Showing posts with label Obama 2008. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obama 2008. Show all posts

Thursday, August 28, 2008




To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.
Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.
Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.


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Vladimir Putin accused President Bush tonight of orchestrating the war in Georgia in a plot to get John McCain elected to the White House.

In his most explosive allegation since the South Ossetia crisis erupted, the Russian Prime Minister said that the United States had provoked the conflict to aid the Republican candidate, who is an outspoken critic of the Kremlin.

“It is not just that the American side could not restrain the Georgian leadership from this criminal act. The American side in effect armed and trained the Georgian army,” Mr Putin said.

“Why spend years holding difficult negotiations and looking for complicated compromises in ethnic conflicts? It’s easier to arm one of the parties and push it to kill the other party, and the job is done.

Mr Putin said that his defence officials had told him that Americans were operating in the conflict zone in Georgia during the fighting.

He added: “It should be admitted that they would do so only following direct orders from their leaders. Therefore, they were acting in implementing those orders, doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader.”

Mr Putin did not name Mr Bush directly but the White House swiftly denounced his allegations, made during an interview with CNN. His comments were also broadcast on Russian television, which had been circulating a similar conspiracy theory last week.

By lending his authority to the claims, Mr Putin has raised tensions with the US to a new level just days before Dick Cheney, the US Vice President, is due to arrive in Georgia to show support for its pro-Western leader Mikheil Saakashvili.

Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said: “To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate – it sounds not rational.

“Those claims first and foremost are patently false, but it also sounds like his defence officials who said they believed this to be true are giving him really bad advice.”

The deputy head of Russia’s general staff told reporters in Moscow that troops had found a US passport in a village near the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, where he said Georgian special forces had been operating during the conflict.

“What was that gentleman’s purpose of being among the special forces and what he is doing today, I so far cannot answer,” Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said.

“We have been looking for the holder of the passport but haven’t been able to find him. We know that he is a resident in the state of Texas.”

Mr Putin’s allegations were broadcast as President Dmitri Medvedev turned his back on a wave of Western condemnation and sought support in the East for his decision on Tuesday to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia.

But China and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan refused to rally round their fellow member Russia at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, despite an appeal from Mr Medvedev to denounce Georgian “aggression”.

A joint declaration praised Moscow’s “active role in promoting peace” in the Caucasus but also stressed the need to respect existing borders. It said: “The participants...underscore the need for respect of the historical and cultural traditions of each country and each people, and for efforts aimed at preserving the unity of the state and its territorial integrity.”

Time For Judgement...TIME FOR OBAMA !

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Next First Lady To Headline Convention Tonight !

When Michelle Obama takes to the podium this evening at the Pepsi Center in Denver, she'll be delivering a speech that she spent nearly a month constructing with her staff. According to a campaign source, Michelle was "integrally" involved not only in choosing the anecdotes from her own history with the presumptive Democratic nominee, but was deeply engaged at the line-edit level.

"The speech really is her creation," the source told the Huffington Post, adding that Michelle started working on a first draft before the family's Hawaii trip, because "she's not a politician, she's a a mom." Of course, it's not surprising that a campaign source would seek to give Michelle Obama the lion's share of credit for words she's set to deliver. But in this instance, the source repeatedly hit that note -- and said that even after the circle working on the speech widened, staff members quickly came to learn that Michelle "really is a good writer."

In a preview of the speech emailed out to reporters Monday afternoon, the Obama campaign said Michelle will talk about "building a family grounded in faith and values," as well as her upbringing on the South Side of Chicago.

"Her story is a great American story: modest means but big dreams -- and encouragement from loving parents that she and her brother could accomplish whatever they put their minds to if they worked hard," the memo read. "Like Barack, Michelle was also taught to give back to the community and the country that has given her so much. Now, as a working mother of two young girls, Michelle is continuing to give back to the community and country she loves. Like many moms, she's learned to juggle the responsibilities of work and family."

Did Barack Obama have any input on the remarks? The campaign source declined any knowledge of the Senator's involvement, though she's "sure he's seen it, since they're such good partners." But in the end, the source said, "it was her decision."

B4B NOTE: Also scheduled tonight are Michelle's brother and Obama's sister. DON'T MISS HISTORY !

