Sunday, November 27, 2005
November 27, 2005
Word for Word Church v. State U.
Here's the Problem With Emily Dickinson
By THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
INTELLIGENT design isn't the only flashpoint in the battle over religion in the nation's classrooms. On Dec. 12, the Federal District Court in Los Angeles will hear a lawsuit filed by a consortium of Christian high schools against the University of California system for refusing to credit some of their courses when their students apply for admission.
Among those courses are "Christianity's Influence in American History" and "Christianity and American Literature," both of which draw on textbooks published by Bob Jones University of Greenville, S.C., which describes itself as having stood for "the absolute authority of the Bible since 1927."
The plaintiffs, the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools in California, and the Calvary Chapel Christian School of Murrieta, Calif., contend that their students are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. The university system counters that it has the right to set its own standards. Here are excerpts from the disputed texts. THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
"United States History for Christian Schools," written by Timothy Keesee and Mark Sidwell (Bob Jones University, 2001), says this about Thomas Jefferson.
American believers can appreciate Jefferson's rich contribution to the development of their nation, but they must beware of his view of Christ as a good teacher but not the incarnate son of God. As the Apostle John said, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22).
Slavery, which most historians look at politically or economically, is seen as "an excellent example of the far-reaching consequences of sin."
The sin in this case was greed - greed on the part of African tribal leaders, on the part of slave traders and on the part of slave owners, all of whom allowed their love for profit to outweigh their love for their fellow man. The consequences of such greed and racism extended across society and far into the future. It resulted in untold suffering-most obviously for the black race but for the white race as well. ... The Lord has never exaggerated in warning us of sin's devastating consequences - for us and for our descendants (Exodus 34:7).
The book also criticizes the progressive movement championed by Theodore Roosevelt, and the Progressives themselves.
On the whole, they believed that man is basically good and that human nature might be improved. ... Such a belief, of course, ignored the biblical teaching that man is sinful by nature (Ephesians 2:1-3). Progressives therefore also ignored the fact that the fallible men who built the corrupt institutions that they attacked were the same in nature as those who filled the political offices and staffed the regulatory agencies that were supposed to control the corruption.
On the other hand, the "devout Methodist" H. J. Heinz is praised for his fine products and humane treatment of workers, which set him apart from the typical 19th-century robber baron.
Heinz illustrates the Christian's response to the challenge of business management: "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24).
"Elements of Literature for Christian Schools," by Ronald Horton, Donalynn Hess and Steven Skeggs (Bob Jones University, 2001), faults Mark Twain for calling God "an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful master."
Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless. Denying that he was created in the image of God, Twain was able to rid himself of feeling any responsibility to his Creator. At the same time, however, he defiantly cut himself off from God's love. Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel.
Emily Dickinson, too, is criticized for her lack of faith.
Dickinson's year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary further shaped her "religious" views. During her stay at the school, she learned of Christ but wrote of her inability to make a decision for Him. She could not settle "the one thing needful." A thorough study of Dickinson's works indicates that she never did make that needful decision. Several of her poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life.
By contrast, the piety of Christina Rossetti, the 19th-century British poet, gets high marks.
The loneliness she faced is often reflected in her poems. But stronger than her loneliness was her total confidence in and submission to her Lord and Savior. Rossetti filled her mind and heart with Scripture. She gained from it a unique appreciation of the sustaining and sacrificial love of God. Her poetry and uplifting devotional literature are the natural overflow of her complete dependence on God.
"Physics for Christian Schools," by R. Terrance Egolf and Linda Shumate (Bob Jones University, 2004), addresses the question, "What is Christian about physics?"
Some people have developed the idea that higher mathematics and science have little to do with the Bible or Christian life. They think that because physics deals with scientific facts, or because it is not pervaded with evolutionary ideas, there is no need to study it from a Christian perspective. This kind of thinking ignores a number of important facts to the Christian: First, all secular science is pervaded by mechanistic, naturalistic and evolutionistic philosophy. Learning that the laws of mechanics as they pertain to a baseball in flight are just the natural consequences of the way matter came together denies the wisdom and power of our Creator God. ... Second, physics as taught in the schools of the world contradicts the processes that shaped the world we see today. Trying to believe both secular physics and the Bible leaves you in a state of confusion that will weaken your faith in God's Word.
Even the abstract laws of energy and matter, the authors write, reflect the hand of God.
You are about to embark on an adventure. The study of physics reveals the wonderful orderliness of God's creation - so orderly that it can be comprehended in terms of relatively simple principles (mathematical formulas). ... Physics is important because through it mankind learns how creation actually works. It satisfies our God-given curiosity about nature. Seeing that God does "great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number" (Job 5:9), men have dedicated their lives to unraveling the rich mysteries of creation.
Thomas Vinciguerra is deputy editor of The Week.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Monday, November 14, 2005
November 14, 2005
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At Some Colleges,
Evolution Take Hold
'Intelligent Design' Doctrine
Leaves Room for Creator;
In Iowa, Science on Defense
A Professor Turns Heckler
By DANIEL GOLDEN
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 14, 2005; Page A1
AMES, Iowa -- With a magician's flourish, Thomas Ingebritsen pulled six mousetraps from a shopping bag and handed them out to students in his "God and Science" seminar. At his instruction, they removed one component -- either the spring, hammer or holding bar -- from each mousetrap. They then tested the traps, which all failed to snap.
"Is the mousetrap irreducibly complex?" the Iowa State University molecular biologist asked the class.
"Yes, definitely," said Jason Mueller, a junior biochemistry major wearing a cross around his neck.
That's the answer Mr. Ingebritsen was looking for. He was using the mousetrap to support the antievolution doctrine known as intelligent design. Like a mousetrap, the associate professor suggested, living cells are "irreducibly complex" -- they can't fulfill their functions without all of their parts. Hence, they could not have evolved bit by bit through natural selection but must have been devised by a creator.
"This is the closest to a science class on campus where anybody's going to talk about intelligent design," the fatherly looking associate professor told his class. "At least for now."
Overshadowed by attacks on evolution in high-school science curricula, intelligent design is gaining a precarious and hotly contested foothold in American higher education. Intelligent-design courses have cropped up at the state universities of Minnesota, Georgia and New Mexico, as well as Iowa State, and at private institutions such as Wake Forest and Carnegie Mellon. Most of the courses, like Mr. Ingebritsen's, are small seminars that don't count for science credit. Many colleges have also hosted lectures by advocates of the doctrine.
The spread of these courses reflects the growing influence of evangelical Christianity in academia, as in other aspects of American culture. Last week, the Kansas state board of education adopted new science guidelines that question evolution.
Intelligent design does not demand a literal reading of the Bible. Unlike traditional creationists, most adherents agree with the prevailing scientific view that the earth is billions of years old. And they allow that the designer is not necessarily the Christian God.
Still, professors with evangelical beliefs, including some eminent scientists, have initiated most of the courses and lectures, often with start-up funding from the John Templeton Foundation. Established by famous stockpicker Sir John Templeton, the foundation promotes exploring the boundary of theology and science. It fostered the movement's growth with grants of $10,000 and up for guest speakers, library materials, research and conferences.
Intelligent design's beachhead on campus has provoked a backlash. Universities have discouraged teaching of intelligent design in science classes and canceled lectures on the topic. Last month, University of Idaho President Tim White flatly declared that teaching of "views that differ from evolution" in science courses is "inappropriate."
Citing what they describe as overwhelming evidence for evolution, mainstream scientists say no one has the right to teach wrong science, or religion in the guise of science. "My interest is in making sure that intelligent design and creationism do not make the kind of inroads at the university level that they're making at the K-12 level," says Leslie McFadden, chair of earth and planetary sciences at the University of New Mexico, who led a successful fight there to re-classify a course on intelligent design from science to humanities. "You can't teach whatever you damn well please. If you're a geologist, and you decide that the earth's core is made of green cheese, you can't teach that."
