Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Democrats Behaving Like Democrats

Sometimes - albeit rarely - Democrats do in fact act like Democrats. Here are some examples.
As an addendum - amidst the lingering hubbub surrounding Sen. Boxer's condemnation of Condi's appointment to Secretary of State - some mention was given to California's other senator. However, even she found the wherewithal to oppose Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General.


Blogger Management said...

Opening Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer at the Confirmation Hearing of Dr. Condoleezza Rice

January 18, 2005

I’d like to begin by welcoming Dr. Rice to this committee hearing.

It is my hope that today, we will have a candid discussion, Dr. Rice, because I believe it is crucial that a Secretary of State speak openly and honestly with the American people and with Congress. Frankly, this issue of candor is where my concern lies.

Since 9/11, we have been engaged in a just fight against terrorism. I voted to use force against Osama bin Laden and the terrorists in Afghanistan, and I assumed that we would focus on that challenge, not stopping until we got bin Laden, dead or alive, and broke the back of al Qaeda.

However, instead, with you in a lead role Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you one paragraph that best expresses my views, and the views of millions of Californians, on the impact of the Iraqi war on the war against terrorism. It was written by one of the world’s experts on terrorism and foreign policy, Peter Bergen, five months ago.

He wrote:

What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure that bin Laden has long predicted was the United States' long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shia fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a “defensive” jihad that has galvanized jihad-minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terrorism.

This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA Director’s think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of “professionalized” terrorists. NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said that Iraq is “a magnet for international terrorist activity.”These quotations are significant to this hearing, Dr. Rice, because as a major proponent and spokesperson for the war in Iraq, and as someone who was asked by the President to make the case for this war to the American people, and as the person in charge of the reconstruction effort– you have many questions to answer to the American people.

This war was sold to the American people– as Chief of Staff to President Bush, Andy Card said– like a “new product.” You rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, and as you made your case, I personally believe that your loyalty to the mission you were given overwhelmed your respect for the truth.

That was a great disservice to the American people. But worse than that, our young men and women are dying. So far, 1,366 American troops have been killed in Iraq. More than 25 percent of those troops were from California. More than 10,372 have been wounded.

I don’t want their families to think for a minute that their lives and bodies were given in vain. Because when your commander in chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is noble to answer the call. I am giving their families all the support that they want and need, but I will also not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

Perhaps the most well known statement you have made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America, with the image of a “mushroom cloud.” That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped.

I will be placing into the record a number of other such statements which have not been consistent with the facts nor the truth.

As the nominee for Secretary of State, you now must answer to the American people through the confirmation process.

I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately, those of us in the highest positions of our government, must be accountable to the people we serve.


11:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Statement On The Nomination Of Mr. Alberto Gonzales To Be Attorney General

February 1, 2005

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today made the following statement in opposition to the confirmation of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General of the United States:

I take very seriously my Constitutional duty to give advice and consent on nominees to the President’s cabinet.

The Attorney General is our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, tasked with upholding the Constitution and our laws.

While I believe Mr. Gonzales has a truly remarkable personal story, the poor judgment he has exercised in his role as White House Counsel has resulted in serious consequences that cannot simply be overlooked when considering this nomination.

Mr. Gonzales was the legal architect of this Administration’s policies on torture and the treatment of detainees– policies that resulted in the despicable torture of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The vast majority of these prisoners were never charged with any crime, and even our own State Department had grave misgivings about redefining our torture policy.

The torture policies that Mr. Gonzales pursued on behalf of the Administration have done immeasurable damage to America’s standing in the world, have undermined our military rules and traditions, and exposed our own soldiers and citizens to greater risks.

In addition, Mr. Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions “obsolete” and “quaint.” The Geneva Conventions have protected our soldiers since 1949. This attack on the Geneva Conventions should not be condoned with a yes vote on this nomination.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...


January 25, 2005

For Immediate Release
Contact: David Smith / Jim Manley
(202) 224-2633

Mr. President, I intend to oppose Condoleezza Rice's nomination. There is no doubt that Dr. Rice has impressive credentials. Her life story is very moving, and she has extensive experience in foreign policy.

In general, I believe the President should be able to choose his Cabinet officials. But this nomination is different, because of the war in Iraq. Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it's been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire. In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to Secretary of State.

There is a critical question about accountability. Dr. Rice was a principal architect and advocate of the decision to go to war in Iraq, at a time when our mission in Afghanistan was not complete and Osama bin Laden was a continuing threat because of our failure to track him down.

In the Armed Services Committee before the war, Generals advised against the rush to war. But Dr. Rice and others in the Administration pressed forward anyway, despite the clear warnings.

Dr. Rice was the first in the Administration to invoke the terrifying image of a nuclear holocaust to justify the need to go to war in Iraq. On September 9, 2002, as Congress was first considering the resolution to authorize the war, Dr. Rice said: " …We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

In fact, as we now know, there was significant disagreement in the intelligence community about Iraq's nuclear weapons program. But Dr. Rice spoke instead about a consensus in the intelligence community that the infamous aluminum tubes were for the development of nuclear weapons.

On September 8, 2002, she said the aluminum tubes "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." On July 30, 2003, she said "the consensus view of the American intelligence agency" is that the tubes "were most likely" for use in nuclear weapons.

Dr. Rice continually spoke of the "contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq" and the "connection" between Al Qaeda and Saddam. In fact, as we now know, there was no operational link between Iraq and Al Qaeda - as the 9/11 Commission has confirmed.

On the eve of the war, many of us argued that inspectors should be given a chance to do their job and that America should share information to facilitate their work. In a March 6, 2003 letter to Senator Levin, Dr. Rice assured the Congress that "United Nations inspectors have been briefed on every high or medium priority weapons of mass destruction, missile, and UAV-related site the U.S. Intelligence Community has identified."