Fired Up...Ready To WIN !

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Obama/Biden
2008 !
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bush Inks Deal To Withdraw

ALL U.S. Troops From Iraq

By End 2011 !

BAGHDAD, Aug. 21 -- U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have agreed to the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from the country by the end of 2011, and Iraqi officials said they are "very close" to resolving the remaining issues blocking a final accord that governs the future American military presence here.
Iraqi and U.S. officials said several difficult issues remain, including whether U.S. troops will be subject to Iraqi law if accused of committing crimes. But the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss the agreement publicly, said key elements of a timetable for troop withdrawal once resisted by President Bush had been reached.
"We have a text," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said after a day-long visit Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Rice and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spent nearly three hours here discussing key undecided issues. The accord must be completed and approved by both governments before a United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.
The question of immunity for U.S. troops and Defense Department personnel from Iraqi legal jurisdiction -- demanded by Washington and rejected by Baghdad -- remained unresolved. Troop immunity, one U.S. official said, "is the red line for us." Officials said they were still discussing language that would make the distinction between on- and off-duty activities, with provisions allowing for some measure of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over soldiers accused of committing crimes while off-duty.
But negotiators made progress on a specific timetable outlining the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq, something Maliki is under considerable domestic political pressure to secure. In the past, Rice and other U.S. officials have spoken of an "aspirational time horizon" that would make withdrawals contingent on the continuation of improved security conditions and the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.
Officials on both sides have said they hope to split the difference, setting next year as the goal for Iraqi forces to take the lead in security operations in all 18 provinces, including Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi negotiators have now also agreed to a conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by the end of 2011, a date further in the future than the Iraqis initially wanted. The deal would leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops inside Iraq in supporting roles, such as military trainers, for an unspecified time. According to the U.S. military, there are 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, most of whom are playing a combat role.
Negotiators agreed several weeks ago to reduce the presence of all U.S. forces in Iraqi cities, among the most dangerous places soldiers operate, by the end of next year. That process would entail consolidating U.S. troops now deployed in small neighborhood posts into larger bases outside city centers, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials involved in the talks.
"They have both agreed to 2011," Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, Iraq's chief negotiator, said in a telephone interview. "If the Iraqi government at that time decides it is necessary to keep the American forces longer, they can do so."
The fragile nature of security gains over the past year was evident in the secrecy surrounding Rice's one-day visit here, which was not announced until her arrival from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. U.S. negotiators hoped that her participation in direct talks with Maliki and visits with the Shiite and Sunni vice presidents would help conclude the immunity and timeline discussions.
"What my presence can do is to identify any final obstacles," Rice said Thursday as she began the Baghdad leg of a trip that has included a NATO meeting in Brussels on the crisis in Georgia and a stop in Warsaw to sign an agreement to station parts of a missile-defense system in Poland.
"It's a chance for me to sit with the prime minister and really get a sense of if there is anything else we need to do from Washington to get to closure" on the Iraq security accord. At a joint news conference before her departure, Rice and Zebari said that significant progress had been made. "We are working together as partners to make sure we cover the concerns of both," she said.
The United States, Zebari said, had shown "a great deal of understanding" and flexibility in response to Iraqi concerns. The issues were "sensitive," he said, and "that's why it takes a long time."
"We think this is a very good agreement," Rice said, adding that "the United States has gone very far" in accommodating Iraqi issues. She then noted that some obstacles remain, saying it would be an "excellent agreement when we finally have agreement."
Shortly after negotiations began in March, Iraq rejected an initial U.S. draft, which Maliki later publicly branded a "dead end." The draft called for immunity for both troops and U.S. civilian contractors, as well as unilateral U.S. control over its military operations and detention of Iraqi citizens. It did not include a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
With talks at a stalemate and time growing short, the two sides scaled back hopes of reaching a full status-of-forces agreement of the type that outlines the rights and responsibilities of U.S. forces in more than 80 countries around the world. In early June, after President Bush instructed U.S. negotiators to be more flexible on Iraq's key concerns, compromises were reached on military operations and detainees, and the United States abandoned its immunity demand for contractors.
Last month, Maliki said that the end of 2010 would be a reasonable goal for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.
Facing challenges from within his own majority Shiite group, as well as from minority Sunnis and Kurds, Maliki pledged that there would be no "secret deals" with the United States. He said the agreement would be put to a vote in Iraq's fractious parliament.
"Time is of the essence," Zebari said at the news conference. "We are redoubling our efforts" to conclude the deal in time for it to be signed by Maliki and Bush before the U.N. mandate expires on Dec. 31, he said.
Without a formal, bilateral agreement, there is no international legal basis for U.S. forces to remain here.
The first Iraqi political test will come Friday, Zebari said in a conversation with reporters after the news conference, when Maliki's executive council will examine the parts of the text that negotiators have agreed to, as well as proposals to deal with immunity and other issues. "Tomorrow is a very important day," Zebari said.
The next step is consideration by a larger council of representatives from the leading political blocs. Then the document will be submitted to parliament, which is in summer recess until Sept. 9.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when all business slows amid fasting, also falls in September.
U.S. negotiators have told Iraqi officials that a change in U.S. policy in Iraq could come when a new president takes office in January. The Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), has said he will continue current policy. His Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), has said he will begin an immediate withdrawal of U.S. combat forces, to be completed within 16 months.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bush Regime, Iraq Agree

