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Archive for February, 2007

Judge Dismisses CIA Leak Trial Juror


WASHINGTON — A juror was dismissed from the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby on Monday after court officials learned she had been exposed to information about the case over the weekend.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the juror removed, saying “what she had exposure to obviously disqualifies her.” The judge declined to say what information the juror had seen.

Walton said the remaining jurors had not been tainted. He said he would allow deliberations to continue with 11 jurors rather than calling on one of two alternate jurors.

“They should continue with their deliberations and I will emphasize again the importance of not having contact with any outside information,” Walton said.

The woman who was dismissed from jury is an art history expert and scholar who formerly served as a curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Judge questions Libby jurors over media

WASHINGTON – Attorneys and a federal judge began questioning each juror in the CIA leak trial Monday after one juror apparently saw or read something about the case over the weekend.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton has ordered jurors to avoid contact with media coverage of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s monthlong trial. He said Monday that one juror was exposed to information about the trial over the weekend.

Jurors occasionally saw some news coverage during the monthlong trial. Unlike those incidents, Walton said Monday that he worried that the information may have been passed to several jurors. He said each juror would be questioned behind closed doors.

The decision came as jurors began their fourth day of deliberations in the case and raised the possibility of a mistrial if jurors had been prejudiced in the highly publicized and politically charged case.

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CIA leak jury debate moves into 2nd week


WASHINGTON – A jury is moving into its second week of debate on whether former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby obstructed the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative married to a prominent Iraq war critic.

The eight women and four men began deliberations late Wednesday morning and have issued only two brief written notes, which suggested they are methodically reviewing the evidence against the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

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US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

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Cheney Says All Options on Table for Iran


SYDNEY, Australia (Feb. 24) – Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday renewed Washington’s warning to Iran that “all options” are on the table if the country continues to defy U.N.-led efforts to end Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

At a joint news conference with Prime Minister John Howard during a visit to Australia, Cheney also said Washington was “comfortable” with Britain’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq and that it was up to Australia to decide if it would do the same.

Cheney said the United States was “deeply concerned” about Iran’s activities, including the “aggressive” sponsoring of terrorist group Hezbollah and inflammatory statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad .

He said top U.S. officials would meet soon with European allies to decide the next step toward planned tough sanctions against Iran if it continues enriching uranium.

“We worked with the European community and the United Nations to put together a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations and resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our preference,” Cheney said.

“But I’ve also made the point, and the president has made the point, that all options are on the table,” he said, leaving open the possibility of military action.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Thursday that Iran had not only ignored a U.N. Security Council ultimatum to freeze its enrichment program, but had expanded the program by setting up hundreds of centrifuges. Enriched uranium fuels nuclear reactors but, enriched further, is used in nuclear bombs.

The IAEA report came after the expiration Wednesday of a 60-day grace period for Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad said on Thursday it was of no importance if countries did not believe Iran’s nuclear activities were peaceful, and said the country would resist “all bullies.”

Howard said efforts to keep Iran in check would be hampered if the United States and its allies lose the Iraq war.

“I can’t think of a country whose influence and potential clout would be more enhanced in that part of the world than Iran’s could be if there were to be a coalition defeat in Iraq,” Howard said.

On Iraq, Cheney sidestepped a question about whether the White House had asked the British government to redeploy troops into another part of Iraq rather than withdraw them.

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McCain Says Iraq Could End His Career


SEATTLE — Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Friday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has sacrificed his career to support the Iraq war, and the Arizona senator acknowledged that he could face the same fate.

McCain, a staunch defender of President Bush’s new Iraq troop deployment strategy, said he worries that a cutback of British troops in southern Iraq announced by Blair this week could lead to stronger control by “Iranian-backed Shiite” forces. But he said Blair and the British deserve gratitude for their efforts.

“He has literally sacrificed his political career because of Iraq,” McCain said during an appearance before the World Affairs Council and the City Club of Seattle. “That is a great testament to his political courage.”

Asked later by a reporter if he was in danger of making the same sacrifice, McCain responded, “Sure.”

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Democrats Seek to Repeal 2002 War Authorization

Senate Democratic leaders intend to unveil a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in favor of narrower authority that restricts the military’s role and begins withdrawals of combat troops.

House Democrats have pulled back from efforts to link additional funding for the war to strict troop-readiness standards after the proposal came under withering fire from Republicans and from their party’s own moderates. That strategy was championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“If you strictly limit a commander’s ability to rotate troops in and out of Iraq, that kind of inflexibility could put some missions and some troops at risk,” said Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who personally lodged his concerns with Murtha.

In both chambers, Democratic lawmakers are eager to take up binding legislation that would impose clear limits on U.S. involvement in Iraq after nearly four years of war. But Democrats remain divided over how to proceed. Some want to avoid the funding debate altogether, fearing it would invite Republican charges that the party is not supporting the troops. Others take a more aggressive view, believing the most effective way to confront President Bush’s war policy is through a $100 billion war-spending bill that the president ultimately must sign to keep the war effort on track.

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McCain: Bush Pursuit of Iraq a ‘Train Wreck’

McCain Slams Bush Administration on Iraq and Global Warming, Criticizes Both Cheney and Rumsfeld

Feb. 22, 2007 — Proving that presidential infighting isn’t just for Democrats, Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took several sharply worded shots at the Bush administration this week, distancing himself from an unpopular president and an unpopular war while wooing the right Republicans who put the president in power and once before denied McCain the White House.

McCain’s latest anti-Bush tirade came during a joint appearance Wednesday in California with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.

The two leaders met to discuss energy and the environment, but the subject turned to Iraq.

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Comparing the United States to a troubled private corporation, a business executive in Salon this morning says that if President Bush were the CEO of a private company, its board would send him packing.

Warren Hellman founded Hellman & Friedman, a private equity investment firm, and was the youngest employee ever appointed partner at Lehman Brothers. Noting that Bush is the first president with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, he writes in Salon that “if the United States were a company, it would be a troubled one,” pointing to Bush’s shortcomings in managing the national budget, its poor warfighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other crises.

Hellman concentrates on six acts of commission or omission by the president that would be grounds for firing of the president was Chief Executive Officer of a company: failing to be fiscally responsible; making poor strategic decisions; poorly executing those decisions; choosing poor personnel; poor research and development for the future; and, failure to adhere to the institution’s charters and bylaws.

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While rebutting the closing argument by the defense at I. Lewis Libby’s trial, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spoke of a “dark cloud over the White House,” due to the alleged obstruction of justice by the former White House aide. At the Washington Post’s website, columnist Dan Froomkin points out that for the first time, as many have speculated, the prosecutor wasn’t just accusing Libby, he was also referring to “them.”

According to Froomkin, Fitzgerald “at long last made it quite clear that the depth of Vice President Cheney’s role in the leaking of the identity of a CIA operative is one of the central mysteries that Libby’s alleged lies prevented investigators from resolving.”

“There is a cloud over the vice president . . . And that cloud remains because this defendant obstructed justice,” Fitzgerald said. “There is a cloud over the White House. Don’t you think the FBI and the grand jury and the American people are entitled to straight answers?”

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