In fact, we had not done so. Dr. Rice was plain wrong. The Intelligence Committee's report on prewar Intelligence concluded "Public pronouncements by Administration officials that the Central Intelligence Agency had shared information on all high and moderate priority suspect sites with United Nations inspectors were factually incorrect."

Had Dr. Rice and others in the Administration acknowledged publicly that the U.S. had not shared all information, it might have changed the course of history. The rush to war might have been stopped. We would have stayed focused on real threat, kept faith with our allies, and would be safer today.

America is in deep trouble in Iraq today because of our misguided policy and the quagmire is very real. Nearly 1400 of our finest men and women in uniform have been killed, and more than 10,000 have been wounded.

We know now know that Saddam had no nuclear weapons program, and no weapons of mass destruction of any kind. The war has not made America safer from the threat of Al Qaeda. Instead, as the National Intelligence Council recently stated, the war has made Iraq a breeding ground for terrorism that previously did not exist.

As a result, the war has made us less secure, not more secure. It has increased support for Al Qaeda, made America more hated in the world, and made it much harder to win the real war against terrorism - the war against Al Qaeda.

Before we can repair our broken policy, the Administration needs to admit that it is broken. Yet, in two days of confirmation hearings, Dr. Rice categorically defended the President's decision to invade Iraq, saying, "The strategic decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein was the right one."

She defended the President's decision to ignore the advice of General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, who felt that a larger number of troops would be necessary if we went to war. She said, "I do believe that the plan and forces that we went in with were appropriate to the task."

She refused to disavow shameful acts of torture that have undermined America's creditability in Iraq and the world. When Senator Dodd asked her whether in her personal view, as a matter of basic humanity, the interrogation techniques amounted to torture, she said, "I'm not going to speak to any specific interrogation techniques…The determination of whether interrogation techniques are consistent with our international obligations and American law are made by the Justice Department. I don't want to comment on any specific interrogation techniques. I don't think that would be appropriate, and I think it would not be very good for American security."

Yet, as Secretary of State, Dr. Rice will be the chief human rights official for our government. She will be responsible for monitoring human rights globally, and defending America's human rights record. She cannot abdicate that responsibility, or hide behind the Justice Department as Secretary of State.

Dr. Rice also minimized the enormous challenge we face in training a competent Iraqi security force. She insisted that 120,000 Iraqis have now been trained, when the quality of training for the vast majority of them is obviously very much in doubt.

There was no reason to go to war in Iraq when we did, the way we did, and for the false reasons we were given. As a principal architect of our failed policy, Dr. Rice is the wrong choice for Secretary of State. We need instead a Secretary who is open to a clearer vision and a better strategy to stabilize Iraq, to work with the international community, to bring our troops home with dignity and honor, and to restore our lost respect in the world.

The stakes are very high and the challenge is vast. Dr. Rice's failed record on Iraq makes her unqualified for promotion to Secretary of State, and I urge the Senate to oppose her nomination.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...


January 6, 2005

For Immediate Release
Contact: David Smith / Jim Manley
(202) 224-2633

Mr. Gonzales, I join in welcoming you to today's hearing and I commend you on your nomination as Attorney General.

The story of your life is impressive. Your grandparents came to this country from Mexico. Your parents were migrant farm workers. You grew up in a small house with no hot water or telephone. Yet, you obtained degrees from two of the nation's finest universities, became a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, and now, as White House counsel, you've been one of the President's closest advisers over the past four years. I agree with President Bush when he said that in many ways you embody the American Dream. I have the highest respect for your accomplishments.

Today, however, the issue of your commitment to the rule of law is what most concerns us. Unfortunately, there is increasing and disturbing evidence that, with the approval of our highest officials, the Administration has undermined respect for law and for international standards of civilized behavior.

It appears that legal positions that you have supported have been used by the Administration, the military and the CIA to justify torture and Geneva Convention violations by military and civilian personnel. Memos you solicited, endorsed, approved or acquiesced in undermined longstanding traditions in our military and weakened important protections for our own troops serving abroad by violating the military's golden rule: that we treat captured enemy forces as we would want our own prisoners of war to be treated.

Many of us are disturbed by the Administration's role - and particularly your participation - in fostering a climate which has led to unthinkable behavior by those dealing with our prisoners.

I hope you understand that my responsibility, in keeping with the Senate's constitutional role of advice and consent to Executive nominations, is to inquire into these areas. They are too important to be set aside out of respect for your personal history, however impressive that may be.

By my count, it appears that you have been directly involved in failed policy decisions in at least four areas relating to the detention and interrogation of people we have captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. You were reportedly instrumental in preparing the plan to use military tribunals to try detainees, a plan that was widely criticized as unjust, unworkable, and unconstitutional. Your view that the system was beyond any judicial review was categorically rejected by the Supreme Court.

You were also the author of a memorandum which relegated the Geneva Convention to the scrapheap of history, despite their universal acceptance by our own military forces and despite the advice of Secretary of State Powell, and also, reportedly, of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Myers and other high military officials. We now know that the position you espoused helped lead to the breakdown of humane practices by many in our military precisely as Secretary Powell predicted.

You were also instrumental in initiating the "Bybee" memorandum, which narrowed the definition of torture so drastically that two years later, you had to retract and denounce it. That extreme and poorly reasoned legal opinion set the stage for the shameful human rights abuses against detainees that have tarnished America in the eyes of the world. Your failure to withdraw Mr. Bybee as a nominee for a lifetime judgeship on the Ninth Circuit, after seeing his memo, stands as dramatic proof that you did not take issue with his positions.