To Set Withdrawal Timetable !

B4B NOTE: Interesting. Looks like the Bush Regime is starting to realize that Obama has been correct from day one with his desire to set timetables for Iraq withdrawal. McCain's rhetoric of 'we should stay until we win'(whatever that means) just shows how out of step he is with reality.

BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Thursday that U.S. and Iraqi officials agree that timetables should be set for a U.S. troop withdrawal, but conceded that nailing down a broader pact on future relations is difficult.
Appearing together at a news conference, Rice and Zebari also mutually asserted that a final agreement between Washington and Baghdad on a a broad document spelling out the nature of any future U.S. troop presence and Washington-Baghdad relations is close to fruition, but not yet complete.
"We have agreed that some goals, some aspirational timetables for how that might unfold, are well worth having in such an agreement," Rice told reporters after meeting with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The two sides had come together on a draft agreement earlier this week and Rice made an unannounced visit to Baghdad to press officials there to complete the accord.
Zebari, asked about fears expressed by neighboring countries over such a pact, said in Arabic: "This decision (agreement) is a sovereign one and Iran and other neighboring countries have the right to ask for clarifications. ... There are clear articles (that) say that Iraq will not be used as a launching pad for any aggressive acts against neighboring countries and we already did clarify this."
A key part of the U.S.-Iraqi draft agreement envisions the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq's cities by next June 30.
Said Zebari: "This agreement determines the principle provisions, requirements, to regulate the temporary presence and the time horizon, the mission of the U.S. forces."
U.S. military forces went into in Iraq in early 2003 and overthrew President Saddam Hussein and the war is now in its sixth year. There have been more than 4,100 U.S. deaths there and countless losses among Iraqis.

Time For Judgement...Time For OBAMA !

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Crisis In Georgia Starting To

Make McCain Look BAD !

Article by Robert Creamer

At first the unfolding conflict between Russia and its neighbor the Republic of Georgia seemed to be just what the McCain candidacy needed: a foreign policy crisis that would allow him to demonstrate a "tough, decisive, experienced" mastery of foreign affairs, and a new rationale for why Americans should choose experience over change in a dangerous world.

But it hasn't taken long for the developments in the Caucuses to become a growing political liability instead.

First, the unfolding conflict provides a fresh example of how McCain's War in Iraq has sapped American power and weakened American security.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned last week that Russia's actions in Georgia might fundamentally alter its relationship with the United States. Of course that is exactly what the Russians have in mind, since they are not at all happy with their current role in the world -- or the way they believe the United States and Western Europe have sought to limit their influence, especially with their neighbors and former client states.

Russia has been smarting for years over its inability to prevent the US-lead NATO action that allowed Kosovo to secede from its long-time ally Serbia. It is none too pleased at the agreement to base a US "anti-missile" defense system in Poland.

