News Release Archive - 2004

* Maathai’s Nobel Prize * Unemployment Numbers * DeLay’s Scandals

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Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004. She is founder of the Green Belt Movement.
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NJOKI NJOROGE NJEHU
Njehu is director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network and worked with the Green Belt Movement for several years. Professor Maathai is both a mentor and a close family friend. [Njehu’s mother, Lilian Njehu, who will be arriving in the U.S. this weekend, is on the board of the Green Belt Movement and will be available for a limited number of interviews through translation.] Njoki Njoroge Njehu said today: “This award provides invaluable recognition to a remarkable woman and to the many related struggles Professor Maathai has been part of for nearly 30 years: the importance of a sustainable environment to the local and the global community; the empowerment of women within their communities; and standing up to the forces of corruption that threaten the environment and human rights. … The awarding of this prize to Professor Maathai recognizes that peace is possible only when communities can achieve economic and environmental sustainability. Resources and rights must be shared by all; if they are monopolized by an elite class, the result will be deprivation and conflict. … We have been pleased to work with her to increase an understanding of the impact of external forces such as the World Bank and the IMF in Kenya and across Africa. Her understanding is best exemplified by her leadership in Kenya’s Jubilee campaign for debt cancellation.”
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DEAN BAKER
The unemployment numbers came out this morning. Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “The labor market showed renewed signs of weakness in September, with the economy adding just 96,000 jobs according to the Labor Department’s establishment survey. The private sector accounted for just 59,000 of these jobs, making the average private sector job gain over the last three months just 65,000. Including the benchmark adjustments, this brings the job loss during the Bush administration to 585,000 overall, and 1,398,000 in the private sector.”
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LOUIS DUBOSE
Co-author of the new book The Hammer: Tom DeLay, God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, Dubose said today: “For a while it looked like September was the cruelest month for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After an investigation that dragged on for a year and a half, a district attorney in Texas indicted three of DeLay’s associates and eight corporations for raising and contributing corporate funds that were used in Texas elections. Since 1905, it has been illegal to contribute corporate money or spend corporate money on election campaigns [in Texas]. The political action committee DeLay and one of his three indicted associates founded in 2001 spent $1.5 million on 22 state house elections in Texas. They won 17 of the races, elected the first Republican House in Texas since Reconstruction, and put in place the House speaker who did the redistricting deal DeLay had demanded: redrawing the state’s congressional district lines to create five to seven Republican seats. Travis County DA Ronnie Earle will probably hand down more indictments later, even as the Republican Legislature moves to eliminate legislative funding for his Public Integrity Unit next year.

“October isn’t looking so good for DeLay either. The House Ethics Committee is a moribund operation and in fact has done little to enforce ethics in the House since 1999, when it admonished DeLay for pulling a bill from the House floor to protest a trade association’s hiring of a former Democratic House member to serve as executive director and chief lobbyist. The lack of activity by House Ethics isn’t DeLay’s fault. There is a mutual agreement between the two parties that no ethics complaints will be filed.

“Then on October 6, House Ethics again reprimanded DeLay, for attending a two-day golf fund-raiser hosted by Westar Energy, a Kansas utility that had a critical provision it wanted inserted in an energy bill and had, with that in mind, also contributed $25,000 to a DeLay PAC. In the same act, the committee also admonished DeLay for pressuring Federal Aviation Administration officials to track down a lost plane flown by the former Democratic House speaker in Texas. It wasn’t lost. The legislator was flying from Austin to Ardmore, Oklahoma, to join other Democratic legislators breaking a quorum so they could deny the House a vote on the redistricting scheme DeLay had put in place. DeLay’s use of the FAA raised serious concerns that the Majority Leader from Texas had used ‘government resources for a political undertaking.'”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: * U.S. Veto and Election * One State? * On the Ground in Gaza

