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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Politics and Campaigns Update - Monday

Foreign Policy Expert Backs John Kerry AP
"Randy Beers sat on the porch steps next to his longtime friend and colleague Dick Clarke and the words came tumbling out in a torrent. "I think I have to quit. ... I can't work for these people. I'm sorry, I just can't."

It was a few days before the start of the Iraq (news - web sites) war in March 2003, and Beers was President Bush (news - web sites)'s special assistant for combating terrorism, a job he had held for only a matter of months. But Beers was no newcomer to government; he had worked on foreign policy for four presidents.

To Clarke, Beers recited a list of complaints about Bush's foreign policy. Too fixated on Iraq. Not enough focus on al-Qaida. Weak on homeland security. Too political."

Doubts Linger as Kerry Advances
Supporters Want A Sharper Image
Washington Post
"Yet many Democratic voters, officials and even members of Kerry's staff express an ambivalence -- or angst -- about their presidential candidate that belies this strong public standing.

These Democrats say the enthusiasm for defeating Bush runs much stronger and deeper than the passion for electing Kerry. The chief reason: The senator from Massachusetts, they say, has not crisply articulated what a Kerry presidency would stand for beyond undoing much of the Bush agenda."

Unit Says It Gave Earlier Warning of Abuse in Iraq New York Times
"Beginning in November, a small unit of interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison began reporting allegations of prisoner abuse, including the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals, in internal documents sent to senior officers, according to interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison.

The disclosure of the documents raises new questions about whether senior officers in Iraq were alerted about serious abuses at the prison before January. Top military officials have said they only learned about abuses then, after a soldier came forward with photographs of the abuse."

A Tortured Debate Newsweek
"The handling of al-Libi touched off a long-running battle over interrogation tactics inside the administration. It is a struggle that continued right up until the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April—and it extended into the White House, with Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council pitted against lawyers for the White House counsel and the vice president. Indeed, one reason the prison abuse scandal won't go away—two months after gruesome photos were published worldwide—is that a long paper trail of memos and directives from inside the administration has emerged, often leaked by those who disagreed with rougher means of questioning."

Senators: CIA stalling on review of Iraq report CNN
"Senate Intelligence Committee members are accusing the CIA of hindering the release of a report that gives an unflattering assessment of pre-war intelligence on Iraq."

26 Former U.S. Officials Oppose Bush AP
"Angered by Bush administration policies they contend endanger national security, 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers are urging Americans to vote President Bush out of office in November."

Fla. Voting Machines Have Recount Flaw AP
"Touchscreen voting machines in 11 counties have a software flaw that could make manual recounts impossible in November's presidential election, state officials said."

Red Cross ultimatum to US on Saddam Guardian
"Saddam Hussein must either be released from custody by June 30 or charged if the US and the new Iraqi government are to conform to international law, the International Committee of the Red Cross said last night.
Nada Doumani, a spokeswoman for the ICRC, told the Guardian: "The United States defines Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war. At the end of an occupation PoWs have to be released provided they have no penal charges against them."

Her comments came as the international body, the only independent group with access to detainees in US custody, becomes increasingly concerned over the legal limbo in which thousands of people are being held in the run-up to the transfer of power at the end of the month.

The occupation officially ends on June 30 and US forces will be in Iraq at the invitation of its sovereign government."

`527' Groups Gain Political Clout TBO
"Armies of supposedly independent organizations, able to raise unlimited amounts of money, are hoping to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The often partisan groups, although unaffiliated with the campaigns, have become a major force.

While some back Bush, most are bolstering Kerry. Republicans, feeling pressure in more than a dozen key states, are trying to fight back.

The groups, called 527s after a section of federal law that defines their tax status, have amassed at least $183 million this election season in largely unregulated contributions known as ``soft money.''

Two years ago, Congress banned candidates and political parties from receiving soft money from wealthy individuals or corporations - but 527s still can.

The groups cannot coordinate with a candidate's campaign, and their ads cannot explicitly say whom to vote for, but any other election-related activity is fair game."

- Bob Brigham
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