At Iowa State, where Mr. Ingebritsen teaches, more than 120 faculty signed a petition this year condemning "all attempts to represent intelligent design as a scientific endeavor." In response, 47 Christian faculty and staff members, including Mr. Ingebritsen, signed a statement calling on the university to protect their freedom to discuss intelligent design.
At stake in this dispute are the minds of the next generation of scientists and science teachers. Some are arriving at college with conflicting accounts of mankind's origins at home, in church and at school. Many of Iowa State's 21,000-plus undergraduates come from fundamentalist backgrounds and belong to Christian student groups on campus.
According to an informal survey by James Colbert, an associate professor who teaches introductory biology at Iowa State, one-third of ISU freshmen planning to major in biology agree with the statement that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." Although it's widely assumed that college-bound students learn about evolution in high school, Mr. Colbert says that isn't always the case.
"I've had frequent conversations with freshmen who told me that their high-school biology teachers skipped the evolution chapter," he says. "I would say that high-school teachers in many cases feel intimidated about teaching evolution. They're concerned they're going to be criticized by parents, students and school boards."
Warren Dolphin, who also teaches introductory biology at Iowa State, says he's begun describing evolution to his class as a hypothesis rather than as a fact to avoid confrontations with creationist students. "I don't want to get into a nonproductive debate," he says. "What I'm saying is so contrary to what they're hearing in their small town, their school, their church that I won't convert them in 40 lectures by a pointy-headed professor. The most I can do is get them to question their beliefs."
In a 1999 fund-raising proposal, the Discovery Institute -- an intelligent design think tank in Seattle -- outlined what it called a "wedge strategy" to replace the "stifling dominance of the materialist worldview" with "a science consonant with Christian and theistic conviction." Its five-year objectives included making intelligent design "an accepted alternative in the sciences" and the "dominant perspective" at two universities which weren't identified.
While these goals weren't met, some intelligent-design advocates associated with the Discovery Institute, found a receptive ear at the Pennsylvania-based Templeton Foundation. Between 1994 and 2002, the foundation funded nearly 800 courses, including several on intelligent design. It has also supported research by William Dembski, who headed an intelligent-design center at Baylor University, and Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of a 2004 book, "The Privileged Planet." The book claimed to discern a designer from the earth's position in the cosmos. Mr. Gonzalez, an assistant professor of astronomy at Iowa State, received $58,000 from the foundation over three years.
Foundation staff members now say that intelligent design hasn't yielded as much research as they'd hoped. Mr. Templeton, who chairs the foundation and will turn 93 later this month, believes "the creation-evolution argument is a waste of time," says Paul Wason, the foundation's director of science and religion programs. Mr. Wason adds that Mr. Templeton is more interested in applying the scientific method to exploring spiritual questions such as the nature of forgiveness. Nevertheless, staff members remain reluctant to dismiss intelligent design entirely, in part because the doctrine's popularity could help achieve the foundation's goal of persuading evangelical Christians to pursue scientific careers. The foundation also complains that academia is too quick to censor the doctrine.
Templeton-funded proponents of intelligent design include Christopher Macosko, a professor of chemical engineering at University of Minnesota. Mr. Macosko, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, became a born-again Christian as an assistant professor after a falling-out with a business partner. For eight years, he's taught a freshman seminar: "Life: By Chance or By Design?" According to Mr. Macosko, "All the students who finish my course say, 'Gee, I didn't realize how shaky evolution is.' "
Another recipient of Templeton funding, Harold Delaney, a professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, taught an honors seminar in 2003 and 2004 on "Origins: Science, Faith and Philosophy." Co-taught by Michael Kent, a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, the course included readings on both sides as well as a guest lecture by David Keller, another intelligent-design advocate on the New Mexico faculty.
The university initially approved the course as qualifying students for science credit, as had been the custom with many interdisciplinary courses. Then the earth sciences chairman, Mr. McFadden, heard about the course. In an email to the chairman of biology, he described Mr. Delaney and Mr. Kent each as a "known creationist." The course, Mr. McFadden wrote, was "clearly 'designed' to show that 'intelligent design' is legitimate science.' " He added that he was "absolutely opposed" to classifying "Origins" as a science course.
The biology chairman and other faculty members agreed, and Reed Dasenbrock, then dean of arts and sciences, re-categorized "Origins" as a humanities course.
Mr. Delaney complained in a letter to the director of the honors program that the reclassification was "a violation of my academic freedom." But Mr. Dasenbrock, now interim provost, says the principle of academic freedom was not at stake in the decision. "People didn't buy it as science," he said.
The controversy didn't end there. Once the course started, a retired neuroscientist, Gerald Weiss, sat in on several classes, passing out evolution literature and heckling the teachers. Intelligent design is "deception," Mr. Weiss said. "They had the students in the palm of their hands. I wasn't welcome at all, and I finally gave it up."
Despite the humanities classification, Mr. Delaney says, other faculty continued to object to "Origins" and regard it as an embarrassment. He doesn't plan to offer the course again.
Some well-respected scientists have fostered the spread of intelligent design. Henry F. Schaefer, director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia, has written or co-authored 1,082 scientific papers and is one of the world's most widely cited chemists by other researchers.
Mr. Schaefer teaches a freshman seminar at Georgia entitled: "Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence?" He has spoken on religion and science at many American universities, and gave the "John M. Templeton Lecture" -- funded by the foundation -- at Case Western Reserve in 1992, Montana State in 1999, and Princeton and Carnegie Mellon in 2004. "Those who favor the standard evolutionary model are in a state of panic," he says. "Intelligent design truly terrorizes them."
This past April, the school of science at Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh, abruptly canceled its sponsorship of a lecture by Mr. Schaefer in its distinguished scientist series. According to David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Mr. Schaefer was invited at the suggestion of a faculty member belonging to a Christian fellowship group on campus. The invitation was withdrawn after several biology professors complained that Mr. Schaefer planned to speak in favor of intelligent design. The school wanted to avoid "legitimizing intelligent design from a scientific perspective," Mr. Seybert said. Faculty members were also concerned that top students might not apply to Duquesne if they thought it endorsed intelligent design. Mr. Schaefer gave his lecture -- entitled "The Big Bang, Stephen Hawking, and God" -- to a packed hall at Duquesne under the auspices of a Christian group instead.
Tensions are running high at Iowa State, with Mr. Ingebritsen playing a key role. Joining the Iowa State faculty in 1986, he specialized in studying how cells communicate, but ended his research about 10 years ago and took up developing online biology courses. Shortly before that career change, he had converted from agnosticism to evangelical Christianity. As he explored whether -- and how -- modern science could be compatible with his religious beliefs, intelligent design intrigued him.
He taught "God and Science" for three years starting in 2000 without incident. But when he again proposed the seminar in 2003, members of the honors curriculum committee sought outside opinions from colleagues in biology and philosophy of science. They reported that the course relied on a textbook by a Christian publisher and slighted evolution. "I have serious worries about whether a course almost exclusively focused on the defense of Christian views is appropriate at a secular, state institution," wrote Michael Bishop, then philosophy chairman. The committee rejected the course by a 5-4 vote.
After protesting to a higher-level administrator to no avail, Mr. Ingebritsen revised the syllabus, added a mainstream textbook, and resumed teaching the course in 2004.
On the Spot
On a brisk Thursday in October, following the mousetrap gambit, Mr. Ingebritsen displayed diagrams on an overhead projector of "irreducibly complex" structures such as bacterial flagellum, the motor that helps bacteria move about. The flagellum, he said, constitutes strong evidence for intelligent design.
