Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Re-emergence of Osama bin Laden

Is U.N. Trying to Influence U.S. Elections?

Comment: (Sarcastic) It's so nice to have Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation explain things for us on Fox News.

Is U.N. Trying to Influence U.S. Elections?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

By Nile Gardiner

It seems that every four years, there’s some sort of “October surprise” in American politics.

This year, it’s the “revelation” that some 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives are missing from the al Qaqaa (search) former Iraqi military complex near Baghdad.

This story, seemingly leaked by officials at a United Nations agency, has caused a political storm in Washington. Sen. John Kerry has accused President Bush of “incredible incompetence.”

But the real threat here is that un-elected U.N. officials may be trying to bring down a president.

This controversy arose after The New York Times published an article based on leaked information, most likely originating from the International Atomic Energy Agency (search), headed by Director General Mohammed El Baradei. The Times article reported that the IAEA had received a letter from the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology on Oct. 10 reporting the loss of 341.7 metric tons of HMX, RDX and PETN.

This article strongly implied the explosives were taken by insurgents after U.S. troops failed to properly secure al Qaqaa. However, subsequent news stories indicate that, in all likelihood, the explosives were already gone when the invasion of Iraq began.

So let’s consider the timing: The Times piece was published just one week ahead of the U.S. presidential election and squarely aimed at influencing the electoral debate.

Also, the IAEA waited two weeks before reporting the missing explosives to the Security Council. That, plus the subsequent leak of critical information to two American media outlets, strongly suggests a political agenda.

There is certainly no shortage of tension between the IAEA and the administration. The United States has consistently opposed the return of U.N. inspectors to Iraq and has been critical of the IAEA’s performance with regard to the growing threat posed by Iran. The Bush administration reportedly opposes ElBaradei’s attempts to seek reelection for a third term as director general.

The controversy over the IAEA’s role in the al Qaqaa missing-stockpile scandal should also be viewed within the context of the increasingly tense relationship between the Bush administration and the United Nations over the war in Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan described the war as an “illegal” violation of the U.N. Charter in a Sept. 16 interview with the BBC, adding, “I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time.”

In an interview with another British broadcaster, Annan firmly rejected the notion that the world is a safer place with Saddam out of power: “I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq.”

Such remarks are deeply unhelpful at a time when the United States and Britain, with the support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 (search), are working to generate greater international involvement in the reconstruction and stabilization of post-war Iraq.

Moreover, Annan’s comments undermine the interim Iraqi government in the lead-up to crucial elections in January. The secretary-general’s description of the liberation of Iraq as a violation of the U.N. Charter merely gives comfort to the insurgents who are determined to thwart hopes of a democratic Iraq.

These are trying times at the United Nations. The world body failed spectacularly to deal with Saddam’s dictatorship and his flouting of the U.N.’s own resolutions. It is failing to provide leadership in disarming Iran. It is weak-kneed in the face of genocide in Sudan (search).

At the same time, the U.N. faces serious allegations of mismanagement and corruption relating to its Oil-for-Food Program (search). The ill-fated program is now the subject of at least four congressional investigations, three U.S. federal investigations, as well as a U.N.-appointed commission of inquiry. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the role of Kojo Annan (search), Kofi’s son, in connection to his role as a paid consultant to a Swiss-based company that received a contract for inspecting goods shipped to Iraq under Oil-for-Food.

President Bush is committed to fundamental reform of the U.N. system and has pledged that the organization will wield no veto over U.S. foreign policy. A second Bush presidency is also likely to strongly support congressional investigations into Oil-for-Food, a scandal with the potential to bring down Annan and other senior U.N. officials.

So it’s hardly surprising that Annan has been highly critical of Bush’s foreign policy and has sought to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Still, this undignified meddling in the U.S. political debate reflects poorly on an international institution that once took pride in its neutrality on the world stage.

The strong possibility that El Baradei and the IAEA deliberately sought to influence the electoral debate in the United States should be thoroughly investigated. In the face of growing scandal and declining credibility, accountability and transparency — not politically motivated leaks — must be the watchwords that govern the U.N.

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is a fellow in Anglo-American security policy at The Heritage Foundation.


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CNN LARRY KING LIVE: Bin Laden Releases New Videotape


Bin Laden Releases New Videotape

Aired October 29, 2004 - 21:00 ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, four days before America votes in the first election since 9/11, a new Osama bin Laden tape addressing the American people and naming both President Bush and John Kerry. How will this affect the race? We'll ask a living legend of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor. And then Lindsay Graham, the senator from South Carolina, Republican. And Bob Graham, the senator from Florida, Democrat, a former candidate for the nomination. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the former ambassador to the U.N. And Laura Ingraham, the nationally syndicated talk radio host. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Couple of notes. Tomorrow night we'll repeat highlights of recent interviews with both President Bush and Senator Kerry. A special live edition of LARRY KING LIVE Sunday night with a major panel. On election eve Monday night, among the guests will be Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the vice presidential nominee, and Governor Jeb Bush of Florida.

And then election night, we'll be part of the host anchoring team at Nasdaq headquarters here in Times Square to bring you coverage all night long. We'll have correspondents, of course, everywhere. We begin the program tonight...

WALTER CRONKITE, FMR. CBS NEWS ANCHOR: When you recite all that, I wonder where in the world the big shots in this nation are going to gather other than on your program?

KING: They'll all be here, Walter. Walter Cronkite, the legendary journalist and old friend, a great man in the history of broadcast journalists, and maybe the most revered person ever to go on camera. Let's first play a little bit of this tape, in which bin Laden, released today, directly addresses the American people. Watch.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.


KING: OK, Walter. What do you make of this?

CRONKITE: Well, I make it out to be initially the reaction that it's a threat to us, that unless we make peace with him, in a sense, we can expect further attacks. He did not say that precisely, but it sounds like that when he says...

KING: The warning.

CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

KING: Are there enough undecideds to tilt this? Or what do you think of the whole election picture?

CRONKITE: Well, I think it's one of the biggest messes we've had in a long time. I believe that we're undoubtedly not going to know the results of this election. I don't want to knock you off the air on Monday night or anything, or Tuesday night. But I suspect that we're not going to know who the next president is, whether it is Bush or the new man, until very probably sometime in the early spring. There's so much controversy that they're planting, deliberately planting at the polls, that there's almost certainly to be a suit going back to the Supreme Court eventually, going through the other courts slowly first.

KING: Who's to blame for this?

CRONKITE: Who's to blame for it really is the intensity of this campaign. Plus the fact that we have a preface to this in the last campaign. What year was that now?

KING: 2000.

CRONKITE: 2000. Thank you very much. We saw that we could go to court. We saw that with watchers on both sides, heavily mounted police to watch from both sides the polling in many states, nearly all of the heavy states. And in those cases, they will be finding every possible reason to file against the results.

KING: So you're saying, unless there is a clear-cut winner...

CRONKITE: And that's highly unlikely, it seems to me. From the polls, we know now that it's very, very close. And the key states with the heavy electorate votes.

KING: Now, bin Laden, of course, could help Bush in that it reminds people of a terror issue in which he runs strong. It also could hurt Bush in that reminds people he's still alive. So this could be a double edged sword, right?

CRONKITE: Indeed. Indeed. And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that he dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get. It seemed almost, to me, that he wanted to enter into negotiations, that he was really up -- he wants to move into a leadership role in international affairs instead of the role of a brigand. And he spoke calmly about this thing. The threat was there, no question about it. He's delivering a warning to us, no question about that. And certainly, I don't think there's any reason to feel that we can take him to our bosom just because this speech at all. He's perfectly capable of blowing us up.

KING: He sure is. Is Iraq the central issue in this campaign?

