Most analysts said it was too early to draw long-term implications from this campaign for several reasons, including that Mr. Bloomberg spent more than $70 million on his campaign. In addition, not only was the mayor an incumbent in a city that typically gives first-term mayors the benefit of the doubt but also a lifelong Democrat until he first ran for mayor as a Republican in 2001, in contrast to his Republican predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

"He changed his party registration, but not his values," said Robert Shrum, a media consultant who is now teaching and writing at New York University. "You cannot imagine Rudy Giuliani getting half of the African-American vote or a big chunk of the Hispanic vote against a Hispanic."

In unofficial returns, Mr. Bloomberg got 648,920 votes on the Republican line and 74,715 on the Independence Party line, which meant he spent about $100 a vote to win re-election.

"The record is the record," said Edward Skyler, the mayor's communications director. "The money helps you amplify that record, but you couldn't run an ad that said crime was down 20 percent if it wasn't."

After the Republican triumph, Ferrer campaign officials said they faced formidable odds - perhaps insurmountable odds.

"The reality is, when the incumbent has 60 percent job approval and the 'are we going in the right direction' numbers are in the 70's and he outspends his opponent more than 10-to-1, that person is likely to win," said Jef Pollock, Mr. Ferrer's pollster. "I don't know that we've moved beyond ethnic politics, but it's fair to say it's only piece of a larger picture."

Most news organizations did not invest this year in surveying voters as they leave the polls, a practice that tries to determine voting patterns of people who identify themselves by race, ethnicity, ideology, income and other categories. One, by Pace University, estimated that Mr. Bloomberg got 48 percent support among Democrats to Mr. Ferrer's 50 percent.

An analysis of the results by Professor Mollenkopf for The New York Times, on the basis of census population figures in fairly homogenous Assembly districts and a sample of smaller election districts that are even more uniform, found that about half of black voters voted for Mr. Bloomberg. Only 5 percent of that group supported Mr. Giuliani in 1993, 20 percent backed him in 1997, and 25 percent voted for Mr. Bloomberg in 2001. (A much higher proportion supported another Republican, John V. Lindsay, in 1969, but he was running on the Liberal line and against two more conservative candidates.)

Mr. Bloomberg lost Harlem but still carried a respectable 45 percent of the vote there. He did best among blacks in middle-class neighborhoods generally and among Caribbean voters. In other largely black areas, he carried the entire 29th Assembly District in southeastern Queens, including parts of St. Albans and Laurelton, by 9,412 to 7,261, according to unofficial returns, and edged Mr. Ferrer in several largely Caribbean districts in central Brooklyn.

"You can't win Brooklyn with close to 58 percent unless you're getting a significant number of African-American votes," said William T. Cunningham, a senior adviser to Mr. Bloomberg.

Representative Charles B. Rangel said yesterday that the combination of term limits and Mr. Bloomberg's unprecedented spending "breaks all the rules," including assumptions about ethnic and racial politics.

"People may have a sense of pride, but there's no way for the black or the Puerto Rican community to stick with their own if they're exposed to a guy spending $100 million who appears to be able to appeal to people regardless of their color," Mr. Rangel said.

One reason cited for Mr. Ferrer's mixed support among blacks was an early stumble in which he said that the fatal 1999 police shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, was not a crime. A more fundamental reason for the defections is that immigration has made the black and Hispanic communities increasingly diverse economically and culturally and more receptive to appeals on the issues.

"It's an assumption that people of color would vote for someone of color," said Raymond Gamble, a 55-year-old black man who lives in Jamaica, Queens, works for the Housing Authority and voted for Mr. Bloomberg. "I can't say I would vote for a Republican again in my life. But he didn't give the usual spiel. I looked at the kind of things that I saw coming out of City Hall, some of his objectives and goals on education and affordable housing, and I was impressed. He is someone who has my interests in mind."

In 2001, Mr. Bloomberg actually got a larger share of Hispanic votes - about 47 percent, according to exit polls - but he was running against Mark Green, who had won the Democratic nomination by defeating Mr. Ferrer in a runoff.

On Tuesday, Mr. Ferrer carried only his home borough, the Bronx, won Washington Heights with its Dominican community, but did best in heavily Puerto Rican neighborhoods.

Diane Cardwell contributed reporting for this article.

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York Times

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement yesterday that ended her 28-year career at the newspaper and capped more than two weeks of negotiations.

Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her release from jail 85 days later, after she agreed to testify before a grand jury, and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering concerns about her in the newsroom and led to her departure.

Bill Keller, the executive editor, announced the move to the staff in a memorandum yesterday, saying, "In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great prize-winning journalism."