First and foremost, the Russian action in Georgia has been intended to support separatist pro-Russian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But it is also intended to demonstrate to other former Soviet Republics that their alliances with the West have very little value if they come into conflict with Russian interests. The Russians know that the Bush Administration's management of U.S. security policy has left the US with very few options to limit resurgent Russian influence.

Of course the crisis in Georgia is just the latest example of how the War in Iraq has massively limited American's ability to respond to this -- or any other -- security crisis.

America already had one major military operation underway in Afghanistan when the Bush administration -- with McCain's full support -- recklessly poured most of our other military assets into the invasion of Iraq. Today most Army and Marine units are either deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, preparing to deploy or recovering from deployment. The fact is that at the present time, we do not have the wherewithal to respond militarily to a crisis even if such a response were necessary or appropriate.

As a result, John McCain's strident statements following Russia's military actions only place into relief the reality that he has continuously supported Bush policies that make us weaker -- in spite of his tough talk.

Secondly, as the situation in Georgia develops it becomes clearer by the day that the Bush-McCain Iraq policy has severely undercut our diplomatic options as well. Apart from generally poisoning the good will of countries around the world, the Bush-McCain invasion of Iraq lowered the bar for the rest of the world when it comes to justifying the invasion of one country by another.

It has made it very difficult for the U.S. to take the moral or political high ground against Russia when just six years ago our country invaded and occupied another nation that had not attacked or immediately threatened us -- and didn't have the weapons of mass destruction that were used to argue that they might "potentially" threaten our security.

Finally, the Georgia conflict has shined a spotlight on McCain's chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann.

Scheunamann was a major organizer of the campaign to get the U.S to invade Iraq. He was a board member of the Project for a New American Century that circulated the now-famous manifesto signed by key Neo Cons that first called for the Iraq invasion. He was a founder of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. More recently he has been a paid lobbyist for a number of foreign governments including Macedonia, Taiwan and, most importantly, the Republic of Georgia.

According to records from the Justice Department's foreign agents registration office, Scheunamann's two-person firm has received $830,000 from Georgia since 2004. Though Scheunamann now claims to have taken a leave of absence from lobbying, his latest contract, with Georgia's National Security Council, was signed as recently as April 17th. According to the Los Angeles Times, McCain spoke by phone with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili that day and then issued a statement denouncing Russian moves to "undermine Georgian's sovereignty."

The paper also cites lobbying forms filed by Scheunamann's firm Orion indicating that McCain sponsored or co-sponsored four Senate resolutions on behalf of Georgia and other Orion clients: Latvia, Macedonia, Romania and Taiwan.

The poor judgment McCain showed by appointing a man who was serving as a paid foreign agent to be his chief foreign policy adviser is simply breathtaking. It is even more so because of the history of the current conflict.

There is more than appearance of conflict of interests. Before Georgia's President Saakashvili sent Georgian troops to reassert control in the semi-autonomous region of Ossetia, even the US State Department says it repeatedly warned him against precipitous action that might provoke a Russian response. He did it anyway. In other words, the government of the United States and Georgia had different agendas, different interests, and different policies with respect to the Ossetia conflict.

Where were Scheunamann's loyalties? Did he represent the position of the government of the United States, or of his old client Saakashvili. Do the actions and statements of McCain represent his independent judgment of what is in the best interests of the United States, or the views of a top adviser who made just short of a million dollars representing a foreign power?

What's more, if Scheunamann and McCain did encourage Saakashvili to send troops to Ossetia, it once again calls into question their simple strategic judgment. Saakashvili's action has been a disaster for the Georgian government that has lead to the rout of the small Georgian army, and increased the likelihood that he will ultimately be replaced by someone more acceptable to Russia. This is exactly the kind of poor strategic judgment that McCain and Scheunamann used to lead America into the War in Iraq. Americans don't want more of that kind of judgment.

Odds are, the more we learn about the involvement of McCain and Scheunamann in the Georgia fiasco, the more that McCain's foreign policy judgment will be called into question. Many Republicans have prayed for a foreign policy crisis that could refocus voter attention on foreign affairs and away from the domestic economic disaster. Sometimes you should be careful what you wish for.