CRONKITE: I feel it is. I feel it is. We do know that the economy is very important. Unemployment very important to a lot of people. And a lot -- and besides unemployment, there are a lot of people who are poorly paid in the United States today. We've got a poverty list, which is we forget about the percentage of poverty, families in the United States. It's quite shameful. They're to be considered as well. And if the Democrats have succeeded, are succeeding in registering as many people as is indicated, they're going to have a fairly good bloc of votes on the economy.

KING: Do you expect a huge turnout?


KING: A huge turnout?

CRONKITE: Oh, yes, I do. I think so. The only thing that could damage the turnout would be the threats that might be implied, as many of the new registrees are challenged as to their various things. Their spelling of their name and the state where they really come from, whether they're immigrants or not, do they have passports, all that kind of thing. If they are challenged at the polls, as they line up to go into the polls, they may fear having to answer all those questions. Particularly if they do have anything wrong about them and shouldn't vote.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with some more moments from Walter Cronkite, and then an outstanding panel will join us as we approach the election. And it will finally be over. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. I also want to say to the American people that we are at war with these terrorists. And I am confident that we will prevail. Thank you very much.




SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In response to this tape of Osama bin Laden, let me just make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture, or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes, period.


KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite. Why has this campaign -- and you've been through a lot of them -- been so vituperative?

CRONKITE: I think partly because of the nature of the administration. It has offended a large number of people quite seriously, right down to their souls, apparently. The war has not supported fully, certainly by all the people. The economy has touched a lot of our people. And they feel very strongly about it. So there is a very definite body there in opposition to the administration, as we know. And the administration itself has a lot of support. I think that mostly it's really locked into the Iraqi situation.

KING: Will Ralph Nader be a factor?

CRONKITE: He certainly could be. He was very serious factor with 3 percent of the vote, not quite 3 percent of the vote in 19...

KING: 2000.

CRONKITE: 2000, that is. I've covered too many presidential campaigns. In 2000. And, look, Ross Perot had 9 percent the year that he ran seriously. Just think if Nader got anything like that. He can certainly upset the vote across the nation.

KING: But he will not get that.

CRONKITE: Could possibly even do it with 3 percent, if it's that close, as close as it seems like it might be. I don't know if he'll get 3 percent this year. I don't think he's been at prominent in the campaign as he was in 2000. So maybe he won't even get that many. However, there's a hidden problem there. And that's the environment.

He is the only candidate who has been talking about our environment. It's been dropped into a few speeches by Kerry, but just barely mentioned. That's one of the problems. That's not enough for the environmentalists. They just might go for the Green Party.

KING: Do you have a forecast other than waiting until March and April? Who's it going to be in March or April?

CRONKITE: Boy, if I just had a hint of that, I could probably make a million dollars overnight. That is, after the election.

KING: So you have no idea?

CRONKITE: I have no idea. I really don't. I follow the campaigns as closely as one can, and it looks to me like it's just as close as the polls indicate it is. And we're not going to really know, as I say, we're not going to know on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. We're going -- it's going to be some time before we get the answer.

KING: A couple of other things. We're all in that zipper club. Have you spoken to president Clinton? You had the surgery.

CRONKITE: I spoke to him shortly after he had his operation, yes.

KING: And what did he say?

CRONKITE: Well, we talked about operations. I'd had one, a quadruple bypass.

KING: You and I have the same doctor.

CRONKITE: Yes, right. So I was giving him my medical advice.

KING: Dr. Wayne Eisam (ph). He's the best.

CRONKITE: That wasn't his surgeon.

KING: No, that wasn't his doctor. They were trying to get Wayne. He was out of town or something.

CRONKITE: Is that what happened? I mentioned it, and he kind of passed over it. But Wayne is an amazing doctor.

KING: Amazing. And how is your health?

CRONKITE: My health is absolutely excellent. I still creep around a little bit from a torn Achilles tendon, but I'm rather proud of it. I got it on the tennis court at the age of 85, and I figure that I can live on that for a while.

KING: You're going to be 88 next week, right?

CRONKITE: Yes, indeed.

KING: Do you feel 88?

CRONKITE: Heck no. I can't believe it. I really can't believe it. Every once in a while, I kind of shudder. 88? My gosh, that's an old man. And I don't feel that at all. There is not an activity that we perform in the human race that I'm not prepared to undergo again.

KING: You're a great credit to that race. Thank you, Walter.

CRONKITE: Thank you very much, Larry. Good luck to you tonight.

KING: Thank you. Walter Cronkite, who keeps on keeping on. We'll introduce our panel right after this. Don't go away.


BUSH: The president must base decisions on principle, core convictions from which you will never waiver. The issues vary. The challenges are different every day. The polls go up, the polls go down. But a president's convictions must be consistent and true.



KING: Don't forget, tomorrow night, we'll repeat highlights of recent interviews with Senator Kerry and President Bush.

Let's meet our panel. In Columbia, South Carolina is Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, member of the Armed Services Committee. He's an Air Force veteran, by the way, and the only member of the U.S. Senate currently serving who's in the reserves. In Miami is Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, former chairman of Select Intelligence Committee, author of a recently released book "Intelligence Matters." He was a candidate for his party's nomination, and he's coming to us direct from a rally for John Kerry.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico is Governor Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, former ambassador to the U.N. And in Washington, Laura Ingraham, an old friend, host of the nationally syndicated "The Laura Ingraham Show" on Talk Radio Network, best- selling author of "Shut Up and Sing: How Elites From Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America."

Since we have two Senator Grahams, they will allow me on this program to call them by their first name so they know who I'm talking to, and I'll figure out who's getting a cell phone.

Lindsey, we'll start with Lindsey Graham. Lindsey, what do you make of the Osama bin Laden thing?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I like the response of Senator Kerry and President Bush. We're showing a united front. I have no idea what he's trying to do with the tape. But Walter Cronkite was right. It seems to be trying to negotiate, but the answer is no deal from Republicans, Democrats, independents. We're going to come after you, we're going to find you, we're going to bring you to justice. I can't tell you what he's thinking, but I know I like the response from both parties.

KING: Bob, you see any political effect of this one way or the other in the United States?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: I agree with the analysis of my clansman, Lindsey. I will say that I believe this is going to put the issue of the war on terrorism not only back on the campaign agenda, but even more so on the agenda of whoever is our next president. I think that we've essentially abandoned the war on terror for the last two and a half years, and we've paid a heavy price for it. And now we see that our enemy is alive, is well, and is threatening.

KING: Governor Richardson, veteran of the international scene, what do you make of this, and the timing of it?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, certainly Osama bin Laden wanted to influence our election. He is sending a message that he's still around. He is also goading us. He is challenging us. I believe -- I was very proud of Senator Kerry's response. What he basically said is that today we're all Americans. We're not Republicans or Democrats. His objective as president is the war on terrorism. His priority number one that we shouldn't divert resources elsewhere. That's priority one, that he will hunt down and kill the terrorists.

I was very proud by the statesman-like statement of both candidates. I think tonight we should do everything we can to not make this and not even speculate of what kind of effect this is going to have on the election.

We should also think of the families that lost loved ones on September 11th. They probably suffered the most, seeing this killer on the screen basically goading us again.

KING: And, Laura Ingraham, what do you make of this kind of negotiation on the part of a terrorist?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, to address something that Senator Bob Graham said, I think to say that we're not making headway in the war on terror really is not saying all that much positive to our troops in Afghanistan, who are doing a great job. And I think that while this kumbaya moment that we're all sharing about party unity is wonderful, the truth of the matter is, Senator Kerry came out today and brought up Tora Bora and outsourcing the job of getting bin Laden to the Afghan warlords. And General Tommy Franks has been very clear on this. He said that Senator Kerry's line on this is not comporting with reality, that in fact, our special forces were on the ground, and we were in hot pursuit of bin Laden.

So it's nice to say we're all united, but the fact is Senator Kerry used this opportunity at this outrageous attempt by bin Laden to influence our elections to once again call into question the performance of our military in the war on terror, and I think that's wrong.