One student, Mary West, disputed this conclusion. "These systems could have arisen through natural selection," the senior said, citing the pro-evolution textbook.
"That doesn't explain this system," Mr. Ingebritsen answered. "You're a scientist. How did the flagellum evolve? Do you have a compelling argument for how it came into being?"
Ms. West looked down, avoiding his eye. "Nope," she muttered. The textbook, "Finding Darwin's God," by Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, asserts that a flagellum isn't irreducibly complex because it can function to some degree even without all of its parts. This suggests to evolutionists that the flagellum could have developed over time, adding parts that made it work better.
During a class break, Ms. West says that Mr. Ingebritsen often puts her on the spot. "He knows I'm not religious," she says. "In the beginning, we talked about our religious philosophy. Everyone else in the class is some sort of a Christian. I'm not." The course helps her understand "the arguments on the other side," she adds, but she would like to see Mr. Ingebritsen co-teach it with a proponent of evolution.
Ms. West and other honors students will have a chance to hear the opposing viewpoint next semester. Counter-programming against Mr. Ingebritsen, three faculty members are preparing a seminar titled: "The Nature of Science: Why the Overwhelming Consensus of Science is that Intelligent Design is not Good Science."
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005
U.S. Used Chemical Weapons In Iraq Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us. :: from www.uruknet.info :: news from occupied Iraq - ch
Veteran admits: Bodies melted away before us.
Shocking revelation RAI News 24.
White phosphorous used on the civilian populace: This is how the US "took" Fallujah. New napalm formula also used.
November 7, 2005 - "La Repubblica" -- -- ROME. In soldier slang they call it Willy Pete. The technical name is white phosphorus. In theory its purpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. In practice, it was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians. The Americans are responsible for a massacre using unconventional weapons, the identical charge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. An investigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italian satellite television channel, has pulled the veil from one of the most carefully concealed mysteries from the front in the entire US military campaign in Iraq.
A US veteran of the Iraq war told RAI New correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: I received the order use caution because we had used white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military slag it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--it even melts it right down to the bone.
RAI News 24's investigative story, Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre, will be broadcast tomorrow on RAI-3 and will contain not only eye-witness accounts by US military personnel but those from Fallujah residents. A rain of fire descended on the city. People who were exposed to those multicolored substance began to burn. We found people with bizarre wounds-their bodies burned but their clothes intact, relates Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a biologist and Fallujah resident.
I gathered accounts of the use of phosphorus and napalm from a few Fallujah refugees whom I met before being kidnapped, says Manifesto reporter Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in Fallujah last February, in a recorded interview. I wanted to get the story out, but my kidnappers would not permit it.
RAI News 24 will broadcast video and photographs taken in the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004 bombardment which prove that the US military, contrary to statements in a December 9 communiqué from the US Department of State, did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorus indiscriminately and in massive quantities on the city's neighborhoods.
In the investigative story, produced by Maurizio Torrealta, dramatic footage is shown revealing the effects of the bombardment on civilians, women and children, some of whom were surprised in their sleep.
The investigation will also broadcast documentary proof of the use in Iraq of a new napalm formula called MK77. The use of the incendiary substance on civilians is forbidden by a 1980 UN treaty. The use of chemical weapons is forbidden by a treaty which the US signed in 1997.
Fallujah. La strage nascosta [Fallujah, The Concealed Massacre] will be shown on RAI News tomorrow November 8th at 07:35 (via HOT BIRDTM statellite, Sky Channel 506 and RAI-3), and rebroadcast by HOT BIRDTM satellite and Sky Channel 506 at 17:00 [5 pm] and over the next two days.
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Sunday, November 06, 2005
The New York Times
November 6, 2005
Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts
By DOUGLAS JEHL
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.
The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al 8Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’
The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi’s statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence.
An administration official declined to comment on the D.I.A. report on Mr. Libi. But Senate Republicans, put on the defensive when Democrats forced a closed session of the Senate this week to discuss the issue, have been arguing that Republicans were not alone in making prewar assertions about Iraq, illicit weapons and terrorism that have since been discredited.
Mr. Libi, who was captured in Pakistan at the end of 2001, recanted his claims in January 2004. That prompted the C.I.A., a month later, to recall all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.
Mr. Libi was not alone among intelligence sources later determined to have been fabricating accounts. Among others, an Iraqi exile whose code name was Curveball was the primary source for what proved to be false information about Iraq and mobile biological weapons labs. And American military officials cultivated ties with Ahmad Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group, who has been accused of feeding the Pentagon misleading information in urging war.
The report issued by the Senate intelligence committee in July 2004 questioned whether some versions of intelligence report prepared by the C.I.A. in late 2002 and early 2003 raised sufficient questions about the reliability of Mr. Libi’s claims.
But neither that report nor another issued by the Sept. 11 commission made any reference to the existence of the earlier and more skeptical 2002 report by the D.I.A., which supplies intelligence to military commanders and national security policy makers. As an official intelligence report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, the document would have circulated widely within the government, and it would have been available to the C.I.A., the White House, the Pentagon and other agencies. It remains unclear whether the D.I.A. document was provided to the Senate panel.
In outlining reasons for its skepticism, the D.I.A. report noted that Mr. Libi’s claims lacked specific details about the Iraqis involved, the illicit weapons used and the location where the training was to have taken place.
“It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers,’’ the February 2002 report said. “Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.’’
Mr. Powell relied heavily on accounts provided by Mr. Libi for his speech to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, saying that he was tracing “the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.’’
At the time of Mr. Powell’s speech, an unclassified statement by the C.I.A. described the reporting, now known to have been from Mr. Libi, as “credible.’’ But Mr. Levin said he had learned that a classified C.I.A. assessment at the time stated “the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place.’’
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Levin also called attention to a portion of the D.I.A. report that expressed skepticism about the idea of close collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda, an idea that was never substantiated by American intelligence but was a pillar of the administration’s prewar claims.
“Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements,’’ the D.I.A. report said in one of two declassified paragraphs. “Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.’’
The request to declassify the two paragraphs was made on Oct. 18 by Mr. Levin and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. In an Oct. 26 response, Kathleen P. Turner, chief of the D.I.A.’s office for Congressional affairs, said the agency “can find no reason for it to remain classified.’’
At the time of his capture, Mr. Libi was the most senior Qaeda official in American custody. The D.I.A. document gave no indication of where he was being held, or what interrogation methods were used on him.
Mr. Libi remains in custody, apparently at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent in 2003, according to government officials.
The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to meet beginning next week to review draft reports prepared as part of a long-postponed “Phase II’’ of the panel’s review of prewar intelligence on Iraq. At separate briefings for reporters on Friday, Republicans staff members said the writing had long been under way, while Senate Democrats on the committee claimed credit for reinvigorating the process, by forcing the closed session. They said that already nearly complete is a look at whether prewar intelligence accurately predicted the potential for an anti-American insurgency.
Other areas of focus include the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, that of the Pentagon in shaping intelligence assessments, and an examination of whether public statements about Iraq by members of the Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as members of Congress, were substantiated by intelligence available at the time.
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Monday, July 11, 2005
July 11, 2005
A Drug Scourge Creates Its Own Form of Orphan
In a rocking chair, a volunteer uses one arm to feed a 5-day-old boy taken from his mother at birth, the other to placate a toddler who is wandering from adult to adult begging, "Bottle?" A 3-year-old who arrived at dawn shrieks as salve is rubbed on her to kill the lice.
This is a problem methamphetamine has made, a scene increasingly familiar across the country as the number of foster children rises rapidly in states hit hard by the drug, the overwhelming number of them, officials say, taken from parents who were using or making methamphetamine.
Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the crucial ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent, or 753 children, with only seven new homes.