In a statement, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said: "We are grateful to Judy for her significant personal sacrifice to defend an important journalistic principle," adding, "I respect her decision to retire from The Times and wish her well."

Ms. Miller, 57, said in an interview that she was "very satisfied" with the agreement and described herself as a "free woman," free from what she called the "convent of The New York Times, a convent with its own theology and its own catechism."

She said that in the few hours since her departure had been made public, she had received several offers "of all kinds" for future employment, which she declined to specify. But her immediate plans are to take some time off. She said that after her stint in jail, she was "hit with a 40-day tsunami" of criticism and needed a break, though she has scheduled several public appearances, including one last night.

She spoke last night in Midtown Manhattan on a panel before media lawyers and journalists sponsored by the Media Law Resource Center.

Lawyers for Ms. Miller, who is a member of the Newspaper Guild of New York, and the paper negotiated a severance package, the details of which both sides agreed not to disclose.

Under the agreement, Ms. Miller retired from the newspaper, and The Times printed a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page challenging criticisms made of her by some on the staff. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to publish her letter.

In that letter, published in The Times today under the headline "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the C.I.A. leak case. "But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."

Kenneth A. Richieri, The Times lawyer who negotiated the severance agreement for the paper, said one thing was clear to both sides from the start of those talks. "What made the deal possible was that shared understanding that she couldn't continue to report on national security matters for The New York Times," he said. "She'd become so much a part of the story."

Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the paper, said it had been made clear to Ms. Miller that she would not be able to continue as a reporter of any kind, not just one covering national security.

Ms. Miller's reporting came under attack after articles suggested that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, coverage that helped the Bush administration build its case for invading Iraq but that turned out to be wrong.

In her letter to the editor, Ms. Miller noted that even before going to jail, she had "become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war." She said she regretted "that I was not permitted to pursue answers" to questions about those intelligence failures.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Keller made public a personal letter he wrote to Ms. Miller clarifying some elements of a memorandum he sent to the staff on Oct. 21 that she considered critical of her.

In his letter, Mr. Keller said he had never intended to imply she had an improper relationship with I. Lewis Libby Jr., her source and the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, when he described their contact as an "entanglement."

Mr. Keller also elaborated, but did not retreat from, comments suggesting that she had misled an editor, the Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman. "I continue to be troubled by that episode," Mr. Keller wrote. "But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil."

Ms. Miller wrote in her letter that she was gratified that Mr. Keller "has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."

She added, referring to Mr. Keller: "Some of his comments suggested insubordination on my part. I have always written the articles assigned to me, adhered to the paper's sourcing and ethical guidelines and cooperated with editorial decisions, even those with which I disagreed."

Ms. Miller leaves the paper after serving for many years as an investigative and national security correspondent. She has written four books and in 2002 was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for reporting, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about the growing threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting - New York Times

Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting
By PHILIP SHENON

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents.

The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer. There has been no evidence in the public record that Mr. Abramoff had any role in organizing the meeting or that he received any money or had a signed contract with Gabon.

White House and State Department officials described Mr. Bush's meeting with President Bongo, whose government is regularly accused by the United States of human rights abuses, as routine. The officials said they knew of no involvement by Mr. Abramoff in the arrangements. Officials at Gabon's embassy in Washington did not respond to written questions.

"This went through normal staffing channels," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, who said the meeting was "part of the president's outreach to the continent of Africa."

A document from Mr. Abramoff's files that was released last week by a Senate committee shows that in the summer of 2003 he pushed to sign President Bongo as a client, even offering to travel to Gabon immediately after an August golfing vacation to Scotland "with the congressmen and senators I take there each year."

The documents also show that Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues drew up a draft contract that called for $9 million in fees to be paid to GrassRoots Interactive, the small Maryland lobbying company that his former colleagues say he controlled.

Documents, including copies of canceled checks, show that millions of dollars flowed through the company's accounts in 2003, the year it was created, including at least $2.3 million to a California consulting firm that used the same address as the law office of Mr. Abramoff's brother, Robert. A separate check for $400,000 was made out to Kay Gold, another Abramoff family company.

Mr. Abramoff, a Republican fund-raiser who once was one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, has been indicted in Florida on federal fraud charges. He is also under investigation by a federal grand jury in Washington and two Senate committees.

The grand jury inquiry initially centered on accusations that Mr. Abramoff had defrauded a group of Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees connected to their gambling operations, including steep fees for work that was never performed.

