Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show:
A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.
Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends keep permanent military bases in the country.
The stark assessments, among the most negative attitudes toward U.S.-led forces since they invaded Iraq in 2003, contrast sharply with views expressed by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Last week at the United Nations, President Jalal Talabani said coalition troops should remain in the country until Iraqi security forces are "capable of putting an end to terrorism and maintaining stability and security."
"Majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas state that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) should withdraw immediately, adding that the MNF-I's departure would make them feel safer and decrease violence," concludes the 20-page State Department report, titled "Iraq Civil War Fears Remain High in Sunni and Mixed Areas." The report was based on 1,870 face-to-face interviews conducted from late June to early July.
The Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, which was conducted over the first three days of September for WorldPublicOpinion.org, found that support among Sunni Muslims for a withdrawal of all U.S.-led forces within six months dropped to 57 percent in September from 83 percent in January.
"There is a kind of softening of Sunni attitudes toward the U.S.," said Steven Kull, director of PIPA and editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org. "But you can't go so far as to say the majority of Sunnis don't want the U.S. out. They do. They're just not quite in the same hurry as they were before."
The PIPA poll, which has a margin of error of 3 percent, was carried out by Iraqis in all 18 provinces who conducted interviews with more than 1,000 randomly selected Iraqis in their homes.
Using complex sampling methods based on data from Iraq's Planning Ministry, the pollsters selected streets on which to conduct interviews. They then contacted every third house on the left side of the road. When they selected a home, the interviewers then collected the names and birth dates of everyone who lived there and polled the person with the most recent birthday.
The director of another Iraqi polling firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared being killed, said public opinion surveys he conducted last month showed that 80 percent of Iraqis who were questioned favored an immediate withdrawal. Eight-five percent of Sunnis in that poll supported an immediate withdrawal, a number virtually unchanged in the past two years, except for the two months after the Samarra bombing, when the number fell to about 70 percent, the poll director said.
Army Warns Rumsfeld It's Billions Short:
The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.
The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely th the regular defense budget going to normal personnel, procurement and operational expenses, such as salaries and new weapons systems.
About $400 billion has been appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through emergency funding measures since Sept. 11, 2001, with the money divided among military branches and government agencies.
But in recent budget negotiations, Army officials argued that the service's expanding global role in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism — outlined in strategic plans issued this year — as well as fast-growing personnel and equipment costs tied to the Iraq war, have put intense pressure on its normal budget.
The Army, with an active-duty force of 504,000, has been stretched by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 400,000 have done at least one tour of combat duty, and more than a third of those have been deployed twice. Commanders have increasingly complained of the strain, saying last week that sustaining current levels will require more help from the National Guard and Reserve or an increase in the active-duty force.
Schoomaker first raised alarms with Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in June after he received new Army budget outlines from Rumsfeld's office. Those outlines called for an Army budget of about $114 billion, a $2-billion cut from previous guidelines. The cuts would grow to $7 billion a year after six years, the senior Army official said.
Army officials said that Schoomaker's failure to file his 2008 Program Objective Memorandum was not intended as a rebuke to Rumsfeld, and that the Defense secretary had backed Schoomaker since the chief of staff raised the issue with him directly.
Still, some Army officials said Schoomaker expressed concern about recent White House budget moves, such as the decision in May to use $1.9 billion out of the most recent emergency spending bill for border security, including deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops at the Mexican border.
Army officials said $1.2 billion of that money came out of funds originally intended for Army war expenses.
Musharraf: Iraq war makes world more dangerous:
The war in Iraq has not made the world safer from terror, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has told CNN, saying he stands by statements on the subject he makes in his new book, "In the Line of Fire."
In the book, Musharraf -- a key ally who is often portrayed as being in complete agreement with U.S. President George W. Bush on the war on terror and other issues -- writes he never supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
"I stand by it, absolutely," Musharraf told CNN's "The Situation Room." Asked whether he disagreed with Bush, he said, "I've stated whatever I had to ... it [the war] has made the world a more dangerous place."
He also addressed allegations that Pakistan was a less-than-enthusiastic recruit into the war on terror and that former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a Pakistani official that the United States would bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" if it did not cooperate with Washington after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Armitage has denied making the threat. He told CNN he gave Pakistan a tough message, telling the Muslim nation it was either "with us or against us."