In Oregon, 5,515 children entered the system in 2004, up from 4,946 the year before, and officials there say the caseload would be half what it is now if the methamphetamine problem suddenly went away. In Tennessee, state officials recently began tracking the number of children brought in because of methamphetamine, and it rose to 700 in 2004 from 400 in 2003.
While foster populations in cities rose because of so-called crack babies in the 1990's, methamphetamine is mostly a rural phenomenon, and it has created virtual orphans in areas without social service networks to support them. in Muskogee, an hour's drive south of here, a group is raising money to convert an old church into a shelter because there are none.
Officials say methamphetamine's particularly potent and destructive nature and the way it is often made in the home conspire against child welfare unlike any other drug.
It has become harder to attract and keep foster parents because the children of methamphetamine arrive with so many behavioral problems; they may not get into their beds at night because they are so used to sleeping on the floor, and they may resist toilet training because they are used to wearing dirty diapers.
"We used to think, you give these kids a good home and lots of love and they'll be O.K.," said Esther Rider-Salem, the manager of Child Protective Services programs for the State of Oklahoma. "This goes above and beyond anything we've seen."
Although the methamphetamine problem has existed for years, state officials here and elsewhere say the number of foster children created by it has spiked in the last year or two as growing awareness of the drug problem has prompted more lab raids, and more citizens reporting suspected methamphetamine use.
Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration says that over the last five years 15,000 children were found at laboratories where methamphetamine was made. But that number vastly understates the problem, federal officials say, because it does not include children whose parents use methamphetamine but do not make it and because it relies on state reporting, which can be spotty.
On July 5, the National Association of Counties reported that 40 percent of child welfare officials surveyed nationwide said that methamphetamine had caused a rise in the number of children removed from homes.
The percentage was far higher on the West Coast and in rural areas, where the drug has hit the hardest. Seventy-one percent of counties in California, 70 percent in Colorado and 69 percent in Minnesota reported an increase in the number of children removed from homes because of methamphetamine.
In North Dakota, 54 percent of counties reported a methamphetamine-related increase. At what was billed as a "community meeting on meth" in Fargo this year, the state attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, exhorted the hundreds of people packed into an auditorium: "People always ask, what can they do about meth? The most important thing you can do is become a foster parent, because we're just seeing so many kids being taken from these homes."
Officials also say methamphetamine has made it harder to reunite families once the child is taken; 59 percent of those surveyed in the national counties study agreed.
The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, enacted as babies born to crack users were crowding foster care, requires states to begin terminating parental rights if a child has spent 15 out of 22 months in foster care. It was intended to keep children from languishing in foster homes. But rehabilitation for methamphetamine often takes longer than other drugs, and parents fall behind the clock.
"Termination of parental rights almost becomes the regular piece," said Jerry Foxhoven, the administrator of the Child Advocacy Board in Iowa. "We know pretty early that these families are not going to get back together."
The drug - smoked, ingested or injected - is synthetic, cheap and easy to make in home labs using pseudoephedrine, the ingredient in many cold medicines, and common fertilizers, solvents or battery acid. The materials are dangerous, and highly explosive.
"Meth adds this element of parents who think they are rocket scientists and want to cook these chemicals in the kitchen," said Yvonne Glick, a lawyer at the Department of Human Services in Oklahoma who works with the state's alliance for drug endangered children. "They're on the couch watching their stuff cook, and the kids are on the floor watching them."
The drug also produces a tremendous and long-lasting rush, with intense sexual desire. As a result of the sexual binges, some child welfare officials say, methamphetamine users are having more children. More young children are entering the foster system, often as newborns suffering from the effects of their mother's use of the drug.
Oklahoma was recently chosen to participate in a federally financed study of the effects of methamphetamine on babies born to addicted mothers. Doctors who work with them have already found that the babies are born with trouble suckling or bonding with their parents, who often abuse the children out of frustration.
But the biggest problem, doctors who work with children say, is not with those born under the effects of the drug but with the children who grow up surrounded by methamphetamine and its attendant problems. Because users are so highly sexualized, the children are often exposed to pornography or sexual abuse, or watch their mothers prostitute themselves, the welfare workers say.
The drug binges tend to last for days or weeks, and the crash is tremendous, leaving children unwashed and unfed for days as parents fall into a deep sleep.
"The oldest kid becomes the parent, and the oldest kid may be 4 or 5 years old," said Dr. Mike Stratton, a pediatrician in Muskogee, Okla., who is involved with a state program for children exposed to drugs that is run in conjunction with the Justice Department. "The parents are basically worthless, when they're not stoned they're sleeping it off, when they're not sleeping they don't eat, and it's not in their regimen to feed the kids."
Ms. Glick recalls a group of siblings found eating plaster at a home filled with methamphetamine. The oldest, age 6, was given a hamburger when they arrived at the Laura Dester Shelter; he broke it apart and handed out bits to his siblings before taking a bite himself.
Jay Wurscher, director of alcohol and drug services for the children and families division of the Oregon Department of Human Services, said, "In every way, shape and form, this is the worst drug ever for child welfare."
Child welfare workers say they used to remove children as a last resort, first trying to help with services in the home.
But everywhere there are reminders of the dangers of leaving children in homes with methamphetamine. In one recent case here, an 18-month-old child fell onto a heating unit on the floor and died while the parents slept; a 3-year-old sibling had tried to rouse them.
The police who raid methamphetamine labs say they try to leave the children with relatives, particularly in rural areas, where there are few other options.
But it has become increasingly clear, they say, that often the relatives, too, are cooking or using methamphetamine. And because the problem has hit areas where there are so few shelters, children are often placed far from their parents. Caseworkers have to drive children long distances to where parents are living or imprisoned for visits; Leslie Beyer, a caseworker at Laura Dester, logged 3,600 miles on her car one month.
The drain of the cases is forcing foster families to leave the system, or caseworkers to quit. In some counties in Oklahoma, Ms. Rider-Salem said, half the caseworkers now leave within two years.
After the ban on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine was enacted - a law other states are trying to emulate - the number of children taken out of methamphetamine labs and into the foster care system in Oklahoma declined by about 15 percent, Ms. Glick said. But she said the number of children found not in the labs but with parents who were using the drug had more than compensated for any decline.
The state's only other children's shelter, in Oklahoma City, was so crowded recently that the fire marshal threatened to shut it down, forcing the state to send children to foster families in far-flung counties.
At Laura Dester, three new children arrived on one recent morning, the 3-year-old being treated for lice and two siblings, found playing in an abandoned house while their mother was passed out at home. The girl now wanders with a plastic bag over her hair to keep the lice salve from leaking. She hugs her little brother, then grabs a plastic toy phone out of his hand, leaving him wailing.
"Who's on the phone?" asks Kay Saunders, the assistant director at the shelter, gently trying to intervene.
"My mom," the girl says, then turns to her little brother. "It's ringing!" Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Paul A. Bové
Editor, boundary 2
517 M & N CL
University of Pittsburgh
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
By Bill Toland, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- Hoping to root out political intolerance at Pennsylvania's college campuses, the state House of Representatives is forming a committee to investigate claims among some college students that professors gave them unfair grades because of differing political ideologies.
But critics of proposals like these say political conservatives, emboldened by election successes over the past decade, are making a thinly veiled charge at the last bastion of liberalism -- college campuses -- armed with flimsy evidence and in search of a problem that doesn't really exist.
Rep. Gibson Armstrong, R-Lancaster, says he's collected about 50 examples of "intolerance" from college students. Armstrong's proposal, which parrots others made in legislatures across the country, is based on the concern among Republicans that conservative students are at worst graded unfairly, or at the very least feel intimidated because their views don't match those of their liberal professors.