Each of these policy decisions suggests your fourth problem, that you believe in almost unlimited Presidential Power, unfettered by the constitution or basic treaties. The Administration ignored and excluded top military lawyers and experts in the State Department and Defense Department who raised objections to your policies. It engaged in a long process of denial and deception by top Administration officials after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke last spring. That arrogance of Executive power has led to national embarrassment.

Your nomination as Attorney General is one of the most significant this committee has ever considered. We need to know from you the specific steps you intend to take to restore the rule of law and America's standing in the world if you are confirmed. Among these, I hope you will support an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate all allegations of prisoner abuse and conduct a comprehensive review of our detention and interrogation policies.

I look forward to your responses on these and other important matters.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Management said...

A more organized, aggressive Senate caucus
by kos
Tue Jan 25th, 2005 at 11:13:11 PST

Reid seems to have his shit together:
The new session is opening amid signs of uncommon Democratic unity in the Senate. Minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada used a news conference on Democrats' legislative priorities to boast that majority leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, "wishes every day" that his members were as united as Democrats.

For the first time, the 44 Democratic senators are coordinating their media messages through a centralized Senate Democratic Communications Center. The new center has its "war room" in an office on the Capitol's third floor, where staff members send out daily talking points to Democratic press secretaries, line up radio and television interviews with senators, and issue "rapid-response" news releases in the style of political campaigns.

The center has an aide dedicated to getting information to Democratic-leaning bloggers and yesterday launched a website, democrats.gov, to better communicate the positions of Senate Democrats.
As noted in recent days, the Republican/Democrat ratio on cable news and Sunday morning shows is deplorable. The GOP has been masterful at getting their people on those shows, and the Democrats need to fire back. One of the measures of success of this new Senate Dems war room, I think, should be how effective they are in getting their people on TV. If the national Democratic Party and House Dems get into the act as well (they are nowhere near as organized as Reid's operation), we may be on to something special.

There's more:
On Friday, a newly formed Democratic Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hold its first hearing, in an attempt to highlight areas and issues that the Republicans are not willing to. The initial hearing will focus on whether Bush's contention that the Social Security system is in crisis is accurate.

Reid said Senate Democrats do not consider Bush's victory over Senator John F. Kerry to have been a statement in support of Bush's policies, and will continue to fight for their own values.

"Let's not get carried away with the 'mandate' of President Bush," Reid said. "There is no mandate, and the issues that Senator Kerry ran on ... are good issues."
Lots of the kwetching about Reid's ascendency to leader status seems misplaced now. Daschle's strong suit was his parliamentary skills, and it remains to be seen if Reid can match up to the South Dakotan. But in terms of organizing the caucus and whiping it up into fighting shape, he's far eclipsed Daschle.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Senate Democrats coordinate message, attack on Bush
Parties declare their priorities

By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | January 25, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats yesterday unveiled plans to push for expanded healthcare and education programs, higher troop levels, and better benefits for veterans, as they use a retooled and coordinated communications strategy to push their priorities and gird for fierce fights against major initiatives on President Bush's agenda.

Democratic leaders said they will focus on bills they believe have the backing of a majority of Americans. Their list of priorities also includes better equipment for troops in combat, allowing lower-priced prescription drugs to enter the United States from Canada, and an end to tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

"The proposals we are talking about are far closer to what the American people want," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat. "We are talking about the meat-and-potatoes issues people care about. . . . They [Republicans] are off on an ideological junket."

The new session is opening amid signs of uncommon Democratic unity in the Senate. Minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada used a news conference on Democrats' legislative priorities to boast that majority leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, "wishes every day" that his members were as united as Democrats.

For the first time, the 44 Democratic senators are coordinating their media messages through a centralized Senate Democratic Communications Center. The new center has its "war room" in an office on the Capitol's third floor, where staff members send out daily talking points to Democratic press secretaries, line up radio and television interviews with senators, and issue "rapid-response" news releases in the style of political campaigns.

The center has an aide dedicated to getting information to Democratic-leaning bloggers and yesterday launched a website, democrats.gov, to better communicate the positions of Senate Democrats.

Democrats in the Senate have already shown a willingness to flex their muscles on major issues. This week, they are holding up the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, even though she is expected to win easy confirmation, to keep the focus on questionable decisions made by the Bush administration in pursuing the war in Iraq.

On Friday, a newly formed Democratic Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hold its first hearing, in an attempt to highlight areas and issues that the Republicans are not willing to. The initial hearing will focus on whether Bush's contention that the Social Security system is in crisis is accurate.

Reid said Senate Democrats do not consider Bush's victory over Senator John F. Kerry to have been a statement in support of Bush's policies, and will continue to fight for their own values.

"Let's not get carried away with the 'mandate' of President Bush," Reid said. "There is no mandate, and the issues that Senator Kerry ran on . . . are good issues."

Republican leaders yesterday also unveiled their own priorities for the current Senate session, and it included several items that suggest big battles are ahead. Item one on the list is Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security for younger workers; Democrats are promising to fight any benefit cuts.

Other Senate Republican priorities include making the recent rounds of tax cuts permanent, limiting the scope of class-action lawsuits, and outlawing the transportation of a minor across state lines with the purpose of skirting state laws requiring parental consent to have an abortion.

Frist also promised that Republicans will again seek to approve a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Last year, the supporters came up 19 votes short of moving the amendment forward in the Senate, but they are hopeful that votes in 13 states to limit marriage to heterosexual couples will persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds.

The Republican leader said his party's members are coming into the session with the American people on their side, and appealed to his Democratic colleagues to acknowledge that in seeking compromises.