Robert Creamer is a long time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight. How Progressives Can Win, available on

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Pastor Rick Warren Basically Admits Lying

McCain WAS NOT In 'Sound Proof Booth'

Can't these Republicans do ANYTHING honestly. It is absolutely pathetic that they have to cheat even at a so-called 'religious forum'. Here's an article by Linda Bergthold that explains this fiasco quite clearly:

By: Linda Bergthold

I must admit that listening to McCain answer Pastor Rick Warren's questions so quickly and glibly last night at the Saddleback Faith Forum made me wonder if he somehow knew them in advance. He was so confident, so concise. But I put the thought aside as unduly paranoid -- that is until a few minutes ago. I was routinely checking my favorite election website and the webmaster, Nate Silver, referred to a piece in Daily Kos about the whereabouts of John McCain for the first thirty minutes of Senator Obama's interview with Rick Warren. Was he in a cone of silence? Perhaps not.

Daily Kos blogger Furiousxxgeorge wrote at 3:27 pm Pacific time the following blog: Pastor Warren, the host of last night's forum was just on CNN. In an interview with Rick Sanchez the pastor admitted McCain was not even at the Church for the first half hour of the event. This admission comes as a surprise to those of us who watched the event and were told many times that McCain was at the Church and in isolation.

CNN says they talked to McCain's camp and they said no one in his camp was listening. The honor system, are you kidding me?

I think it is pretty clear at this point McCain did indeed know the questions in advance.

If someone can get a video or transcript please post.

Is this a big deal or not? It seems like someone ought to ask both McCain and Warren what really happened. The "truthiness" of this Forum is at stake.

Update: Pastor Warren states that McCain told him he did not "hear" the questions. He was in a motorcade from his hotel to the church, arriving about 30 minutes into the Obama interview hour. McCain did not say whether anyone else on his staff "heard" the questions, however.


NYT's Supports NBC

(Andrea Mitchell Says McCain KNEW Questions)

McCain Should Be ASHAMED !

Time For Truth...


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Sunday, August 17, 2008



John McCain's Touching Religious Moment

Now this will be the big test for MSM (main stream media). If this story is not ALL over the news this coming week then America will know without doubt that the media is absolutely complicit in cover-ups for the GOP.

A number of very interesting facts are being revealed following the so-called 'religious forum' given by Pastor Rick Warren last night. At the beginning of the show Warren explained to the audience that both Obama and McCain will be asked the same series of questions, with Obama going first while McCain was in a 'soundproof' room unable to hear the questions. But surprise, although we didn't see the broadcast ourselves, word is spreading rapidly that CNN's Rick Sanchez is reporting that not only was McCain NOT in a back room unable to hear the questions, but he was in a motorcade on his way to the forum (undoubtedly listening to the questions and Obama's answers via satellite radio). When questioned, it is reported that Rick Warren has confessed this to be true !

As if that wasn't enough, during McCain's question/answer segment he was asked what God means to him in his everyday life. McCain went on to give a heart-wrenching story about when he was a POW....well better's what he said:

"It was Christmas day, we were allowed to stand outside of our cell for a few minutes, and those days we were not allowed to see or communicate with each other although we certainly did. And I was standing outside for my few minutes, outside my cell. He came walking up. He stood there for a minute and with his handle on the dirt in the courtyard he drew a cross and he stood there and a minute later, he rubbed it out and walked away. For a minute there, there as just two Christians worshiping together. I'll never forget that moment"

Aaaahhhhh. Isn't that special. Only one problem. Thanks to this new fangled thing that McCain admits knowing nothing about called 'the internets', fact checkers have found McCain's religious experience to look like A BIG FAT LIE !

From RickRocket (dailykos)

But I searched around a little bit more and here is what I found. A story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.

Along with other prisoners, he worked in the fields day after day, in rain and sun, during summer and winter. His life appeared to be nothing more than backbreaking labor and slow starvation. The intense suffering reduced him to a state of despair.

On one particular day, the hopelessness of his situation became too much for him. He saw no reason to continue his struggle, no reason to keep on living. His life made no difference in the world. So he gave up.

Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

Solzhenitsyn slowly rose to his feet, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Outwardly, nothing had changed. Inside, he had received hope.

[From Luke Veronis, "The Sign of the Cross"; Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997.]