The resolution was approved last night by the House, 108-90, after the House voted to end debate on the subject, even though several representatives remained in the speaking queue. By that point, debate on the resolution had consumed parts of two days, with the House interrupting debate Monday night, Independence Day, so everyone could go watch the fireworks.
Gibson, in explaining the proposal, said that he hopes to guarantee "free speech and tolerance" at the colleges that are owned or partly owned by the state. The resolution, which does not need the governor's signature, says that "students and faculty should be protected from the imposition of ideological orthodoxy," and students should be "graded based on academic merit, without regard for ideological views."
The investigative committee, composed primarily of the House's higher education subcommittee, plus two appointees, would explore whatever problems exist and then determine if corrective legislation is necessary.
The movement to temper the liberal stronghold on college campuses germinated quickly. So far this calendar year, more than a dozen state legislatures have considered bills that would either restrict professors, or set up a committee or grievance process that would explore the allegations of unfair treatment.
None of the proposals has passed into law, and wherever they have been advanced, they've created controversy among lawmakers, students and especially university professors. Pennsylvania's version has been percolating since April, and has already drawn opposition from teachers groups, like the American Association of University Professors.
One of the driving forces behind the movement is the Students for Academic Freedom, a Washington-based group founded by activist David Horowitz. In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, he said the past six months have been a "watershed in the academic-freedom movement" and hopes the movement to monitor teachers for bias will eventually trickle down to public elementary and high schools.
Students for Academic Freedom says its goal is to "end the political abuse of the university and to restore integrity to the academic mission as a disinterested pursuit of knowledge." The group plans to distribute a book called "Unpatriotic University," which tells readers that colleges are full of "anti-American rhetoric, and [shut out] conservative points of view both in classrooms and on speakers' platforms."
Much of the Pennsylvania bill was borrowed from the Horowitz group's "academic bill of rights."
Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, referred to the Horowitz group and said the resolution is just "an attempt to respond to a national movement. ... We're just trying to fall in line."
(Bill Toland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-717-787-2141.)
Copyright ©1997-2005 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Friday, July 01, 2005
U.S. won't cede control of Internet's key computers
Friday, July 01, 2005
By Anick Jesdanun, The Associated Press
NEW YORK -- The U.S. government will indefinitely retain oversight of the main computers that control traffic on the Internet, ignoring calls by some countries to turn the function over to an international body, a senior official said Thursday.
The announcement marked a departure from previously stated U.S. policy.
Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, shied away from terming the declaration a reversal, calling it instead "the foundation of U.S. policy going forward."
"The signals and words and intentions and policies need to be clear so all of us benefiting in the world from the Internet and in the U.S. economy can have confidence there will be continued stewardship," Gallagher said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He said the declaration, officially made in a four-paragraph statement posted online, was in response to growing security threats and increased reliance on the Internet globally for communications and commerce.
The computers in question serve as the Internet's master directories and tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic. Internet users around the world interact with them every day, likely without knowing it. Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable.
Though the computers themselves -- 13 in all, known as "root" servers -- are in private hands, they contain government-approved lists of the 260 or so Internet suffixes, such as ".com."
In 1998, the Commerce Department selected a private organization with international board members, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to decide what goes on those lists. Commerce kept veto power, but indicated it would let go once ICANN met a number of conditions.
Thursday's declaration means Commerce would keep that control, regardless of whether and when those conditions are met.
"It's completely an about-face if you consider the original commitment made when ICANN was created," said Milton Mueller, a Syracuse University professor who has written about policies surrounding the Internet's root servers.
ICANN officials said they were still reviewing Commerce's statement.
The declaration won't immediately affect Internet users, but it could have political ramifications by putting in writing what some critics had already feared.
Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami professor who helps run an independent ICANN watchdog site, said the date for relinquishing control has continually slipped.
Some countries, he said, might withdraw support they had for ICANN on the premise it would one day take over the root servers.
The announcement comes just weeks before a U.N. panel is to release a report on Internet governance, addressing such issues as oversight of the root servers, ahead of November's U.N. World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.
Some countries have pressed to move oversight to an international body, such as the U.N. International Telecommunication Union, although the U.S. government has historically had that role because it funded much of the Internet's early development.
Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department, insisted that Thursday's announcement was unrelated to those discussions.
But he said other countries should see the move as positive because "uncertainty is not something that we think is in the United States' interest or the world's interest."
Gallagher noted that Commerce endorses having foreign governments manage their own country-code suffixes, such as ".fr" for France.
Copyright ©1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Friday, June 24, 2005
June 24, 2005
Interrogators Cite Doctors' Aid at Guantánamo Prison Camp
By NEIL A. LEWIS
WASHINGTON, June 23 - Military doctors at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba, have aided interrogators in conducting and refining coercive interrogations of detainees, including providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators.
The accounts, in interviews with The New York Times, come as mental health professionals are debating whether psychiatrists and psychologists at the prison camp have violated professional ethics codes. The Pentagon and mental health professionals have been examining the ethical issues involved.
The former interrogators said the military doctors' role was to advise them and their fellow interrogators on ways of increasing psychological duress on detainees, sometimes by exploiting their fears, in the hopes of making them more cooperative and willing to provide information. In one example, interrogators were told that a detainee's medical files showed he had a severe phobia of the dark and suggested ways in which that could be manipulated to induce him to cooperate.
In addition, the authors of an article published by The New England Journal of Medicine this week said their interviews with doctors who helped devise and supervise the interrogation regimen at GuantÃ¡namo showed that the program was explicitly designed to increase fear and distress among detainees as a means to obtaining intelligence.
The accounts shed light on how interrogations were conducted and raise new questions about the boundaries of medical ethics in the nation's fight against terrorism.
Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, declined to address the specifics in the accounts. But he suggested that the doctors advising interrogators were not covered by ethics strictures because they were not treating patients but rather were acting as behavioral scientists.
He said that while some health care personnel are responsible for "humane treatment of detainees," some medical professionals "may have other roles," like serving as behavioral scientists assessing the character of interrogation subjects.
The military refused to give The Times permission to interview medical personnel at the isolated GuantÃ¡namo camp about their practices, and the medical journal, in an article that criticized the program, did not name the officials interviewed by its authors. The handful of former interrogators who spoke to The Times about the practices at GuantÃ¡namo spoke on condition of anonymity; some said they had welcomed the doctors' help.
Pentagon officials said in interviews that the practices at GuantÃ¡namo violated no ethics guidelines, and they disputed the conclusions of the medical journal's article, which was posted on the journal's Web site on Wednesday.
Several ethics experts outside the military said there were serious questions involving the conduct of the doctors, especially those in units known as Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, BSCT, colloquially referred to as "biscuit" teams, which advise interrogators.
"Their purpose was to help us break them," one former interrogator told The Times earlier this year.
The interrogator said in a more recent interview that a biscuit team doctor, having read the medical file of a detainee, suggested that the inmate's longing for his mother could be exploited to persuade him to cooperate.
Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and former Army brigadier general in the medical corps, said in an interview that "this behavior is not consistent with our medical responsibility or any of the codes that guide our conduct as doctors."
The use of psychologists and psychiatrists in interrogations prompted the Pentagon to issue a policy statement last week that officials said was supposed to ensure that doctors did not participate in unethical behavior.
While the American Psychiatric Association has guidelines that specifically prohibit the kinds of behaviors described by the former interrogators for their members who are medical doctors, the rules for psychologists are less clear.
Dr. Spencer Eth, a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College and chairman of the ethics committee of the American Psychiatric Association, said in an interview that there was no way that psychiatrists at GuantÃ¡namo could ethically counsel interrogators on ways to increase distress on detainees.
But in a statement issued in December, the American Psychological Association said the issue of involvement of its members in "national security endeavors" was new.
Dr. Stephen Behnke, who heads the group's ethics division, said in an interview this week that a committee of 10 members, including some from the military, was meeting in Washington this weekend to discuss the issue.
