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20 Cards in this Set
Bush Goes On Offensive After Senate Report
Administration Goes On Offensive After Senate Report
POSTED: 1:13 pm EDT July 12, 2004
UPDATED: 5:03 pm EDT July 12, 2004
WASHINGTON -- In the wake of a Senate report that ripped intelligence in prewar Iraq, President George W. Bush on Monday defended his decision to invade Iraq.
EYE ON IRAQ
Synopsis: Senate Intel Report
Who Are They? Ex-Iraqi Regime Figures
Background: Transfer Of Power
What Is A Court-Martial?
Slideshow: Prisoner Abuse
Res. 1441 Text
Interim Iraqi Constitution
Bush's remarks came three days after a Senate panel harshly criticized the intelligence behind his charges that Saddam was amassing dangerous arms. The report found that the key assertions made by the Bush administration the run-up to war were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses. (More About Senate Report.)
Even as he conceded that investigators had not found the weapons of mass destruction that he had warned the country possessed, the president said allowing Iraq to possibly transfer weapons capability to terrorists was not a risk he was willing to take.
"We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after Sept. 11, that was a risk we could not afford to take," Bush said.
On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney accused his Democratic rivals of rewriting history.
Cheney, on a re-election campaign swing through Pennsylvania, told a fund-raiser that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq rid the world of a "gathering threat" to peace and security.
He also accused Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and his running mate John Edwards of hypocrisy in criticizing the administration's war policies.
Both had seen the same prewar intelligence on Iraq that Bush saw and both of them supported the decision to go to war, Cheney said.
Speaking during a visit to the Oak Ridge lab in Tennessee, Bush viewed hardware that was shipped to the lab in March as part of an agreement with Moammar Gadhafi to end his country's nuclear weapons program.
Rogue nations that have aided terrorists got a clear signal from the Iraq war -- pursuing nuclear weapons can "carry serious consequences," he said, alluding to Libya.
Gadhafi chose "the wise course" last year and decided to abandon his country's program, he said.
Bush's Credibility Gap Hearkens To Vietnam
Justification For Iraq War Resembles Johnson's Deception Before Vietnam
POSTED: 3:52 p.m. EDT July 28, 2003
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush has a huge credibility gap stemming from his exaggerated rhetoric that led the United States to attack Iraq.
The Bush hype recalls the Lyndon B. Johnson era when LBJ's misleading statements and deceptions led us deeper into the disastrous Vietnam war.
Johnson later acknowledged that public mistrust had doomed his chances for reelection in 1968. Trust and truth still go a long way with the American people when it comes to war and peace.
To rally public support for an unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush laid it on with a shovel. There were scary warnings of an imminent, direct threat that Saddam Hussein would use nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction against us.
Throughout the buildup for war, Bush and his aides repeatedly claimed that there was a link between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorists.
So far, after almost four months of U.S. occupation of Iraq, none of those contentions has panned out.
The Iraqis deployed none of those feared weapons when U.S. forces invaded on March 20, despite warnings that had led many American military men and women to spend uncomfortable hours decked out in protective moon suits.
Likewise, the occupation has failed to turn up evidence of a link between Saddam and al-Qaida.
This hasn't stopped the White House message machine. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters again this week that the weapons will be discovered and that they were a "grave threat" to the United States and the rest of the world.
The administration should learn that mere repetition of a claim doesn't make it true.
AS late as March 16, Vice President Dick Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "we believe (Saddam Hussein) has reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Now we're trying to sort out the welter of mea culpas from administration officials about who was responsible for the bogus uranium report in the president's Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address.
That speech contained the famous 16 words: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
It turned out that this segment was based on a crude forgery.
When the details of this flub started tumbling out, Condoleeza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, blamed the CIA. This led CIA director George Tenet to take the blame with a deep public grovel.
Later, Tenet apparently nudged the White House to reveal it had received two CIA memos last October and a warning again in January, all cautioning that the uranium report was dubious.
This time, Rice's assistant, Stephen Hadley, stepped forward to accept blame for not deleting the erroneous sentence from the address. A defensive White House seems eager to change the subject. McClellan insists that the Iraqi invasion "should be seen through the prism of the war on terrorism."
Cheney said Thursday that failure to act would have been "irresponsible in the extreme" and would have endangered the United States.
In a Rose Garden speech this week, Bush pointed to the big picture, saying "a free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with illegal weapons" and "will not be a training ground for terrorists ..."
After a five-day tour of Iraq, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a super hawk, came home this week and dismissed questions about the missing weapons, saying it was a question for the intelligence agencies.
"I am not concerned about weapons of mass destruction," he said. "I am concerned about getting Iraq on its feet."
Sorry Mr. Wolfowitz, you can't have it both ways. You were an architect in the trumped-up strategy that deceived the American people, causing them to believe the weapons endangered their lives. On those fears, we went to war.
The term "credibility gap" was coined in the Johnson era and popularized by Washington Post reporter Murray Marder. It symbolized the contrast between LBJ's rosy statements about the cost and progress of the war, with the more realistic news dispatches from Vietnam.
Although the Bush administration credibility gap looks more like the Grand Canyon, don't expect the president to take the responsibility for any false claims.
Last week, he dodged the question on whether he would assume responsibility for the misleading allegations.
In response he continued to insist Iraq had sought a nuclear weapons program.
"I take responsibility for dealing with that threat," he said sternly.
Why Bush Can't Help Enron
Anyone who's part of the Bush political dynasty's inner circle recognizes the coin of the realm: Loyalty. No personal characteristic is valued more by George W. Bush in friends -- or staffers. He saw his father's Presidency undercut by top aides who cared more about their images than the boss's success.
So imagine how torn the President must be right now. As his Administration is engaged in waging war across the world, he's grimly monitoring news reports about the demise of Enron, an energy giant closely tied to the Bush family.
Enron Chairman Ken Lay is a personal friend and political patron of the Bushes. He has helped raise more money for their campaigns than any other benefactor, and he has lent them talented Enron executives for policy projects like education reform. How close are the Bushes and Lay? When Houston's new baseball park -- dubbed Enron Field -- opened in 2000, Lay's guests included both George Bushes.