So, it is very interesting that Mr. Solzhenitsyn and Mr. McCain had the same Christian guard/prisoner experience. Or maybe it is all just a made up story. Somehow I doubt that Alexander Solzhenitsyn heard John McCain's story and copied it.

UPDATE: This story was actually excerpted from "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, which was released in the US in 1973.

UPDATE X2: It seems that McCain is a bit of a Solzhenitsyn fan, as evidenced in his article in the NY Sun here. Thanks to Turing for the link.

UPDATE X3: May other great Kossacks have expanded on my diary. Check out their great diaries.

TomP: Cross in the Dirt, a recap of what we know
Calouste: No "cross in the sand" for McCain in 1973
Throwing Stones: McCain lies, contradicts himself on Cross story

Another fact checker who goes by the name Exmearden found in his research the following:

McCain told the same story on the 2000 campaign trail, except not about himself, as reported by the New York Times

Many years ago a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam was tied in torture ropes by his tormentors and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening a guard he had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve his suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned. He never said a word to the grateful prisoner, but some months later, on a Christmas morning, as the prisoner stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same good Samaritan walked up to him and stood next to him for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. Both prisoner and guard both stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

(end...our italics is stuck)

Well, well, well. So Ol' Mc can't even tell the truth when he's talking about his own religion. And to you right-wing evangelicals I ask, how does it make you feel knowing that your GOP choice is pandering to you to such a degree that he would lie in the name of God ! Now THAT is evil ! ! If John McCain can not tell the truth about his own religious experience, how can we expect him to tell the truth as President ?

RELATED ARTICLE: From Political Insider


If MSM doesn't pick this up....then we know !

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First TRUE Assessment
of Saddleback Debacle

Pastor Warren Kicks-Off GOP Campaign Tactics

Here's an interesting article sent to us by Lisa In Buffalo that pretty much sums up the 'special event' that occurred at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church Forum. It's refreshing to see that people do see through the tactics of the GOP. Here's the article:

McCain: POW ! POW ! POW ! Take That Obama

By Hal Thomas

We now know what John McCain hopes will propel him into the White House. It's his 40 year old POW stories. He used his oft repeated tales from Hanoi to answer several questions at the Saddleback Church Forum last night and the audience ate it up. No matter that Obama gave more compelling, if complex and nuanced, answers to the same questions. American likes drama in digestible segments, and that's what McCain gave them.

My subjective applause meter indicates that the audience was thrilled by McCain and lukewarm at best to Obama. It hardly mattered to them that McCain gave them little to think about, often repeating self-serving anecdotes from his history which he'd used in his stump speeches and television ads.

McCain must have felt the love as he interjected the phrase "my friends" every three or four sentences.

Host and questioner Pastor Rick Warren must have felt it too because while he mildly admonished Obama several times not to use parts of his stump speeches as answers, he never called McCain on doing exactly that.

For those paying attention, the substantive differences between McCain and Obama were stark.

Those who believe in a woman's right to choose and plan to vote for McCain best kiss both sexual intimacy and Roe vs. Wade goodbye. McCain believes that life begins at the moment of conception. Thus, since he's against abortion, this means he'd also be against the morning after pill and any form of birth control that stops pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall.

Reading the handwriting on another kind of wall, you don't need to have much imagination to predict what would happen once McCain had a chance to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court. Last night McCain made it clear he'd appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices.

I wasn't sure why Warren asked Obama a question about what he'd do to address the plight of the some 150 million orphans in the world until he asked McCain the same question.

McCain deftly responded with another personal anecdote telling about how his wife bright home an orphan infant from Bangladesh .

POW! Take that those of you who dare to suggest he'd allow racial attacks to be used against Obama.

Warren also asked Obama a related question regarding what he'd do about human sex trafficking. Apparently McCain's orphan tale threw him off stride because, unless I had a mental lapse and missed it, he never asked him the same question.

Too bad. I would have liked to hear McCain talk about the exploitation of women.

Warren posed a good question, asking each candidate to define what was meant by "being rich."

Obama started with a joking reference to the wild success of the pastor's book but then went on to answer the question.

