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Archive for September, 2006

Florida Rep. Mark Foley’s resignation came just hours after ABC News questioned the congressman about a series of sexually explicit instant messages involving congressional pages, high school students who are under 18 years of age.In Congress, Rep. Foley (R-FL) was part of the Republican leadership and the chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children.
He crusaded for tough laws against those who used the Internet for sexual exploitation of children.

“They’re sick people; they need mental health counseling,” Foley said.
But, according to several former congressional pages, the congressman used the Internet to engage in sexually explicit exchanges.

They say he used the screen name Maf54 on these messages provided to ABC News.

Maf54: You in your boxers, too?

Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.

Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.

Another message:

Maf54: What ya wearing?

Teen: tshirt and shorts

Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.

And this one:

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?

Teen: A little.

Maf54: Cool.

The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.

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Henry Kissinger Advises Bush To Stay The Course


(CBS) Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

In Wallace’s interview with Woodward, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, the reporter also claims that Henry Kissinger is among those advising Mr. Bush.

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. “It’s getting to the point now where there are eight-, nine-hundred attacks a week. That’s more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces,” says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. “The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,'” he tells Wallace. “Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know,” says Woodward.

“The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn’t know? The American public,” Woodward tells Wallace.

Woodward also reports that the president and vice president often meet with Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, as an adviser. Says Woodward, “Now what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply, ‘Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.'” Woodward adds. “This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will.”

President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course, says Woodward. So certain is the president on this matter, Woodward says, that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, “I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.”

Woodward reported for two years and interviewed more than 200 people, including top officials in the Bush administration, to learn these and other revelations that he makes in his latest book, State of Denial, published by Simon & Schuster, part of the CBS Corp.

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Four men and a golf photo


Four years later, why aren’t these men smiling anymore?

WASHINGTON – In the four years since the above photo was taken, in August of 2002, on a golf junket at the famed St. Andrews links in Scotland, fate and government investigations have taken the smiles off the faces of these four duffers and many others associated with Jack Abramoff.

Jack Abramoff: Former powerhouse Washington lobbyist, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research conservative think tank and Toward Tradition religious right organization.

Since 2002: The disgraced mega-lobbyist pleaded guilty in January to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress. He was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in March in Florida for his role in the SUNCRUZ casino cruise line case along with his partner Adam Kidan.

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FALLON, Nevada-

Former President Jimmy Carter said major policy changes are needed because the Iraq war has divided the nation “almost as much as Vietnam.””So there’s no doubt that our country is in much more danger now from terrorism than it would have been if we would have done what we should have done and stayed in Afghanistan,” he said Wednesday on the campaign trail with his son, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Carter.

The former president said the Bush administration made a “terrible mistake” by invading Iraq and diverting troops from Afghanistan.

Jack Carter criticized his opponent, Republican Senator John Ensign, for supporting the Iraq war. Both Carters also said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should go.

“I think he’s one of the worst secretaries of defense we’ve ever had,” the former president said of Rumsfeld. “Almost every decision he has made has aggravated his military subordinates and has also proved to be a mistake.”

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White House Lashes Out


Sept. 29, 2006 — The White House is lashing out at a new report which says convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates had far more extensive contacts with the White House than President Bush’s staff ever acknowledged.
Outside his home in Washington, D.C., Karl Rove commented exclusively to ABCNews on his dealings with Jack Abramoff.

In answer to an inquiry on whether he had accepted gifts from Abramoff, Rove simply replied, “afraid not.”

The report from the Republican-led House Government Affairs Committee stated that Abramoff had as many as 485 contacts with the White House, and prime among his lobbying targets was former White House political director Ken Mehlman, and Bush’s adviser Karl Rove.

Of those 485 contacts, 345 were described as meetings or other in-person contacts; 71 were described as phone conversations and 69 were e-mail exchanges.

The records detailed in the recent report span from Jan. 2001 to Mar. 2004. In Jan. of 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy, one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Former White House political director Ken Mehlman is now the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, which issued this statement in response to the report: “In his capacity as Political Director of the White House, it is not unusual that Mr. Mehlman would be in contact with supporters who had interest in administration policy.”

The investigation is based on a detailed examination of the billing records and the e-mails the committee received from Abramoff and his associates, which indicated far more extensive contacts than investigators were led to believe in the past between the lobbyist and both the White House and the Republican National Committee.

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Wiretap bill sets up election-year issue


WASHINGTON – The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists.