PROPRIETY ABOVE ALL. Enron's woes tell Americans something vitally important about the Bushes' view of loyalty. As much as they regard it, they value propriety even more. And the President isn't about to have his own reputation sullied if it means creating the perception that he did a special favor for (a) a friend, (b) a contributor, (c) a fund-raiser, and (d) a representative of Big Oil.
Enron shareholders have lost more than $30 billion in the Houston-based energy giant's downward spiral. The stock collapse came after the company revealed that complex investments in outside partnerships weren't disclosed in financial statements -- even though Enron had billions at risk.
A month ago, Enron admitted it had overstated earnings by $583 million over four years. Major lenders, including Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase&Co., could face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
DIRE CIRCUMSTANCES. White House insiders say they're keeping the unfolding Enron saga at arms-length. The Administration is prepared to respond only if the collapse of Enron -- once the 18th-largest U.S. company -- would result in a market meltdown or severely damage retirement plans that had invested in the longtime blue chip.
The Treasury Dept. is "keeping an eye on...any effect [the Enron stock slide] may have on markets or any other areas," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said on Nov. 28. Beyond that, Bush's spokesman had no public comment.
The Administration has good reason to be circumspect. Ties to the Bush White House run deep. Enron and its execs donated more than $500,000 to Bush's campaigns -- more than any other corporation or interest group. Lay was a "Pioneer," a mover and shaker who raised more than $100,000 for the President's 2000 campaign. And he's George W.'s all-time top contributor.
LUCKY TO GET OUT. Several top Bush advisers owned hefty chunks of Enron stock before the bust. Among the Administration officials who once were Enron investors: economic czar Lawrence B. Lindsey, political guru Karl Rove, and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney. All were required to sell their stock when they joined the White House (and avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses when the stock price plunged to under $1).
When it came to staffing the Administration and developing a new energy policy, Bush again turned to Enron. He picked Thomas E. White, vice-chairman of Enron Energy Services, to be his Army Secretary. White, a retired brigadier general, earlier served Enron as chairman and CEO of Enron Operations Corp. and as chairman and CEO of Enron Power Corp.
Lay himself was seriously considered for a Cabinet position and was on the short list for Energy Secretary -- a position that eventually went to former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham. Friends say the position Lay really coveted was Treasury Secretary. In the end, he didn't get the job so he didn't join the Bush White House. "If I was going to go, I wanted to make sure it was something truly worthwhile," he told BusinessWeek in January. "I've got a job, and I can support President Bush in a lot of other ways, just like I did his father in his four years."
POWERLESS. The Administration must be relieved that Lay didn't end up a senior official, with all the distractions the Enron scandal would have entailed. But it might also feel sorrow that Bush is constrained from using the federal government's massive power to save his friend's company or assist the tens of thousands of Texans whose jobs and pensions may be in jeopardy. With congressional investigations already in the works and a Securities&Exchange Commission probe under way, the Administration can only hold its collective breath.
On Capitol Hill, House Republicans have passed a tax-cut plan that could provide a $250 million windfall to Enron by retroactively repealing the alternative minimum tax on corporations. But Bush Budget Director Mitch Daniels on Nov. 30 disavowed the House action and said the Administration favored a "much more modest" plan that did not include a retroactive repeal.
As for Lay, he has so many troubles at corporate headquarters that he can't much worry about things in Washington. That's a big change from 10 months ago, when he opted to remain at Enron. "I was happy to stay here from Day One," Lay told BusinessWeek after deciding against a move to Washington. You can bet that his friends, the Bushes -- as much as they value loyalty -- are happy about that, too
As AG, Gonzales Not Likely To Expand Freedoms
White House Lawyer Wrote Famous Terror Memos
POSTED: 4:26 pm CST November 19, 2004
President George W. Bush has tapped White House lawyer Alberto Gonzales to be the new attorney general.
This is the same man who left a damning paper trail that has been used to justify the mistreatment of detainees and prisoners of war.
Gonzales would replace the controversial John Ashcroft, who will go down in the history for undermining civil liberties during his tenure as head of the Justice Department in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Ashcroft did not go quietly, and instead took a few parting shots at the federal courts for rulings against the Bush administration that he claimed were endangering the war on terrorism.
The 49-year-old Gonzales is a trusted Texas friend of the president. He also is the architect of the Bush administration's legal war on terrorism and the author of shocking memos that described as "quaint" and "obsolete" the limitations on questioning of prisoners under the Geneva conventions.
Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted to make end runs around international law in the treatment of persons suspected of terrorism.
Gonzales obliged by drafting a backup memo on Jan. 25, 2002, that excluded U.S. treatment of al Qaida and Tailban in Afghanistan from the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War.
The war against terrorism "is a new kind of war," Gonzales wrote. There has to be "the ability to obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities or war crimes, such as wantonly killing civilians."
"In my judgment," he added, "this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges."
Those memos have been interpreted as approving the use of torture to meet the need for quick intelligence.
He also has tried to justify Bush's claim that as commander-in-chief he has virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror.
Past treaties hammered out over years seem to mean nothing to this administration. As for the treatment of prisoners, the world has already witnessed the shameful behavior of the American military guards at Abu Gharib prison. The U.S. image as reflected in those painful prison photos was damaged around the world.
On Feb. 7, 2002, Bush signed an executive order on the treatment of detainees and declared that the war against terrorism "ushers in a new paradigm" that "requires new thinking in the law of war." He went on to conclude that the Geneva Convention didn't apply to al Qaida or Taliban detainees, though he hastened to add that Americans values "call for us to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment."
Looking back, it appears that some U.S. commanders only heard the first part of the order, not the part about humane treatment.
Although the signature on the order was that of the commander-in-chief, it's pretty obvious from the document's intensely legal tone that the White House counsel drafted it.
