Saturday, October 23, 2004

843 ex-soldiers fail to report for Army duty

843 ex-soldiers fail to report for Army duty
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 800 former soldiers have failed to comply with Army orders to get back in uniform and report for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Army said Friday. That is more than one-third of the total who were told to report to a mobilization station by October 17.
Three weeks ago the number stood at 622 amid talk that any who refused to report for duty could be declared Absent Without Leave. Refusing to report for duty normally would lead to AWOL charges, but the Army is going out of its way to resolve these cases as quietly as possible.
In all, 4,166 members of the Individual Ready Reserve have received mobilization orders since July 6, of which 2,288 were to have reported by October 17. The others are to report in coming weeks and months.
Of those due to have reported by now, 1,445 have done so, but 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. That no-show rate of 37 percent is roughly in line with the one-third rate the Army had forecast when it began the mobilization to fill positions in regular and Reserve units. By comparison, the no-show total of 622 three weeks ago equated to a 35 percent rate.
Of the 843, the Army has had follow-up contact with 383 and is seeking to resolve their cases, according to figures made public Friday. For the 460 others, "We are still working to establish positive contact," the Army said. Some may not have received the mailed orders.
Members of the Individual Ready Reserve, or IRR, are rarely called to active duty. The last time was 1990, when nearly 20,000 were mobilized. IRR members are people who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remained in the IRR for the rest of the eight-year commitment they made when they joined the Army. They are separate from the reserve troops who are more routinely mobilized -- the National Guard and Reserve.
The Army anticipated, based on past experience, that about one-third of the IRR people it called up would be disqualified for medical or other reasons. The trend so far bears that out.
The Marine Corps, meanwhile, said Friday that a Marine killed in western Iraq earlier this week, Sgt. Douglas E. Bascom, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve. He was the first IRR Marine to die in Iraq, according to Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Scharber, a spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon.
There are about 400 IRR Marines deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Shane Darbonne, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Mobilization Command.
Army officials said they were uncertain whether any of their Individual Ready Reserve members have been killed in Iraq.
That the Army has had to reach so deeply into its store of reserve soldiers is a measure of the strain the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns have put on the active-duty Army. When the American invading force toppled Baghdad in April 2003, the Army thought it would be sending most of its soldiers home within months. Instead, it has kept 100,000 or more there ever since.
While the number of IRR Army soldiers who have failed to comply with their mobilization order has increased this month, so has the number who have asked for a delay or to be excused from serving.
The number who have requested delays or exemptions has grown from 1,498 (out of a total of 3,899 mobilization orders) in late September to 1,671 (out of a total of 4,166 orders) as of October 17. A little over one-third of the requests have been acted on, with 584 approved and 21 denied.
The Army said some withdrew their requests even after they had been approved. It did not say how many.
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Why Did George W. Bush Let Osama bin Laden

Why Did George W. Bush Let Osama bin Laden Escape from Tora Bora?
October 20 2004-Venice,FL. by Daniel Hopsicker

An effort to expurgate ‘inconvenient knowledge’ about the 9.11 attack and the American response which followed gathered steam this week with two developments seemingly designed to remove from public view several crucial aspects of recent history.
Legal threats were delivered last week to the German publisher of “Welcome to Terrorland” over the revelation that some of Mohamed Atta’s closest associates while in Florida were not Arabs or even Muslims but German nationals, several of whom attended meetings with the terrorist ringleader during which the hijacking conspiracy appears to have been discussed.
If the efforts succeeds, it will remove from public record evidence unearthed during one of the only independent investigations done so far of the U.S. Government’s official story of the terrorist hijackers’ activities and associates while they were in the U.S. preparing their attack… and future generation may never be the wiser.
A second effort with a similar objective was launched in an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s New York Times, by General Tommy Franks, commander of the Afghanistan operation. In it he attempts to re-write recent history and whitewash the growing scandal over the Bush Administrations feeble effort to apprehend Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan when he was cornered at Tora Bora.
The MadCowMorningNews reveals new details about the man authorities called “the terrorist ringleader,” in our second feature called “Top Ten Things You Never Knew About Mohamed Atta.”
(Read the first “Top Ten Things You Never Knew About Mohamed Atta” here.)

