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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Clinton suspends campaign, endorses Obama

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her pioneering campaign for the presidency on Saturday and summoned supporters to use "our energy, our passion, our strength" to put Barack Obama in the White House.

"I endorse him and throw my full support behind him," said the former first lady, delivering the strong affirmation that her one-time rival and other Democratic leaders hoped to hear after a bruising campaign.

Amid tears from her supporters, Clinton issued a call for unity that emphasized the cultural and political milestones that she and Obama, the first black to secure a presidential nomination, represent.

"Children today will grow up taking for granted that an African-American or a woman can, yes, become the president of the United States," she said.

For Clinton and her backers, it was a poignant moment, the end of an extraordinary run that began with an air of inevitability and certain victory. About 18 million people voted for her; it was the closest a woman has come to capturing a nomination.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it has about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before," she said in a speech before cheering supporters packed into the ornate National Building Museum, not far from the White House she longed to occupy again, as president this time.

Indeed, her speech repeatedly returned to the new threshold her candidacy had set for women. In primary after primary, her support among women was a solid bloc of her coalition. She noted that she had received the support of women born before women could even vote.

But her main goal was to heal the rift in the party — one that cleaved Democrats in part by class, by gender and by race.

"The way to continue our fight now to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States," she said.

"Today as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him and I ask of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me," the New York senator said in her 28-minute address. Loud boos competed with applause.

Clinton seemed almost buoyant in her address, feeding off the energy of a loud and appreciative crowd. "Well, this isn't exactly the party I planned but I sure like the company," she said as she opened her speech.

With 14 mentions of Obama's name, Clinton placed herself solidly behind her Senate colleague from Illinois, who awaits Arizona Sen. John McCain in the general election. "We may have started on separate journeys but today, our paths have merged," Clinton said.

Obama, in a statement from Chicago where he was spending the weekend, declared himself "thrilled and honored" to have Clinton's support.

"I honor her today for the valiant and historic campaign she has run," he said. "She shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere, who now know that there are no limits to their dreams. And she inspired millions with her strength, courage and unyielding commitment to the cause of working Americans."

Obama secured the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination Tuesday. Aides said Obama watched Clinton's speech live on the Internet. His campaign put a photo of the New York senator on its Web site and urged supporters to send her a message of thanks. Likewise, Clinton's Web site thanked her backers. "Support Senator Obama today," her Web page said. "Sign up now and together we can write the next chapter in America's story."

"As you may know, I was a boxer. And I've seen many fights go the distance," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "But never have I seen one where everyone came out stronger — until now."

Obama could use the women and blue-collar voters who flocked to Clinton's campaign. She could benefit from his prodigious fundraising to help retire a debt of as much as $30 million. Clinton advanced her campaign at least $11.4 million; by law, she has only until the summer Democratic convention to recoup it.

Clinton has told colleagues she would be interested in joining Obama as his running mate and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an Obama supporter, said Saturday that she had made "a powerful case for her eligibility" to be on the ticket.

Joining Clinton on stage Saturday were her husband, the former president, and their daughter, Chelsea. When she spoke, they stepped away. Her mother, Dorothy Rodham, wiped away a tear as she watched from nearby.

In deciding to "suspend" her campaign, Clinton kept some options open. She retains her delegates to the nominating convention and she can continue to raise money. It also means she could reopen her campaign if circumstances change before the Denver convention. But she gave no indication that was her intention.

___Original here

Hillary Clinton Concession Speech: Suspends Campaign, Endorses Obama

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her pioneering campaign for the presidency on Saturday and summoned supporters to use "our energy, our passion, our strength" to put Barack Obama in the White House.

"I endorse him and throw my full support behind him," said the former first lady, delivering the strong affirmation that her one-time rival and other Democratic leaders hoped to hear after a bruising campaign.

Amid tears from her supporters, Clinton issued a call for unity that emphasized the cultural and political milestones that she and Obama, the first black to secure a presidential nomination, represent.

"Children today will grow up taking for granted that an African-American or a woman can, yes, become the president of the United States," she said.

Watch:

For Clinton and her backers, it was a poignant moment, the end of an extraordinary run that began with an air of inevitability and certain victory. About 18 million people voted for her; it was the closest a woman has come to capturing a nomination.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it has about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before," she said in a speech before cheering supporters packed into the ornate National Building Museum, not far from the White House she longed to occupy, as president this time.