"I do think that the American people spoke pretty loudly in these elections in terms of their support for this president and this Republican Congress, Senate and House, and in support of an agenda that is consistent with the one that we laid out today," Frist said.

Democrats lost three Senate seats in November -- including that of Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was the minority leader -- and some observers expected Democratic senators to enter the year chastened and willing to compromise with the president. The selection of Reid as minority leader contributed to that perception, since the Nevada senator is considered a political moderate -- he opposes abortion and supports the rights of gun owners -- who would be willing to work with Bush.

But in the early days of Bush's second term, the Senate is emerging as the power center where the Bush agenda will face the toughest opposition. Under Senate rules, 60 votes are necessary to close out debate on most subjects, meaning a determined and united minority can halt proceedings and hold up a bill in the legislative body.

Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said, "It's going to be very difficult for a lot of members who represent states the president carried by a big number to come here and say their job is to oppose the president on everything he wants to do."

Ken Mehlman, new chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Democrats appear more interested in "blocking the American people's priorities" than in providing leadership.

"It's clear that Reid and the Democrats would rather engage in partisan politics than work for their constituents," Mehlman said.

Democrats say they are realistic about the prospects of their priorities becoming law.

"The honeymoon is over, and we are now in the throes of the new marital agreement," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip. "We can count -- it's 55-45 [including the Senate's lone independent, who often votes with the Democrats]. But the agenda that we lay out today is a suggestion of our vision."

11:07 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Boxer the new Wellstone
by kos
Tue Jan 25th, 2005 at 10:59:42 PST

Is there any doubt that Barbara Boxer is moving aggressively to fill the void left behind by Wellstone's tragic death? It's as if her easy reelection victory (she got the most votes of anyone in 2004 not named Bush or Kerry) gave her the confidence to be more aggressive.

Her protest of the Ohio electoral votes and her grilling of Condi Rice gave her instant visibility. She granted an interview to our very own Armando and DavidNYC, showing that her communication people were stepping up their outreach efforts. Her PAC has become more aggressive, using Blogads and viral marketing to garner petition signatures opposing Rice.

Now blogger Mad Kane has launched the President Boxer blog. US News made this pithy observation:
Sen. Barbara Boxer 's whupping of Secretary of State designee Condi Rice last week has progressives calling the Californian the go-to politician for the big battles coming down the pike on abortion, the Supreme Court, and civil rights.
The Boston Globe writes:
[During the Rice hearings], she gave the Democrats a bitter partisan as relentless and unyielding as Republicans Tom DeLay of Texas in the House and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma in the Senate.

Old-fashioned political meanness is relatively rare on the left these days. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin is far more liberal than most of his colleagues, but he puts his causes ahead of attacking his opponents. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York are the Republicans' favorite whipping boy and girl, but they are primarily deal-makers, more popular with their GOP colleagues than the grass roots of either party would believe possible.

Boxer is something else again. And this month, she has been living up to her name.
The SF Chronicle writesBoxer's confrontation of Rice spurred Capitol speculation that she was trying to assume the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's role as the conscience of the Senate. Her aides insist there is no grand strategy behind the recent moves.

"This is just Boxer being Boxer," said David Sandretti, the senator's communications director. "Anyone who knows her and has seen her throughout her career knows the stands she has taken."

But Boxer, who was elected to her third six-year term in November by a 20- point margin, has told supporters that she views her victory as a mandate to speak out on issues of importance to California, especially the war in Iraq. At her election night party, she said, "I'm not going to be afraid to stand alone."
For the record, Boxer is not the only Senate Democrat showing renewed vigor. The entire caucus is showing signs of life.
Democrats conceded that the new 55-45 split against them in the Senate put them at a severe disadvantage in pushing their legislative ideas or derailing those they did not like. And they acknowledged that, in the end, Mr. Bush would get his cabinet choices.

Yet they also demonstrated a willingness to use procedural weapons to make their points, even at the risk of being branded obstructionists.

In some respects, said one Democratic lawmaker who asked not to be named because his words were so blunt, they have little choice given their predicament as the party far out of power. "The truth is, you have no place else to go when your back is against the wall," he said.
Twelve Dems have lined up to speak against Rice's nomination. In the judiciary committee, Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Feinstein, and Schumer are all threatening to vote against Gonzales. (The other Dems on the committee are Kohl, Feingold, and Durbin.)

The idea is not to stop these nominations -- the GOP has the votes and the filibusters need to be saved for bigger things. Rather, these confirmation hearings are opportunities to speak out forcefully against administration policies and, ideally, cast a vote of no-confidence with a "no" vote on Rice and Gonzales. So when things continue going to shit, Democrats are on record as having had the foresight to oppose.

But even in this increasingly charged environment, Boxer stands out for her fearlessness and willingness to tackle the GOP head on.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Management said...

URS Corp., a San Francisco planning and engineering firm partially owned by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, landed an Army contract Monday worth up to $600 million.

The award to help with troop mobilization, weapons systems training and anti-terrorism efforts is the latest in a string of plum defense jobs snared by URS. In February, the firm won an army engineering and logistics contract that could bring in $3.1 billion during the next eight years.

Government contracting has come under increasing scrutiny by Congress and citizen groups, with critics decrying the political connections of firms winning lucrative jobs. Richard Blum, Feinstein's husband, serves on the company's board of directors and controls about 24 percent of the firm's stock,

according to Hoover's Inc. research firm.

A Feinstein spokesman Monday declined to comment on the contract.

Blum and several URS representatives could not be reached for comment. A Pentagon spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the contract.