B. GRAHAM: Larry...

KING: Bob, you want to comment?

L. GRAHAM: Larry...

KING: Bob first and then Lindsey. Bob.

B. GRAHAM: I think we would be allowing Osama bin Laden to score his victory if we were to allow this videotape to result in a shut- down of our public dialogue on the direction of the United States in the war on terror. The facts are...

INGRAHAM: Who's shutting it down?

B. GRAHAM: The facts...

INGRAHAM: We're not shutting it down, Senator. B. GRAHAM: The facts are we have already shut it down.


B. GRAHAM: We began to shut it down as early as February of 2002, when we began to divert the very resources that had been so important in the early victories in Afghanistan to get ready for the war in Iraq. As one of the generals in Iraq says, we're not killing the terrorists as fast as they're recruiting them. And therefore...

INGRAHAM: Well, one thing -- no...

B. GRAHAM: ... the ranks of the terrorists continue to grow.

KING: All right, let's not interrupt. Senator Graham, and then Governor Richardson. You want to get in on this, Lindsey?

L. GRAHAM: Well, yeah. That bipartisan moment passed, I suppose.

KING: Quickly.

L. GRAHAM: Here's my view of it, that the war on terror is really bigger than bin Laden. It's about religious extremism. Zarqawi is a part of it. The only way to eventually win is to have moderate force in the Mideast to be empowered to take these people on in the Mideast, and that's what we're doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Big event happened in Afghanistan, where women can vote. We're transforming Iraq. That's essentially the way to win this war, is to do many things at once and empower moderate forces in the Mideast. If you kill bin Laden tomorrow, it's not over. You got a lot more to do.

KING: Governor?

RICHARDSON: Well, I'm raising this because Laura kind of injected partisanship in Senator Kerry's response. The reality is that Senator Kerry was not briefed about this tape. The moment he learned of the tape, he made a very united, bipartisan statement that we should all be together.

This Tora Bora initiative was way before this tape surfaced, and that is a legitimate debate in the campaign. The fact that Senator Kerry believes that we need to focus primarily on the war on terrorism, that we have diverted resources to Iraq that should have been in the war on terrorism, and the fact is the president apparently was briefed about this at noon, and then made a partisan attack on Senator Kerry in the afternoon before the tape surfaced. So...

KING: Laura, how do you react to it?

RICHARDSON: ... there's going to be politics everywhere, and we should avoid it.

INGRAHAM: Governor Richardson, I mean, the idea that during a political campaign season both candidates aren't going to be talking about politics is a little bit ridiculous. I mean, this tape stands on its own.

KING: But you slammed -- but hold it, Laura, but you attacked Kerry for bringing up politics when he hadn't been briefed yet.

INGRAHAM: Because John Kerry has consistently called into question the conduct of the war on terror. And that's fine. It's a political season. But let's not pretend that this is like some moment where everybody's stepping back and everybody's saying, oh, let's all have a united front.

It's a political campaign season. I think these things should be debated, but we have to remember, Larry, and remember this very carefully. Every poll and survey that's been done of our military overwhelmingly shows that the troops, active duty and retired, support this president by the numbers of four to one and three to one. That's significant. If it's such an incompetent war on terror, why do the troops love this president so much? We should remember that.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Your calls will be included. Our panel will be with us the rest of the way. Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Bob Graham, Governor Bill Richardson and Laura Ingraham. Don't go away.


KERRY: I believe that we begin by giving this country the fresh start that it deserves. In four days, this great campaign for America's future will end. This election is in your hands.



KING: Let's get some political expertise into this discussion. We'll be including your phone calls too. Lindsey Graham, what are you going to look for Tuesday night? What are the keys to you?

L. GRAHAM: Well, turnout. I think -- I think President Bush is going to win pretty decisively, to be honest with you, because the central issue for many people is to make America secure, and President Bush is leading in pretty large numbers there. And our Democratic friends want to suggest that Afghanistan and Iraq are not part of the war on terror. One is and one's not. I think a lot of Americans understand we've made mistakes in Iraq, but it wasn't a mistake to take Saddam Hussein out and try to create a democracy where a dictatorship existed.

KING: So it's not close to you?

L. GRAHAM: I think he's going to win pretty strong. Well, it's close in polling, but at the end of the day, I think the undecideds are going to break sort of en masse, and that Senator Kerry has been too inconsistent. He's been kind of all over the board about what he would do, what he wouldn't do, what he has done.

KING: You predict a big turnout and a Bush victory. L. GRAHAM: Big turnout, President Bush 300 plus votes. And the $87 billion vote really hurt Senator Kerry. And not voting to get Saddam Hussein out in 1991, all that together, I think, creates a lot of uncertainty about how he would lead us.

KING: Bob Graham, how do you see it? And what about Florida?

B. GRAHAM: Well, I think some of the things to look for, Larry, are the early voting. We've been voting now in Florida for 10 days. The turnouts have been tremendous. Many county election supervisors think that 30 percent or more of the vote that will ultimately be cast will be cast before November 2nd. And the second is the composition of that early turnout.

I voted today, my area in Miami Lakes, and I was impressed with the fact that there were so many new voters. Both of the people standing behind me were casting their votes for president for the very first time. I think that that's going to have a significant effect on the outcome, and I believe that John Kerry will carry Florida and its 27 electoral votes, and will carry the nation.

KING: Big turnout you're predicting too?

B. GRAHAM: Very big turnout. Significantly larger than we've had in recent presidential elections.

KING: Laura Ingraham, what are you going to be looking at?

INGRAHAM: I think there will be a pretty decisive turnout. I'll be willing to put money on Florida with Senator Graham, if he wants to take a bet on national TV.

L. GRAHAM: Which one?

INGRAHAM: No, Senator Bob Graham. I'll do $500 with you for charity, if you want to bet Florida right now.

I think one thing that's interesting here is that whether you're talking about Hawaii or Wisconsin or Minnesota, you have these states which traditionally go Democrat, which the Democrats are now having to fight for. That's not good news for John Kerry.

I think anything can happen. If I had to bet today, I'd bet that President Bush was going to win. But this is an exciting campaign. I have to correct Governor Richardson on the issue of what Senator Kerry said about this -- the issue about the bin Laden tape. This is CNN's wire, Larry. "Reacting to a new videotape from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, Senator John Kerry renewed his controversial charge that bin Laden was allowed to escape from Tora Bora." That happened today in West Palm Beach. That's the wire of CNN.

KING: All right, Governor Richardson, you can comment on that. And what are you going to look for Tuesday night?

RICHARDSON: Well, I predict a narrow victory for Senator Kerry, and I think what will be decisive is a massive turnout. Turnouts help Democrats. I believe that the race will be settled in the West, among Hispanic voters. New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado. I believe that you will see a huge surge for Senator Kerry in those areas. The battleground states in the Midwest and Florida, I think it will be mixed.

So I believe this is where, with the newly emerging, newly registered Hispanic voters in New Mexico -- we've got 100,000.

On Laura's statement, that's flat wrong. Senator Kerry...

INGRAHAM: CNN's wrong then.

RICHARDSON: Upon being -- well, upon learning about this tape, like everybody else -- Senator Kerry did not get the briefing that President Bush got at noon today, and President Bush went right out and attacked Senator Kerry in a very partisan way when we should have all been united. We should all have talked about this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, that we're all against these terrorists. So those are the facts.

INGRAHAM: So you're saying, Governor Richardson, that Senator Kerry actually needed a briefing before he could react to the tape without criticizing the troops in Tora Bora?

RICHARDSON: No. But I -- what I'm saying is that the president got a briefing and then went out and attacked Senator Kerry.

INGRAHAM: So what? He's on the campaign trail. I mean, who cares?

RICHARDSON: Senator Kerry did not have any briefing.

INGRAHAM: Why does he need a briefing?


KING: I don't understand. Laura, you criticize Kerry...