Indeed, her speech repeatedly returned to the new threshold her candidacy had set for women. In primary after primary, her support among women was a solid bloc of her coalition. She noted that she had received the support of women born before women could even vote.

But her main goal was to heal the rift in the party -- one that cleaved Democrats in part by class, by gender and by race.

"The way to continue our fight now to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States," she said.

"Today as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him and I ask of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me," the New York senator said in her 28-minute address. Loud boos competed with applause.

With that and 13 other mentions of his name, Clinton placed herself solidly behind her Senate colleague from Illinois, who awaits Arizona Sen. John McCain in the general election. "We may have started on separate journeys but today, our paths have merged," Clinton said.

Obama, in a statement from Chicago where he was spending the weekend, declared himself "thrilled and honored" to have Clinton's support.

"I honor her today for the valiant and historic campaign she has run," he said. "She shattered barriers on behalf of my daughters and women everywhere, who now know that there are no limits to their dreams. And she inspired millions with her strength, courage and unyielding commitment to the cause of working Americans."

Obama secured the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination Tuesday after primaries in South Dakota and Montana. Aides said Obama watched Clinton's speech live on the Internet. His campaign put a photo of the New York senator on its Web site and urged supporters to send her a message of thanks. Likewise, Clinton's Web site thanked her backers. "Support Senator Obama today," her Web page said. "Sign up now and together we can write the next chapter in America's story."

Party leaders welcomed the new alliance.

"As you may know, I was a boxer. And I've seen many fights go the distance," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "But never have I seen one where everyone came out stronger -- until now. Because of the unprecedented number of new voters and the tremendous amount of enthusiastic supporters all the Democrats brought to the primary process, we stand ready to win the White House in 2008."

Both Obama and Clinton stood to gain from the new collaboration.

Obama could use the women and blue-collar voters who flocked to Clinton's campaign. She could benefit from his prodigious fundraising to help retire a debt of as much as $30 million. Clinton loaned her campaign at least $11.4 million; by law only, she has until the summer Democratic convention to recoup it.

Clinton also has told colleagues she would be interested in joining Obama as his running mate. On Saturday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, an Obama supporter, said she had made "a powerful case for her eligibility" to be on the ticket.

Joining Clinton on stage Saturday were her husband, the former president, and their daughter, Chelsea, to loud cheers from the crowd. When she spoke, they stepped away. Her mother, Dorothy Rodham, watched from the floor to the side of the stage and wiped away a tear.

In deciding to suspend her campaign, Clinton kept some options open. She gets to retain her delegates to the nominating convention this summer and she can continue to raise money. It also means she could reopen her campaign if circumstances change before the Denver convention, but gave no indication that was her intention.

As soon as Clinton finished speaking, some of the nearly 300 Democratic party leaders and elected officials across the country who had pledged their support to her as superdelegates released statements announcing they now back Obama. The switchers included some of Clinton's most high-profile supporters, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Maine Gov. John Baldacci.

Clinton supporters began lining up at dawn to attend the farewell address. A smattering of Obama backers showed up as well, saying they did so as a gesture of party unity.

As they awaited her arrival, campaign staffers milled the room, exchanging hugs and saying goodbye.

Clinton seemed almost buoyant in her address, feeding off the energy of a loud and appreciative crowd.

"Well, this isn't exactly the party I planned but I sure like the company," she said as she opened her speech.

Clinton backers described themselves as sad and resigned. "This is a somber day," said Jon Cardinal, one of the first in line. Cardinal said he planned, reluctantly, to support Obama in the general election. "It's going to be tough after being against Obama for so long," he said.

Republicans quickly launched a "Clinton vs. Obama" page on the Republican National Committee's Web site drawing attention to her criticism of Obama during the campaign.

President Bush praised the symbolism of the 2008 field.

"I thought it was a really good statement, powerful moment when a major political party nominates an African-American man to be their standard bearer," he said in an interview Friday with an Italian journalist. "And it's good for our democracy that that happened. And we also had a major contender being a woman. Obviously Hillary Clinton was a major contender. So I think it's a good sign for American democracy."

Original here

Adviser says McCain backs Bush wiretaps

John McCain is said to endorse eavesdropping without warrants.

(LM Otero/The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON: A top adviser to Senator John McCain says McCain believes that President George W. Bush's program of wiretapping without warrants was lawful, a position that appears to bring him into closer alignment with the sweeping theories of executive authority pushed by the Bush administration legal team.

In a letter posted online by National Review this week, the adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said McCain believed that the Constitution gave Bush the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor Americans' international phone calls and e-mail without warrants, despite a 1978 federal statute that required court oversight of surveillance.

