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Archive for January 27th, 2007

Tens of thousands in D.C. protest war

WASHINGTON – Protesters energized by fresh congressional skepticism about the Iraq war demanded a withdrawal of U.S. troops in a demonstration Saturday that drew tens of thousands and brought Jane Fonda back to the streets.

A sampling of celebrities and busloads of demonstrators from distant states joined in a spirited rally under a sunny sky, seeing opportunity to press their cause in a country that has turned against the war.

“We see many things that we feel helpless about,” said Barbara Struna, 59, of Brewster, Mass. “But this is like a united force. This is something I can do.”
Struna, a mother of five who runs an art gallery, made a two-day bus trip with her 17-year-old daughter, Anna, to the nation’s capital to represent what she said was middle America’s opposition to President Bush’s war policy.

Her daughter, a high school senior, said she has as many as 20 friends who have been to Iraq. “My generation is the one that is going to have to pay for this,” she said.

Showcased speakers in addition to Fonda included actors Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Danny Glover; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy; and several members of Congress who oppose the war.

Fonda was a lightning rod in the Vietnam era for her outspoken opposition to that war, earning the derisive nickname “Hanoi Jane” from conservatives for traveling to North Vietnam during the height of that conflict 35 years ago. She has avoided anti-Iraq war appearances until now.

About 40 people staged a counter-protest, including military family members and Army Cpl. Joshua Sparling, 25, who lost his leg to a bomb in Iraq in November 2005.

He said the anti-war protesters, especially those who are veterans or who are on active duty, “need to remember the sacrifice we have made and what our fallen comrades would say if they are alive.”

As protesters streamed to the Mall, Bush reaffirmed his commitment to the troop increase in a phone conversation Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a day when one or two rockets struck the heavily fortified Green Zone, home of the Iraqi government, thousands of Americans and the U.S. and British embassies.

Bush was in Washington for the weekend. He is often is out of town during big protest days. On Monday, for instance, he called anti-abortion marchers on the telephone from Camp David.

United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the protest, said there has been intense interest in the rally since Bush announced he was sending 21,500 additional troops to supplement the 130,000 in Iraq.

The rally was held as congressional opposition to the war is building. The Senate is considering nonbinding resolutions that would state opposition to Bush sending the extra forces to Iraq.

Frank Houde, 72, of Albany, N.Y., was a career Air Force pilot who served in Vietnam. Houde did not carry a sign, but said that his protest was on his hat, which said “Veterans for peace.”

“The fact is war doesn’t work,” he said. “Iraq is not going to work. The war was started for reasons that turned out to be false.”

Houde, retired from the antique restoration business, said he was never upset by protests at home while he was in Vietnam.

“I knew most were protesting on principle,” he said. “It was a democratic process.”

Houde said he came to this protest to be counted and added, “You can’t sit in the middle of the stink of war for a year and not be affected by it. We changed the balance of power in Congress.”

Active-duty military troops were featured in the protest. A Defense Department spokeswoman said members of the Armed Forces can speak out, subject to several restrictions. They must not do so in uniform, and they must make clear that they do not speak on behalf of their military unit, their service or the Defense Department, unless authorized to do so.

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President Bush’s top political consultant, Karl Rove, could testify in the much-publicized trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Michael Isikoff reports in a Newsweek web exclusive.

“White House anxiety is mounting over the prospect that top officials–including deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and counselor Dan Bartlett–may be forced to provide potentially awkward testimony in the perjury and obstruction trial” of Libby, writes Isikoff.

Rove and Bartlett have both already received subpoenas from defense lawyers for Libby, Isikoff quotes lawyers related to the case as saying.

The article states that while it’s not guaranteed that Rove and Bartlett will be called, chances rose this week after Libby’s lawyer “laid out a defense resting on the idea that his client … had been made a ‘scapegoat’ to protect Rove.”

Isikoff adds, again quoting, that the Vice President is “expected to provide the most crucial testimony” to back up the assertions made by Libby’s lawyer.

RAW STORY earlier reported on a New York Times article that suggested Libby’s “scapegoat” defense “may not be supportable by any evidence.”

Excerpts from the Newsweek article follow…

The possibility that Rove could be called to testify would bring his own role into sharper focus–and could prove important to Libby’s lawyers for several reasons.

Rove has said in secret testimony that, during a chat on July 11, 2003, Libby told him he learned about Plame’s employment at the CIA from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, a legal source who asked not to be identified talking about grand jury matters told NEWSWEEK…

But the Rove account could cut in other ways. Fitzgerald would likely argue that Libby’s comment to Rove merely shows that the vice president’s top aide “was even lying inside the White House,” according to the legal source. Moreover, Rove is likely not eager to recount the story either. The reason? He would have to acknowledge that shortly after he had the chat with Libby, he went back to his office and had a phone conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in which he also disclosed the fact that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. The disclosure was potentially illegal since, at the time, Plame was employed in the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s covert arm…

An equally embarrassing conflict could emerge next week when former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer takes the stand. Fleischer has been one of the most mysterious figures in the case, making virtually no public comments about it since he left the White House in July 2003. In the past he has insisted he wasn’t even represented by a lawyer. But it emerged during court arguments this week that Fleischer originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges to avoid testifying and then only agreed to do so after he was given an immunity deal by Fitzgerald–an arrangement that normally requires extensive bargaining among attorneys…

On its face, Fleischer’s account seems to contradict the repeated public assertions of his immediate successor, Scott McClellan, in October 2003 that nobody at the White House was in any way involved in the leak of Plame’s identity. It also potentially puts Bartlett, one of the president’s senior and most trusted advisers, on the hot seat. If Bartlett backs up Fleischer, it suggests he himself played a role in passing along radioactive information that triggered a criminal investigation that has plagued the White House for more than four years…

LINK HERE TO READ THE FULL NEWSWEEK ARTICLE.

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) says the White House is “up to its old tricks” as it preps for a U.S. attack on Iran, according to a press release.

The 2008 Democratic presidential candidate warns that Bush’s actions could result in impeachment.

Kucinich accuses the Bush administration “of mounting a media blitz to prepare the U.S. public for an eventual attack on Iran,” according to the release, which cites a report that the President authorized the military to kill Iranians operating inside Iraq.

“The White House is up to its old tricks again,” says Kucinich, accusing the administration of “providing information by anonymous sources and portraying Iran as an aggressor in Iraq.” He continues, “The President is mischaracterizing U.S. action vis à vis Iran. In fact, the U.S. is already engaged in offensive and provocative acts against Iran.

“The President’s strategy, by portraying our involvement as only being on the defensive, is laying out the groundwork for him to attack Iran and bypass authorization by Congress.”

The six-term Congressmember, a long-time advocate for peace, blasts “the White House spin machine” for “providing justification for a new war … against Iran.” He adds, “The Washington Post is quoting strategically placed Administration sources who are providing justification for an attack… This new twist on Iran, a country this Administration refuses to have free and open diplomatic talks with, is stating the Administration’s case for war.”

Kucinich closes by warning, “The degree to which this President continues to take steps to go to war against Iran without consulting with the full Congress is the degree to which he is increasingly putting himself in jeopardy of an impeachment proceeding.”

The full release is available at Rep. Kucinich’s official site.

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