RICHARDSON: Laura, this is terrorism. This is America. We should all be together, Republicans and Democrats.

INGRAHAM: The point, Larry, the point...

KING: You're trying to have it both ways, Laura. You said Kerry criticized...

INGRAHAM: No, I'm actually not.

KING: ... Kerry criticized Bush after he learned about bin Laden.

INGRAHAM: No. I'm talking, Larry...

KING: But Richardson is saying that Bush criticized Kerry after he learned about bin Laden.

INGRAHAM: I don't care if they're criticizing each other on anything.

KING: Then what was your point?

INGRAHAM: Tora Bora. The point...

KING: Being?

INGRAHAM: ... of your talking about you let -- you let bin Laden escape, he makes -- bin Laden gives -- releases a videotape with the clear intent to affect American elections. There is no doubt about that. He releases this tape and Senator Kerry says, oh, well, if we had only gotten bin Laden, you know, and we hadn't outsourced the job, well, we wouldn't be in this situation. He reacts about bin Laden, when bin Laden wants that reaction.

KING: Is -- Senator...

B. GRAHAM: Can I say, Larry...

KING: Who's going to...

B. GRAHAM: Larry, first, the issue of Tora Bora is a factual issue. We don't have to debate it. The fact is we did have Osama bin Laden surrounded. We did outsource to other non-U.S. forces.

INGRAHAM: That's not what General Franks says.

B. GRAHAM: And he escaped. But this is not the totality of the number of failures in the war on terror. We have not yet laid a glove on the terrorists who, in some people's eyes, are more serious threats than al Qaeda, such as Hezbollah, which has 1,000 missiles poised, ready to attack Israel. We have not taken any action in terms of dealing with the Saudis, who have been very duplicitous in their involvement, including this week, reports that they are financing the insurgents in Iraq, at the same time that we're covering up their past behavior.

KING: Lindsey, why is this -- before we take some calls, Lindsey, why is this race so vituperative? I've yet to hear either candidate say "my distinguished opponent." Why?

L. GRAHAM: It's just -- there's just so much at stake. In a campaign, you just get so into the fact that you're right, and when you hear your opponent criticize the fundamental nature of who you are, it's just very hard to think outside of the box that you put yourself in of trying to convince people that you're the best way to go. And it's just -- it's not new. It happens in every political campaign. We were divided in 2000.

But let me say this about tonight. There is a point that we are more united than people would have us believe. We do agree that bin Laden is a common enemy to Republicans and Democrats. And I want to throw this one thought out. If we kill bin Laden tomorrow, does anybody believe the war is over then?

KING: Woodlands Park, Texas. Hello. CALLER: Hello. Should the media play the entire bin Laden tape unedited for the American public?

KING: Governor Richardson, what do you think?

RICHARDSON: Well, yes. I've read the text. I think it's important that the American people see, first of all, that this is a man that is a killer. He is trying to drive us against our Israeli allies. He is trying to incite the American people, build sympathy with America. He is trying to say that Kerry and Bush are both insignificant. He's trying to appeal to the American people, and we should see bin Laden for what he is, a terrorist who not only misreads American public opinion, but is trying to influence our election. And we should do everything we can to hunt and kill him and destroy him, as Senator Kerry wants. But not let him get into our heads. Not let him get into influencing us as a country and as people.

KING: Laura, what do you think bin Laden thinks? Like what's his point?

INGRAHAM: I would not...

KING: It's a guess. What...

INGRAHAM: ... pretend to speak for bin Laden or know what he's thinking. But I think the fact that this tape came out now, just a few days before the election, has to make us all ask -- do the terrorists prefer one person to win? I have no idea, but it's odd that this tape would come out now, number one. Number two, we don't know when the tape was exactly made. There's no time sensitive information in the tape. But I think, you know, one thing, Larry, that we probably all agree on this panel is that al-Jazeera seems to operate as the instant communications wing of al Qaeda. Whenever al Qaeda wants to get a tape up on the satellite bird and sent out to the world, all they have to do is get it over to al-Jazeera, and it's up there.

I think we need to look at it carefully. If the American people want to see it, I don't really have a problem with that. He mentions that President Bush has misled the American public since September 11. That's one of the key lines in that tape. And what does that tell you about what he thinks about President Bush?

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Include more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Monday night on election eve, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the North Carolina senator will be our guest. Don't go away.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: If you flex your muscles next November 2. If you flex your muscles November 2, I guarantee you President Bush will be back. It is a great privilege and a great honor for me to introduce to you here in the great city of Columbus, Ohio, a great friend, a great friend, a great American and a great leader. The president of the United States of America, George W. Bush!


KING: That's Arnold in Columbus. Columbus, Georgia, hello.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I heard that on another news program today that the U.S. had this tape before hand, and they just decided to come out today to make sure it was an October surprise. Is this true?

KING: Anybody? Did you hear that, Governor Richardson? Anybody hear that?



RICHARDSON: No. I think that this was al-Jazeera. This was bin Laden. I think our military, our intelligence, they're very responsible folks. I don't think they would have injected this. This is beyond our control, and it happened because, I believe, bin Laden wants to influence our elections.

KING: Lindsey, do the Schwarzeneggers and the Springsteens, the kind of celebrities help?

L. GRAHAM: I think it helps when people come to listen to what you have to say, and one of the reasons they're there is to see Arnold or The Boss. I think it helps create a crowd. But one thing I would like to leave as my two cents worth in this whole debate. What is the war on terror about? To me, it's about religious extremism. You could kill bin Laden tomorrow, but we're not going to win this war until moderate forces in the Mid East, Larry, have a chance to chart a new destiny, for women to vote, women to participate in society. And bin Laden has no room in the world for anybody that disagrees with him.

This is a long hard fight. And I think Iraq is part of the war on terror, and I really admire President Bush understanding that if you're going to change the fundamental dynamics that led to 9/11, you have to go after these people wherever they hide, and you have to take regimes on like Saddam Hussein, who are part of the problem. And that's why I think he's going to win.

B. GRAHAM: If I could say...

KING: Bob, is the war winable? Bob, is it winable?

B. GRAHAM: It is winable, but it's going to take focus. The president said it right on September the 20th, 2001, when he said that the war on terror does not end with al Qaeda. It extends to other terrorist groups that have global reach. That is, they can operate in several countries. And that we will find them, we will stop them, and we will destroy them. That was the Bush doctrine of how to fight the war on terror. And I agree with that. That's the doctrine we need to get back to. There were no terrorists of any significance in Iraq before we invaded. There's no evidence that they had anything to do with September the 11th. We took our eyes off the real terrorists in order to go to war against Iraq, and the war against the real terrorists has been essentially abandoned for the last 2 1/2 years.

KING: Laura?

INGRAHAM: I just -- every time I hear someone in a position of power say that the war on terror has been abandoned when we have three quarters of the al Qaeda leadership in our custody, when our men and women in battle have done such an enormously great job all around the world, not just in Afghanistan, not just in Iraq, but our special forces operating in every country from The Philippines to Indonesia, all over this are globe. I think it's an insult to the troops, and I don't think Senator Graham really means it.

B. GRAHAM: It's not an insult to the troops.

INGRAHAM: Talk to the troops. They're insulted by that.

B. GRAHAM: Laura, you can have a reasonable disagreement with the commander-in-chief and the decisions that he's making as to how to wage the war...

INGRAHAM: Absolutely.

B. GRAHAM: Without denigrating the bravery and courage of the men and women who are actually fighting the war.

INGRAHAM: Right. But Senator Graham, if you let me finish my point that I was trying to make is that when you say that we've abandoned the war on terror, that just is so factually inaccurate. I don't understand, as a senator of the United States, how do you possibly say that? We have three quarters of al Qaeda in custody. How is that abandoning the war in terror? And let me also finish. Saddam Hussein was funding to the tune of $25,000 a family who was supporting suicide bombers going into Israel. We know that, and you know that. And Zarqawi is there today operating freely because he was given safe havens for some time in Iraq. You know that, and I know that. That's not abandoning the war on terror.