Until Democratic candidate Kerry recently summoned the courage to confront Bush (on an issue covered over a year ago by the MadCowMorningNews in “George Bush Let Bin Laden Escape from Tora Bora”)
the fact that after President Bush's initial bravado over catching bin Laden "dead or alive," he had been inexplicably allowed to escape during the Battle of Tora Bora had largely been forgotten.
Today’s response from Gen. Franks in the N.Y. Times denies it…
“On more than one occasion, Senator Kerry has referred to the fight at Tora Bora in Afghanistan during late 2001 as a missed opportunity for America. He claims that our forces had Osama bin Laden cornered and allowed him to escape. How did it happen? According to Mr. Kerry, we "outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.”
Franks stated the debate should “focus on facts, not distortions of history.”

“First, take Mr. Kerry's contention that we "had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden" and that ‘we had him surrounded.’ We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001. Some intelligence sources said he was; others indicated he was in Pakistan at the time; still others suggested he was in Kashmir,” Franks continued.
“But Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp.”
"A lot of words meaning nothing whatever."
“We did not ‘outsource’ military action,” wrote Franks. “We did rely heavily on Afghans because they knew Tora Bora, a mountainous, geographically difficult region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan...Killing and capturing Taliban and Qaeda fighters was best done by the Afghan fighters who already knew the caves and tunnels.”
“The Afghans weren't left to do the job alone. Special forces from the United States and several other countries were there, providing tactical leadership and calling in air strikes. Pakistani troops also provided significant help - as many as 100,000 sealed the border and rounded up hundreds of Qaeda and Taliban fighters,” said Franks.
“Contrary to Senator Kerry, President Bush never "took his eye off the ball" when it came to Osama bin Laden,” Franks wrote. “The war on terrorism has a global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to capture and kill terrorists before they are able to strike America again.”
Franks seems to be stating that the war on terrorism’s global focus offered the rationale for why Bush cannot be said to have taken his eye off the “bin Laden ball.” The sentence doesn’t parse…

Not only does it not make sense… It isn’t even true. Proof to the contrary had already been reported by the very same N.Y. Times.
No zeal, No zest, no zoap
The actions of American military commanders in Afghanistan, reported the Times, in a Sept. 30, 2002 front page article (10-month Afghan Mystery: Is Bin Laden Dead or Alive?) did not reflect an emphasis on rigorous pursuit of the Al Qaeda chieftain.
People ‘on the ground’ in Afghanistan during the siege of Tora Bora believe that American commanders did not act with anything like the zeal you'd expect from people whose mission was hunting down America's Most Wanted Man, said the Times.
“American forces in Afghanistan have not been helped by the suspicion here at Tora Bora, where bin Laden was all but trapped, that indecisiveness on the part of American commanders, or perhaps reluctance to risk casualties, may have helped him (bin Laden) escape."

"If (bin Laden) fled to Pakistan," the Times reported, "he did so over snow-choked mountain trails that were not blocked by American or other allied troops until after the bombing—an oversight that some of the allies point to as having squandered the best opportunity of the war to snare America's most wanted man." (italics ours.)

When we read this we were dumbfounded. Don't they teach that in General's school? “Cut 'em off, then bomb them back to the Stone Age?”

"Within weeks high-ranking British officers were saying privately that American commanders had vetoed a proposal to guard the high-altitude trails, arguing that the risks of a firefight, in deep snow, gusting winds and low-slung clouds, were too high," said the article.
Low-slung clouds? The snow was too deep?
"Similar accounts abound among Afghan commanders who provided the troops stationed on the Tora Bora foothills—on the north side of the mountains, facing the Afghan city of Jalalabad," continued the Times. “Those troops played a blocking role that left the Qaeda fugitives only one escape route, to the south, over the mountains to Pakistan."
One Afghan commander told the Times of pleading with Special Forces officers to block the trails to Pakistan. "Their attitude was, 'we must kill the enemy, but we must remain absolutely safe," said warlord Hajji Zaher. "This is crazy."
It is inconceivable that U.S. Special Forces troops would insist on remaining absolutely safe in a fight to capture the leader of the forces that murdered 3000 people on Sept 11.
An order to 'stand down' must have come from above.
No explanation of this may ever be forthcoming. But we think warlord Hajjii Zaher got one thing right at least…
It is crazy. And the craziness seems a long way from being over.