Gonzales will undergo tough interrogation at his Senate confirmation hearings, especially from probing Democrats who will want to know what he was thinking when he wrote those memos and that executive order.
Then, the Republican-controlled Senate will approve his nomination.
Slowly but inexorably, the federal courts appear to be catching up with the Bush administration's legal excesses. For example, courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have overruled the administration's efforts to indefinitely detain enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without charges, lawyers or trials.
There has been speculation that Bush would like to put Gonzales on the Supreme Court eventually, making him the first Hispanic to serve on the high bench. Many conservatives think Gonzales is not hard-line enough and fails to pass muster on abortion and affirmative action (they oppose both).
As attorney general, Gonzales will be the nation's chief law enforcement officer. Unlike Ashcroft, some attorneys general in the past have broadened civil liberties and human rights during their Cabinet service.
One was Herbert Brownell, the attorney general in the Eisenhower administration, who sent federal marshals to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce school integration and to protect black children entering a previously all-white school.
Then there was Robert Kennedy, who was attorney general under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and who cracked down on the segregationists in the South during the civil rights protests.
Another profile in courage was Nixon-era Attorney General Elliott Richardson, who resigned after refusing to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal.
But Gonzales is not expected to wander off the reservation when he moves over to Justice. He will play an acceptable role if he understands he should abide by our treaty commitments, respect due process and enforce the laws on the books.
(Helen Thomas can be reached at the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org).
Terror Fears Only Card Bush Has To Play
Cheney Still Bluffing On Iraq, 9/11 Connection
POSTED: 3:29 pm CDT October 6, 2004
Someday, President George W. Bush may have to explain why he really went to war against Iraq.
But you won't hear it with his re-election at stake and his credibility on the line.
Public opinion polls continue to show a tight presidential race, which suggests to me that voters have devalued the importance of credibility in top government officials.
How else can one make sense of the fact that the president continues to do well in the polls despite the total collapse of his credibility about the reasons for invading Iraq?
This credibility problem was on full display Tuesday night during the spirited debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, his Democratic rival.
During the 90-minute encounter, Cheney made it eminently clear that the administration has only one card to play in this campaign -- terrorism. By keeping the country scared, the administration hopes to be safely ensconced for another four years.
To his credit, Edwards quickly zeroed in on the administration's dishonest propaganda line that we invaded Iraq because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
These words that Edwards directed at Cheney should be emblazoned on every wall:
"Mr. Vice President, there is no connection between the attacks of Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein. The 9/11 commission has said it. Your secretary of state has said it. And you've gone around the country suggesting that there is some connection. There is not."
Administration spinners, from Bush on down, have cleverly tried to make that convergence, ever more desperately as the original rationale of Saddam's mythical weapons of mass destruction has gradually disappeared over the horizon.
The final nail in the WMD coffin came Wednesday when yet another White House-ordered weapons search came up empty.
Charles A. Duelfer, appointed in January after David A. Kay found no WMD in Iraq, is the latest weapons hunter to come home skunked. I wonder if Bush will send yet another searcher in hopes of satisfying this administration obsession.
No WMD and no links between Saddam and 9/11 leave Bush and Cheney adrift on an ocean of spin and stubborn insistence that, well, the world is better off with Saddam in jail. It would be funny if it were not so tragic.
Cheney, a hawk nesting nicely in a well-feathered administration, can't let go of his Saddam-9/11 rant even though Bush himself has said there were no links.
To those of us who have watched the Bush administration mush these two themes together, it was refreshing to hear Edwards tell Cheney Tuesday night that he was "not being straight with the American people."
Meantime, two administration leading lights have thrown the White House in a tizzy with their recent statements about the war and Saddam.
L. Paul Bremer, former U.S. administrator in Iraq, told an audience in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., on Monday that the Bush administration had failed to provide enough occupation troops in Iraq.
Asked about Bremer's statement, White House spokesman Scott McClellan simply reiterated that the president took his advice on the troop situation from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the military commanders in the field.
Rumsfeld was in more hot water -- as if he needed any more trouble -- for telling the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that he had "not seen any strong, hard evidence" of links between Saddam and the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11. (Dick Cheney, please note.)
But big men can recant, especially when the White House apparently phones to rebuke them.
Bremer later backtracked and said there are now sufficient troop levels in Iraq. And the Pentagon said Rumsfeld was misunderstood. Too bad these men cannot speak English.
The White House was so rattled by this bam-bam that it issued a statement several hours before the vice presidential debate proclaiming that "there were disturbing similarities" between Saddam and the al Qaida before the war.
It's no wonder the administration is trying to hold the line on the fleeting reasons for going to war with so much at stake. After all, the voters could decide they were misled.
Economic Conference Focuses On Social Security
Democrats Criticize Administration Approach On Social Security
POSTED: 10:15 am EST December 16, 2004
UPDATED: 10:27 am EST December 16, 2004 www.theomahachannel.com
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush says "now is the time to confront" Social Security's problems -- before they become "more acute."
Should workers be allowed to invest part of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
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With those words, the president opened the last day of a two-day economic conference in Washington on Thursday.
He also vowed to submit a "tough budget" soon after he starts his second term -- one that holds the line on spending.
Budget chief Joshua Bolten told the conference the blueprint will show Bush is ahead of schedule on his vow to cut the deficit in half in four years.
On Social Security, Bush said the first step in dealing with the Baby Boomers' retirement is an awareness of the problem.
But he said he's convinced the solution to looming insolvency is personal investment accounts -- letting younger workers fund their own retirement with some of the cash they now spend in taxes.
With personal investment accounts, younger workers would face reductions in promised benefits, but would have the chance to do better with investments.
The system's trustees said Social Security is facing an estimated $3.7 trillion shortfall over 75 years to pay all promised benefits.
President Bush dismissed Democrats' warnings about investing some Social Security funds in the stock market, calling them scare tactics.
Democrats said the White House is exaggerating the urgency of Social Security's financial troubles and the federal deficit should be addressed first.
They charged that the president is exaggerating the system's problems to help push through the privatization plan. They noted that the Social Security system will have a cash surplus until the year 2018 and will be able to pay full benefits until 2042.