KING: Bob, you want to get a chance to respond?

B. GRAHAM: There are a lot of evils in the Middle East and central Asia and certainly Saddam Hussein was one of those evils. The question is is he the evil that had the greatest capability to kill Americans? In my opinion, the answer to that was no. The greatest capability to kill Americans is al Qaeda and probably some of these other terrorist groups in Syria are second and third. We may have reached the point that we needed to take on Saddam Hussein, but the spring of 2003 was not that time, until we had completed the goal the president laid out to find, to stop, and destroy international terrorist organizations.

KING: Let me get a break, and I'll have a question for Governor Richardson, and we'll get into our remaining moments right after this.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: That's why I'm here today to stand alongside Senator Kerry and to tell you that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting. And together we can move America towards our deepest ideals. This is for you, John.



KING: Governor Richardson, when you mentioned those four Western states earlier -- Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, are you saying that Senator Kerry could win all four of those?

RICHARDSON: Probably not Arizona, but certainly Colorado. It's a dead heat right now. In New Mexico, by 1 percent, I'm pretty committed to that. Nevada, I think, with President Clinton going there, with the whole Yucca Mountain issue against President Bush, I believe that that is very doable.

I think what is important, though, Larry, is the American people should go out and vote. Let's not let this election be decided by a bunch of courts and lawyers. Let there be a massive demonstration of democracy.

Look what happened in Afghanistan; 90 percent of the people there voted. We barely make 50 percent of the eligible voters going out. Let's show everybody that America this time, because of the tremendous interest in this election, is going to set a record pace of voting. And I think, if that happens, there will be a decisive victor. But I do think Senator Kerry will end up being the next president. And I think he'll make a great commander in chief.

KING: Let me get -- get in one more quick call. Sebring, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes. I wanted to ask Senator Bob Graham if he believes that General Franks was lying today when he had -- when he reported that he had reports of Osama bin Laden being in various places, including Tora Bora.

KING: We only have 30 seconds, Bob.

B. GRAHAM: No. I have great respect for General Franks. I think that he has been one of the most visionary people about what was going to happen in that region of the world. In my book, "Intelligence Matters," I report a conversation that I had with General Franks in February of 2002, and almost everything that he said at that time has come to be true.

KING: I thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again. Hang tough Tuesday night. You'll probably be with us some time during the night.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida. Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico. And Laura Ingraham, author of "Shut up and Sing: How Elites From Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America."

Be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about what's coming up tomorrow night and over the weekend. But first, we want to congratulate Ted and Erica Rowlands. Ted has been covering the scene for us at the Peterson trial. They're the proud parents of a beautiful healthy baby girl. Cosette Rowlands (ph) -- what a name -- came into the world last night at 7:55 out in California. Weighed six pounds, eight ounces, measured 20 inches. Mom, dad and older sister Madison (ph) are all doing well. Madison and Cosette. Congratulations, Ted. Great guy.

There was a wonderful memorial today for Christopher Reeve here at the Juilliard Theater in midtown Manhattan. I was proud to attend. A lot of wonderful people there saluting a great American, who, as I said, if they ever cure spinal paralysis, they're going to have to name the cure after him.

Christopher Reeve. Rest in peace.

And we leave you tonight with a special tribute to a super man.


CHRISTOPHER REEVE: You learn that the stuff of your life -- I mean, I was a sailor, I was a skier, I was a rider. I did a lot of stuff, a lot of action, very sports oriented, et cetera. I traveled everywhere. And you realize that is not the definition or the essence of your existence.

What is the essence are those relationships, those people in that room right there. And while my relationships were always good, I mean, now they've transcended. My son and I, my wife and I. And so that's why I can honestly say I'm a lucky man.

I'm lucky. I'm very lucky. First of all, because I think that I'm in a position to do more than just sit home and stare out the window, that I can actually be of help. And that wasn't the road I would have picked, but a lot of times things get picked for you.

So the point is, either I give in or I say, all right, let's make the best of this. And there's a lot I can do.

I think the question of whether I will walk is going to depend on politics, it's going to depend on collaborations between scientists around the world. It will depend on economics. A lot of factors that I knew very little about when I was injured eight years ago. And I think my purpose, when I was 42, in saying that I would walk by the time I was 50 was to be provocative, to be a voice saying, why can't we do this? Don't tell me the reasons why not.


KING: We're running a little late. We'll have a special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE, live, and Aaron Brown is going to work Sunday night too.

Fahrenheit 9/11: The temperature at which Michael Moore's pants burn

911 Conspirators met with Bush Officials after the Attack

Though well known as a terrorist since 1996, one month before 9/11 President George W. Bush thanked Sami Al-Arian's family for a book they sent him and expressed "regret" about how their son was treated by the Secret Service.

October 29, 2004-Venice,FL.
by Grant Noah.
Bush Administration officials repeatedly met with terrorists linked to 9/11 such as Sami al-Arian and Abdurahman al-Amoudi even after the attack, The MadCowMorningNews has learned.
For example:
From the Congressional Testimony of Steve Emerson on March 19, 1996:

"Held in the Washington area from June 19 to 21, 1991, the conference included… leaders representing nearly every radical fundamentalist group in the world attended, making the gathering the all-time All-Star terrorist conference in U.S. history… those present also decided to support one another in their respective Islamic confrontations with their non-Islamic hosts."

"In attendance at this spectacular meeting was Hamas chieftain Musa Abu Marzuk, Islamic Jihad leaders Ramadan Abdullah [Shallah] and Sami Al-Arian (the latter is still ensconced as a professor at the University of South Florida while the former now runs Islamic Jihad from Damascus), Al-Amoudi, now head of the American Muslim Council and a chief spokesperson for imprisoned Hamas chief Marzuk."

Wall Street Journal contributor and terrorism expert Steve Emerson commented again in February 1997:

"In late October, 1995, a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah declared in Damascus, Syria that he was the new head of Islamic Jihad… Since 1991, Shallah had lived in the United States where he served as a professor at the University of South Florida at Tampa and also directed a "research centre"- affiliated with the University of South Florida-called the the World Islamic Studies Enterprise."

"He worked closely with Sami Al-Arian, another professor who was not only the corporate founder of Mr. Shallah's research facility but also the head of a non-profit charitable organization called the Islamic Concern Project. Together, both men secretly built and operated a clandestine command-and-control headquarters for Islamic Jihad"...

"From the safety of their Tampa offices, Mr. Shallah and Mr. Al-Arian operated a terrorist organization, raising funds, recruiting terrorists and bringing them into the country, devising terrorist strategies, and actually directing specific terrorist attacks -- all the while being invited to the U.S. military's intelligence headquarters at nearby McDlll Air Force Base to give assessments on the Middle East."

From the Congressional Testimony of Richard Clarke, October 22, 2003:

"From his home and office in Tampa Florida, Sami al-Arian, the indicted North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, allegedly coordinated the movement of fund from the government of Iran to suicide bombers in West Bank and Gaza… In Tampa, Florida, Sami al-Arian established the Islamic Academy of Florida. The February 2003 indictment against al-Arian says the school was used as a base of support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad"…

"On October 9 2003, Soliman Biheiri was convicted on federal immigration charges in the Eastern District of Virginia… Biheiri was the President and founder of BMI, Inc., an investment bank specializing in Islamically permissible investments. In the 1980's and 90's, BMI offered a series of financial services to Muslims in America… BMI allegedly received a $500,000 investment from Baraka Group. Baraka Group, headed by Saleh Kamel, is reportedly a founder of a Sudanese Islamic bank which housed several accounts for senior al-Qaida operatives… Biheiri's computer reportedly contained contact information for Sami al-Arian, the indicted North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."