Dr. Behnke emphasized that the codes did not necessarily allow participation by psychologists in such roles, but rather that the issue had not been dealt with directly before.
"A question has arisen that we in the profession have to address and that is where we are now: is it ethical or is it not ethical?" he said.
Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health matters, said the new Pentagon guidelines made clear that doctors might not engage in unethical conduct. But in a briefing for reporters last week, he declined to say whether the guidelines would prohibit some of the activities described by former interrogators and others. He said the medical personnel "were not driving the interrogations" but were there as consultants.
The guidelines include prohibitions against doctors' participating in abusive treatment, but they all make an exception for "lawful" interrogations. As the military maintains that its interrogations are lawful and that prisoners at GuantÃ¡namo are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, those provisions would seem to allow the behavior described by interrogators and the medical journal. The article in the medical journal, by two researchers who interviewed doctors who worked on the biscuit program, says, "Since late 2002, psychiatrists and psychologists have been part of a strategy that employs extreme stress, combined with behavior-shaping rewards, to extract actionable intelligence."
The article was written by Dr. M. Gregg Bloche, who teaches at Georgetown University Law School and is a fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Jonathan H. Marks, a British lawyer who is a fellow in bioethics at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities.
Dr. Bloche said in an interview that the use of health professionals in devising abusive interrogation strategies was unethical and led to their involvement in violations of international law. Dr. Winkenwerder said on Thursday that the article was "an outrageous distortion" of the medical situation at GuantÃ¡namo, according to Reuters news agency.
The article also challenges assertions of military authorities that they have generally maintained the confidentiality of medical records.
The Winkenwerder guidelines make it clear that detainees should have no expectation of privacy, but that medical records may be shared with people who are not in a medical provider relationship with the detainee only under strict circumstances.
Dr. Bloche said such an assertion was contrary to what he had discovered in his research. It is also in conflict with accounts of former interrogators who previously told The Times that they were free to examine any detainee's medical files. After April 2003, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld tightened rules on detainee treatment, one interrogator said the records had to be obtained through biscuit team doctors who always obliged.
The former interrogator said the biscuit team doctors usually observed interrogations from behind a one-way mirror, but sometimes were also in the room with the detainee and interrogator.
U.N. Inquiry on GuantÃ¡namo
By The New York Times
UNITED NATIONS, June 23 - A four-member team of United Nations human rights experts accused the United States on Thursday of stalling on requests over the past three years to visit detainees at GuantÃ¡namo and said it would begin its own investigation without American assistance.
"Such requests were based on information from reliable sources of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights," the four, all independent authorities who serve the United Nations as fact-finders on rights abuses, said in a statement.
Pierre-Richard Prosper, the United States ambassador for war crimes, said the United States had been unable to meet the fact-finders' deadline to answer its request but intended to keep the matter open.
* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Thursday, June 23, 2005
The New York Review of Books
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Volume 52, Number 11 · June 23, 2005
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By Elizabeth Drew
(click for larger image)Tom DeLay by David Levine
As the criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was underway this spring, a spokesman for the law firm representing him issued a statement saying that Abramoff was "being singled out by the media for actions that are commonplace in Washington and are totally proper." Abramoff has since said much the same thing. The lawyer was half right. Like many other lobbyists, Abramoff often arranged for private organizations, particularly nonprofit groups, to sponsor pleasant, even luxurious, trips for members of Congress, with lobbyists like himself tagging along and enjoying the unparalleled "access" that such a setting provides; i.e., they get to know congressmen and sell them on legislation. They take over skyboxes at sporting events, inviting members of Congress and their staffs.
But Abramoff has differed from other lobbyists in his flamboyance (he owned two Washington restaurants, at which he entertained), and in the egregiously high fees he charged clients, in particular, Indian tribes in the casino business. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, headed by John McCain, found last year that Abramoff and an associate, Michael Scanlon, a political consultant and former communications director for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, received at least $66 million from six tribes over three years. Abramoff also instructed the tribes to make donations to certain members of Congress and conservative causes he was allied with. And he was careless—for example in putting on his credit card charges for DeLay's golfing trip to the St. Andrews golf course in Scotland in 2000, with a stop in London for a bit of semi-serious business to make the trip seem legitimate. It's illegal for a lobbyist to pay for congressional travel, but Abramoff is reported to have paid for three of DeLay's trips abroad. A prominent Republican lobbyist told me that the difference between what Abramoff did and what many other lobbyists do was simply "a matter of degree and blatancy."
Abramoff's behavior is symptomatic of the unprecedented corruption—the intensified buying and selling of influence over legislation and federal policy —that has become endemic in Washington under a Republican Congress and White House. Corruption has always been present in Washington, but in recent years it has become more sophisticated, pervasive, and blatant than ever. A friend of mine who works closely with lobbyists says, "There are no restraints now; business groups and lobbyists are going crazy—they're in every room on Capitol Hill writing the legislation. You can't move on the Hill without giving money."
This remark is only slightly exaggerated. For over ten years, but particularly since George W. Bush took office, powerful Republicans, among them Tom DeLay and Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, have been carrying out what they call the "K Street Project," an effort to place more Republicans and get rid of Democrats in the trade associations and major national lobbying organizations that have offices on K Street in downtown Washington (although, of course, some have offices elsewhere).
The Republican purge of K Street is a more thorough, ruthless, vindictive, and effective attack on Democratic lobbyists and other Democrats who represent businesses and other organizations than anything Washington has seen before. The Republicans don't simply want to take care of their friends and former aides by getting them high-paying jobs: they want the lobbyists they helped place in these jobs and other corporate representatives to arrange lavish trips for themselves and their wives; to invite them to watch sports events from skyboxes; and, most important, to provide a steady flow of campaign contributions. The former aides become part of their previous employers' power networks. Republican leaders also want to have like-minded people on K Street who can further their ideological goals by helping to formulate their legislative programs, get them passed, and generally circulate their ideas. When I suggested to Grover Norquist, the influential right-wing leader and the leading enforcer of the K Street Project outside Congress, that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, "We don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist Republicans on K Street."
The K Street Project has become critical to the Republicans' efforts to control all the power centers in Washington: the White House, Congress, the courts—and now, at least, an influential part of the corporate world, the one that raises most of the political money. It's another way for Republicans to try to impose their programs on the country. The Washington Post reported recently that House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, of Missouri, has established "a formal, institutionalized alliance" with K Street lobbyists. They have become an integral part of the legislative process by helping to get bills written and passed—and they are rewarded for their help by the fees paid by their clients. Among the results are legislation that serves powerful private interests all the more openly—as will be seen, the energy bill recently passed by the House is a prime example —and a climate of fear that is new. The conservative commentator David Brooks said on PBS's NewsHour earlier this year, "The biggest threat to the Republican majority is the relationship on K Street with corporate lobbyists and the corruption that is entailed in that." But if the Republicans are running a risk of being seen as overreaching in their takeover of K Street, there are few signs that they are concerned about it.
When the Republicans first announced the K Street Project after they won a majority in Congress in the 1994 election, they warned Washington lobbying and law firms that if they wanted to have appointments with Republican legislators they had better hire more Republicans. This was seen as unprecedentedly heavy-handed, but their deeper purposes weren't yet understood. Since the Democrats had been in power on Capitol Hill for a long time, many of the K Street firms then had more Democrats than Republicans or else they were evenly balanced. But the Democrats had been hired because they were well connected with prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill, not because Democratic Congresses demanded it. Moreover, it makes sense for lobbying firms that want access to members of Congress to hire people with good contacts in the majority party—especially former members or aides of the current leaders. But the bullying tactics of Republicans in the late 1990s were new.