Congressman Robert Matsui of California called privatization "an ideological solution to a manageable problem."
South Carolina's John Spratt, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called Thursday's summit session a "pep rally for privatization."
He said slashing the skyrocketing federal deficit, which hit $413 billion this year, is a more urgent problem.
On day one of the economic summit, Bush dropped in on a session on lawsuit costs -- and vowed to press Congress for a cap on damage awards. He said skyrocketing awards are crippling good companies and causing doctors to stop practicing. Bush called it a "vital issue" for America's "quality of life."
Bush: Lawsuits Limit 'Vital Issue'
Effort To Cap Lawsuits Stalled In Senate
POSTED: 4:22 pm EST December 15, 2004
UPDATED: 4:35 pm EST December 15, 2004
WASHINGTON -- On day one of his economic conference, President George W. Bush called runaway lawsuits a "vital issue" -- and vowing to get Congress to pass damage award limits.
President George W. Bush speaks during the White House Conference on the Economy.
During a panel discussion Wednesday, the president said frivolous suits are forcing companies out of business and doctors to stop practicing. And he said it's all putting the U.S. economy at a competitive disadvantage.
He said those who are hurt should have their day in court -- but the current system has "run amok."
An effort to cap lawsuits is stalled in the Senate.
The two-day conference is aimed at building momentum for Bush's second-term agenda.
It was opened by Vice President Dick Cheney, who highlighted other agenda items: making Bush's tax cuts permanent, simplifying the tax code and revamping Social Security.
President Promotes Social Security Plan In Radio Address
Social Security Crisis Can Be Averted, Bush Says
POSTED: 1:21 pm EST December 11, 2004
UPDATED: 1:23 pm EST December 11, 2004
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush used his weekly radio address to warn that the Social Security system as it's set up now is "headed towards bankruptcy down the road."
Bush Radio Address 12-11
At the same time, he pushed his plan to let people channel a small portion of their income into "personal savings accounts" as a way to save it.
Bush said "a crisis in Social Security can be averted, if we in government take our responsibilities seriously, and work together today."
He said the best way to do that is to "tap into the power of compound interest, by giving younger workers the option to save some of their payroll taxes in a personal account."
The president didn't specify how he would come up with the expected $2 trillion it's expected to cost to overhaul the system.
And critics said his plan would siphon money from a program that needs it.
Democrats Focus On Ohio Presidential Vote
Democrats say they want to make sure every vote was counted in last month's presidential election -- especially in Ohio.
The Democratic National Committee has formed a panel to look into possible voting problems in the Buckeye State, which President Bush won by more than 100,000 votes.
In the party's weekly radio address, Democratic operative Donna Brazile said there's no place in democracy for faulty equipment, untrained poll workers, long lines and "any forms of chads." She's referring to the bits of paper that came off some of Florida's punch-card ballots in the 2000 presidential election.
Brazile chairs the DNC's Voting Rights Institute. She said there's too much disparity between rich and poor communities when it comes to reliable voting systems.
Bush: No Payroll Tax To Fund Social Security
POSTED: 11:34 am EST December 9, 2004
UPDATED: 11:50 am EST December 9, 2004
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush is ruling out a payroll tax increase to help pay for his overhaul of Social Security.
Should workers be allowed to invest part of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
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The president has made that overhaul a top second-term priority.
He wants to partially privatize the system by letting workers divert tax money into investment accounts. He said it's needed to save Social Security from bankruptcy.
But experts estimate the transition cost could be upwards of $2 trillion.
During a White House meeting Thursday with Social Security's trustees, Bush refused to commit to a specific means of paying that cost.
But he ruled out a tax hike.
Aides have suggested some or all of the cash could simply be borrowed -- despite record deficits.
They say it's better than doing nothing, which could cost some $11 trillion as Baby Boomers retire.
U.S. Trying To Escape International Criminal Court
Aid Could End For Nations That Don't Exempt U.S.
POSTED: 5:10 pm CST December 1, 2004
The Bush administration is adding an economic punch to its campaign to escape the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The administration fears that Americans could be brought before the tribunal by foreign countries. That concern has led to the U.S. policy to undermine the court's work.
The ICC is the first permanent international body set up to investigate and prosecute individuals accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of war. It could possibly apply to the modern-day genocides in the Sudan and the Congo or Rwanda.
It replaces the ad-hoc war crimes tribunals set up by the United Nations, such as the court trying former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague.
The treaty creating the court was adopted in 1998 at an international conference in Rome after intense negotiations. Its purpose was avoid a repeat of the tragedies of what Human Rights Watch has called "the bloodiest century in human history," the 20th century. The pact was approved by 120 nations.
From the court's inception, the Bush administration has loudly proclaimed that American service members won't be subject to its jurisdiction, a theme that coincided with the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Two years ago, Congress passed the American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which ended military aid to countries that refused to grant amnesty to U.S. nationals suspected of committing war crimes abroad.
Now comes a provision in the 2005 omnibus federal spending bill -- obviously part of the administration's foreign policy agenda -- that would bar economic assistance to any country that does not grant amnesty to U.S. citizens.
Administration lobbying and the threats of an aid cut-off have paid off. Some 96 countries have signed immunity agreements with the United States. Notable refusals have come from major U.S. allies Britain, France and Germany, who oppose these exemptions on grounds that they undermine the treaty. They also have blocked U.S. efforts to win immunity from the U.N. Security Council for Americans in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
The irony is that American officials were very much involved after World War II in initiatives to build a more humane world under international law. But that is old history for an administration that seems intent on ripping up the past.
The administration's adamant position about keeping Americans out of the ICC shows a sad disregard for our traditional respect for equal justice under the law. We seem to be saying, "We don't have to follow the rules, but we insist that everyone must do so."
How soon we forget.
Is it any wonder that we have become the image of the arrogance of power to the rest of the world when we seek to exempt ourselves from the laws that we helped create?