From University Wire - USF Oracle June 13, 2002:

"[Former Justice Department prosecutor John] Loftus’s accusations against Al-Arian go even further than links with Jihad. Loftus said he believes Al-Arian had a link to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Loftus said Al-Arian was involved with a group called Baraka that he alleges laundered money to support the suicide pilots as they trained at Florida airports."

From University Wire - USF Oracle July 8, 2002:
“My sources keep me very current on Al-Arian,” Loftus said. “I had very high security clearances from all U.S. intelligence and NATO agencies when I worked for the attorney general… Loftus said he has evidence to link [Islamic] Jihad and Al-Arian to the al Qaeda terrorist organization, which has been blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks. In addition, Loftus said evidence suggests Al-Arian may have personally played a part in the execution of the attacks. "It is a matter of record that an organization known as the Baraka group laundered the money to the skyjackers of Sept. 11. Al-Arian incorporated Baraka in the state of Florida, which was dissolved on Sept. 28, 2001."

From University Wire - USF Oracle April 9, 2002:

"Had the government thrown Al-Arian in jail, Loftus said, many acts of terrorism could have been prevented, even the most notorious of them all: the attacks on America... "Al-Arian is connected to al-Qaida, Loftus said, because the same Saudi groups that donated money to WISE and ICP — the same groups which were raided by the FBI last month — also had connection to Mohammed Atta, the suspected leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings."

The busy Mr. al-Arian had contacts not only with Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda, but also with Karl Rove and the Bush Administration.

From The St. Petersburg Times (Florida) March 11, 2003:
"The rumpled, balding figure was spotted darting into the offices of Republican power broker Grover Norquist last July... Sami Al-Arian emerged more than two hours later... Al-Arian was visiting the Islamic Institute, a Muslim outreach group cofounded by Norquist and housed within his office suite."
"In June 2001, Al-Arian was among members of the American Muslim Council invited to the White House complex for abriefing by Bush political adviser Karl Rove. The next month, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom - a civil liberties group headed by Al-Arian - gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases, a position Bush had adopted in the 2000 campaign."

From The Washington Post February 22, 2003:
"Al-Arian's appearance at the White House came… as part of the administration's outreach to Muslims, officials said... The group that included Al-Arian was scheduled to be briefed by Vice President Cheney, but Cheney canceled. That morning, the Jerusalem Post had run a front-page article headlined, "Cheney to host pro-terrorist Muslim group."

"Rove, according to Al-Arian and other attendees, used the meeting to talk of White House efforts to embrace the Muslim community. Al-Arian said he sat in the front row. A White House official was unable to say who else spoke to the group. Records showed that Al-Arian was admitted to the White House at least once during the Clinton administration, the official said"…

"The [al-Arian] family said that Bush gave their lanky son, Abdullah, the nickname "Big Dude."'…

"Six days after Al-Arian's meeting with Rove, a delegation of Muslim community activists stormed out of the White House complex after the Secret Service ejected Al-Arian's son, an intern for then-Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.). The Secret Service sent the son an apology on Aug. 13, 2001"...

"Bush signed an Aug. 2, 2001, letter to Al-Arian's wife, thanking her for a book she sent him and expressing "regret" about how her son was treated. "I have been assured that everything possible is being done to ensure that nothing like this happens again," Bush wrote."

From The Boston Globe, February 27, 2003:
"Al-Arian is not the only Islamist zealot who has gained access to Bush and his inner circle. Consider, for example, Abdurahman Alamoudi, the founder of the American Muslim Council… In October 2000, he was cheered at a pro-Palestinian rally in Washington, D.C., when he declared: "We are all supporters of Hamas. . . I am also a supporter of Hezbollah." Three months later he was in Beirut for a terrorist summit, along with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda."

From, June 22, 2004:

“A close Alamoudi friend and political ally, former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian… were part of a broader political Islamic movement in the United States that connects sympathizers of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida”…

“In 1998… the Islamic Institute [Norquist], the AMC [al-Amoudi] and Al-Arian were all working together.”

From MSNBC Oct. 24, 2003:
"Abdurahman Alamoudi, a consultant to the Pentagon on the chaplain program for more than a decade, is now accused of helping Osama bin Laden and Hamas. Court documents filed late Wednesday night claim Alamoudi has provided “financial support to Hamas” and “financial support to fronts for al-Qaida.” One of the groups allegedly tied to Alamoudi is a charity that gave a Virginia post office as its address. Alamoudi was the charity’s vice president."
"Who founded it? Abdullah bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s nephew. Also ringing alarms: Alamoudi’s Palm Pilot, which the government claims included the names and numbers of six designated global terrorists.
The government also alleges Alamoudi had a Swiss bank account and $2.2 million"…

"In an audiotape of a conversation obtained by NBC News, Alamoudi seems to embrace violence and suggests al-Qaida should choose better targets: (Translated) “I prefer to hit a Zionist target in America or Europe or elsewhere.”'

From The Washington Times Magazine, March 4, 2003:
'"I think if we were outside this country, we can say, 'Oh, Allah, destroy America,' but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it. There is no way for Muslims to be violent in America, no way. We have other means to do it. You can be violent anywhere else but in America" (Alamoudi to Islamic Association of Palestine, Chicago, Dec. 29, 1996)"...

'"Hamas is not a terrorist group... I have followed the good work of Hamas. ... They have a wing that is a violent wing. They had to resort to some kind of violence" (Alamoudi, National Press Club, Nov. 22, 1994)"…

"[Al-Amoudi] on Abu Marzook, deported from the United States and now Hamas leader in Syria: "Yes, I am honored to be a member of the committee that is defending Musa Abu Marzook [Hamas leader] in America. This a mark of distinction on my chest... I have known Musa Abu Marzook before and I really consider him to be from among the best people in the Islamic movement, Hamas -- in the Palestinian movement in general -- and I work together with him" (Alamoudi, Middle East TV, March 26, 1996)."

From Newsweek October 1, 2003:

"The Muslim activist, Abdurahman Muhammed Alamoudi, president of the American Muslim Foundation, played a key role in the chaplain program, publicly boasting to reporters that he was first person authorized by the U.S. military to recruit Islamic clerics"…

"Evidence recently obtained by prosecutors from German police files show[s]... that Alamoudi also had meetings in the fall of 2000 with Mohammed Belfas, an elder from the Islamic community in Hamburg who had multiple ties to key figures in the September 11 terror attacks. Belfas—who once shared an apartment with Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of the orchestrators of the September 11 attacks—had come to the United States in the fall of 2000 along with a young Muslim acquaintance from Hamburg… Agus Budiman"…

"After the September 11 attacks, German police raided Belfas’s Hamburg apartment and... discovered multiple connections between the two men and several leaders of the September 11 plot, including bin al-Shibh and Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers"...
"[Belfas’] recently discovered dealings with Alamoudi are likely to get new attention. Among the evidence seized from Belfas’s apartment is a picture showing Belfas and Budiman meeting with Alamoudi at his office in Arlington… Alamoudi wrote a letter on personal letterhead recommending Belfas to an Islamic editor in Munich."

'New attention' was not forthcoming. This Newsweek article is the press's sole mention of the connection between al-Amoudi, Belfas and Budiman. Once the backgrounds of Belfas and Budiman are examined, it is easy to see why.

From The New York Sun October 3, 2003:

"One terrorism expert, Lorenzo Vidino of The Investigative Group, said the contact with Mr. Belfas raises a red flag… Mr. Vidino says. "Contact with him can be seen as contact with the organization [al-Qaeda]."

From The New York Post, January 13, 2002:

"Belfas claims he doesn't know bin Laden but told Tempo [Indonesian magazine], "Clearly he [bin Laden] has good intentions for Islam."