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PHYLLIS BENNIS
A fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis is author of the book Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis as well as the article “Veto” about the U.S. government’s repeated use of its veto of U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. She said today: “The U.S. veto yesterday is only the latest example of a long history of U.S. protection of Israel’s occupation and Israeli violations of international law and UN resolutions. During the vice-presidential debate, it was clear that both Cheney and Edwards, and their respective parties, are trying to out-do each other in embracing Sharon’s expansionist goals. While Israel has the right to protect its own civilian population on its own territory, it does not have the right to impose collective punishment on the entire Palestinian people. As the occupying power in an illegal occupation, Israel has the obligation to protect the Palestinian civilian population — and sending Israeli forces into Palestinian territory to kill Palestinians, including many children, demolishing houses, imposing curfews and closures on whole towns, cities and refugee camps, is completely illegal. The U.S. should pressure Israel to stop the attacks and to end the occupation. But instead the U.S. remains complicit in Israel’s violations — not only by extending diplomatic protection to Israel through use of its Security Council veto, but also by providing Israel with the Apache helicopter gun-ships, the Hellfire missiles, the armored Caterpillar bulldozers Israel uses against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Paid for with the billions of dollars in U.S. economic and military aid to Israel, sending those weapons violates the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.”
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In a New York Times oped on Monday, PLO legal adviser Michael Tarazi proposed solving the deadlocked Palestinian-Israeli conflict through “a one-state solution in which citizens of all faiths and ethnicities live together as equals.”
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NASEER ARURI
Author of the book The Obstruction of Peace, Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He said today: “Washington has never predicted, nor even contemplated that its own policies, subsumed under the misleading title ‘peace process,’ might someday prove to have been a contributory agent to a single state in [the area of] pre-1948 Palestine. U.S. accommodation of Israeli settlement policies and creeping annexation over several decades has created facts and conditions that could initially make a bi-national, multi-ethnic state (leading hopefully to a secular democracy) the only viable resolution, should apartheid and ethnic cleansing be deemed unacceptable options in the 21st century.”

Aruri added: “The derailment of the two-state solution was accomplished through the accumulated effect of fruitless diplomatic efforts carried out by numerous U.S. presidents from Nixon to Clinton and Bush II. Between the signing of Oslo in 1993 and the present, the two strategic allies, Israel and the U.S., succeeded in creating their own rules of diplomatic engagement, which removed the Palestinians from the negotiating table and transformed the ‘honest broker’ to co-belligerent. Similarly, they created their own jurisprudence for an Israeli-Palestinian deal, which arbitrarily bestowed the West Bank on Israel, leaving Bush’s vision of a sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state a mere rhetorical exercise, a fact that has been confirmed by Sharon’s senior adviser, Dov Weisglass, in today’s Ha’aretz.”
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HANI ABU NAHLA
Hani Abu Nahla works with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. He lives in Rafah. The Center has recently issued the statement “Israeli Occupying Troops Expand Their Offensive on the Northern Gaza Strip: Excessive and Disproportionate Use of Force Resulted in 60 Palestinian Deaths and at Least 280 Injuries” and a report entitled “Four Years of Israeli Aggression on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Both are available at the above web page.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Elections in Afghanistan and Iraq: Free and Fair?

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J. ALEXANDER THIER
Thier was a legal advisor to Afghanistan’s constitutional and judicial reform commissions. He is currently a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. He said today: “By most measures, Afghanistan seems far from ripe for democracy. As President Hamid Karzai struggles to build a government in Kabul, much of the country remains under the control of warlord armies. … Factional fighting has touched every corner of the country, and more soldiers and aid workers have been killed this year than in the previous two. It will be difficult to ensure free and fair elections in this environment. More than 10 million Afghans have registered to vote, many at great personal risk. But the United Nations, which is helping organize the elections, recently released a report warning that many Afghans would be unable to freely exercise their political rights owing to warlord intimidation. … On his first major campaign trip outside Kabul, Karzai was nearly assassinated. Concerns about fairness are muted because the outcome of the elections seems assured. There are 18 candidates for the top spot, but there is little doubt U.S.-backed Karzai will win.”