But federal law enforcement officials say that inquiry has broadened, with prosecutors examining other issues, including Mr. Abramoff's relationship with GrassRoots and other small consulting firms and charities he controlled. Congressional investigators have questioned whether he used them to hide income to avoid paying taxes and to evade disclosure rules for lobbyists. Federal law requires lobbyists for foreign governments to register with the Justice Department.

A spokesman for Mr. Abramoff had no comment on GrassRoots or the lobbyist's contacts with President Bongo. Robert Abramoff did not return repeated phone calls. GrassRoots has no listed telephone number in Silver Spring, Md., where it had been based.

In a draft agreement with Gabon dated Aug. 7, 2003, Mr. Abramoff and his associates asked that $9 million in lobbying fees be paid through wire transfers - three of them, each for $3 million - to GrassRoots instead of the Washington offices of Greenberg Traurig, the large lobbying firm where he did most of his work. The agreement promised a "public relations effort related to promoting Gabon and securing a visit for President Bongo with the president of the United States."

In seeking meetings at the White House or on Capitol Hill, foreign leaders, especially those from small nations, regularly turn to Washington lobbyists, especially those who claim connections to the government because of political or family ties.

Billy Carter, President Jimmy Carter's brother, was a registered agent for Libya during his brother's presidency. During the Clinton administration, Anthony Rodham, whose sister, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, was the first lady, acknowledged that he had been offered a six-figure payment by supporters of the president of Paraguay to arrange a meeting with President Bill Clinton.

GrassRoots Interactive came under scrutiny on Capitol Hill in recent months when the Senate Judiciary Committee considered President Bush's nomination of a senior lawyer at Tyco International, a former lobbying client of Mr. Abramoff, as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

The lawyer, Timothy E. Flanigan, told the committee that at Mr. Abramoff's suggestion he had directed $2 million to GrassRoots from Tyco for lobbying on the company's behalf.

Instead, Mr. Flanigan said he learned last year that Mr. Abramoff had directed the money to "entities" that the lobbyist controlled and that Tyco was the victim of a "major fraud." After weeks of controversy over his ties to Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Flanigan withdrew his nomination as deputy attorney general last month.

Mr. Abramoff's ties to Gabon were first revealed in a letter that was among hundreds of pages of documents from Mr. Abramoff's files that were released last week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has conducted a yearlong investigation of his lobbying for Indian tribes.

When he first approached Gabon, Mr. Abramoff was not new to issues involving West Africa.

He had been a Washington lobbyist for President Mobutu Sese Seko, the repressive leader of neighboring Congo, called Zaire at the time. He also had connections to Gabon through a former business partner, David Safavian, who was a registered agent in Washington for President Bongo. Mr. Safavian, a former White House budget official, was arrested in September on charges of lying about his ties to Mr. Abramoff.

The three-page letter released by the Senate panel was written to Mr. Bongo on Greenberg Traurig stationery and dated July 28, 2003; Mr. Abramoff suggested that he had unusual influence to arrange a meeting with President Bush.

"Without advance resources, I have been cautiously working to obtain a visit for the president to Washington to see President Bush," Mr. Abramoff wrote. "As you know, we were, in advance of the war in Iraq, able to secure a tentative date for this meeting; however, the war canceled all such scheduled visits."

Mr. Abramoff said he was willing to travel to Gabon to meet with Mr. Bongo to discuss the contract if the government would arrange for a private plane.

"It must be on the basis by which I travel anywhere, being in a private aircraft, which bears a substantial cost unfortunately," he said. "I am confident that we will have a long, productive and warm relationship, but good relationships are built on firm understandings at the outset."

Other documents obtained by The New York Times show that Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues prepared two draft agreements, both dated Aug. 7, 2003, that outlined the lobbying plan for Gabon.

One called for GrassRoots to receive $9 million in lobbying fees; the other called for Greenberg Traurig to receive $1 million, all of it in 2003.

A spokeswoman for Greenberg Traurig said the firm had no comment. "We don't comment on whom we do or don't represent," said Jill Perry, a spokeswoman for the firm, which forced Mr. Abramoff to resign last year.

Maryland state records show that GrassRoots were established in 2003 by Edward B. Miller, a Republican lawyer who is now deputy chief of staff to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland. Samuel Hook, a former partner of Mr. Abramoff from Greenberg Traurig, took over it in September 2003.

Mr. Ehrlich's office has said that Mr. Miller is cooperating in the Justice Department investigation. Aron Raskas, a lawyer speaking for Mr. Miller, said Mr. Miller had no knowledge of any project involving Gabon.

Mr. Hook's lawyer, Alyza D. Lewin, said that "Mr. Abramoff solely controlled G.R.I.," a reference to GrassRoots Interactive.