Brainwash victims win cash claims

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Responsible Use

DAILY EXPRESSResponsible Use by Lawrence F. Kaplan Only at TNR OnlinePost date: 10.22.04
According to this week's TNR endorsement of John Kerry, the aim of a democratic Iraq amounted to a noble enterprise--if only the Bush team had proved competent in any enterprise apart from cutting taxes and pursuing a recklessly partisan agenda. The occupation of Iraq, the editorial notes, has been "conducted with such shocking arrogance and carelessness that it calls into question whether the Bush administration's pledge to turn Iraq into a model democracy was ever really sincere." Fair enough. But does the bungled implementation of its proposals relieve the magazine of any need to acknowledge responsibility for what followed from its own arguments? In pinning exclusive blame on the Bush team for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq, the editorial certainly seems to suggest this. In this respect, it is neither unique nor correct.
There's nothing wrong with changing one's opinion. Facts change, after all, and minds change with them. But in a mass flight from accountability, disillusioned hawks have come awfully close to arguing that the war that fills Walter Reed's beds wasn't their idea. No one has espoused this view more vigorously than New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who--like the TNR editorial--credits "how we got so off track in Iraq" to the fact that it "has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad." Neatly summarizing the revised wisdom, Slate editor and former war-supporter Jacob Weisberg concludes that, while the rationale for war may have been sound in conception, "Bush was the wrong president to do it." In attempts to salvage the purity of an ideal from its bloody application on the ground, even those who still support the war--this writer included--have taken advantage of the Bush-bashing loophole.
None of this is to excuse the administration for its obvious and avoidable failures in Iraq. But it's no good to argue that we weren't given the war we were promised. To begin with, war always involves unintended consequences. And if many of this war's consequences should have been anticipated, well, as Weisberg acknowledges, common sense should have alerted all but the most obtuse idealists to the fact that George Marshall wouldn't be the one enshrining their preferences in official policy. After two years of watching the Bush team in action, no member of the "Who, me?" chorus can plausibly claim to have been oblivious to the limitations of the policymakers they were entrusting with an enterprise of this scope.

More important, it's not so easy to disentangle problems blamed on defects of implementation from the very ideas today's war critics were championing only yesterday. After all, it was precisely the aims that generated support from liberal and conservative idealists alike--liberation, de-Baathification, democratization, non-sectarianism--which helped underpin errors from rosy occupation scenarios to the conviction that Iraqis would quickly embrace the cause of liberty. Far from being the exclusive property of Paul Wolfowitz, these assumptions were a staple among many of those who now speak as though the administration had spun them out of whole cloth.
But that was before Iraq began to come apart at the seams. Hence, Harvard's Michael Ignatieff, whose name became synonymous with the case for humanitarian intervention in Iraq, now claims it was "fantasy" for the administration to go "into Iraq assuming that its challenge was humanitarian." Hence, too, the insistence that America's duty would not be discharged until it finished "stabilizing, rebuilding, reforming, preserving the unity of, and ultimately democratizing Iraq"--spelled out in a statement signed by a who's who of democratic idealists on the eve of war--has been disowned by its most outspoken signatories. One of them, Peter Galbraith, repudiates the ideal of a democratic or even a unitary Iraq in a New York Review of Books essay entitled, appropriately enough, "How to Get Out of Iraq." Another, the Brookings Institution's Ivo Daalder, writes that in "Iraq today, America no longer offers a solution. It has become part of the problem." Then there is Brookings' Kenneth Pollack, who literally wrote the book of why we should go to war and who has spent the past year distancing himself from its contents. The Bush team, you see, "had not taken most of the precautionary measures I had recommended."
But when it comes to Iraq--to paraphrase Robert Kennedy's remark about Vietnam--there's enough responsibility to go around. Maybe, as during that earlier war, distancing oneself from a troubled war reflects some kind of heightened moral awareness. But one can't simply discount the weight of one's earlier claims without assuming some measure of culpability for the result. Absent such an acknowledgement, the point is merely to comfort the sensibilities of those who profess shock at the images on their TV screens. It testifies to their virtue and good intentions. It offers assurance that their ideas did not, in fact, have consequences. They did.