DeLay, Santorum, and their associates organized a systematic campaign, closely monitored by Republicans on Capitol Hill and by Grover Norquist and the Republican National Committee, to put pressure on firms not just to hire Republicans but also to fire Democrats. With the election of Bush, this pressure became stronger. A Republican lobbyist told me, "Having the White House" has made it more possible for DeLay and Santorum "to enforce the K Street Project." Several Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution. They are told that they won't be able to see the people on Capitol Hill they want to see. Sometimes the retribution is more tangible. The Republican lobbyist I spoke to said, "There's a high state of sensitivity to the partisanship of the person you hire for these jobs that did not exist five, six years ago—you hire a Democrat at your peril."
In one instance well known among lobbyists, the Ohio Republican Michael Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put pressure on the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual fund companies, to fire its top lobbyist, a Democrat, and hire a Republican to replace her. According to a Washington Post story on February 15, 2003, six sources, both Democratic and Republican, said that members of Oxley's staff told the institute that a pending congressional investigation of mutual fund companies "might ease up if the mutual fund trade group complies with their wishes." It apparently didn't matter to them that House ethics rules prohibit congressmen or their staff "from bestowing benefits on the basis of the recipient's status as a supporter or contributor, or partisan affiliation." A Republican now holds the top job at the Investment Company Institute.
Last year retribution was taken against the Motion Picture Association of America, which—after first approaching without success a Republican congressman about to retire— hired as its new head Dan Glickman, a former Democratic representative from Kansas and secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration. Republicans had warned the MPAA not to hire a Democrat for the job. After Glickman was hired, House Republicans removed from a pending bill some $1.5 billion in tax relief for the motion picture industry. Norquist told me, "No other industry is interested in taking a $1.5 billion hit to hire a Clinton friend." After Glickman was selected, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported last year, "Santorum has begun discussing what the consequences are for the movie industry." Norquist said publicly that the appointment of Glickman was "a studied insult" and the motion picture industry's "ability to work with the House and the Senate is greatly reduced." Glickman responded by hiring prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert's former spokesman, for major MPAA jobs.
Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform, keeps watch on other K Street firms and calls attention on its Web site to the ones that are out of line. According to a report in The Washington Post in 2003, an official of the Republican National Committee told a group of Republican lobbyists that thirty-three of the top thirty-six top-level K Street positions had gone to Republicans.
Despite its effectiveness, "the K Street Project is far from complete," according to Norquist, who says, "There should be as many Democrats working on K Street representing corporate America as there are Republicans working in organized labor—and that number is close to zero." He wants the project to include not just the top jobs in K Street firms, but "all of them—including secretaries."
A prominent Democratic Party fund-raiser believes that in 2001, after nineteen years as head of a trade association, he was fired because he was not a Republican. Another Democratic lobbyist told me that one of his major clients was put under pressure to drop him because he was a Democrat. A staff member in DeLay's office called the second of the two men and told him that he was "in DeLay's crosshairs," and warned him that if he attempted to work with any committees on Capitol Hill, he would get nowhere because of his political leanings.
Episodes of this kind have created a new atmosphere of fear in Washington. (Because of that atmosphere, these people as well as several others insisted on talking "on background," to protect themselves against retribution.) The Democratic lobbyist whose client was pressured by Republicans to drop him remarked, "It's a dangerous world out there," a world where, he said, "You'd better watch what you say. People in the Republican party, in the agencies, will say, 'I hear you were badmouthing X.' You know that you're being watched; you know that it's taken into account in your ability to do public policy things—[like] get a meeting with a government agency." Another lobbyist says, "It's scary now. People are afraid to say what they feel. It's had a chilling effect on debate." According to the head of a public policy group who frequently deals with lobbyists and corporations, "They don't have to say it," but he finds them now "intimidated by the atmosphere in this town—you hire Republicans."
Business groups are under heightened pressure to support the administration's policies—even those that are of no particular interest to them. A recent article in Business Week told of business organizations, including the Business Roundtable—an association of CEOs of major corporations—being summoned to meetings with Mike Meece, a special assistant to the President, various cabinet officers concerned with business affairs, and Karl Rove. They anticipated a friendly give-and-take about economic legislation but instead they were told to get behind the President's plan to privatize Social Security. As a result, these organizations have spent millions of dollars promoting Bush's new program, particularly through ads. Business groups have been notably reticent about criticizing administration policies—even ones they deeply dislike, such as the huge budget deficit. In the past, when they differed from administration policies, for example on trade or tax issues, they spoke out. An adviser to business groups says, "They're scared of payback, of not getting their own agenda through."
The connections between those who make policy and those who seek to influence it have become much stronger in recent years because of lobbyists' increasing use of nonprofit groups to sponsor trips that give them access to lawmakers, as with DeLay's trip to Scotland and England. Jack Abramoff arranged for the trips of DeLay and other members of Congress to be officially sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, of which he is a member of the board. According to the congressional ethics rules a lobbyist cannot repay the cost of a free trip for a congressman by reimbursing the nonprofit group that organized the trip. But there's nothing to prevent him from giving large contributions to the organization or encouraging his clients to do so. Abramoff urged the Indian tribes he represents to contribute to the National Center, which paid for DeLay's trips. Owing to a major loophole in the ethics rules, nonprofit groups do not have to disclose their contributors. "It's a real abuse," the Republican lobbyist told me. Such trips are also a way of getting around the ban on gifts of more than $50 to members of Congress.
For the Washington lobbyist, the most-sought-after access is to someone who writes the nation's laws and appropriates federal money. Trips offer the best opportunity for the lobbyist to make an impression on a congressman. Since congressmen can no longer make use of soft money under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, they are increasingly using golfing weekends and hunting trips for fund-raising. The politicians in effect charge the lobbyists to play golf or hunt with them. (Members of the middle class and the poor have scant opportunity to play golf with members of Congress.)
Many congressional trips have a serious purpose; some members restrict their travel to hazardous places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Such trips can be paid for out of congressional committees' funds—but they are usually less glamorous, harder to explain to the voters since the public pays for them, and they don't include lobbyists. The rules for privately funded trips, for example that they must be "in connection with official duties," have been interpreted quite loosely. Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that studies money in politics and its influence on public policy, says, "Even where they touch base with the rules, they don't take them seriously."
According to a study of congressional travel over the past five years paid for by nonprofit institutions, the Aspen Institute, a think tank based in Aspen, Colorado, and Washington, has spent the most on congressional travel; but Aspen is a serious organization that conducts seminars in the US and abroad, and lobbying isn't involved. More interesting is the nonprofit that spends the next highest amount: the Ripon Society, actually the Ripon Educational Fund, an offshoot of the Ripon Society, which was founded in the 1960s by liberal Republicans as a serious organization concerned with public policy. Now that liberal Republicans are virtually extinct, Ripon has become an organization for relatively moderate Republicans.
Like other policy groups that also lobby, Ripon has set up an ostensi-bly separate "educational" group, or 501(c)(3), to which contributors can make tax-deductible donations. The Ripon Educational Fund sponsors a large annual "Transatlantic Conference," held in such pleasant places as Rome, London, and Budapest, to which it invites between 150 and 200 US citizens. These are vaguely described in the filings by the members of Congress who participated in them as "listening tour," or "fact finding."
The Ripon trips are famous among lobbyists for the opportunities they present for pressing their cases with members of Congress. A Republican lobbyist says that a Ripon Fund excursion has "become the trip to go on, because of the luxury and the access." The Washington Post reported that a Ripon Educational Fund trip to London in 2003 was attended by more than a hundred lobbyists, including representatives from American Express, AOL/Time Warner, and General Motors. They pay the Ripon Fund an annual membership fee of $9,500, and in addition finance their own trips abroad to Fund meetings.