McCain believes that "neither the administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and trial lawyers, understand were constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," Holtz-Eakin wrote.

And if McCain is elected president, Holtz-Eakin added, he would do everything he could to prevent terrorist attacks, "including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution."

Although a spokesman for McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, denied that the senator's views on surveillance and executive power had shifted, legal specialists said the letter contrasted with statements McCain previously made about the limits of presidential power.

In an interview about his views on the limits of executive power with The Boston Globe six months ago, McCain strongly suggested that if he became the next commander in chief, he would consider himself obligated to obey a statute restricting what he did in national security matters.

McCain was asked whether he believed that the president had constitutional power to conduct surveillance on American soil for national security purposes without a warrant, regardless of federal statutes.

He replied: "There are some areas where the statutes don't apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is."

Following up, the interviewer asked whether McCain was saying a statute trumped a president's powers as commander in chief when it came to a surveillance law. "I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law," McCain replied.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said that while the language used by McCain in his answers six months ago was imprecise, the recent statement by Holtz-Eakin "seems to contradict precisely what he said earlier."

McCain's position, as outlined by Holtz-Eakin, was criticized by the campaign of his presumptive Democratic opponent in the presidential election, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Greg Craig, an Obama campaign adviser, said Wednesday that anyone reading McCain's answers to The Globe and the more recent statement would be "totally confused" about "what Senator McCain thinks about what the Constitution means and what President Bush did."

"American voters deserve to know which side of this flip-flop he's on today, and what he would do as president," Craig said in a phone interview.

Tucker Bounds, a McCain campaign spokesman, said McCain's position on surveillance laws and executive power "has not changed."

"John McCain has been an unequivocal advocate of pursuing the radicals and extremists who seek to attack Americans," Bounds wrote in an e-mail message, adding that McCain's "votes and positions have been completely consistent and any suggestion otherwise is a distortion of his clear record."

Asked whether the views Holtz-Eakin imputed to McCain were inaccurate, Bounds did not repudiate the statement. But late Thursday Bounds called and said, "to the extent that the comments of members of our staff are misinterpreted, they shouldn't be read into as anything otherwise."

Neither McCain nor Holtz-Eakin, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office who primarily advises the campaign on economic issues, were available for comment, Bounds said.

McCain has long distanced himself from the Bush administration on legal issues involving detention and interrogation in the fight against terrorism, an approach that has sometimes aroused suspicion among conservative supporters of the Bush administration.

But more recently, as McCain has worked to consolidate his party's base, he has taken several positions that have won him praise from his former critics while drawing fire from Democrats.

In February, for example, McCain voted against limiting the Central Intelligence Agency to the techniques approved in the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, which complies with the Geneva Conventions. McCain said the CIA needed the flexibility to use other techniques so long as it did not abuse detainees.

He also voted for legislation that would free telecommunications companies from lawsuits alleging that they illegally allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on their customers' phone calls and e-mail without a warrant. The legislation would also essentially legalize a form of surveillance without warrants going forward.

But McCain had previously stopped short of endorsing the view that Bush's program of surveillance without warrants was lawful all along because a president's wartime powers can trump statutory limits.

Andrew McCarthy, a National Review columnist who has defended the administration's legal theories, wrote that Holtz-Eakin's statement "implicitly shows Senator McCain's thinking has changed as time has gone on and he has educated himself on this issue."

And Glenn Greenwald, a Salon columnist and critic of the Bush administration's legal claims, wrote that the statement was a "complete reversal" by McCain, accusing the candidate of seeking "to shore up the support of right-wing extremists."

The reaction to Holtz-Eakin's statement is the latest link in a chain of disputes over McCain's positions on surveillance over the past two weeks.

On May 23, the McCain campaign sent a volunteer lawyer, Chuck Fish, to be the candidate's surrogate at a conference on computer policy. Fish spoke at a panel discussion on whether phone and Internet companies should be granted immunity from lawsuits for having helped Bush's surveillance program.

Fish suggested that McCain wanted to impose conditions — like congressional hearings — that would ensure that such "forgiveness" would not signal that the telecoms should feel free to disregard communications privacy laws in the future if a president tells them to.

After Wired magazine wrote about Fish's remarks on its blog, raising the question of whether McCain's position had become more skeptical about immunity, the McCain campaign put out a statement saying that Fish was mistaken. McCain supported ending the lawsuits without conditions and his position had not changed, the campaign said.