Announced in a company press release Monday, the contract calls for URS Corp.'s EG&G division and partner International Consultants Inc. to help with operations planning, troop mobilization, weapons system training and anti- terrorism assessment. The contract runs for five years.

"We are very pleased with this important win, which further expands our strong relationship with the Army and demonstrates our ability to provide a full spectrum of support services to ensure that our troops remain combat ready and capable of quickly mobilizing to address threats around the world," said George R. Melton, president of the EG&G division, in a press release.

URS boasts some 25,000 employees working in more than 20 countries. Although the firm has a long history of government work, it has focused more on those activities since acquiring EG&G from the Carlyle Group investment firm last year for about $500 million.

EG&G works with the military, NASA, and several federal departments, according to Hoover's. The company's areas of expertise range from designing transportation infrastructure to training people to dismantle weapons of mass destruction.

URS brought in more than $2.4 billion in revenue during 2002.

E-mail David R. Baker at dbaker@sfchronicle.com.

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URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/04/22/MN310531.DTL

11:10 PM  
Blogger Management said...


Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein
"Confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State”
pdf version

MRS FEINSTEIN: Mr. President, I thank the Chair and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. I had the pleasure of introducing Dr. Rice to the Foreign Relations Committee. I thought I might just come to the floor of the Senate and share with the Senate as a whole some of my feelings and beliefs about this nominee.

I consider myself a friend of Dr. Rice's. She is a fellow Californian. I have known her. We have participated together in various think tank discussions. I know the bright, incisive mind that she has. I also know her background. This is a woman who was born 50 years ago in the segregated South, in Alabama. She has been able to reach the highest level of academia and public service. Can you imagine, she went to college at the age of 15 and graduated at the age of 19. Not many people know that. In January of 2001, she became the first African-American woman to serve as National Security Adviser. She has distinguished herself as a thoughtful, determined, and hard-working individual. Consequently, I believe she can be a strong and effective voice for America's interests abroad.

Now, looking at the foreign policy landscape, the United States faces several very complex challenges in many parts of the world. How we respond to these challenges will have a tremendous impact not only on our future, but on the future of the world. If you just take Iraq-- and we are coming up to an election -- what happens after that election? What will be done with the "de-Baathification" policy of Mr. Bremer, which I happen to think was a huge mistake? Yes, one of the mistakes the administration made was to effectively remove many managers and supervisors, of virtually all of the significant infrastructure of Iraq, including the military and the police department.

I am one who believes that was a mistake. I am one who believes that because of that, the Sunni population has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. That needs to be dealt with. I do not know what Dr. Rice will do, but I do know I have had an opportunity to discuss it with her, and I do believe she knows that it is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.

In the Middle East, there is a real window of opportunity to advance the peace process with the election of Abu Mazen as the President of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza. It has also been helped by the fact that the Labor Party has become part of the coalition government, thereby giving Ariel Sharon more flexibility.

I was very pleased to hear her statements before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which she said:

I look forward to personally working with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders, and bringing American diplomacy to bear on this difficult but crucial issue. Peace can only come if all parties choose to do the difficult work and choose to meet their responsibilities. And the time for peace is now.

That is a quote from the next Secretary of State of the United States of America, who has said that she will make a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli struggle a major priority. That is a very important step and a very important statement.

Iran and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs pose serious risks for peace and stability in the Middle East, in Asia, and they have set back efforts to curb nuclear proliferation. Here, there is need for consistent and effective diplomacy, not to further isolate North Korea but rather to convince North Korean leadership that it is in their country's self-interest to cooperate in dismantling their nuclear programs.

I basically believe countries do what they perceive to be in their self-interest not because we tell them to do something, and I look forward to an initiative to convince the North Korean leadership that it is indeed in their self-interest to rid themselves of a nuclear weapons program.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has consolidated power and taken several steps calling into question his commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Dr. Rice has a very strong background in Soviet and Russian affairs, and I believe this is going to be a big help in charting future diplomatic efforts with President Putin.

Serious challenges deserve quality leadership. I believe Dr. Rice has the skill, the judgment, and the poise to take on these challenges and lead America's foreign policy in the coming years.

I understand that some of my colleagues, many of them on my own side, have serious concerns about Dr. Rice's nomination, stating that she was a key architect of U.S. foreign policy during President Bush's first term. Let me be clear, I believe the key architects were, in fact, the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense. Obviously, Dr. Rice offered advice and counsel as the President's National Security Adviser, but remember, 78 Members of this body voted to authorize use of force in Iraq based on the intelligence which we received, which at the time was compelling and chilling but which we now know was not credible and was both bad and wrong.

Should Dr. Rice be blamed for wrong and bad intelligence? I think not. That is what intelligence reform was all about. That is what improved oversight over the intelligence community by the Intelligence Committees of both the House and the Senate is really all about, and that is what a new national intelligence director, to coordinate the 14 or 15 different agencies is all about.

For my part, I will continue to fight for a principled foreign policy based not just on military strength but cooperation, understanding, humility, and a desire to seek multilateral solutions to problems that indeed touch on many different nations. I want to see the United States reclaim the respect and admiration of the world and once again be seen as a champion and a leader of democracy, justice, and human rights. I believe the best way to do this is by example, by listening and by understanding that America's great strength is not our military prowess but our sense of justice, freedom, and liberty.

Importantly, Dr. Rice has the trust and confidence of the President of the United States and the world knows that she will have direct access to him. I believe this makes her a very powerful Secretary of State. I believe she will assume this office with a new dimension. To see this brilliant, young African-American woman represent our country's national interests on the world stage can bring about a new dimension of American foreign policy. So clearly this is an asset.

