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|Evangelical Christians, who were once suspected by some of anti-Semitism, have led a Republican effort to forge close ties with Israel. [*********]|
The effort is working, strategists from both parties said. In every presidential election since 1992, Republicans have increased their share of the Jewish vote. In 1992, Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, won 11 percent. In the 2004 presidential election, the current president captured about 25 percent, according to exit-poll data.
"Jewish voters are becoming less partisan and more independent in their thinking, which I think gives an opportunity for inroads among Republicans," said Shaw, who represents a large number of Jewish voters along Florida's southern Gold Coast.
Based on a study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans are also getting a larger percentage of money from Jewish political committees and self-identified Jewish donors. So far this election cycle, Republicans have received about 42 percent of money from Jewish groups and individuals. If that number holds, it would be the highest percentage since the center started tracking these donations in 1990.
The Jewish community remains predominantly Democratic and is considered one of the most influential parts of the party's base.
Polls show most Jewish voters agree with Democrats on social issues and many other domestic concerns. While some House Democrats have questioned the wisdom of unconditional support for Israel -- a point pro-Republican Jewish groups frequently make -- party leaders such as Reid are among the biggest defenders of Israel.
Political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
August 2, 2006
U.S. Says It Is Prepared for Transition in Cuba
By ANTHONY DePALMA [usfp] [bush white house] [prepared for castro’s imminenet death?] [**************]
After waiting nearly half a century for Fidel Castro to relinquish power, Washington is warily monitoring the provisional transition in Havana, confident it has plans in place to assist pro-democracy groups in Cuba and to head off any mass exodus from the island.
As the 10th administration to square off against Mr. Castro, the Bush administration has made no secret of its contempt for the Cuban leader, establishing the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in 2003 and then ratcheting up the pressure last year by creating the Office of Cuban Transition within the State Department.
The White House made it clear yesterday that it did not see Mr. Castro’s brother Raúl, 75, to whom he handed off much of his power, as very likely to improve conditions on the island or relations with the United States. There were no plans to negotiate with him.
“The one thing that this president has talked about from the very beginning is his hope for the Cuban people finally to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy,” the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, told reporters during a briefing. “And for the dictator, Fidel Castro, to hand off power to his brother, who’s been the prison keeper, is not a change in that status.”
A plan announced by the State Department two weeks ago provides $80 million over two years to help with a post-Castro transition. The United States would also send special monitors and advisers to Cuba in the weeks after a full transition began.
Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said no additional staff had yet been sent to Cuba.
Concerned about the possibility of a repeat of the Mariel boatlift in 1980, when more than 125,000 people fled the island, Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, who was born in Cuba and came to the United States after Mr. Castro seized power in 1959, told reporters in Washington that the administration was prepared to prevent “mass migration or mass boat traffic in either direction of the Florida straits,” after a shift in power in Cuba.
Mr. Martinez said he was briefed on the plans by military officials two weeks ago. He said he was confident that the Navy and the Coast Guard would be able to interdict vessels in the open waters between the countries and to prevent Cuban-Americans from entering Cuban waters while the changes were taking shape in Havana.
With antagonism high between the United States and Cuba for most of the last 50 years, there have been many previous reports of Mr. Castro’s demise, only for him to eventually recover and resume his verbal bashing of the United States and the economic embargo that has been in place for 45 years.
Whether or not Mr. Castro is able to recuperate from this most recent surgery, there are indications that he is unlikely to ever lead Cuba with the same intense involvement as before.
“At a minimum, from now forward, Raúl is going to be a senior partner,” said Brian Latell, a former Cuba analyst at the C.I.A. and the author of “After Fidel.”
“Raúl will be calling a lot of the shots,” he said, “but with a great deal of respect and deference for Fidel.”
On Monday evening in Havana, a statement from Mr. Castro read on Cuban television said the leader, who will be 80 on Aug. 13, had undergone complicated intestinal surgery and would need several weeks to recuperate.
During his recovery, Mr. Castro said he would temporarily appoint Raúl president, first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party and commander in chief of the armed forces.
Since the earliest days of the revolution, Raúl Castro has been his elder brother’s closest confidant, and has long been his designated successor. But earlier this summer, Raúl made clear in speeches that he would not rule in the same manner as his brother, who has been in charge of all important decisions and is known to micromanage events.
Rather, he said he would lead as part of a collective, which was outlined Monday.
Officials aligned with Raúl Castro were appointed to the national programs of health and education. Carlos Lage Dávila, a leading member of Fidel Castro’s government, will head the national energy program, which will keep him in close contact with Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, and its leader, Hugo Chávez.