On May 29, The Washington Post quoted Holtz-Eakin as saying that McCain did not want the telecoms "put into this position again" and that "there must be clear guidelines for their participation and sufficient vetting" in any future situation.

Holtz-Eakin's comments in turn drew fire from McCarthy. In a blog posting on the National Review Web site, he demanded to know whether McCain believes the Constitution authorizes a president to lawfully go "arguably beyond what is prescribed in a statute" during a national security crisis.

Holtz-Eakin laid out McCain's position on the president's claimed constitutional powers to bypass surveillance laws in a letter to McCarthy, who this week called the statement "extremely significant" and said it "marks a welcome evolution on the senator's thinking about executive power."

Original here







Religious Right Figure Gets Chills: Obama Could Win 40 Percent Of Evangelicals


"With clients like Focus on the Family, Franklin Graham, and Campus Crusade for Christ, Mark DeMoss may be the most prominent public relations executive in the evangelical world. A former chief of staff to Jerry Falwell, DeMoss became then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney's chief liaison to evangelical leaders."

In a new interview with Dan Gilgoff for BeliefNet's God-o-Meter, DeMoss explains the lack of religious enthusiasm for McCain and predicts a potential major shift to Obama.

How is John McCain doing among evangelicals, a crucial Republican constituency?


The evangelical world or the conservative religious world is not his natural habitat, so he doesn't strike me as being all that comfortable with it. I think that's evidenced by the strong comments made in 2000 about Falwell and Robertson. ...

You represent some of the nation's most powerful evangelicals. What do those leaders say about McCain?

This is one guy's perspective, but I am surprised by how little I've seen or read in conservative circles about McCain since February. I don't think I've gotten one email or letter or phone call from anybody in America in the last four months saying anything about this election or urging that we unite behind John McCain and put aside whatever differences we have. Back in the fall and winter, you'd get several things a day from conservatives saying, "The future of the Supreme Court is at stake. We have to stop Hillary Clinton. Get behind so and so--or don't' go with this guy." It's just very quiet. It could meant there's a real sense of apathy or it could mean they're' waiting for the general election to begin. But it's a surprise, given the way email networks work now.

Barack Obama is trying hard to win evangelical voters. Does that effort stand a chance?

If one third of white evangelicals voted for Bill Clinton the second time, at the height of Monica Lewinsky mess--that's a statistic I didn't believe at first but I double and triple checked it--I would not be surprised if that many or more voted for Barack Obama in this election. You're seeing some movement among evangelicals as the term [evangelical] has become more pejorative. There's a reaction among some evangelicals to swing out to the left in an effort to prove that evangelicals are really not that right wing. There's some concern that maybe Republicans haven't done that well. And there's this fascination with Barack Obama. So I will not be surprised if he gets one third of the evangelical vote. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 40-percent.

Original here

White House Unhappy With Former Press Secretary's Book

Members of the Bush staff and cabinet are displeased with the contents of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new memoir, What Happened: Inside The Bush White House And Washington's Culture Of Deception. What in the book is raising their ire?

Cheney picked all the cashews out of mixed-nut bowls meant for visiting veterans

McClellan and counterterrorism-adviser-turned-Bush-critic Richard A. Clarke used to sit in back of room during cabinet meetings, rolling their eyes and surreptitiously passing a flask of bourbon

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld mentioned only once

Condoleezza Rice liked to head-butt foreign dignitaries in the chest

White House lawyers have been advising the president based on their interpretation of the Articles of Confederation, not the Constitution

Bush cried like a pussy when he had to fire McClellan

Chapter 28 is dedicated to his lurid fantasies about Laura Bush

Just flat-out mean sometimes

Original here

Bilderberg meeting attracts prominent politicians, businessmen

The 56th Bilderberg Meeting, an annual conference of influential politicians and businessmen, began Thursday in Chantilly, Virgina, according to a press release from the organization.

The Conference will end Sunday and deals mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran.

According to the press release, the meeting is private in order to encourage frank and open discussion.

About 140 participants will attend, of whom about two-thirds come from Europe and the balance from North America. About one-third is from government and politics, and two-thirds are from finance, industry, labor, education and communications.

An official list of the attendees can be found at Alex Jones' Infowars.

Although it is an international forum, many prominent American officials and politicians attend the conference, including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke and Paul Wolfowitz.

James Johnson, the man tasked with selecting Barack Obama's running mate, is also on the list to attend the conference.