"I have written whatever I heard, and my intelligence director did say that," Musharraf told CNN. "I would leave it at that. He didn't contact me. He didn't say that to me."
Iraqi Police Cited in Abuses May Lose Aid:
American officials have warned Iraqi leaders that they might have to curtail aid to the Interior Ministry police because of a United States law that prohibits the financing of foreign security forces that commit “gross violations of human rights” and are not brought to justice.
The Interior Ministry, dominated by Shiites, has long been accused by Sunni Arabs of complicity in torture and killings.
The American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in an interview on Friday that “at this point” Iraq had not been formally notified that its national police were in violation of the legislation, known as the Leahy Law. He said he remained optimistic that Iraqi officials would “do the right thing” and resolve the matter. Nonetheless, he said American officials had begun reviewing programs that might have to be ended.
The issue centers on one of the most sensitive subjects within the Iraqi government: the joint Iraqi-American inspection in May and subsequent investigation of a prison in eastern Baghdad known as Site 4.
Within the prison there was clear evidence of systematic abuse and torture, including victims who had “lesions resulting from torture” as well as “equipment used for this purpose,” according to a human rights report later published by the United Nations mission in Iraq.
The prison, run by an Interior Ministry national police unit, had more than 1,400 prisoners crowded into a small area. An American officer said some had been beaten or bound and hung by their arms. At least 37 teenagers or children were in the prison.
White House refuses to release full terror report:
The White House refused Wednesday to release the rest of a secret intelligence assessment that depicts a growing terrorist threat as the Bush administration tried to quell election-season criticism that its anti-terror policies are seriously off track.
Press secretary Tony Snow said releasing the full report, portions of which President Bush declassified on Tuesday, would jeopardize the lives of agents who gathered the information.
It would also risk the nation's ability to work with foreign governments and to keep secret its U.S. intelligence-gathering methods, Snow said, and "compromise the independence of people doing intelligence analysis."
"If they think their work is constantly going to be released to the public they are going to pull their punches," Snow said.
In the bleak National Intelligence Estimate, the government's top analysts concluded Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for jihadists, who are growing in number and geographic reach. If the trend continues, the analysts found, the risks to the U.S. interests at home and abroad will grow.
A separate high-level assessment focused solely on Iraq may be coming soon. At least two House Democrats -- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Jane Harman of California -- have questioned whether that report has been stamped "draft" and shelved until after the Nov. 7 elections.
An intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the process, said National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told lawmakers in writing only one month ago that he ordered a new Iraq estimate to be assembled. The estimate on terrorism released Tuesday took about a year to produce.
Bush urges Senate to follow House, pass detainee bill (from CNN originally, currently on Forbes):
President Bush urged the Senate on Thursday to follow the House lead and approve a White House plan for detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects, saying, "The American people need to know we're working together to win the war on terror."
Bush met in the Capitol with Senate Republicans the day after the House passed the legislation that Republicans likely will use on the campaign trail to assert that Democrats want to coddle terrorists.
"People shouldn't forget there's still an enemy out there that wants to do harm to the United States," Bush told reporters after the closed-door meeting.
Barring any last-minute hiccups, a Senate vote Thursday would send the legislation to the president's desk by week's end. The House approved a nearly identical measure Wednesday on a 253-168 vote.
Senate Republicans agreed on the measure with the exception of whether to allow terrorists the right to protest their detentions in court. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, contends the ability to file a "habeas corpus" petition is considered a fundamental legal right and necessary to uncover abuse.
Other Republicans contend that providing terror suspects the right to unlimited appeals would weigh down the federal court system.
Four Democrats and Specter were being given opportunities to offer amendments Thursday, but all were expected to be rejected along party lines.
The legislation would establish a military court system to prosecute terror suspects, a response to the Supreme Court ruling in June that Congress' blessing was necessary. While the bill would grant defendants more legal rights than they had under the administration's old system, it nevertheless would not include rights usually granted in civilian and military courts.
The measure also provides extensive definitions of war crimes such as torture, rape and biological experiments, but gives the president broad authority to decide which other techniques U.S. interrogators may use legally. The provisions are intended to protect CIA interrogators from being prosecuted for war crimes.
After Wednesday's mostly party-line vote in the Republican-run House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, said in a statement that Democrats who voted against the measure "voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists."
He added, "So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan."
In response, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Democrats feared the House-passed measure could endanger U.S. soldiers by encouraging other countries to limit the rights of captured American troops, and be vulnerable to being overturned by the Supreme Court.