From The Washington Post, November 27, 2001:
"The FBI Monday outlined a series of connections between an Alexandria, Va., man [Budiman] and al Qaida terrorists linked to the Sept. 11 attacks… Budiman, an Indonesian citizen, lived and studied in Hamburg before coming to the United States in October 2000… Associates of Budiman’s acknowledge that he knew Atta and others blamed for the attacks"…
"Gomez testified that Budiman knew Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who flew planes into the World Trade Center, and Ramsi Binalshibh, a Muslim cleric living in Hamburg. FBI Director Robert Mueller identified Binalshibh as the 20th hijacker who was supposed to be aboard the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Atta, the leader of the plot, and Binalshibh were roommates, and Budiman helped them move from one apartment into another, [FBI Special Agent] Gomez said. Gomez also testified that Binalshibh twice used Budiman’s Washington area address to try to enter the United States, presumably to take part in the plot. Binalshibh also told Budiman that he wanted to take part in the jihad, or holy war."

From CBS News, November 30, 2001:

"[FBI Special Agent] Gomez testified that hijacker Ziad Samir Jarrah used Budiman's name to get into the United States…"

From The Associated Press, November 30, 2001:

"Both Budiman and Belfas are among 370 names included on a detailed FBI list of people sought for questioning in the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The list was released last month by Finnish banking authorities. Budiman is identified on the list as a U.S. contact person for Atta, the presumed ringleader of the 19 hijackers. Belfas is identified as a contact person for bin Laden, the prime U.S. suspect in the attacks."

Al-Amoudi aided and funded al-Qaida; he also had several meetings with key figures of the 9/11 plot… and took pictures. So how did he gain access to Bush’s inner circle?’

From MSNBC October 23, 2003:
"John Loftus, ex-DOJ official: About a year-and-a-half ago, people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren’t being touched because they’d been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them."

"But, who was it that fixed the cases?... the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist… He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he’s the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute. Grover Norquist’s best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things."...

"Think of the Muslim chaplain’s program that he set up as a spy service for al-Qaeda."

From MSNBC October 24, 2003:

"Over the years, Alamoudi has been a familiar face in Washington. The Pentagon chose him to help select Muslim chaplains. He met with President Clinton. Made six trips to Muslim nations as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department.Met with presidential candidate George W. Bush. Last year, FBI Director Robert Mueller even spoke to an organization founded by Alamoudi, over the objections of some agents."

From The National Review, June 11, 2004:
"Alamoudi was a frequent visitor to the Clinton White House. The State Department paid him to represent the United States on six overseas speaking tours between 1997 and 2001. (His topic: religious tolerance.) The Clinton-era Pentagon selected Alamoudi to nominate the armed forces' first Muslim chaplains."

From The Boston Globe, February 27, 2003:
"Alamoudi attended the Rove briefing in the White House in [June] 2001; a year earlier, he was one of several Muslims invited to meet with candidate Bush in Austin, Texas..."

From The Washington Times Magazine October 5, 2001:
Fox News was the first to report that three days after the [9/11] attack Abdurahaman Alamoudi, president of the American Muslim Council, was invited to a prayer service with the president…"

Bush wins boost from terror tape

Bush wins boost from terror tape
· Candidates battle over bin Laden video · Early poll move to PresidentPaul Harris in Orlando, Peter Beaumont in Washington, Jason Burke and Gaby HinsliffSunday October 31, 2004
The ObserverGeorge W Bush moved yesterday to seize the political advantage after Osama bin Laden's extraordinary intervention in the US presidential election on Friday night.
The campaign descended into a final bout of acrimony yesterday as both sides attacked each other for making political capital out of the al-Qaeda leader's video address. But it appeared to be the incumbent who will gain any political advantage.
A Newsweek tracker poll published yesterday suggested the momentum may be moving in the incumbent's way. The poll predicted Bush to win by 50 per cent to Kerry's 44, compared with a 48-46 gap last week.
As the candidates spent their last Saturday before Tuesday's election attacking one another over terrorism, political analysts were quick to suggest that bin Laden's intervention would favour Bush, who has consistently led John Kerry on security.
Kerry was the first to use the tape to attack his opponent, appealing for Americans to show unity, but then quickly condemning Bush for missing an opportunity to capture bin Laden. 'I regret that when George Bush had the opportunity in Afghanistan and Tora Bora, he didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden,' Kerry said.
Bush responded by lambasting Kerry's comments as 'shameful', and his aides followed up the attack. 'You would think there would be maybe 12 hours to let the American people absorb this [the video],' said White House spokesman Dan Bartlett.
Democrats at first said Kerry had not seen the tape when he made his comments. However, his aides held conference calls with reporters and in their turn attacked the Republicans for using the video as a political tool.
'It's offensive and shameful for this president to play politics the way he did today with this issue,' Joe Lockhart a senior Kerry strategist told the Los Angeles Times.
The developing political row over the bin Laden tape came amid news from Iraq that eight Marines has been killed and nine others injured after heavy clashes, apparently just outside Fallujah.
The combination of the bin Laden tape and the new Iraq violence has thrust the issue of security back to the front of a campaign that has been dominated by terrorism.
Kerry's initial mis-step seems to have allowed the Republicans to put his team on the defensive over a video whose content - most analysts believe - favours Bush's campaign, not least because it also succeeded in knocking two major news stories potentially damaging to the president off the front pages.
Allegations over missing explosives in Iraq and an FBI probe of Halliburton hit the Bush campaign all last week.
The campaign had also been hurt by the revelation that one of its most important final campaign ads - showing soldiers supporting Bush - had been doctored. But those stories have now been replaced by the ghostly image of bin Laden telling Americans they have brought their troubles on themselves.
As US intelligence analysts studied the full ,unbroadcast version of the tape, it emerged that the US ambassador to Qatar had attempted to persuade the Qatari government to pressure al Jazeera into suppressing it. The tape was delivered in a package to the network's Islamabad office on Friday morning.
Senior executives in Qatar quickly took the decision to broadcast the tape. 'We don't believe anyone can argue about the newsworthiness of this latest Osama bin Laden recording. Any news organisation would have aired the tape if they had received it,' Jihad Ballout, an al-Jazeera spokesman, said.
Analysis of the tape indicates that it was made last weekend. Officials in Washington say there is a text at the start saying that it was produced by 'al-Shahab media company', an al-Qaeda trademark. The tape is also dated to the 10th day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month - last Sunday.
Intelligence officials in the US and Europe were combing the text for any hints of future attacks. Investigators probing recent blasts in Egypt believe that a codeword ordering the attacks was hidden in an audio tape released by Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, shortly before the strike.
It is highly doubtful that any American would change their vote on the basis of a statement by a man who has taken responsibility for the 11 September attacks that cost almost 3,000 lives.
But the real influence of the statement lies in the emphasis it places on terrorism for the few final days of the election. Polls have consistently shown that Bush leads Kerry on terrorism. Bush has consistently referred to himself as a wartime president.
Analysts were divided over the impact. Peverill Squire, a political scientist at the University of Iowa, told the Los Angeles Times: 'We have become so divided in terms of partisanship that each side will read what they want into the statement. What Republicans are thinking is: "This puts the focus back on terrorism." And the people supporting Kerry say this shows bin Laden is alive and well three years after we said we were going to get him.'
With just two days to go until election day, many polls still have the candidates neck and neck. A Zogby tracking poll released yesterday had Kerry one point ahead of Bush by 47 per cent to 46. However, most polls last week gave Bush a two- or three-point lead. An average of all polls has Bush leading Kerry by 2.5 per cent.
In London, the tape dramatically heightens fear- - already pre-occupying the Home Secretary, David Blunkett - that al-Qaeda will seek to disrupt Britain's general election next year, either through propaganda stunts like the tape or direct attacks.
Michael Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary, hinted at such fears yesterday, warning that terrorist 'blackmail' should not prevail in elections anywhere: 'Bin Laden is clearly trying to follow a strategy whereby he can appear to have influence over the outcome of elections in democratic countries, thereby showing that fundamentalist terrorism pays. I hope US voters - indeed voters everywhere - will treat this blackmail with the contempt it deserves.'
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy condemned bin Laden's 'cynical' manipulation, but said his intervention highlighted the fatal error of failing to finish the war on Afghanistan before launching military action in Iraq.
The repercussions will be felt at Westminster next Thursday, when MPs are due to debate terrorism. By then, the possibility of change in the White House will have galvanised internal debate over where the war on terror should go next.
Although ministers have been warned not to comment on the US elections, most Labour MPs are privately 'praying morning, noon and night' for a Kerry victory, as a senior minister put it. However, another minister warned yesterday of an 'emotional spasm' of anti-Bush feeling clouding the left's judgment, arguing that a second Bush term could produce benefits for Britain.
Yesterday Ladbrokes shortened the odds on a Bush win from 4/6 to 8/13, as the bin Laden video prompted a rush of money on the Republicans.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Karl Rove: Political diehard who plays dirty for Bush