McCain, who clearly doesn't want to be viewed as a member of the super-rich class, told those of us without private jets to shuttle between our multitple mansions, that "some of the richest people I've ever known in my life are the most unhappy" and "I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich."

I'm surprised he didn't urge people to keep buying those $100 Million Mega-Buck lottery tickets, though more truthfully he could have suggested they marry into a fortune like he did.

Obama gave a personal answer to the question about which three wise people he'd listen to if he was president, naming his wife and maternal grandmother, and a number of congressmen from both parties.

When McCain was asked the same question for a moment I thought he was considering saying Jesus Christ. Instead he gave what I thought was his most interesting answer.

He named General David Petreaus, a no-brainer because it allowed him to throw out his I told you so's about The Surge. But he then named Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.) as if this would enable him to distance himself from his campaign surrogates who are using his race against Obama.

Pssst, John, somebody is printing the "Keep the White House White" bumper stickers my friend who lives in a rural town near Atlanta has seen on cars.

Using his valuable last wisdom slot, named eBay CEO Meg Whitman who is a close adviser. The only reason I can think of that he did this is that he was stung by the remarks of his campaign co-chair, Phil Gramm, who got lots of negative publicity when he called America a "nation of whiners" whose economic complaints are mostly "mental."

If you can't discern the man behind the multiple masks, then what you see is what you get. A President McCain will get us, to paraphrase and quote Frank Rich (read The Candidate We Still Don’t Know), a courageous and patriotic former POW; a political maverick who "has stood up as rebelliously in Washington as he did to his Vietnamese captors"; who "strenuously opposed the execution of the Iraq war"; who "slammed the president’s response to Katrina"; who "fought the 'agents of intolerance' of the religious right"; who "crusaded against the G.O.P. House leader Tom DeLay, the criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and their coterie of influence-peddlers".

As Frank Rich put it more diplomatically, every part of this except being a POW, is a lie. (Rich explains why in his OpEd.) And we don't know for certain whether McCain is embellishing his accounting of his POW experience.

Last night doesn't count for much since, although carried online and by both CNN and MSNBC, it was only watched by political junkies.

We'll discover the impact today and through the week because we'll see how the media cuts and pastes excerpts from this non-debate debate between the candidates. Despite the shortcoming of the format, it was the closest thing to a side-by-side comparison of the candidates because they both were asked the same questions.

Let's see how the media spins this and let's watch the polls to see whether the public saw through McCain's canned corny answers.

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ALERT: Bush/McCain Plotting To Secretly

Spy On Americans !

Bloggers, peace groups, animal rights, civil liberty/labor activists


Last night both candidates appeared on Rick Warren's 'religious forum' although curiously one of the candidates barely mentioned religion at all. But one of the most interesting statements came from McCain as he discussed what he would do to make us more 'secure'. From the transcript we see that McCain is in lockstep with the Bush Regime to pass laws that will allow bloggers, protesters of any kind and even peace activists to be targeted and labeled as 'terrorists'! Here is McCain's statement from the transcript:


Coincidentally, at this exact moment, the Bush Regime is working to pass laws that will basically increase the ability of our government to secretly spy on absolutely any and every American who they feel is a 'threat', a list that includes bloggers and activists of all kinds. Just yesterday the Washington Post reported the masterminded plot of this administration to take away our Constitutional Rights:

(From Washington Post)

The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.

Taken together, critics in Congress and elsewhere say, the moves are intended to lock in policies for Bush's successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11 approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority since the Watergate era.

Supporters say the measures simply codify existing counterterrorism practices and policies that are endorsed by lawmakers and independent experts such as the 9/11 Commission. They say the measures preserve civil liberties and are subject to internal oversight.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration agrees that it needs to do everything possible to prevent unwarranted encroachments on civil liberties, adding that it succeeds the overwhelming majority of the time.

Bush homeland security adviser Kenneth L. Wainstein said, "This is a continuum that started back on 9/11 to reform law enforcement and the intelligence community to focus on the terrorism threat."

Under the Justice Department proposal for state and local police, published for public comment July 31, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or providing material support to terrorists. They also could share results with a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases.

Criminal intelligence data starts with sources as basic as public records and the Internet, but also includes law enforcement databases, confidential and undercover sources, and active surveillance.