The treaty has now been signed by 139 countries and ratified by 97. Former President Bill Clinton signed the pact in December 2000. President George W. Bush renounced it in May 2001.
Bush expressed concern that an international prosecutor might conduct frivolous investigations and trials against American officials, troops and foreigners who work for the United States overseas. He also said the court -- based at the Hague -- was made up of "unaccountable judges and prosecutors" who "could pull our troops (and) our diplomats up for trial."
Actually, the United States does not have much to worry about because there are built-in safeguards. First, all military personnel involved in U.N. peacekeeping have the right to be returned to their home countries for trial. The ICC can get involved only if the home country is unable or unwilling to get involved or if the home-country legal proceedings were fraudulent and intended "to shield the suspect from criminal responsibility."
Defenders of the court say it was created for mass killers, such as Germany's Adolf Hitler, Cambodia's Pol Pot and Uganda's Idi Amin.
Of course, the United States would have no worries if it played by the rules of international behavior and had its military and civilian personnel serving overseas understand what is at stake.
As it stands, the Bush administration's posture confirms the global perception that Bush views himself as the lone gunslinger protecting the town from bandits.
Official: Bush Asks Rice To Be Secretary Of State
Four Cabinet Members Announce Resignation Monday
POSTED: 9:34 am EST November 15, 2004
UPDATED: 7:49 pm EST November 15, 2004
WASHINGTON -- President George W. Bush has chosen national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state in his second term, a senior administration official said Monday.
Powell said earlier Monday that he won't serve a second term. The retired four-star general often clashed with more hawkish members of the administration on Iraq and other foreign policy issues.
The Army man for 35 years said he would stay on "for a number of weeks, or a month or two" until his replacement was confirmed by the Senate.
Colin Powell, Rod Paige, Spencer Abraham and Ann Veneman The unidentified official said Rice would be replaced by Stephen Hadley, deputy national security adviser.
The White House on Monday also announced the resignations of Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Veneman had said last week she wanted to stay.
That brings the number of Cabinet chiefs leaving to six out of a total of 15 in what's shaping up as a major second-term shakeup. Bush's second term begins with his inaguration Jan. 20.
O'Neill Was Fall Guy For Bush's Failed Policies
Forced Resignation Comes As '04 Presidential Campaign Heats Up
POSTED: 2:41 p.m. EST December 12, 2002
UPDATED: 2:53 p.m. EST December 12, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The surest sign that the White House was using Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as a scapegoat for its failed economic policies was the timing of his forced resignation by President George W. Bush.
After White House aides had assured O'Neill his job was safe, he was abruptly sacked by Bush and informed of the deed by Vice President Dick Cheney late last week.
The announcement of his heave-ho came the same day the Labor Department reported that unemployment had jumped to 6 percent in November, matching the eight-year high reached in April and serving as glaring proof of a troubled economy.
O'Neill became the fall guy for the administration's poor economic performance, especially now that the 2004 presidential campaign is in full swing at the White House.
A former CEO of the aluminum giant ALCOA, O'Neill had thought he was cozy with his old pal Bush, but he learned the hard way how rough the game of politics is played when presidential stakes are involved. He was the first Bush Cabinet official to be forced out.
Bush also bounced Larry Lindsey, his national economic adviser, on the ground that he, like O'Neill, was not a good salesman for the president's tax-cut policies.
Of course, dumping these advisers does not mean that Bush will abandon his beloved tax-cut panacea for most domestic ills. It will still dominate his economic policy, and the change will come mainly in the cast of characters.
One of Bush's long-held rules is that he is not going to make the same mistakes that his father, George H.W. Bush, did. That embedded conviction turned out to be bad news for O'Neill, who, it was said, had an aluminum ear for politics.
Former President Bush lost his re-election bid in 1992 because the economy was in a slump and he seemed not to care. The upstart governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, fueled his own campaign with the slogan: "It's the economy, stupid!"
During that year Clinton stuck to the bread-and-butter issues while the elder Bush, riding high after the Persian Gulf War, ignored them.
The effectiveness of the Clinton insurgency was all the more dramatic because Bush seemed invincible. His approval rating in March 1991 after the U.S.-led victory over Iraq in the Persian Gulf War hovered around an astonishing 90 percent.
Yet his lofty poll numbers plummeted fast when Americans began focusing on their pocketbooks.
So the lesson learned by the current President Bush was: Ignore the economy at your political peril.
Although W is still consumed with the possibility of war against Iraq, he is being forced to pay some attention to the crummy economy mainly because of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is aggressively seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kerry has criticized Bush's tax cuts for the upper crust, calling them "unfair, unaffordable and unquestionably ineffective in growing our economy."
The senator has proposed that Congress cancel those portions of the tax plan that would most benefit wealthy taxpayers and oppose Bush's pleas that his 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax package be extended permanently.
Kerry also has uttered publicly what many people say privately, namely that the Bush administration ratcheted up the war threat against Iraq to distract attention from U.S. economic problems.
Meanwhile, to demonstrate that he is taking the shaky economy seriously, Bush has named John Snow, chairman of CSX Corp., a railroad holding company, as O'Neill's replacement.
He is a veteran of the Gerald Ford administration, a one-time economics professor and a former chairman of the powerful Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization for large corporations, who knows his way around Washington.
Snow, who used to abhor big deficits, is expected to get on board and sell the Bush tax package along with the president's plan to privatize Social Security.
Bush has honed his claim that the recession had already started when he took office. He has conveniently forgotten that he also had a balanced federal budget and a surplus that has now evaporated.
It's not O'Neill's fault that the budget went from a $127 billion surplus for fiscal 2001 to a deficit of $159 billion for fiscal 2002, which ended Sept. 30.
That dramatic shift in a single year was caused by the tax cuts as well as the added spending in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and the new war on terrorism.
The fiscal dilemma led Congress to adjourn for the year without passing new budgets for most government agencies and without extending unemployment benefits for 2.1 million ousted workers to March 31.
The result will be a bleak Christmas for hundreds of thousands of families. A simple phone call from Bush to the congressional leaders could have changed the outcome.