“The Democrats’ irrational opposition to strong national security policies that help keep our nation secure should be of great concern to the American people,” Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement after the bill passed 232-191.

“To always have reasons why you just can’t vote ‘yes,’ I think speaks volumes when it comes to which party is better able and more willing to take on the terrorists and defeat them,” Boehner said.

Democrats shot back that the war on terrorism shouldn’t be fought at the expense of civil and human rights. The bill approved by the House, they argued, gives the president too much power and leaves the law vulnerable to being overturned by a court.

“It is ceding the president’s argument that Congress doesn’t matter in this area,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (news, bio, voting record), D-Md.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson (news, bio, voting record), R-N.M., that give legal status under certain conditions to Bush’s warrantless wiretapping of calls and e-mails between people on U.S. soil making calls or sending e-mails and those in other countries.

Under the measure, the president would be authorized to conduct such wiretaps if he:

• Notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees and congressional leaders.

• Believes an attack is imminent and later explains the reason and names the individuals and groups involved.

• Renews his certification every 90 days.

The Senate also could vote on a similar bill before Congress recesses at the end of the week. Leaders concede that differences between the versions are so significant they cannot reconcile them into a final bill that can be delivered to Bush before the Nov. 7 congressional elections.

For its part, the White House announced it strongly supported passage of the House version but wasn’t satisfied with it, adding that the administration “looks forward to working with Congress to strengthen the bill as it moves through the legislative process.”

But with Congress giving Bush the other half of his September anti-terrorism agenda — a bill setting conditions on how terrorism suspects are to be detained, interrogated and tried — Republicans shifted from lawmaking to campaign mode.

After the House voted 253-168 to set rules on tough interrogations and military tribunal proceedings, Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was even more critical than Boehner.

“Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists,” Hastert said in a statement. “So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan. ”

Retorted Pelosi: “I think the speaker is a desperate man for him to say that. Would you think that anyone in our country wants to coddle terrorists?”

She and other Democratic critics of the GOP’s September anti-terrorism agenda contend the Republican-written bills make Bush’s programs vulnerable to being overturned in court. More broadly, they argue the legislation reflects the White House’s willingness to fight the war on terrorism at the expense of civil and human rights.

A Democratic majority in either House would set the balance right, Democrats say. “In 40 days, we can put an end to this nonsense,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass, referring to the election.

A federal judge in Detroit who struck down the warrantless surveillance program turned aside a government request for an indefinite stay Thursday. U.S. Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said the government could have a week to appeal.

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The House bill is H.R. 5825; the Senate bill is S. 3931.

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A draft report from the House Government Reform committee, to be released this morning, says that indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had many more connections to the Bush Administration than the White House had originally reported. Abramoff’s billing records and emails indicate that, over a three year period, he had 485 lobbying contacts with the White House. 10 of those contacts were with Karl Rove.ABC News obtained an exclusive preview of the report. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports that evidence suggests some of the contacts may rise to the level of criminal activity. Stephanopoulos says. “There will be some questions about whether or not these concert tickets, meals, drinks offered to White House official violated the gift ban. That’s going to be something at issue. There does seem to be, as I said, circumstantial evidence that Abramoff did get what he wanted on behalf of his clients.”

On MSNBC’s Countdown, Lawrence O’Donnell provided early analysis of the Abramoff report. Keith Olbermann asked O’Donnell how this report may affect public opinion prior to November’s midterm elections, and O’Donnell concluded:

“Abramoff is now the way you spell the word ‘scandal’ in Washington, DC. The public doesn’t know a great deal about Abramoff but they know he’s bad. They know he’s a criminal. They’re certainly aware that he’s, in effect, pleading guilty and is going to end up in jail. And now, this is a picture that says, not only did he have access — which I think the public was vaguely aware that he had presidential access, White House access — he had the run of the place. He has a frequency of appearance now that looks like he had a White House pass.

“It’s an amazing presence that he has everywhere in the Republican world during the time that this scandal was developing. Guys like Conrad Burns, Senator from Montana, running for election and his big problem is that he took money from Jack Abramoff. That’s his single biggest problem. For Karl Rove, the president’s senior advisor, to be meeting with Abramoff 9 times, specifically by himself — and, by the way, possibly much more than that. That’s probably just the 9 times that Abramoff signed in to meet Rove. Once in the building he could have easily have encountered him many, many more times than that. This brings this horrible scandal into the White House and plants it in a way that we haven’t seen before.”

The following video report contains news clips from ABC World News Tonight, ABC Good Morning America, and MSNBC Countdown.

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