It was Venezuela that issued an update yesterday afternoon on Mr. Castro’s health, saying he was “progressing positively.”
The Bush administration said it viewed attempts by Venezuela or other countries to influence the transition in Cuba as unwarranted intervention. “The president is worried about people in the neighborhood who seek to destabilize neighbors using economic or other means,” Mr. Snow said.
While most administration officials refrained from speculating on the condition of Mr. Castro, Senator Martinez said he was certain the Cuban leader was already dead, although he offered no details.
“I frankly don’t believe that he will be able to be back and govern again,” Mr. Martinez said. “It’s beginning to be a moment of opportunity for there to be different voices and different thoughts.”
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
August 3, 2006
New Tapes Disclose Confusion Within the Military on Sept. 11
By PHILIP SHENON [govt] [see yesterday’s govt] [where 9/’11 commission believes it was deliberately lied to by pentagon] [probably to cover a bureaucratic screw up] [followup] [************************] [new 9/11 info]
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — Newly disclosed tapes offer evidence of the widespread confusion within the military as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were being carried out, further undermining claims by the Pentagon [*********]that it moved quickly to try to intercept and shoot down one or more of the hijacked jets. [********] [it was caught flatfooted as was everybody else] [but it’s been caught in a lie and must now keep lying to keep covering] [***************]
When matched with the timeline of the attacks, the tapes make clear that information about the hijackings was slow to reach the military on Sept. 11 and that much of the information that did reach Air Force commanders was faulty. [**************]
The tapes were provided under subpoena to the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, and parts of them had previously been made public by that commission. [*****************]
But the full collection of nearly 30 hours of tapes from the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, were released by the Pentagon last year to Michael Bronner, a producer on the recent film “United 93,” who described them in detail in an article posted this week on the Web site of Vanity Fair magazine [***************] (www.vanityfair.com). The Web site includes links to excerpts from the actual tapes.
The tapes demonstrate that for most of the morning of Sept. 11, the airspace over New York and Washington was essentially undefended, and that jet fighters scrambled to intercept the hijacked planes were involved in a fruitless chase for planes that had already crashed. [****************]
Although much of the conversation in the tapes is heavy with military jargon, it makes clear the terror of the morning, with military air controllers trying to monitor the whereabouts of hijacked planes bearing down on lower Manhattan and Washington.
“I got an aircraft six miles east of the White House!” one military commander is quoted as barking to a colleague.
The tapes also document a conversation among officers about how best to shoot down passenger planes, if the order came from the White House. “My recommendation, if we have to take anybody out, large aircraft, we use AIM-9’s in the face,” an Air Force commander is quoted as saying, a reference to a type of missile that would be fired into the nose of the plane.
The Sept. 11 commission subpoenaed the tapes and other evidence after the panel’s investigators determined that material had been improperly withheld by Norad, which is responsible for air defense. [*****************]
Members of the commission said the tapes demonstrated that the Pentagon’s initial account of its actions on Sept. 11 was wrong and that some military officers might have intentionally provided false statements to the commission. [*********************]
The officers had testified that Norad had been tracking Flight 93, the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field after a cockpit struggle between passengers and the hijackers, and were prepared to shoot it down if it approached Washington. [*********]
But the tapes show that the military was not even alerted to the hijacking of the United flight until four minutes after it had crashed. [**********]
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
August 8, 2007
A Spy Chief’s Political Education
By MARK MAZZETTI [bush white house] [post-9/11 and post-IRTPA reforms] [ODNI] [America’s second DNI, McConnell] [getting schooled in the ways of Washington politics] [*************] [use nsc] [use psci 355] 
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 — Last Thursday evening, during the frantic endgame of a White House push to broaden its eavesdropping authorities, Democratic leaders from the House and the Senate gathered in the Capitol office of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, for a conference call with Mike McConnell, the nation’s top intelligence official.
Mr. McConnell was acting as the Bush administration’s chief negotiator for the measure, and the Democrats were furious to learn that he had rejected their latest proposal. [*****] They questioned whether Mr. McConnell had succumbed to pressure from the White House and Republican lawmakers. [*****]He denied those accusations, but admitted that intense pressure from Congressional leaders of both parties had taken a toll. [************]
“I’ve spent 40 years of my life in this business, and I’ve been shot at during war,” Mr. McConnell responded, according to people who participated in the conference call. “I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life.”