And one thing is clear: O'Neill was fired not because he was the architect of a faulty economic policy. He wasn't. He was only a spear-carrier for it -- and certainly not an effective one.
He was axed because the president needed a scapegoat to reassure nervous Americans that he feels their pain and that he is making a midterm correction -- just as he gears up for re-election. He doesn't want to repeat his father's mistake.
Answers To Iraq Questions
Doctors Estimate 100,000 Civilian Deaths
POSTED: 9:44 am CST November 4, 2004
There is new information on two abiding mysteries about the Iraq war: How many Iraqis have been killed? and, Why did President George W. Bush order a U.S. attack on Iraq in the first place?
Last week, American and Iraqi researchers -- writing in the respected British medical journal, The Lancet -- estimated that the Iraqi death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq was about 100,000 "and may be much higher."
Most of them were women and children, victims of bombs or bullets from helicopter gunships.
The estimates reported in Lancet were made by comparing the Iraqi death rate in the 15 months before the invasion with the death rate during the 18 months after the attack.
The scientists who wrote the report acknowledged that their data is of "limited precision" because it was based on household interviews in some 33 neighborhoods across the country. More household surveys would have improved the accuracy of their conclusions, the authors said, but it would have required "enormous risk" to the courageous teams of interviewers.
Early on, Gen. Tommy Franks, former chief of the U.S. Central Command, said "we don't do body counts."
Actually, the U.S. military stopped publicizing enemy body counts during the first Gulf War in 1991. The Pentagon decided in the aftermath of the Vietnam War that body counts were hurtful to the military's public relations and should be kept under wraps.
Today, Pentagon officials can tell you the exact number of American casualties: 1,122 dead and 8,287 wounded, so far. But they say they don't track Iraqi deaths, civilian or military.
Defense Department spokesman James Turner said there is no way to validate the estimates of civilian casualties by the Defense Department or any other organization.
"This conflict has been prosecuted in the most precise fashion of any conflict in the history of modern warfare," he added. "The loss of any innocent lives is a tragedy, something Iraqi security forces and the multi-national force painstakingly work to avoid."
Bush apparently invested in the fantasy that invading Iraq would be a cakewalk. Evangelist Pat Robertson, founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition, disclosed that when he warned the president about the need to prepare Americans for the prospect of casualties in Iraq, Bush responded, "We're not going to have any casualties."
I wonder what planet the president has been living on to imagine he could pull off a military blitz without casualties.
White House aides jumped in with strong denials that Bush had made such a statement. Presidential adviser Karen Hughes said Robertson must have "either misunderstood, misheard or been confused about the conversation."
The president, however, never denied it publicly, apparently not wanting to tangle with Robertson, who has acknowledged "deep misgivings about the war."
Later, Robertson issued a two-paragraph statement confirming his support for Bush, saying, "He's a great leader and I am 100 percent in favor of his reelection." He did not retract his statement about Bush's no-casualties comment.
There are also new insights into Bush's reasons for invading Iraq.
Mickey Herskowitz, a prolific book author and the Bush family's authorized biographer, says Bush was "thinking about invading Iraq in 1999. It was on his mind."
How does Herskowitz know that? It turns out that he had been hired by Bush -- then governor of Texas -- to ghostwrite his autobiography, ultimately titled "A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House."
Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two men met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts, according to independent journalist Russ Baker, who interviewed Herskowitz.
During one of their conversations, Herskowitz said, Bush told him that "one of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief."
He said Bush's circle of advisers had a fixation on the political capital that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands war in 1982.
"They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at (Thatcher) and her getting those standing ovations in Parliament in making these magnificent speeches."
Herskowitz, who also was the authorized biographer of the president's grandfather, Prescott Bush, said George W. Bush's beliefs about Iraq were based in part on the concept: "Start a small war, pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade. If successful, you'll be hero at home."
Bush aides ended up canceling the Herskowitz book project because the draft didn't glow enough about their boss. Hughes herself ended up rewriting it.
The idea that we would go to war to boost a president's political fortunes is obscene.
Now that the election is over and the commander-in-chief won, he can return to the business of war. The administration is planning a massive assault on the city of Fallujah, Iraq. But we will never know the death toll for Iraqi civilians who live there.
Buck Doesn't Stop With President Bush
Bush Practices Buck-Passing When Faced With Errs Of Iraq Campaign
POSTED: 5:35 p.m. EST November 5, 2003
UPDATED: 5:37 p.m. EST November 5, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Though President Bush is not a student of history, he surely has heard of Harry Truman's famous declaration: "The buck stops here."
That slogan was enshrined in a desk-top sign in Truman's Oval Office. I thought of it while watching all of the buck-passing that has become a White House ritual lately, especially in the sticky fallout from the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.
There have been presidents who have taken blame for a catastrophe, bad judgment or a plan gone wrong.
In the case of the Iraq attack, President Bush may yet own up to his mistake in leading the nation to war on the basis of false advertising about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq as haven of Sept. 11 terrorists.
That rhetoric in the rush to war has turned out to be a bunch of hooey.
But until that day of reckoning, the buck-passing is picking up speed.
For example, it looks like the Central Intelligence Agency is going to be the scapegoat for the discredited information concerning Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
No such weapons have been found, despite the pre-war insistence by Bush and others in his administration that Saddam had hoards of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
The White House has the choice of either 1) blaming the CIA for bad intelligence or 2) admitting that the entire war was a pretext to keep Bush buoyant in the public opinion polls as a war-time president. Of the two, option No. 1 is much preferred.
This means the designated fall guy is likely to be CIA Director George Tenet, whose job may be jeopardy.
Also in the buck-passing file is the administration's poor planning for the aftermath of the war in Iraq. The blame has fallen on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld was primarily involved in winning the war quickly, but he insisted on running the occupation, even though postwar restoration and a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqis ordinarily would have been work for the State Department and the Agency for International Development.
But Bush let Rumsfeld have his way, at least initially.