I did not expect this President of the United States to appoint anyone who seriously disagreed with him. The question really is, Is this woman competent? Is she able? Can she handle and lead the enormous State Department? I believe the answer to those questions is clearly yes. I also believe that she will be able to advocate a course and make changes and adjustments when and where necessary, and enhance the ability of the United States to restore lost credibility among many nations and allies.

Indeed, barring serious questions about a nominee's integrity and ability to serve, a President deserves to have his selections confirmed. There is nothing in Dr. Rice's past performance to suggest she is not capable of performing the job as America's chief diplomat, having the responsibility to conduct America's foreign policy. There is every reason to believe that she is up for this challenge. No one can be sure if she will succeed.

I conclude by saying this: Only time and events will tell if Dr. Rice will indeed make a great Secretary of State. To be sure, her vision, thinking, and problem-solving skills will be tested. I believe she is a remarkable woman, and I look forward to working with her as the next Secretary of State.

I yield the floor.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Statement of Senator Feinstein Opposing
Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General
February 1, 2005
pdf version

Watch the video

Washington, DC– U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today gave a speech on the Senate Floor expressing her opposition to the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. The following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s speech as delivered.

“I rise today to explain why I deeply regret I cannot vote to confirm Alberto Gonzales to be the next Attorney General.

I believe as a general rule the President is entitled to the Cabinet of his choice. But one Department, the Department of Justice, always deserves special attention from Congress because it does not exist solely to extend the President’s policies.

Though the Attorney General serves under the President, he must independently interpret the laws as written by Congress and be truly the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

I cannot emphasize this enough. The Department of Justice must be independent from the White House. The FBI must be independent. The U.S. attorneys must be independent. The Criminal Law Division, the Environmental Law Division, the Civil Law Division must all be independent. The Solicitor General’s Office, which argues before the Supreme Court, must be independent. The Office of Legal Counsel, which is charged with interpreting the law of the executive branch, must be independent. The Civil Rights Division must be independent.

These departments are charged with nothing less than following, interpreting, and implementing the law of the United States of America . The Department of Justice is in charge of defending the Nation in court. It is in charge of advising the rest of the Government about what the law means. It is in charge of overseeing the investigations of the FBI, and it is in charge of deciding when to prosecute criminals and send them to prison. This is obviously a big portfolio.

The head of the Department of Justice is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States . As such, the Attorney General is in charge of 59 separate divisions within the Department of Justice, which cover more than 110,000 employees. In my view, before we vote to confirm to put someone in charge of all this awesome power -- and it truly is awesome -- it is important for us to know what that individual thinks about the major policies the Department will be implementing. And that is where I have been disappointed by the confirmation process for Judge Gonzales.

When President Bush nominated Judge Gonzales, I think many of us were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But the hearings crystallized how little we knew about his own policy views, how little we knew about his qualities for leadership, his policy views, his management style, his strength of character, and his personal beliefs in those areas where he sets the tone and the policy. I think this was a great missed opportunity.

John Ashcroft served six years in the Senate. We knew his service on the Judiciary Committee. We knew about his views. One could decide about his personal views, yes or no. Judge Gonzales has spent so many years serving President George Bush. If confirmed, this will be the fifth job George Bush appointed Judge Gonzales to over the past decade. The hearings were his first real opportunity to show his own views. I think this is why the hearing process became so important in many of our views.

This was a crucial opportunity for Judge Gonzales. Many of us were prepared to vote for him. If there is a single issue that defines this confirmation process, it is what Judge Gonzales thinks about torture and brutal interrogation practices.

He reminded us again and again that both he and the President condemn torture. But as we know from the Bybee memo of August 2002, for at least two years, the Federal Government followed a definition of torture that was excessively narrow. In fact, it was considered so incorrect that the Department of Justice revoked it on the eve of Judge Gonzales’ hearing.

That memo defined torture as: ‘Equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.’

For me, in addition to its clear legal and moral importance, the issue of torture became the main way for assessing this next Attorney General. And it was very important for him to state in unambiguous terms what he thought. It was as important a way for us to assess how he approaches a problem as any.

In his opening statement, Judge Gonzales offered a clear, absolute condemnation of torture. He said flatly: ‘Torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration.’

At this point, at the beginning of his testimony, there were no ifs, ands, or buts. But after that, his testimony, both verbal and in writing, was full of ambiguities. It seemed intended not to make his views clear, but to shield his views, and it seemed to narrow the definition of what counts as torture.

For instance, at the hearing, at one point, Judge Gonzales told Senator Leahy, our ranking member, ‘I reject that opinion,’ referring to the Bybee opinion. But at another point in the hearing, he told the same Senator, Senator Leahy: ‘I don't have a disagreement with the conclusions then reached by the department.’

Those statements are clearly in conflict, and leave me with no idea what he thinks about the Bybee memo. I also note that Judge Gonzales clearly did not do everything he might have done to try to answer the questions put to him.

In his written testimony, especially to Senator Kennedy, Judge Gonzales refused to provide the answers or the documents requested. He even refused to conduct a search that would have refreshed his memory.

Let me quote the multiple times Judge Gonzales refused to answer Senator Kennedy’s questions, and these are all quotes: ‘I do not know what notes, memoranda, e-mails or other documents others may have about these meetings, nor have I conducted a search.’

Point 2: ‘I have no such notes, and I have no present knowledge of such notes, memoranda, e-mail, or other documents and I have not conducted a search.’

Point 3: ‘I have no present knowledge of any non-public documents that meet that description. However, I have conducted no search.’

Point 4: ‘I have no present knowledge that there are any documents of the sort requested in the question, although I have not conducted an independent search for such documents.’

Point 5: ‘I have no present knowledge of any such documents or materials, although I have not conducted a search.’