The last several weeks have been a political education of sorts for Mr. McConnell, a retired admiral who reluctantly left a lucrative private sector job to take over in February as director of national intelligence. Mr. McConnell has won praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for his efforts to overhaul the country’s byzantine intelligence structure, [*******]but his role as the White House’s most visible advocate for changing the surveillance law has brought intense criticism from those who question whether an intelligence chief should become part of a political scrum. [*********]
In an interview in his office, Mr. McConnell insisted on Tuesday that he never felt direct pressure from the White House to reject the Democratic proposal, and that contrary to statements from senior Democrats he had never given a verbal commitment to their plan.
Although he acknowledged that intense pressures from Capitol Hill during the debate over competing versions of the surveillance legislation, he said his job required him to remain “apolitical” even in the midst of a partisan cyclone like last week’s debate in Congress.
“My job is to speak truth to power,” he said. [I can’t believe he said that] [how hackneyed and shallow] [yikes] [use nsc] [***********]
The wrangling has tested both the power and the credibility of the intelligence chief’s position, a job less than three years old that remains a work in progress. There is lingering anger among some on Capitol Hill who say Mr. McConnell acted more as an advocate than an expert in the private briefings he gave to lawmakers on the proposed changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Representative Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called Mr. McConnell’s role in the surveillance debate an “unsatisfactory, even embarrassing performance.” [***********]
“If a senior member of the intelligence community is going to speak truth to power,” Mr. Holt said, “he has to be in the habit of presenting the unvarnished truth. “
Questions about the political distortion of intelligence have been a leitmotif of the Bush administration since the debates preceding the invasion of Iraq. [******]
It is for this reason that Mr. McConnell, a career intelligence professional without an obvious partisan agenda, was hailed by Democrats and Republicans alike when he was selected to succeed John D. Negroponte. Mr. Negroponte, a veteran diplomat and the first director of national intelligence, resigned to become deputy secretary of state.
Before accepting the intelligence post, Mr. McConnell criticized the administration’s handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq, telling an interviewer in November 2006 that it had diminished his view of senior officials like Vice President Dick Cheney. [********]
“My sense of it is their political faith and convictions influenced how they took information and interpreted [it] as well as how they picked up and interpreted outside events,” Mr. McConnell is quoted as saying in “Cheney,” a new biography by Stephen F. Hayes.
Mr. McConnell is quoted in the book as saying that Mr. Cheney and others had “gotten results that in my view now have been disastrous.” [**********]
A native South Carolinian who still speaks with a soft drawl, Mr. McConnell began his military career in 1967 and spent most of the next 29 years as an intelligence officer. During the Persian Gulf war of 1991, he was director of intelligence on the joint staff, under Gen. Colin L. Powell; in 1992, he became director of the National Security Agency.
After retiring from the Navy in 1996, Mr. McConnell spent nearly a decade in the private sector, working as a consultant on intelligence issues for Booz Allen Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm. These days he often slips easily into corporate jargon in public presentations about his plans to remake American spy agencies.
During his five months as intelligence chief, Mr. McConnell has made updating the surveillance act a priority, and his familiarity with the minutiae of electronic surveillance made him an obvious candidate to lead negotiations with lawmakers over changes to the law. [***********]
Mr. McConnell was also a more palatable front man for the White House than the embattled and politically weakened attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, who this year has withstood several withering hearings before Congressional panels about the security agency’s program of wiretapping without warrants.
Over the past several weeks, Mr. McConnell has briefed hundreds of lawmakers about what he said were significant limitations to the surveillance act, and administration proposals to lift those restrictions. [************]
It was a sign of the clout that he brought to the issue that during Friday night’s Senate debate over the bill, both Republicans and Democrats claimed that Mr. McConnell supported their version of competing legislation, and during the debate he was consulting with lawmakers just off the Senate floor until the final moments before the vote. [***************]
The role was the most visible an American spy chief has played since the job was first filled in April 2005. Some Democrats say privately that some of his public statements have created a climate of fear to serve policy ends, citing specifically a news release Mr. McConnell issued Friday night warning of “attacks that are being planned today to inflict mass casualties on the United States.”
In the interview on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell strongly rejected the accusation that he had strayed from his proper role.
“I am not a policy maker, and I’m not a political figure,” he said. “My job is to seek ground truth with as much clarity and understanding as possible.”
He also said he would push hard to win authority to use any tools he viewed as necessary and lawful to protect against a future terror attack.
Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a crash course in the ways of Congress might ultimately help the retired admiral get his way.
Mr. McConnell has “admitted ruefully that he’s not experienced in politics,” Mr. Bond told reporters last week.
“And I suggested to him that he is getting a whole lot of experience very quickly.”
Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
A Fight Against Terrorism -- and Disorganization
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; A01 [qui bono?] [DNI] [the so-called National Implementation Plan] [a radical or revolutionary, highly classified set of goals and responsibilites for GSAVE] [USFP] [counterrrorism strategy] [DNI] [NTCT] [use nsc ms] [*************] [use psci 469] [costs of the GSAVE] [$$$$$$$$$$$$] [use psci 350 paper]
Early this summer, a new strategy for combating terrorism, described by its authors as "revolutionary" in concept, arrived on President Bush's desk. The highly classified National Implementation Plan [*********] for the first time set government-wide goals and assigned responsibility for achieving them to specific departments and agencies. [**************]
Written by officials at the National Counterterrorism Center, under a directive signed by the president last winter, the 160-page plan aspires to achieve what has eluded the Bush administration in the five years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: bringing order and direction to the fight against terrorism. [deft move by Negroponted?] [*************]
In the years since Bush stood atop the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center and pledged retaliation against "the people who knocked down these buildings," the federal government has undergone an unprecedented expansion and reorganization.
Yet the counterterrorism infrastructure that resulted has become so immense and unwieldy that many looking at it from the outside, and even some on the inside, have trouble understanding how it works or how much safer it has made the country. [**************]
Huge amounts of money have been spent -- $430 billion so far on overseas military and diplomatic counterterrorism operations, according to the U.S. comptroller general, a tripling of pre-9/11 expenditures for domestic security programs to an estimated $50 billion to $60 billion this year, and untallied billions more in state and local money. [$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$]
Institutions historically charged with protecting the nation have produced a new generation of bureaucratic offspring -- the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) and Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism (JITF-CT), the Treasury Department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA), and the FBI's National Security Service (NSS), [***********] to name a few -- many with seemingly overlapping missions. [***************]
New laws have broadened domestic enforcement powers, and the Justice Department has been radically restructured to emphasize counterterrorism. The FBI, where counterterrorism now accounts for half of all investigations, has nearly doubled its budget to $6 billion since 2001 and added 7,000 employees. [**********] Twenty-two domestic agencies have been combined under the new Department of Homeland Security, [************] while separate counterterrorism divisions now exist in virtually every nook and cranny of the federal government, from the Transportation Department to the Food and Drug Administration.
Outside Washington, 42 states have established intelligence "fusion centers" -- centralized locations where local, state and federal officials operate joint information-gathering and analysis operations. [*************]
The proof that it is all working, White House officials often say, is that there has been no attack on U.S. soil since 2001. [**************]
But critics say that after nearly five years, the fight against terrorism often seems like a chaotic work in progress.
"It's as if we're at 2002 and not 2006 in terms of where we are," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview.
The ad hoc construction, adding layer upon layer with none taken away, has left intelligence and security agencies competing for turf. Deadlines for priorities have been missed. DHS, for example, has repeatedly delayed supplying a congressionally mandated list of the nation's critical infrastructure, and a blueprint for information-sharing among federal, state and local entities has been slow to get off the ground. [**********]
Continuity and coherence have been undercut by rapid turnover among top officials, particularly in the institutions responsible for domestic security and preparedness.
DHS's cybersecurity division has been run by an acting director since the last full-time appointee -- the third person to leave the post in a year -- resigned in October 2004. In April, the FBI's sixth counterterrorism chief since 2001 tendered his resignation after 10 months on the job. Many with government training and security clearances resign or retire, only to sign on at far higher salaries with the burgeoning private-sector security industry.
At the state and local front lines, officials complain of limited input in the development of homeland security policies and impenetrable layers of federal secrecy -- including as many as 90 categories of "sensitive but unclassified" information -- that limit the usefulness of terrorism alerts they receive from Washington, according to separate surveys this spring by the National Governors Association and the Government Accountability Office.
On paper, at least, the man in charge of much of the counterterrorism effort is Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte. His office was created last year under the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act to fix two widely acknowledged problems. [***************]The first was the intelligence community's pre-9/11 failure to collect and share information that might have warned of the al-Qaeda attacks. The second problem was the confusion and competition spawned by post-9/11 attempts to fix the first.
Negroponte supervises the 16 agencies that make up the federal intelligence community and is the president's chief intelligence adviser. Directly under him, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is the central repository for terrorism information collected throughout the community. [*********]Its several hundred analysts integrate intelligence, figure out what it means and redistribute it across the government. The center's strategic planning division provides what NCTC Director John Scott Redd has called "the missing piece" between White House policy decisions and the operational departments and agencies that carry them out. [*************]
“We’ve done a great deal” in the years since 9/11, said one of a number of counterterrorism officials interviewed for this article, all of whom agreed to speak only if their names were not used. “There’s a lot more we need to do. A lot more.” [***********]
The official added: "The American people ought to have some faith that we're working on it."
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