Last month, in a slap at Rumsfeld, Bush tapped trusted national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to coordinate postwar operations in Iraq. Don't expect her to dictate to Rumsfeld. He is a pro at infighting and isn't about to be Bush's whipping boy.
It's not clear at this point where this case of buck-passing will end. Stay tuned.
Another buck being passed is the blame game over who was responsible for the backdrop banner, "Mission Accomplished," that was strung across the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1 when Bush delivered a televised address to the nation declaring the end of major combat in Iraq.
At a Rose Garden news conference last week, Bush disavowed any indication that the banner was a premature announcement that the war was over.
Mounting casualties in Iraq have made him face that reality.
Bush insisted that the banner was put up by the sailors to suggest that their mission was accomplished. The Navy says the White House made the banner. The White House insists it was the Navy's idea.
Sometimes presidents have done a mea culpa. In April 1961 President John F. Kennedy took responsibility for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs attempt by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to invade Cuba.
It was an operation planned by the Eisenhower administration but Kennedy adopted it after he became president.
However, he had second thoughts and failed to send the promised air cover. The result was a catastrophic defeat for the invaders.
Kennedy's popularity polls fell immediately after the foreign policy debacle, but his public standing went back up in a short time.
On April 25, 1980, eight American servicemen died in a secret helicopter landing in Iran in a failed attempt to rescue 53 American hostages held by the Khomeini regime.
When news of the failed rescue mission reached Washington, President Jimmy Carter went before the cameras to acknowledge full responsibility.
Carter was not as lucky as Kennedy. His efforts to use negotiations to rescue the Americans -- mainly embassy personnel in Teheran -- also were unsuccessful.
Iran strung him along and the hostages weren't freed until the day his successor, Ronald Reagan, was sworn in. Which brings us to the present.
If the Iraqi resistance continues and American casualties mount, voters next year may assign blame. The ballot box has the last word in stopping buck-passing.
Bush Asks Rumsfeld To Stay On As Defense Secretary
POSTED: 5:27 pm EST December 3, 2004 www.theomahachannel.com
WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is staying on the job for President George W. Bush's second term.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testifies for the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
A senior administration official said the president asked Rumsfeld to stay on at the Pentagon and the secretary agreed. Bush made his wishes known at a meeting with Rumsfeld in the Oval Office, resolving the last big question mark about Bush's second-term Cabinet.
Eight of the 15 Cabinet secretaries from Bush's first term have resigned. The latest is Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who announced Friday that he'll be stepping down.
Rumsfeld has presided over the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, keeping a high profile through much of those conflicts before cutting back on his public appearances after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal broke.
Thompson Confirms Resignation From Bush's Cabinet
Kerik Tapped For Homeland Security Job
POSTED: 9:21 am EST December 3, 2004
UPDATED: 4:49 pm EST December 3, 2004
WASHINGTON -- In the latest departure in a major reshuffling of President George W. Bush's Cabinet, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson confirmed Friday that he's resigning.
Thompson is the eighth member of Bush's 15-member Cabinet to step down since Election Day.
But one major player in the Cabinet is reportedly sticking around. A senior administration official said Bush asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to remain in his job, and Rumsfeld has agreed to stay.
At a news conference Friday, Thompson said his service in Bush's Cabinet has been "challenging but greatly rewarding." He said after nearly 40 years in public service -- including 14 years as Wisconsin governor -- it's time for him and his family to move on to the "next chapter" in their lives.
Thompson spoke of the events during his four years as HHS secretary, including the government's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, bioterrorism preparation, and the flu vaccine shortage.
Thompson said he's most proud that he "touched the third rail of politics," as he put it -- Medicare reform. The federal program now offers seniors a prescription drug benefit.
Thompson said he wanted to leave a year ago, but that White House chief of staff Andy Card asked him to serve out Bush's first term. He will stay on until Feb. 4, unless a successor is confirmed before that.
Officials say his likely successor is Mark McClellan, who is the chief of Medicare and the brother of White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
Earlier Friday, Bush named a second-term homeland security secretary who knows all too well the cost of terrorism.
Bernard Kerik, who was New York's police commissioner on the day hijackers flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, will replace Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who quit Tuesday. Twenty-three of Kerik's officers perished when the twin towers fell.
Sources: Kerik Tapped For Homeland Security Post
Former NYC Commissioner To Replace Outgoing Ridge
POSTED: 5:07 pm EST December 2, 2004
UPDATED: 5:46 pm EST December 2, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik is reportedly President George W. Bush's choice to lead to the Homeland Security Department, replacing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who resigned earlier this week.
Senior administration officials said Kerik's selection will be announced soon -- possibly on Friday.
Kerik, 49, served as police commissioner for 16 months during 2000 and 2001 and gained national prominence during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He previously was city corrections commissioner.
After leaving the police post, he undertook a mission for the Bush administration to help train Iraqi police.
The White House declined to comment on the appointment.
Ridge told reporters in Washington that he is hoping to stay on the job through February, unless a successor is confirmed before then.
Ridge is the seventh Bush Cabinet member to leave since the president was re-elected earlier this month.
Ridge's name has become synonymous with the color-coded terror alerts and tutorials for Americans on how to prepare for a possible attack.
In other news, The Associated Press reported that United Nations Ambassador John Danforth resigned Thursday.
Nebraska Governor Picked As Ag Secretary
POSTED: 10:43 am EST December 2, 2004
UPDATED: 1:42 pm EST December 2, 2004
OMAHA, Neb. -- Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns will likely be leaving for Washington to be the next secretary of agriculture.
President George W. Bush names Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns as his agriculture secretary.
President George W. Bush nominated Johanns to the post Thursday morning. Pending confirmation by the Senate, Johanns will succeed outgoing Secretary Ann Veneman, who announced her resignation two weeks ago.
"He knows how to bring people together to get results," Bush said during a news conference Thursday morning. "He has served the people of Nebraska well."
Bush thanked Veneman for her service and said he expects Johanns to continue many of the programs she has led, including improving the nation's mad cow screening and upgrading student nutrition.