InfoWars also reported that Senator Barack Obama’s office has refused to deny that the Democratic nominee attended Bilderberg last night following reports that he and Hillary Clinton were present at "an event in Northern Virginia."

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs would not say where the former rivals met, except that it was not at Clinton's home in Washington, reported the Associated Press.

"Reporters traveling with Obama sensed something might be happening between the pair when they arrived at Dulles International Airport after an event in Northern Virginia and Obama was not aboard the airplane," the Associated Press reported.

Bilderberg takes its name from the hotel in Holland, pictured above, where the first meeting took place in May 1954. That meeting grew out of the concern expressed by leading citizens on both sides of the Atlantic that Western Europe and North America were not working together as closely as they should on common problems of critical importance, according to the group's press release.

The organization has sometimes drawn speculation that it forms a "shadowy global government," the BBC reported.

Coverage of the Bilberberg conference can be found at Infowars.

Excerpts from Bilderberg's press release, available in full here, follow...

#

The Cold War has now ended. But in practically all respects, there are more, not fewer, common problems - from trade to jobs, from monetary policy to investment, from ecological challenges to the task of promoting international security.

It is hard to think of any major issue in either Europe or North America whose unilateral solution would not have repercussions for the other. Thus the concept of a European-American forum has not been overtaken by time. The dialogue between these two regions is still - even increasingly - critical.

What is unique about Bilderberg as a forum, is the broad cross-section of leading citizens that are assembled for nearly three days of informal and off-the-record discussion about topics of current concern especially in the fields of foreign affairs and the international economy; the strong feeling among participants that in view of the differing attitudes and experiences of the Western nations, there remains a clear need to further develop an understanding in which these concerns can be accommodated; the privacy of the meetings, which has no purpose other than to allow participants to speak their minds openly and freely.

In short, Bilderberg is a small, flexible, informal and off-the-record international forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual understanding enhanced.

Bilderberg's only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued. Since 1954, fifty-five conferences have been held.

The names of the participants are made available to the press. Participants are chosen for their experience, their knowledge, and their standing; all participants attend Bilderberg in a private and not an official capacity.

Original here

Clarke On Iraq War Architects: ‘We Shouldn’t Let These People Back Into Polite Society’»

Noting that “prominent Democrats” had ruled out impeachment, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann asked former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke on his show last night, what “remedy” there could be for the lies and misinformation highlighted in the new Senate Intelligence Committee reports on the Bush administration’s misuse of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

“Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people,” said Clarke. He suggested that “some sort of truth and reconciliation commission” might be appropriate because, he said, we can’t “let these people back into polite society”:

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.

Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives.

Watch it:

Unfortunately, as Clarke hints, most of the architects of the Iraq war are still fully embraced by “polite society.”

Some, like President Bush and Vice President Cheney, are still working in the White House. But for many of those who left, “the neocon welfare system” has been generous:

- Last fall, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was named a “distinguished visiting fellow” at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he focuses on “issues pertaining to ideology and terror.”

- After a controversial tenure as the president of the World Bank, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

- Richard Perle, the chairman of Defense Policy Board during the run up to the Iraq war, also landed on the payroll of the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a resident fellow.

Despite their re-emergence into “polite society,” these war architects have largely refused to admit that they lied. In fact, some, like former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, insist that the American people only feel misled about Iraq because “they misremember a lot.”

Transcript:

OLBERMANN: Democrats, prominent Democrats said today that impeachment was not a remedy to this, but can anyone argue with a straight face, post-Lewinsky that these lies, the blood and treasure that they cost us, don’t deserve some kind of remedy. And is there some other kind of remedy?

CLARKE: Well, there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconciliation commission process that’s been tried in other countries, South Africa, Salvador and what not, where if you come forward and admit that you were in error or admit that you lied, admit that you did something, then you’re forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way. Now, I just don’t think we can let these people back into polite society and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened when there are 4,000 Americans dead and 25,000 Americans grieviously wounded, and they’ll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives. Someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of coming forward, I was wondering if there would be an opportunity to raise this issue with you because he’s so, he was so connected to you in a different context when your first criticisms became known around 2004 before the election, what — in a weird way, is Scott McClellan’s book kind of the passage way from this being a theoretical discussion to almost a text book saying how they managed to sell us this garbage?