Point 6: ‘I have no present knowledge of any such records, although I have not conducted a search.’

The last formulation he repeated in two additional instances.

These are not adequate answers to satisfy the nomination process for the confirmation of a person to be the next Attorney General, nor do they bode well for the Judiciary Committee’s and this Congress’ oversight responsibilities for the Department of Justice.

Judge Gonzales also refused to provide many documents that we requested. In specific, I asked him to provide me with a copy of the final version of his January 2002 memo to the President. That is very important because earlier memos that he had written were different. It was important, if this was his final opinion, that we have an opportunity to look at it, because that opinion was definitive and dispositive.

The January memo is a well known one, where he wrote that the war on terror ‘renders obsolete Geneva ’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.’

If that was only a draft, as he said, as he had emphasized, then I believe it is imperative for us to see the final version, and he refused me that opportunity. He wouldn’t provide the memo, saying the White House had declined to allow it.

To tell you the truth, because of the prior history, that simply is not good enough for me.

Also of importance in the questions that he did answer, he seemed to continually narrow, again, the definition of torture. I saw this as a retreat from his original condemnation of torture and abuse and I thought it showed that he was trying more to defend the President’s policies than to demonstrate his own views.

That, in my view, is the nub of the problem. Here he was no longer the President’s man, he was going to be the chief law enforcement officer, independent, head of 110,000 people, with all kinds of major departmental responsibilities -- environmental law, civil rights law, the Solicitor General, as I stated earlier in my remarks. I saw this narrowing as a retreat from his original condemnation of torture and abuse, and I thought it showed that he was trying, again, more to defend the President than to talk for himself. Let me give an example.

At the hearing he told Senator Durbin that even under the laws implementing the Convention Against Torture: ‘aliens interrogated by the United States outside the United States enjoy no substantive rights under the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments.’

If this is Judge Gonzales’ view, it is a significant gap in the prohibition against abuse.

I gave him the opportunity to clarify this issue. In written testimony he confirmed the thrust of the answer, stating to me: ‘There is no legal prohibition under the Convention Against Torture on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with respect to aliens overseas.’

In another written question, I asked Judge Gonzales to specify his own views again on specific harsh interrogation methods. I wrote to him: ‘Putting aside legal interpretations, in your own personal opinion, should the United States use forced nudity, the threatening of detainees with dogs, or “water-boarding” when interrogating detainees?’

That was my question in writing. He began his answer by stating: ‘I feel that the United States should avoid the use of such harsh methods of questioning if possible.’

I was asking for a statement by the man. ‘If possible’ is a major loophole, and I truthfully don’t know what it means. I don’t know how big that loophole is intended to be.

As I was reviewing the correspondence, I was struck, in particular, by a letter that the committee received from a group of 12 esteemed former military leaders -- generals, admirals, even a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This letter was signed by Brigadier General David M. Brahms, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps; Brigadier General James Cullen, Retired, U.S. Army; Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote, Retired, U.S. Army; Lieutenant General Robert Gard, Retired, U.S. Army; Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, Retired, U.S. Navy; Rear Admiral Guter Don Guter, Retired, U.S. Navy; General Joseph Hoar, Retired, U.S. Marine Corps; Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, Retired, U.S. Navy; Lieutenant Claudia Kennedy, Retired, U.S. Army; General Merrill McPeak, Retired, U.S. Air Force; Major General Melvyn Montano, Retired, U.S. Air Force National Guard; and General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Let me paraphrase the letter. They write as retired military professionals in the U.S. Armed Forces to express their deep concern about the nomination of Alberto Gonzales and they urge us in the hearing to detail his views concerning the role of the Geneva Conventions in U.S. detention and interrogation policy and practice. They go on to say: ‘Mr. Gonzales appears to have played a significant role in shaping U.S. detention operations. . . . It is clear that these operations have fostered greater animosity toward the United States , undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops around the world.’

They then talk about the memo Judge Gonzales wrote to the President on January 25, 2002, advising him the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to the conflict then underway in Afghanistan . They say more broadly that he wrote the war on terrorism presents a new paradigm that renders obsolete the Geneva protections.

Then they go on to say, and I think this is important: ‘The reasoning Mr. Gonzales advanced in this memo was rejected by many military leaders at the time, including Secretary of State Colin Powell who argued that abandoning the Geneva Conventions would put our soldiers at greater risk, would “reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva Conventions,” and would “undermine the protections of the rule of law for our troops, both in this specific conflict [Afghanistan] and in general”’

That is a huge problem out there because at best, these hearings and the written questions and answers which are voluminous are really unable to clarify any of the positions of Alberto Gonzales, the man, Alberto Gonzales, head of one of the largest and most powerful agencies of the American Government, the U.S. Department of Justice.

We look at the Department of Justice one way, but most Americans look at it as being a major citadel of power in the United States . And on occasion, we have seen that power exercised. If you are going to set the policy, if you are going to set the tone, if you are going to be the head of this Department, I want to know what you as a man, or as a woman, think, and particularly at this time.

Yes, it is clear that the problems we will face in the future are most likely to be with respect to non-state actors, and with respect to torture, which I am speaking about now. Therefore, it is extraordinarily important to know what this man thinks. If you ask me today, despite the hearings, despite 200 pages of questions and answers, I cannot really tell you. I cannot really be sure that if the White House says one thing, the head of the Department of Justice would be willing to stand up and say another. I just do not know, based on the past jobs he has had and his past performance, if he is prepared to be independent.

I have to say to this body that is important. Every one of us knows that Janet Reno was an independent Attorney General. I do not know that Alberto Gonzales will be. I don’t know his management style. I don’t know the vision he has for this Department. I don’t know the goals he would set.