He added: “Elections themselves are only a small part of democracy. Effective government service, protection of individual rights, accountability — these are the true fruits of democracy. Holding elections without the rule of law can undermine democracy by sparking violence, sowing cynicism and allowing undemocratic forces to become entrenched.”
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RAHUL MAHAJAN
Rahul Mahajan is an adjunct professor at New York University and publisher of the weblog Empire Notes. He has been to Iraq twice and reported from Fallujah during the siege in April. He said today: “Be it in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Bush administration has a track record of fixing elections to produce the winner it desires. … The Bush administration has pressured the Afghan Electoral Commission to delay the parliamentary elections until next April but push through the presidential elections in October. The plan is clearly to ensure that there will be no time for anyone to emerge as a national-level alternative to Hamid Karzai as the president. … The U.S. record in Iraq is not much different. The administration has touted the local elections held under the aegis of the U.S. occupation as evidence of its democratic intentions. However, in many instances, the ‘election’ consisted of the appointment of the mayor and/or city council members by the local U.S. commander, sometimes to disastrous effect. Just this past August, a national conference of nearly 1,300 delegates met to determine the makeup of the 100-member interim National Assembly, whose formation was mandated by the ‘transfer of sovereignty’ process. However, the delegates at the conference soon learned that the entire process of selection was a giant sham, and that they would be presented with a pre-selected slate of 81 candidates chosen as a result of back-room negotiations between the major U.S.-affiliated parties. Attempts by small parties to form an alternative slate fell through. In the end, the U.S.-backed slate was not even presented to the delegates for formal approval.” Mahajan’s latest book is Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond.
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SONALI KOLHATKAR
Co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, Kolhatkar is co-author of the article “Afghan Elections: U.S. Solution to U.S. Problem.” She said today: “Even though many Afghans will risk their lives to vote, most of them took no part in decision-making regarding the schedule and structure of the elections. … As part of Bush’s ‘War on Terror,’ the U.S. made deals with Northern Alliance warlords in his crusade against the Taliban, appointed them to high-level government posts, allowed them to regain regional power and watched idly as they fought one another. When aid agencies and even Hamid Karzai asked for the International Security Assistance Forces to be expanded from Kabul to the rest of the country, the U.S. responded by saying that such an expansion would interfere with their operations — thereby closing a crucial window of opportunity to undermine the warlords early on. Only now, as warlords threaten to spoil the carefully staged demonstration of ‘democracy’ via elections, is the U.S. putting any pressure on them — and that is mostly to ensure that they don’t spoil the show.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Unequal and Separate: Voter Registration

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LISA WOZNIAK
Wozniak is the Great Lakes regional director for the League of Conservation Voters. She said today: “The biggest hurdle we face here in Michigan is the requirement that the address on a voter’s driver’s license must match the address on his or her voter registration card. This disenfranchises large numbers of students. Students move often, and being required to update these records in the midst of trying to make academic progress is an unreasonable expectation. Also, some students prefer to keep their parents’ addresses on their driver’s license for insurance purposes. This in no way means that they should not be allowed to participate in the political process in the jurisdiction where they reside for most of the year.”

She added: “We have put together a report on barriers to students voting, ‘Student Voter Disenfranchisement,’ in collaboration with Rock the Vote and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. Students, like migrant workers and the homeless, have living situations that make them vulnerable to disenfranchisement. However, according to federal law, students have the right to vote where they live and under no circumstances should that right be violated.”

BRAD BROWN
Brown is the president of the Miami-Dade NAACP. He said today: “Many citizens in Florida feel that someone is going to try to steal the election. … One problem is secrecy around the purge list. Another problem is with the actual list itself. For the 2004 election, the Secretary of State’s office created a list of 47,000 people who were alleged to be ex-felons. Florida permanently disenfranchises anyone convicted of a felony. Unless the person has applied for and received clemency from the governor’s office, their names are purged from the voter rolls. The law itself is problematic, but the Miami Herald discovered that over 2,000 of the people declared ineligible by the Secretary of State’s office had had their rights restored. Also, there were only about 60 Hispanics on the list of 47,000. … Hispanics in Florida tend to vote Republican. Although the Secretary of State’s office claims that these were just technical errors, a lot of people find that hard to believe. Ultimately, the Secretary of State’s office decided to abandon the project of purging the voter rolls altogether. But it leaves a lot of people waiting for the other shoe to drop … wondering what’s going to happen next.”

He added: “The public’s distrust was fueled by the Secretary of State’s refusal to make the list public. They said that the inaccuracies resulted from technical errors, but they made the errors. The only reason the problems were found is that CNN sued to make the list public. Secretary of State Glenda Hood’s office didn’t find these errors, which it had been trying so hard to keep secret.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Cheney * The Bush Dynasty

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JOHN NICHOLS
Currently in New York City, Nichols is author of the new book Dick: The Man Who Is President. Nichols also wrote the recent article “10 Questions for Dick Cheney,” available at the web page below.
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ROBERT PARRY
Author of the just-released book Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories while working as a reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He now edits the online magazine Consortium News. Parry today spoke about some of the findings in Secrecy & Privilege:

* “During the Nixon-Ford administrations, the elder George Bush was viewed as a Mr. Fix-It with gold-plated connections. Richard Nixon turned to Bush during Watergate to lead the Republican National Committee and to throw investigators off the Watergate trail. President Gerald Ford later put Bush in charge of the Central Intelligence Agency to stop the flood of damaging stories about CIA abuses.”