Both the Ripon Society and the Ripon Educational Fund are headed by lobbyists. Former Representative Susan Molinari, of Staten Island, New York, a lobbyist whose clients now include Exxon, the Association of American Railroads, and Freddie Mac, is the chair of the Educational Fund. The president of the society itself is Richard Kessler, whose lobbying firm's clients include drug and cigarette companies. According to The Hill, the other Capitol Hill newspaper, Kessler's firm paid for a trip by five members of Congress to Ireland in August 2003, including four days at Ashford Castle, where the elegant grounds include a golf course. Of the members of Congress who went on Ripon Educational Fund trips, almost all took along their wives, an additional perk that contributes to the holiday atmosphere of the excursions. While lobbyists are prohibited from paying directly for congressional trips, trade associations and private corporations are allowed to do so—not much of an ethical distinction, since practically all of them engage in lobbying.
A recently released Congressional Quarterly study said that the disclosure forms filed by members of Congress "frequently show a direct correlation between a member's legislative interests and the sponsors of his or her trips." For example, Representative Michael Oxley, who is particularly concerned with corporate finance, took several trips underwritten by companies such as MCI. A political observer who closely studied congressional trips concluded that the Republicans are invited so they can be "worked on" to pass pending legislation, while the Democrats are there largely for "maintenance," in case they take power in the future. Moderate, "swing" Democrats who can affect the outcome of legislation come in for special attention.
The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill in 2002 didn't stop powerful companies and members of Congress from buying and selling influence. Representative Barney Frank, a major backer of the reform bill, says, "It works about the same as it did before." But, he adds, because the new law banned large soft money contributions by individuals, corporations, and labor unions to campaigns for federal office, and maintained overall limits on how much a person can contribute to federal elections—doubling them from $2,000 to $4,000 per election cycle—everyone has to work harder to raise the money. Still, congressmen are seldom heard to complain that they can't raise enough money and in fact, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, both the political par-ties and individual candidates are raising more money than ever. Lobbyists still manage to deliver large amounts to legislators by "bundling" smaller contributions.
They contribute most of the money they raise to incumbents who can be depended on to do favors—a major reason (in addition to gerrymandering) why there is serious competition in only 10 percent of House races, and only about five seats change hands in each congressional election. Members of Congress expect to receive contributions from local industries (and their workers)—say, the coal industry in West Virginia—and they back legislation to help them out as a matter of doing constituent work. It's illegal for a firm to compensate employees for their political contributions, but, a Republican lobbyist says, a job applicant is often told that he or she is expected to make contributions, and salaries are adjusted accordingly.
It's virtually impossible to show that a particular campaign contribution resulted in a specific vote—such quid pro quo is illegal. Fred Wertheimer, of the public advocacy group Democracy 21, told me, "The system's designed so that you don't see who gets what for their money. It's designed for me to give money to you and you do something for me in the Congress—without either of us saying a word about it. But if I give money, I know it and the candidate knows it. It's an investment, and down the road you collect on it." While much of the money buys access to a member of Congress, or key staff members, that is only the entry point to making one's case. As John McCain puts it, "You give money, you get an ear." Still, one can sometimes even trace what Larry Noble carefully calls "correlations" between contributions and legislative successes.
The energy bill passed by the House in April is a striking case in point. The oil-and-gas industry, a top contributor of campaign money—80 percent of it to Republicans—benefited from several of its new provisions. A study by the staff of Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, shows that perhaps the most indefensible provision gave a waiver against lawsuits to manufacturers of MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, a gasoline additive that's a pollutant and suspected carcinogen. According to Waxman's staff, this waiver is worth billions to energy companies; the major beneficiaries would be Exxon, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributed $942,717 to candidates in the last election cycle; Valero Energy, $841,375; Lyondell Chemical, $342,775; and Halliburton, $243,946. The bill also exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is used to make natural gas wells more productive and can also have an adverse effect on drinking water. Halliburton would benefit from this provision as well.
Another provision provided compensation to oil companies that bought leases, supposedly a speculative venture, on offshore sites where there is a moratorium on drilling. The compensation is worth billions of dollars to the oil industry. The bill also provided for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR) to oil drilling—an invasion of the refuge that environmental groups have long tried to prevent. (Now that it contains more Republicans, the Senate passed a similar provision as part of its budget bill earlier this year.) The Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee were effectively shut out of the drafting of the energy bill. House Democrat Edward Markey, a member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, told me, "The energy companies got everything they wanted. Eight billion dollars in subsidies go to the energy companies, but to say that the conservation measures in it are modest would be a generous description."
An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that pharmaceutical manufacturers, who received a windfall from the new prescription drug program in the 2003 Medicare bill—including a provision prohibiting the federal government from negotiating with drug companies on prices— contributed more than three times as much to those who voted for the legislation as those who voted against it. A bill passed this year in the Senate and the House to tighten the rules for filing bankruptcy had long been sought by finance, insurance, and real estate interests, and particularly by credit card companies. Taken together, they all contributed $306 million to congressional campaigns, 60 percent of it to Republicans, during 2003 and 2004. The richest interests also spend the largest amounts of money on lobbying. According to a recent study by the Center for Public Integrity, the makers of pharmaceuticals and health products spent the most—$759 million —on lobbying between 1998 and mid-2004, when the last lobbying reports were filed. Next came insurance companies. Oil and gas companies were seventh on the list.
The effects of the new, higher level of corruption on the way the country is governed are profound. Not only is legislation increasingly skewed to benefit the richest interests, but Congress itself has been changed. The head of a public policy strategy group told me, "It's not about governing anymore. The Congress is now a transactional institution. They don't take risks. So when a great moral issue comes up— like war—they can't deal with it." The theory that ours is a system of one-person-one-vote, or even that it's a representative democracy, is challenged by the reality of power and who really wields it. Barney Frank argues that "the political system was supposed to overcome the financial advantage of the capitalists, but as money becomes more and more influential, it doesn't work that way."
Two House Democrats, Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois, and Martin Meehan, of Massachusetts, have introduced legislation to tighten the rules on privately funded travel, strengthen the lobbying disclosure rules, and slow down the revolving door by which former members of Congress take jobs with the trade associations and, after a year, can lobby their former colleagues. Some Republicans are talking about placing more restrictive rules on trips. But the record shows that new regulations can often be evaded.
Perhaps the greatest deterrent to ethical transgression is that members of Congress don't want to read unfavorable stories about themselves. A Republican lobbyist says that the biggest factor in the growth of corruption has been "the expectation that all this goes undetected and unenforced." He added, "If Jack Abramoff goes to jail, that will be a big message to this town." Since the scandal broke over Abramoff's payments on behalf of DeLay, members of Congress have been scrambling to amend their travel reports, in some cases listing previously unreported trips, or filling in missing details. Public outrage can also have an inhibiting effect: after the Republicans changed the ethics rules earlier this year to protect DeLay, the adverse reaction in the press and from constituents was strong enough to make the Republican leadership back down.
But the public can't become outraged about something that isn't brought to its attention. The press tends to pounce on the big scandals but usually fails to cover the more common ones that take place every day. Some of the politicians I talked to hoped that the scandal over DeLay and Abramoff might lead to real changes, including more prosecutions and stricter disclosure requirements. But even they admit that, like so many other scandals, it may simply blow over.
 See www.atr.org/national/kstreet.
 See www.politicalmoneyline.com.
 In the 2004 presidential election such money was paid to so-called "527 groups," which spent $500 million in the 2003–2004 election cycle. This wasn't, as widely thought, the result of a loophole in the McCain-Feingold bill but of the failure of the feckless Federal Election Committee to enforce a section of a 1974 campaign finance law.
 See www.opensecrets.org.
 See www.publicintegrity.org.
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