Lawrence F. Kaplan is a senior editor at TNR.
Click Here For FOUR FREE WEEKS of The New Republic.
Quote Unquote
John Kerry for PresidentGeorge W. Bush's astonishing contempt for empirical evidence and honest debate is producing a fiscal crisis at home, a disaster in Iraq, and a more dangerous world. John Kerry can do better.
Slam DunkThe Duelfer report is the final blow to the White House's WMD rationale for the Iraq war--and maybe to the doctrine of preemption itself.
Past ImperfectConservatives say John Kerry doesn't have any great ideas for Iraq. What they don't say is that it's George W. Bush's fault.
Twin PiqueLast night Cheney made two strikingly dishonest statements about Iraq.
More of the SameNeither Bush nor Kerry offered realistic plans for Iraq last night.

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Feelin Drafty

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'Frightened to death' of Bush

By Marlow W. CookSpecial to The Courier-Journal
I shall cast my vote for John Kerry come Nov 2.
I have been, and will continue to be, a Republican. But when we as a party send the wrong person to the White House, then it is our responsibility to send him home if our nation suffers as a result of his actions. I fall in the category of good conservative thinkers, like George F. Will, for instance, who wrote: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and having thought, to have second thoughts."
I say, well done George Will, or, even better, from the mouth of the numero uno of conservatives, William F. Buckley Jr.: "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
First, let's talk about George Bush's moral standards.
In 2000, to defeat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — a man who was shot down in Vietnam and imprisoned for over five years — they used Carl Rove's "East Texas special." They started the rumor that he was gay, saying he had spent too much time in the Hanoi Hilton. They said he was crazy. They said his wife was on drugs. Then, to top it off, they spread pictures of his adopted daughter, who was born in Bangladesh and thus dark skinned, to the sons and daughters of the Confederacy in rural South Carolina.
To show he was not just picking on Republicans, he went after Sen. Max Cleland from Georgia, a Democrat seeking re-election. Bush henchmen said he wasn't patriotic because Cleland did not agree 100 percent on how to handle homeland security. They published his picture along with Cuba's Castro, questioning Cleland's patriotism and commitment to America's security. Never mind that his Republican challenger was a Vietnam deferment case and Cleland, who had served in Vietnam, came home in a wheel chair having lost three limbs fighting for his country. Anyone who wants to win an election and control of the legislative body that badly has no moral character at all.
We know his father got him in the Texas Air National Guard so he would not have to go to Vietnam. The religious right can have him with those moral standards. We also have Vice President Dick Cheney, who deferred his way out of Vietnam because, as he says, he "had more important things to do."
I have just turned 78. During my lifetime, we have sent 31,377,741 Americans to war, not including whatever will be the final figures for the Iraq fiasco. Of those, 502,722 died and 928,980 came home without legs, arms or what have you.
Those wars were to defend freedom throughout the free world from communism, dictators and tyrants. Now Americans are the aggressors — we start the wars, we blow up all the infrastructure in those countries, and then turn around and spend tax dollars denying our nation an excellent education system, medical and drug programs, and the list goes on. ...
I hope you all have noticed the Bush administration's style in the campaign so far. All negative, trashing Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards and Democrats in general. Not once have they said what they have done right, what they have done wrong or what they have not done at all.
Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril. We in this nation have a serious problem. Its almost worse than terrorism: We are broke. Our government is borrowing a billion dollars a day. They are now borrowing from the government pension program, for apparently they have gotten as much out of the Social Security Trust as it can take. Our House and Senate announce weekly grants for every kind of favorite local programs to save legislative seats, and it's all borrowed money.
If you listened to the President confirming the value of our war with Iraq, you heard him say, "If no weapons of mass destruction were found, at least we know we have stopped his future distribution of same to terrorists." If that is his justification, then, if he is re-elected our next war will be against Iran and at the same time North Korea, for indeed they have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, which they have readily admitted. Those wars will require a draft of men and women. ...
I am not enamored with John Kerry, but I am frightened to death of George Bush. I fear a secret government. I abhor a government that refuses to supply the Congress with requested information. I am against a government that refuses to tell the country with whom the leaders of our country sat down and determined our energy policy, and to prove how much they want to keep that secret, they took it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Those of you who are fiscal conservatives and abhor our staggering debt, tell your conservative friends, "Vote for Kerry," because without Bush to control the Congress, the first thing lawmakers will demand Kerry do is balance the budget.
The wonderful thing about this country is its gift of citizenship, then it's freedom to register as one sees fit. For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction.
If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution.
I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path.
The writer, a Republican formerly of Louisville, was Jefferson County judge from 1962-1968 and U.S. senator from Kentucky from 1968-1975.