* “In fall 1976, CIA Director Bush deflected a scandal about a terrorist bombing in Washington that killed Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker. Though in possession of incriminating evidence pointing to the U.S.-backed Chilean government, Bush’s CIA steered investigators away from the real killers while Ford surged from behind and only narrowly lost to Democrat challenger Jimmy Carter.”

* “Former clandestine services chief Ted Shackley and other disgruntled CIA veterans coordinated with Bush in monitoring President Carter’s Iran hostage negotiations in 1980. New evidence also supports allegations that senior Republicans went beyond keeping track of Carter’s progress in gaining a last-minute ‘October Surprise’ release of 52 American hostages. Senior Republicans, including CIA personnel, appear to have met directly with Iranian representatives and disrupted Carter’s negotiations. The hostages were finally released after Reagan was sworn in as President. In 1992, while seeking reelection, President George H. W. Bush succeeded in containing a congressional probe into the 1980 Iran hostage controversy by hiding behind shaky or false alibis.”

* “In Campaign 2000, the younger George Bush was aided by a powerful conservative news media that had been constructed in the quarter century since Watergate. A pillar of that right-wing machine has been the Washington Times, a publication financed by Sun Myung Moon. Secrecy & Privilege unearths evidence that Moon’s fortune has relied on illegal money laundering and that investigations of this criminal conspiracy have been short-circuited by Republican administrations.”

* “During the Florida recount in 2000, George W. Bush’s campaign paid the expenses of Republican operatives who were flown to Florida and staged a riot that stopped the counting of votes in Miami. Campaign documents also show that Bush picked up the tab for a post-riot celebration.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

IMF and G7 Meet: Debt Cancellation and Exchange Rates

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MARIE CLARKE
NEIL WATKINS
Watkins is the outreach coordinator for Jubilee USA Network. Clarke is the national coordinator of Jubilee USA Network. Clarke said today: “As G7 finance ministers gather in Washington today, we issue an urgent call to G7 nations, and in particular our own government, to work in the spirit of multilateral cooperation and compromise to achieve a deal on 100 percent debt cancellation for impoverished nations at this meeting, or soon thereafter. Debt costs lives, and it is morally unconscionable to delay. The sale of IMF gold is an approach to financing poor country debt cancellation that should please all G7 nations. This approach would not affect the IMF’s ability to lend nor would it cost taxpayers in rich countries additional money. Unlike other possible resources within the institutions, the gold provides additional resources for impoverished nations while requiring the IMF to finance its fair share of debt cancellation.”

She added: “The consequences of a long delay on 100 percent debt cancellation for impoverished nations are grave. Every month, 240,000 people die of AIDS and almost one million children die of preventable diseases.”
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MARK WEISBROT
Weisbrot is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of the recently released report “Going Down With the Dollar: The Cost to Developing Countries of a Declining Dollar.” He said today: “When the G7 finance ministers meet in Washington, followed by the IMF and World Bank meetings, exchange rates will be on the agenda. The IMF has been warning that the dollar is overvalued, but they should do more. The institution was established 60 years ago to manage global exchange rates, and these are seriously out of alignment right now.”

He added: “Developing countries now hold an amount of reserves that is on average more than 10 percent of their GDP, and in many cases exceeds 20 percent of GDP. The current overvaluation of the dollar, and thus its impending decline, means that those countries that hold large amounts of dollar reserves will not see the expected return from holding those reserves. The dollar is widely recognized to be seriously over-valued. The United States current account deficit expanded to $660 billion in the second quarter of 2004, or 5.7 percent of GDP. This deficit can only be brought down to a manageable level through a sharp decline in the value of the dollar. Looking at a sample of reserve holdings among developing countries, we find that the drop in the dollar will lead to a loss in the value of reserve holdings of between 1.8 percent and 5.6 percent of GDP, for the typical country examined.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Voter Suppression: The Long Shadow of Jim Crow

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NATHAN RICHTER
PETER MONTGOMERY
JOHN WHITE
The NAACP and People for the American Way have recently released the report “The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America.” John White is the director of communications at NAACP. People for the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas said: “There is more than one way to deprive people of their right to vote, from systematic and technical problems to inadequate voter education to illegal actions by public officials. Although voter intimidation has not historically been confined to a single political party, we are increasingly concerned about recent incidents indicating that Republican officials may be planning to challenge voters this year based on race.” Richter is the senior communications specialist and Montgomery is the vice president for communications at People for the American Way. Richter said today: “In every national American election since Reconstruction, voters — particularly African American voters and other minorities — have faced calculated and determined efforts at intimidation and suppression. … Today, more subtle, cynical and creative tactics have taken their place. … Over the past two decades, the Republican Party has launched a series of ‘ballot security’ and ‘voter integrity’ initiatives which have targeted minority communities.”