I know he is an extension of the President. I know that he can legally enable the President. I know he gives the President advice, and I think much of that advice has brought us into a terrible place where our military could well in the future be jeopardized.

I am one, frankly, who believes the Military Code of Justice has stood the U.S. military in good stead. I am one who believes the Geneva Convention -- the Convention Against Torture -- is the right thing. I am one who believes we should follow those, even in this non-state war.

I want to comment on one other issue, and then I will yield the floor.

I think Judge Gonzales is going to be confirmed. He is a talented lawyer and has a compelling life story. I certainly want to work with him.

I want to say one thing about some who may say this is a qualified Hispanic, and indeed he is. Nobody should think that the Hispanic community is unified on this nomination. I will put into the Record, if I may, letters from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, certain editorials from newspapers, the statement of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a statement of the Mexican-American Political Association, a letter from Major General Melvyn Montano, and other letters.

I ask unanimous consent to have them printed in the Record.

Mr. President, in summary, I very much regret this, but I think the U.S. Department of Justice is a unique Department. I think whoever is the head of it has to stand on his own two feet, has to be totally independent of Congress, of the White House, and has to be willing to submit to rigorous oversight by the Senate, by the Judiciary Committee, and has to set a tone which enables the Department of Justice to function as a fair and independent voice of the American people, as its chief law enforcement officer.

I very much regret that I will vote no on this nomination.

I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.”

11:11 PM  
Blogger Management said...

At Davos Forum, Every Topic Is Fair Game for Bill Clinton
# Ex-president says why he likes Bush but not his policies, urges restraint in dealing with Iran and cautions against a hasty withdrawal from Iraq.
DAVOS, Switzerland — Taking center stage at the World Economic Forum, former President Clinton delivered a virtuoso performance Thursday with a discussion of everything from Mideast crises to his past as president and future as a global activist.

Clinton was clearly in his element in the high-powered annual talkfest that is Davos. He won a standing ovation from a rapt audience of political, business and cultural leaders.
Clinton's focus during meetings here was on AIDS, poverty and Africa, issues on which he and his nonprofit foundation concentrate. But the evening conversation with talk show host Charlie Rose showcased Clinton's intellect, eloquence and occasional slipperiness on an array of issues. His long legs crossed at the ankles, he riffed like a jazz musician, sliding easily among topics and moods, alternately cerebral, wry and humorous.

Clinton gave opinions about President Bush, his political and personal antithesis in many ways.

"I don't agree with the administration's policy on the budget, on the environment and a whole host of other issues and I have articulated them," Clinton said. But he added: "I do confess, I like President Bush personally. He's different from me in a lot of ways" — there was laughter from the audience — "I mean psychologically. But we grew up in the same part of the world and I get him."

Clinton questioned the idea that Bush's reelection was an endorsement of his Iraq policy. Instead, Clinton said, Bush won because undecided voters were swayed by his aggressive initial response to the Sept. 11 attacks and success in preventing new terrorist strikes.

The future of Iraq hinges on the attitude of the victors in Sunday's election, Clinton said. Especially if violence suppresses voter turnout in Sunni strongholds, the majority Shiites and Kurds should be magnanimous to Sunnis and draft a constitution that fairly represents them, he said.

While reiterating that the U.S. should have let U.N. inspectors finish their work before invading Iraq, the former president said Bush should refrain from withdrawing troops too soon and speed up training of security forces with European help.

"We ought to accept the offer of any competent country that can help us train more security people more quickly because we have to increase the capacity of the Iraqis to defend themselves," Clinton said. "We need to get out of there, but we don't need a timetable…. We've got to stay there and do the job, but if we stay there too long, a certain percent of the people will believe we are there for the oil or for imperialist reasons and not try to make the deal work."

Clinton urged restraint in dealing with Iran over its nuclear program and said British, French and German negotiators deserve a chance to work out a diplomatic solution.

He called Iran a far more formidable foe than Saddam Hussein's Iraq and a "perplexing" country split between "two governments": a hard-core minority that controls security forces and a reformist, pro-Western majority. A hasty and bloody military strike might alienate that majority, he said.

"We ought not to do any [military action] until we have exhausted all reasonable diplomatic efforts," Clinton said, describing the main danger of a nuclear Iran as the potential transfer of nuclear materials to terrorists.

"Deterrence still works, just like it did between us and the Soviet Union. So if Iran had a nuclear weapon, the main thing it would do is cast a pall over the Middle East. But they'd have to think a long time before they used it, because they'd be toast if they used it."

Clinton indulged in self-deprecating humor, saying with a chuckle: "Keep in mind I haven't seen any intelligence in four years. Some people think I didn't see any before. Or they think I didn't have the intelligence to understand the intelligence."

But the tone turned personal and emotional as Clinton reminisced about tough moments of his presidency: the assassination of his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; the subsequent eleventh-hour failure of an Israeli-Palestinian peace effort during his second term and the realization in hindsight that he could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives by ordering military intervention during Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

He said his future goals were based on the reality that the world had become interdependent. The results have been both ominous, such as the rise of terrorism, and hopeful, such as the large number of private donations to tsunami victims in Asia, a crisis in which he and former President George H.W. Bush are leading the U.S. response.

"I should do whatever I can to help to create an integrated global community where we have shared benefits and shared responsibilities and we don't fight because of our differences," Clinton said.

"I just wake up every day saying, 'How lucky did I get, right?' And so my goal is, I just don't want anybody younger than me to die before they have to. To have their dreams broken…. So I just want to spend the rest of my life doing what I can to stop that from happening."

11:42 PM  

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