"Speaker Hastert's false and inflammatory rhetoric is yet another desperate attempt to mislead the American people and provoke fear," she said, adding that Democrats "have an unshakable commitment to catching, convicting and punishing terrorists who attack Americans."
Pelosi and other Democrats said the bill would give the president too much power to decide whether interrogation standards go too far.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said, "This bill is everything we don't believe in."
Overall in the House, 219 Republicans and 34 Democrats voted for the legislation, while 160 Democrats, seven Republicans and one independent voted against it.
Detainee Bill Shifts Power to President:
With the final passage through Congress of the detainee treatment bill, President Bush on Friday achieved a signal victory, shoring up with legislation his determined conduct of the campaign against terrorism in the face of challenges from critics and the courts.
Rather than reining in the formidable presidential powers Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have asserted since Sept. 11, 2001, the law gives some of those powers a solid statutory foundation. In effect it allows the president to identify enemies, imprison them indefinitely and interrogate them — albeit with a ban on the harshest treatment — beyond the reach of the full court reviews traditionally afforded criminal defendants and ordinary prisoners.
Taken as a whole, the law will give the president more power over terrorism suspects than he had before the Supreme Court decision this summer in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that undercut more than four years of White House policy. It does, however, grant detainees brought before military commissions limited protections initially opposed by the White House. The bill, which cleared a final procedural hurdle in the House on Friday and is likely to be signed into law next week by Mr. Bush, does not just allow the president to determine the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions; it also strips the courts of jurisdiction to hear challenges to his interpretation.
And it broadens the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to include not only those who fight the United States but also those who have “purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” The latter group could include those accused of providing financial or other indirect support to terrorists, human rights groups say. The designation can be made by any “competent tribunal” created by the president or secretary of defense.
In very specific ways, the bill is a rejoinder to the Hamdan ruling, in which several justices said the absence of Congressional authorization was a central flaw in the administration’s approach. The new bill solves that problem, legal experts said.
White House Said to Bar Hurricane Report:
The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday.
The possibility that warming conditions may cause storms to become stronger has generated debate among climate and weather experts, particularly in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
In the new case, Nature said weather experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - part of the Commerce Department - in February set up a seven-member panel to prepare a consensus report on the views of agency scientists about global warming and hurricanes.
According to Nature, a draft of the statement said that warming may be having an effect.
In May, when the report was expected to be released, panel chair Ants Leetmaa received an e-mail from a Commerce official saying the report needed to be made less technical and was not to be released, Nature reported.
[California's] State's war on warming: Governor signs measure to cap greenhouse gas emissions:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Wednesday setting California on course to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, a major political victory for the governor and a step that environmental and political leaders predict will have worldwide ramifications.
In a ceremony on San Francisco's Treasure Island with the city's skyline as a backdrop, Schwarzenegger declared the beginning of "a bold new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history" as he approved AB32, which calls for the state to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by 25 percent by 2020.
The new law, the first of its kind in the nation, could lead to a dizzying array of changes in industry and elsewhere that will be seen in cities, on farms and on freeways.
During the next decade, state regulators could require more public transportation, more densely built housing, a major new investment in projects that tap into the wind and sun to generate electricity, millions of new trees and even new ways for farmers to handle animal waste.
Aides to the governor said he also planned to sign legislation later this week that will prohibit the state's electric utilities from buying electricity from high-polluting out-of-state power plants, a key step toward cleaning up the state's power supply.
Despite a contentious legislative battle this year over the bill, the legislation leaves most of the heavy lifting to the state's Air Resources Board, which now is charged with numerous duties in achieving the state's 2020 goal -- a deadline that will occur long after Schwarzenegger and the lawmakers who voted for AB32 are out of office.
By January 2008, the board is expected to have developed new rules requiring most industries to report their current greenhouse gas emissions, a key first step. The board also must determine by that time the exact amount of gas that needs to be reduced; experts suggested it will be more than 170 million metric tons of gases.
That's more carbon dioxide than every car in the state combined produces now.
Other deadlines follow that, including creation of a fully spelled-out plan for meeting the target by January 2011 and enforcement beginning in 2012. The board also can consider implementing a so-called cap and trade system, which would allow companies to buy and sell credits for emission reductions, allowing one company that lowers emissions more than required to sell credits to another firm, for example.