Some incidents from the report include:

* This summer, Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge (R) was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” African Americans comprise 83 percent of Detroit’s population.

* In South Dakota’s June 2004 primary, Native American voters were prevented from voting after they were challenged to provide photo IDs, which they were not required to present under state or federal law.

* In Kentucky in July 2004, black Republican officials joined to ask their State GOP party chairman to renounce plans to place “vote challengers” in African-American precincts during the coming elections.

* In 2003 in Philadelphia, voters in African American areas were systematically challenged by men carrying clipboards, driving a fleet of some 300 sedans with magnetic signs designed to look like law enforcement insignia.

* In 1998 in South Carolina, a state representative mailed 3,000 brochures to African American neighborhoods, claiming that law enforcement agents would be “working” the election, and warning voters that “this election is not worth going to jail.”

* Earlier this year in Texas, a local district attorney claimed that students at a majority black college were not eligible to vote in the county where the school is located. It happened in Waller County -­ the same county where 26 years earlier, a federal court order was required to prevent discrimination against the students.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

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*Ellsberg Calls for Leaks * Presidential Debate Preview

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DANIEL ELLSBERG
Currently on the west coast, Ellsberg is available for a limited number of interviews. Today’s New York Times features an op-ed by Ellsberg titled “Truths Worth Telling” in which he writes: “Surely there are officials in the present administration who recognize that the United States has been misled into a war in Iraq, but who have so far kept their silence — as I long did about the war in Vietnam. To them I have a personal message: don’t repeat my mistakes. Don’t wait until more troops are sent, and thousands more have died, before telling truths that could end a war and save lives. Do what I wish I had done in 1964: go to the press, to Congress, and document your claims.” Author of the book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg faced 115 years on 12 felony counts in 1971 for leaking the Pentagon Papers.
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RAY McGOVERN
Also available for a limited number of interviews, McGovern is one of the signatories with Ellsberg to a recent statement, “A Call to Patriotic Whistleblowing,” available at the above web address. McGovern is a 27-year veteran of the CIA.
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STEPHEN ZUNES
The first presidential debate scheduled for Thursday will focus on foreign policy. Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus and author of the book Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism, Professor Zunes has written a series of articles contrasting the foreign policy of Bush and Kerry, most recently: “Kerry vs. Bush: A Humphrey-Nixon Redux?”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Dubious Debates * Dubious Polls

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GEORGE FARAH
Farah, founder and executive director of Open Debates, was featured on Friday’s “Now with Bill Moyers” [see: www.pbs.org/now/politics/debates.html]. He said today: “Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush promised the American people a series of engaging presidential debates, but the major party candidates’ lawyers have drafted a binding contract that virtually eliminates spontaneity and confrontation from these public forums and excludes all third-party voices. Much of the fault lies with the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a creation of the Republican and Democratic parties that submits to the joint demands of the Republican and Democratic candidates, at the expense of voter education.” Author of the book No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Candidates Secretly Control the Presidential Debates, Farah added:

“The CPD, which claims to have ‘no relationship with any political party or candidate,’ was created by the Republican and Democratic parties for the Republican and Democratic parties. In 1986, the two parties’ national committees ratified an agreement ‘to take over the presidential debates,’ and eighteen months later, then-Republican Party chair Frank Fahrenkopf and then-Democratic Party chair Paul Kirk incorporated the CPD. Mr. Kirk and Mr. Fahrenkopf — now the nation’s leading gambling lobbyist — are still co-chairs of the debate commission, and every four years, the CPD deceptively awards control of the presidential debates to the Republican and Democratic nominees.

“This year, the Kerry and Bush campaigns drafted a 32-page Memorandum of Understanding that dictates precisely how the pseudo-debates will be run — from who gets to participate, to who will ask the questions, to the temperature in the auditoriums. The contract prohibits the candidates from talking to each other, requires the pre-screening of town hall questions by the moderator, severely limits the candidates’ response times, and excludes all third-party challengers. Masquerading as a nonpartisan sponsor, the CPD will obediently implement every stipulation of the debate contract, and the result will be a series of glorified, bipartisan news conferences rather than actual debates.