Jim McMahon, deputy executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the proposed changes "catch up with reality" in that those who investigate crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking and document fraud are best positioned to detect terrorists. He said the rule maintains the key requirement that police demonstrate a "reasonable suspicion" that a target is involved in a crime before collecting intelligence.

"It moves what the rules were from 1993 to the new world we live in, but it maintains civil liberties," McMahon said.

However, Michael German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the proposed rule may be misunderstood as permitting police to collect intelligence even when no underlying crime is suspected, such as when a person gives money to a charity that independently gives money to a group later designated a terrorist organization.

The rule also would allow criminal intelligence assessments to be shared outside designated channels whenever doing so may avoid danger to life or property -- not only when such danger is "imminent," as is now required, German said.

On the day the police proposal was put forward, the White House announced it had updated Reagan-era operating guidelines for the U.S. intelligence community. The revised Executive Order 12333 established guidelines for overseas spying and called for better sharing of information with local law enforcement. It directed the CIA and other spy agencies to "provide specialized equipment, technical knowledge or assistance of expert personnel" to support state and local authorities.

And last week, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said that the Justice Department will release new guidelines within weeks to streamline and unify FBI investigations of criminal law enforcement matters and national security threats. The changes will clarify what tools agents can employ and whose approval they must obtain.

The recent moves continue a steady expansion of the intelligence role of U.S. law enforcement, breaking down a wall erected after congressional hearings in 1976 to rein in such activity.

The push to transform FBI and local police intelligence operations has triggered wider debate over who will be targeted, what will be done with the information collected and who will oversee such activities.

Many security analysts faulted U.S. authorities after the 2001 terrorist attacks, saying the FBI was not combating terrorist plots before they were carried out and needed to proactively use intelligence. In the years since, civil liberties groups and some members of Congress have criticized the administration for unilaterally expanding surveillance and moving too fast to share sensitive information without safeguards.

Critics say preemptive law enforcement in the absence of a crime can violate the Constitution and due process. They cite the administration's long-running warrantless-surveillance program, which was set up outside the courts, and the FBI's acknowledgment that it abused its intelligence-gathering privileges in hundreds of cases by using inadequately documented administrative orders to obtain telephone, e-mail, financial and other personal records of U.S. citizens without warrants.

Former Justice Department official Jamie S. Gorelick said the new FBI guidelines on their own do not raise alarms. But she cited the recent disclosure that undercover Maryland State Police agents spied on death penalty opponents and antiwar groups in 2005 and 2006 to emphasize that the policies would require close oversight.

"If properly implemented, this should assure the public that people are not being investigated by agencies who are not trained in how to protect constitutional rights," said the former deputy attorney general. "The FBI will need to be vigilant -- both in its policies and its practices -- to live up to that promise."

German, an FBI agent for 16 years, said easing established limits on intelligence-gathering would lead to abuses against peaceful political dissenters. In addition to the Maryland case, he pointed to reports in the past six years that undercover New York police officers infiltrated protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention; that California state agents eavesdropped on peace, animal rights and labor activists; and that Denver police spied on Amnesty International and others before being discovered.

"If police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more information," German said. "It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government."

Civil liberties groups also have warned that forthcoming Justice Department rules for the FBI may permit the use of terrorist profiles that could single out religious or ethnic groups such as Muslims or Arabs for investigation.

Mukasey said the changes will give the next president "some of the tools necessary to keep us safe" and will not alter Justice rules that prohibit investigations based on a person's race, religion or speech. He said the new guidelines will make it easier for the FBI to use informants, conduct physical and photographic surveillance, and share data in intelligence cases, on the grounds that doing so should be no harder than in investigations of ordinary crimes.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that updating police intelligence rules is a move "in the right direction. However, the vagueness of the provisions giving broad access to criminal intelligence to undefined agencies . . . is very troubling."

Staff writers Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

As you know, this Is VERY serious ! The bottom line is....a vote for McCain is a vote to lose our privacy rights. They will be secretly spying on bloggers, civil liberties groups, activists and anyone they want to....including me...for trying to share truth ! (Funny how this Bush proposal is NEVER discussed in Main Stream Media)


Obama 2008

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