"We'll keep working to open new markets to American grain and beef, cotton and corn. We'll enfoce trade laws to make sure other countries play by the rules," Bush said. "I'm grateful to Mike and to Stephanie, his wife, for their willingness to come to Washington. I look forward to welcoming Mike to my cabinet."
Johanns thanked Bush for the opportunity. He also thanked Veneman, and said he has worked closely with her over the past four years. He said he looks forward to furthering the administration's goals.
"Mr. president, you have said agriculture is the cornerstone of our economy. I've been able to see your commitment to strengthening the nation's ag economy," Johanns said.
Johanns is a lawyer and former mayor of Lincoln, Neb.
But the 54-year-old, two-term Republican was raised on a dairy farm and is considered an expert on agricultural issues.
Johanns has been on trade missions to Japan, Taiwan, China and a half-dozen other countries.
Johanns is currently serving his second term as governor.
Johanns was born in Iowa and raised on a dairy farm. He and wife Stephanie have two children.
Nebraska's Lt. Gov. is Dave Heineman, who is a native of Falls City, will step into the governor's office.
Bush Chooses Rice As Secretary Of State
POSTED: 12:01 pm EST November 16, 2004
UPDATED: 11:33 pm EST November 16, 2004
Rice will replace Colin Powell, who has resigned. Rice will be replaced by her deputy, Stephen Hadley.
Officials said Bush also has decided on a replacement for another cabinet vacancy. He will reportedly name domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings to replace Rod Paige as education secretary.
Bush said Rice will take office at a critical time for the country. But he said the world will see in her the country's strength, grace and dignity.
"The secretary of state is America's face to the world and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, grace and decency of our country," Bush said.
Rice says she looks forward to pursuing the president's "hopeful and ambitious" agenda as secretary of state. And she says it's an honor to be asked to serve her country once again.
"Under your leadership, America is fighting and winning the war on terror," Rice told Bush.
She then thanked Colin Powell, whom she referred to as her mentor.
If confirmed by the Senate, Rice will be the first black woman secretary of state.
A New Foreign Policy Direction?
Foreign policy experts say Rice has been one of Bush's closest confidantes -- so it's not surprising he tapped her to be secretary of state.
But at the same time, some say that closeness could be a problem.
Former Clinton National Security Council member Mark Brzezinski say Rice is closely affiliated with a Bush foreign policy that has made the United States "disliked" and "mistrusted around the world."
New York University's Alon Ben-Meir (says having Rice heading the diplomatic wing will give the president a comfort level. The Brookings Institution's James Steinberg says the key is that Rice is so intimately familiar with Bush's policy -- meaning she won't have a tough transition.
Key U.S. allies are finding the the choice of Rice a bit hard to swallow.
It was Rice, after all, who was widely quoted as telling associates, "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia." That was her suggestion for how Washington should treat opponents of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in the spring of last year.
Many in Europe, Asia and the Middle East are concerned that Rice will add a more conservative, hawkish bent to U.S. diplomacy.
Palestinians say the new Bush administration must put more energy into the quest for peace. Israelis warmly welcome Rice's appointment. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom calls her "a true friend to Israel."
Meanwhile, the president has plenty of other openings to fill.
Six Cabinet members have formally announced they're leaving, and only one new cabinet member has so far been chosen. But there are reports that eight have resigned. Click here to read that full story.
McClellan said there is no timetable for naming their replacements.
Powell Plans Mideast Effort In Closing Days
Time's running short for Powell, but he'll try to squeeze in some final Mideast peace efforts while still in office.
The secretary of state will visit Israel and the West Bank early next week, on the heels of a trip with Bush to Chile and before heading to Egypt for a conference on rebuilding Iraq.
The State Department said Powell's talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders will focus on how to "move forward to peace."
Report: Three More Top-Level Officials Resign From White House
POSTED: 9:12 am EST November 16, 2004
UPDATED: 12:37 pm EST November 16, 2004
There are reports that three more high-level resignations have been turned in to the White House.
CNN reports that two senior-level White House sources told them that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has resigned. Although CNN says it has confirmed the information, the office of Homeland Security cannot confirm the resignation.He reportedly told colleagues earlier that he would probably leave because of his personal finances and job stresses.
White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend is a possible successor. Other prospects are Asa Hutchinson, Homeland Security Department undersecretary for border and transportation security, and Thomas Kean, chairman of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
CNN also reported that Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services chief, is going to resign.
Thompson has reportedly said he would take a break from government service after four years on the job at HHS and 14 as Wisconsin governor. The favorite to replace Thompson is Medicare chief Mark McClellan.
CNN also reports that Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage will be leaving the administration as well. Armitage was sworn in on March 26, 2001 and reportedly handed in his resignation Monday.
The White House on Monday announced the resignations of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Education Secretary Rod Paige, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Veneman had said last week she wanted to stay.
Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Don Evans quit soon after the president's re-election. Bush has yet to name a replacement for Evans. Last week, Bush picked White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to take Ashcroft's place.
Thompson, and Ridge's resignations would bring the number of Cabinet chiefs leaving to eight out of a total of 15 in what's shaping up as a major second-term shakeup. Bush's second term begins with his inauguration Jan. 20.
In announcing his resignation Monday, Powell said he's been pleased with his job, but it's simply time for him to step down.
Bush To Make Cabinet Announcement Later Today
Tuesday, Bush nominated national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to become the next secretary of state. Click here to read that full story.
Rumsfeld Future In Cabinet Still Not Clear
With the impending nomination of Rice as secretary of state, the fate of one major player in the Bush cabinet is still up in the air: that of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
In the last week, Rumsfeld has deflected questions about his future twice -- at a Pentagon briefing last week, and Monday at a meeting in Ecuador of foreign ministers from Western Hemisphere nations.
Rumsfeld said he has yet to discuss the matter with the president.
Still, Rumsfeld has made it clear he would like to continue working on a pet project -- the transformation and global repositioning of American forces. He also has his duties connected with the stabilization of Iraq and the prosecution of the war on terror.