“Voters want unscripted and confrontational debates that force the candidates to answer tough questions, and voters want to hear from popular third-party challengers; according to a new Zogby poll, fifty-seven percent of likely voters want to see Ralph Nader included in the presidential debates. The blatant partisanship of the CPD at the expense of voter education compelled a U.S. District Court on August 12 to order the Federal Election Commission to investigate the CPD.”
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SAM HUSSEINI
Author of the article “A Better Gauge of Public Opinion?” which appears in today’s Dallas Morning News, Husseini said today: “With all the polling going on, it’s remarkable that apparently not a single poll is asking whom people want to be president. Virtually every poll has a structure like this: ‘If the next presidential election were held today between George W. Bush for the Republicans, John Kerry for the Democrats and Ralph Nader as an independent, for whom would you most likely vote?’ Many people will reflexively say ‘Bush’ simply because they don’t want Kerry, or ‘Kerry’ because they don’t want Bush — even if their first choice is Nader or some other third party candidate.”

Husseini added: “Instead of really focusing on people’s opinions, polls focus on the action of voting in a hypothetical context — if the ‘election were being held today’ — when we know it isn’t. Pollsters apparently do that because they assume they should be predicting how the election will turn out, rather than offering a clear picture of what the public is thinking. A real ‘public opinion’ poll might ask: ‘Regardless of his chances of winning, which of the following candidates do you most want to be president?’ Another way would be to use Instant Runoff Voting: ‘Please rank the following in order of whom you would personally want to be president.’ By asking the questions they do — and by not asking these other questions — pollsters are in effect limiting the choices of the public. Polls should be a method for the public to articulate its desires rather than a tool of pundits or parties. Currently, polls solidify the status of the ‘major candidates’ and reduce citizens to little more than spectators at a horse race, or gamblers.

“These issues are key because of the role that polls play in our presidential election. For example, the Commission on Presidential Debates states that it will only allow candidates who achieve 15 percent in ‘national public opinion polls’ into its debates. But the current polls are not ‘public opinion polls.’ If the CPD genuinely wanted to fulfill its own criteria, it would rely on polls that actually ask the U.S. public who it wants to be president.” Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 332-5055; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Who Is Ayad Allawi?

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Ayad Allawi spoke before a joint session of the U.S. Congress this morning. He spoke of “the values of liberty and democracy.” For general information on Allawi, see the resource Disinfopedia.

Here are some relevant articles:

The New York Times, “Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90’s Attacks” (June 9, 2004)
by Joel Brinkley
The article states: “Dr. Allawi’s group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said.”
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The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), “Allawi Shot Inmates in Cold Blood, Say Witnesses” (July 17, 2004)
by Paul McGeough, Chief Herald Correspondent, in Baghdad
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The Guardian (UK), “Who Seized Simona Torretta? — This Iraqi Kidnapping has the Mark of an Undercover Police Operation” (Sept. 16, 2004)
by Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill
The article states: “…witnesses said that several attackers wore Iraqi National Guard uniforms and identified themselves as working for Ayad Allawi, the interim prime minister.”
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The Independent (UK), “Exiled Allawi was Responsible for 45-Minute WMD Claim” (May 29, 2004)
by Patrick Cockburn
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The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, via AP), “On the Selection of Ayad Allawi as Iraq’s Prime Minister” (June 1, 2004)
The editorial states: “The U.S.-installed Interim Governing Council named Ayad Allawi, a member of the IGC, to head the government that takes over on June 30. Allawi’s selection could be seen as a pre-emptive bid to consolidate the council’s grip on power and turn the transitional government into a U.S. puppet. It is a slap in the face for the U.N. as well. The IGC is unpopular with most Iraqis for comprising Iraqi exiles. Even Lakhdar Ibrahimi, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, was taken aback by the announcement of Allawi as the new prime minister.”

WILLIAM BLUM
Blum is author of the books Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.
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DOUGLAS VALENTINE
Author of the book The Phoenix Program, about U.S. “counter-insurgency” operations in Vietnam, Valentine said today: “Allawi worked for Saddam, then for the British secret services, then the CIA. The U.S. government clearly needs a strongman to do its bidding; someone who acts on self-interest and not in the interest of the Iraqi people he’s supposed to represent. It looks like Allawi fits that bill quite well.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167