CLARKE: Well, Scott McClellan’s book is further proof. It sort of the other end of this big Senate Intelligence report. But Scott, also, is asking for forgiveness. You know, he asked me, after he left your program and I bumped into him, literally coming through the revolving door in a hotel. Metaphorically, no really, he was coming through a revolving door and he asked me to forgive him and I think we do have to forgive people who ask for forgiveness. You know, the 9/11 families forgave me my inadequacies in dealing with al Qaeda and I greatly appreciated that. We do need to forgive people, but first they have to admit they lied.

Original here

The Truth About the War

It took just a few months after the United States’ invasion of Iraq for the world to find out that Saddam Hussein had long abandoned his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. He was not training terrorists or colluding with Al Qaeda. The only real threat he posed was to his own countrymen.

It has taken five years to finally come to a reckoning over how much the Bush administration knowingly twisted and hyped intelligence to justify that invasion. On Thursday — after years of Republican stonewalling — a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee gave us as good a set of answers as we’re likely to get.

The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.

The report confirms one serious intelligence failure: President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials were told that Iraq still had chemical and biological weapons and did not learn that these reports were wrong until after the invasion. But Mr. Bush and his team made even that intelligence seem more solid, more recent and more dangerous than it was.

The report shows that there was no intelligence to support the two most frightening claims Mr. Bush and his vice president used to sell the war: that Iraq was actively developing nuclear weapons and had longstanding ties to terrorist groups. It seems clear that the president and his team knew that that was not true, or should have known it — if they had not ignored dissenting views and telegraphed what answers they were looking for.

Over all, the report makes it clear that top officials, especially Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew they were not giving a full and honest account of their justifications for going to war.

The report was supported by only two of the seven Republicans on the 15-member Senate panel. The five dissenting Republicans first tried to kill it, and then to delete most of its conclusions. They finally settled for appending objections. The bulk of their criticisms were sophistry transparently intended to protect Mr. Bush and deny the public a full accounting of how he took America into a disastrous war.

The report documents how time and again Mr. Bush and his team took vague and dubious intelligence reports on Iraq’s weapons programs and made them sound like hard and incontrovertible fact.

“They continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago,” Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002, adding that “we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.”

On Oct. 7, 2002, Mr. Bush told an audience in Cincinnati that Iraq “is seeking nuclear weapons” and that “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.” Saddam Hussein, he said, “is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.”

Later, both men talked about Iraq trying to buy uranium in Africa and about the purchase of aluminum tubes that they said could only be used for a nuclear weapons program. They talked about Iraq having such a weapon in five years, then in three years, then in one.

If they had wanted to give an honest accounting of the intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney would have said it indicated that Mr. Hussein’s nuclear weapons program had been destroyed years earlier by American military strikes.

As for Iraq’s supposed efforts to “reconstitute” that program, they would have had to say that reports about the uranium shopping and the aluminum tubes were the extent of the evidence — and those claims were already in serious doubt when Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney told the public about them. That would not have been nearly as persuasive, of course, as Mr. Bush’s infamous “mushroom cloud” warning.

The report said Mr. Bush was justified in saying that intelligence analysts believed Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But even then, he and his aides glossed over inconvenient facts — that the only new data on biological weapons came from a dubious source code-named Curveball and proved to be false.

Yet Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney persisted in talking as if there were ironclad proof of Iraq’s weapons and plans for global mayhem.

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies and against us,” Mr. Cheney said on Aug. 29, 2002.

Actually, there was plenty of doubt — at the time — about that second point. According to the Senate report, there was no evidence that Mr. Hussein intended to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, and the intelligence community never said there was.

The committee’s dissenting Republicans attempted to have this entire section of the report deleted — along with a conclusion that the administration misrepresented the intelligence when it warned of a risk that Mr. Hussein could give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. They said Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney never used the word “intent” and were merely trying to suggest that Iraq “could” do those terrible things.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone drew that distinction after hearing Mr. Bush declare that “Saddam Hussein would like nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill and leave no fingerprints behind.” Or when he said: “Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX nerve gas or someday a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally.”

The Senate report shows that the intelligence Mr. Bush had did not support those statements — or Mr. Rumsfeld’s that “every month that goes by, his W.M.D. programs are progressing, and he moves closer to his goal of possessing the capability to strike our population, and our allies, and hold them hostage to blackmail.”

Claims by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld that Iraq had longstanding ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups also were false, and the Senate committee’s report shows that the two men knew it, or should have.

We cannot say with certainty whether Mr. Bush lied about Iraq. But when the president withholds vital information from the public — or leads them to believe things that he knows are not true — to justify the invasion of another country, that is bad enough.

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