Insurgents funded by Saudis, U.S. says,0,6634533.story?coll=sfla-news-nationworld
Insurgents funded by Saudis, U.S. says
By John J. Lumpkin
The Associated PressOctober 22, 2004
WASHINGTON · Iraq's new security forces are heavily infiltrated by insurgents, and the guerrilla groups have access to almost unlimited money to pay for deadly attacks, according to a U.S. defense official who provided new details on the evolution of the rebels.A significant part of the insurgents' money is coming from sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government is neglecting the problem, said the official, who was authorized by the Pentagon to speak on the issue this week, but only on condition of anonymity.Money is flowing into Iraq through Syria, the official said.In both cases, it comes from a diffuse network of supporters, funneled through charities, tribal relations, and businesses -- not necessarily the same funding networks that transfer money to al-Qaida from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, but following a similar model, the official said.Saudi government officials have repeatedly said they are cracking down on money networks that support terrorism, but their focus has been primarily on stopping al-Qaida, not the Iraqi resistance. A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.Some experts called the money trail new evidence that the Iraqi resistance has gained support in the Arab world."The overall resistance in Iraq is popular and is getting more popular in the Arab world," said Vince Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief for the Central Intelligence Agency.But Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst in Washington, said the U.S. government has presented little evidence to support its claims of notable foreign involvement in Iraqi insurgency, be it from Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia."You get a different story from virtually every official," Cordesman said. Any money flowing to terrorist groups from the Arabian peninsula more likely would pass through banks in Europe, making it difficult for Arab governments to track, he said.The defense official described a country where a fearful citizenry doesn't fully accept the concepts of Western law and order and remains unwilling to take their future into their own hands, where police are often corrupt and the security forces are "heavily infiltrated" by insurgents.In some cases, members of the Iraqi security services have developed sympathies and contacts with the guerrillas; in other cases, infiltrators were sent to join the groups, the official said.The official pointed to a mortar attack Tuesday on an Iraqi National Guard compound near Baghdad as a probable inside job. The attackers apparently knew precisely when and where the unit's members were gathering and dropped mortar rounds in the middle of their formation.
Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll

Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll U.S.-Supported Government Is Losing Ground
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, October 22, 2004; Page A01
Leaders of Iraq's religious parties have emerged as the country's most popular politicians and would win the largest share of votes if an election were held today, while the U.S.-backed government of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is losing serious ground, according to a U.S.-financed poll by the International Republican Institute.
More than 45 percent of Iraqis also believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction, and 41 percent say it is moving in the right direction.
Within the Bush administration, a victory by Iraq's religious parties is viewed as the worst-case scenario. Washington has hoped that Allawi and the current team, which was selected by U.S. and U.N. envoys, would win or do well in Iraq's first democratic election, in January. U.S. officials believe a secular government led by moderates is critical, in part because the new government will oversee writing a new Iraqi constitution.
"The picture it paints is that, after all the blood and treasure we've spent and despite the [U.S.-led] occupation's democracy efforts, we're in a position now that the moderates would not win if an election were held today," said a U.S. official who requested anonymity because the poll has not been released.
U.S. officials acknowledge that the political honeymoon after the handover of political power on June 28 ended much earlier than anticipated. The new poll, based on 2,000 face-to-face interviews conducted among all ethnic and religious groups nationwide between Sept. 24 and Oct. 4, shows that Iraqi support for the government has plummeted to about 43 percent who believe it is effective, down from 62 percent in a late-summer poll.
A senior State Department official played down the results. "When the interim government took over, the [poll] numbers were artificially high. It's very difficult to meet expectations when they're sky-high," he said on the condition of anonymity because the data are still being analyzed.
But in another blow, one out of three Iraqis blames the U.S.-led multinational force for Iraq's security problems, slightly more than the 32 percent who blame foreign terrorists, the poll shows. Only 8 percent blame members of the former government.
"We had convinced everyone -- Americans and Iraqis -- that things might change with the return of sovereignty, but, in fact, things went the other way," a congressional staff member said. "What's particularly damning is that the multinational force gets more blame than the terrorists for the problems in Iraq. It's all trending in the wrong way . . . and it's not likely we'll be able to change public sentiment much before the election. "
In positive news for the administration, the poll found that 85 percent of Iraqis want to vote in the January election.
Despite the current strife, about two-thirds of Iraqis do not believe civil war is imminent, the poll found. Asked if their households had been hurt by violence, injuries, death or monetary loss over the past year, only 22 percent of those questioned said yes -- a figure that surprised pollsters and U.S. officials.
With voter registration due to begin Nov. 1, the poll found that 64 percent of Iraqis are still unwilling to align with any party, which U.S. officials attribute to the legacy of the Baath Party. The most valuable indicators, officials say, may be the data on Iraq's politicians.
The poll found the most popular politician is Abdel Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The group was part of the U.S.-backed opposition to Saddam Hussein and is now receiving millions of dollars in aid from Iran, U.S. officials say.
Hakim had 80 percent name recognition among Iraqis, with more than 51 percent wanting to see him in the national assembly, which will pick a new government.
Allawi had the greatest name recognition of any politician, with 47 percent of Iraqis supporting him for a seat in the new parliament. But rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr came in a very close third, with 46 percent backing him for an assembly seat.
Ahmed Chalabi, once favored in Washington as a possible successor to Hussein, had wide national recognition, but only 15 percent want him in parliament -- and more than half oppose him.
The one factor that skews the poll, analysts said, is that Ibrahim Jafari, the Dawa Party chief and current vice president, was not included. He had the highest popularity rating in previous polls.
That may still be the case, since almost 18 percent of Iraqis surveyed by IRI said they were most likely to vote for Dawa candidates -- the largest backing among the top 11 parties listed. Dawa is another former U.S.-backed group supported by aid from Iran, U.S. officials say.
U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts believe candidates aligned with the Supreme Council and with Dawa are likely to capture the highest percentage of votes, giving religious parties an edge in forming a new government.
Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni leader of the country's largest tribe, was also omitted from the poll.
In an interview with Abu Dhabi television, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Iraqis want democracy and are unlikely to go "from one form of totalitarian state to another form of totalitarian state." Both U.S. officials and Iraq experts note that the rise of Islamic parties does not necessarily mean creation of an Islamic government or theocracy such as Iran's.
President Bush said Tuesday that he would be "disappointed" if free and fair elections in Iraq led to the seating of an Islamic government, but that the United States would accept the results. "Democracy is democracy," he said. "If that's what people choose, that's what the people choose."
The IRI, founded in 1983, is a private, nonprofit organization that has worked in more than 60 countries to advance democracy worldwide. With U.S. grants, it has been in charge of public opinion polls in advance of the election.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company