Karl Rove: Political diehard who plays dirty for Bush
By Andrew Gumbel
30 October 2004
Depending whom you believe, Karl Rove is either a visionary instrumental in the drive towards a permanent Republican revolution in US politics, or an evil genius who has dragged campaigning into the gutter and so compromised the foundations of American democracy.
Either way, it is clear that no mere campaign consultant has wielded such power in more than a century. Nobody is more closely associated with George W Bush's improbable rise to power - Rove's frequent nickname, in fact, is "Bush's brain". And nobody will be able to take more credit if the President succeeds in clawing his way to a second term in the Oval Office.
It is Rove who has kept President Bush and the rest of the campaign team relentlessly on message, making the argument that America is safe only in their hands - and never mind the fact that Iraq is falling apart and al-Qa'ida stronger than ever.
It is Rove who has been the inspiration behind the slimiest attacks against the Democratic challenger, John Kerry. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth adverts, which sought to transform Senator Kerry from a wartime hero into a coward and a traitor, may have been mounted by a Republican front group, but their peculiar brand of character assassination was straight out of the Rove playbook, just like earlier, vicious, utterly distorted attacks on Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries (his ordeal in a Hanoi prisoner-of-war camp, it was suggested, made him mentally unstable) and on Governor Ann Richards of Texas (a closet lesbian!).
It is also Rove who, as chief White House political strategist for the past four years, has retained an unprecedented degree of control over White House policy in every conceivable area, from trade to social issues to the planning and conduct of the war in Iraq. John DiIulio, a senior White House appointee who quit in 2002, memorably deplored what he called "the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis, in which everything - and I mean everything - is run by the political arm".
It used to be that certain matters of national security were off limits to partisan intrigue, but not in this White House. Unlike the first President Bush, who waited until after the 1990 mid-terms to hold a congressional vote on kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, George W and Rove made the most recent showdown with Iraq part and parcel of their 2002 midterm election campaign - and profited handsomely from it.
Then, just a few short weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Rove had the President dress up in a flight suit and land on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln beneath the slogan "Mission Accomplished", in what appeared to be a brazen photo op for the presidential re-election campaign. Hindsight and the mounting body count have taught us that this was a rare Rove play gone wrong. But it also speaks volumes about the cynicism of an operation willing to create political sales pitches out of the very gravest issues of war and peace, life and death.
Democrats regard Rove with a mixture of awe and deep fear. Even at this late stage of the campaign, they are half-expecting him to produce Osama bin Laden like a rabbit out of a hat, or to disclose some devastating new personal smear against the Kerry-Edwards ticket to which there will be no time to respond. They remember the hard-nosed, win-at-any-cost attitude Rove and the Republicans brought to the post-election fight in Florida four years ago, and anxiously wonder whether they have the cojones to go up against him in the event of another contested election.
Rove himself clearly relishes the fight. He has telegraphed for a long time his opinion that this will be a close one, and given every indication that he will enjoy it all the more for it. At the same time, he has ambitions stretching far beyond this election. What he wants to achieve is nothing less than a major alignment in US politics, making the Republicans the natural party of government for a generation or more. His much-cited model is the 1896 election, in which an amiable, ineffectual figurehead of a Republican candidate, William McKinley, was propelled into office through the unstinting efforts of his wily campaign manager, Marc Hanna, and inaugurated an almost unbroken period of Republican domination lasting until the Great Depression.
The echoes are unmistakable. When Rove - a voraciously keen student of history - was first launching George W towards the presidency in the late 1990s, he even took a leaf out of McKinley's "front porch" campaign and had influential party figureheads and donors fly into Austin, the Texas capital, for daily lunches with the prospective candidate. (Hanna had arranged much the same thing for McKinley at his home in Canton, Ohio.)
Anyone conversant with the full story of 1896 has reason to tremble at the comparison, however, because that was the year that big corporate money first entered politics, smashing the nascent Populist movement, eliminating for ever the prospect of a viable party of labour in the United States, abandoning southern blacks to their fate at the hands of the segregationists, and disenfranchising the working class - both white and black - to such an extent that voter participation has never recovered.
Rove couldn't fully achieve his realignment in the 2000 election because, of course, his candidate did not really win. And he may have a similar difficulty this time around, because the Republicans are deeply divided over Iraq, over the growing sway of the Christian right, and over the White House's growing detachment from, and indifference to, objective reality. That makes some of his less superstitious critics wonder whether he is really so invincible after all.
At the same time, absolutely nobody is underestimating him, or his propensity for utter ruthlessness. This is a man who played dirty in his first ever campaign - almost tearing the heart out of the nationwide College Republicans when he himself ran for the chairmanship in 1973 - and has continued in the same vein over three decades. In the College Republican race, Rove challenged the legitimacy of every delegate who voted for his opponent, and came up with an entirely bogus alternate slate of delegates he claimed had greater standing. The matter was ultimately decided in Rove's favour by the then head of the Republican National Committee, a certain George Herbert Walker Bush. Both men have remained unwaveringly loyal to each other since.
Rove had come from unassuming origins in Colorado but developed a passion for conservative politics while studying at the University of Utah, where he described himself as a "diehard Nixonite" entirely out of sympathy with "all those Commies" in Vietnam. His campaign partner in the College Republican race was none other than Lee Atwater, later to become notorious as the man who sealed Michael Dukakis's defeat in the 1988 presidential election with a blatantly racist television advert demonising the Democratic candidate for offering a weekend prison release to a violent black prisoner in Massachusetts. Atwater and Rove became lifelong friends as well as colleagues, sharing a very similar outlook including a passion for Machiavelli's The Prince, the ultimate political document about the ends justifying the means.
Under the Bush family's wing, Rove developed a direct-mail political consulting business and worked on Republican campaigns in Texas. He tapped into oil money and other corporate interests and helped a succession of candidates to clean out the old Democratic order in the South. One campaign, for a spot on the Alabama state supreme court, was so nasty it led to a year-long court battle in which Rove accused his opponent - who had led in the initial vote tally - of systematic vote fraud and thereby prevented a batch of all-important absentee ballots from being counted at all. Florida in 2000 was a doddle by comparison.
Rove first met George W in the mid-1970s, when he was running a political action committee on behalf of his father. "I was supposed to give him the keys to the car whenever he came to town," he recounted later. They talked about a run for Texas governor in 1990, but decided to wait until Bush Snr was no longer president. Four years later, they were ready, daring to go up against a popular incumbent - Ann Richards - with a strategy of pure venom based, essentially, on God, guns and gays.
Every day for two years, the Bush campaign put out negative stories about Governor Richards, hinting she was soft on crime and overfond of homosexuals, culminating in a devastating revelation that a prominent Richards appointee had lied about her college education. From the start, Rove kept Bush away from unscripted situations, offering him just three or four key talking points which the candidate repeated ad nauseam until the electorate not only memorised them but also started to believe them. Rove also became adept at handling the media, rigorously controlling their access and never shying away from calling a dissenting reporter at home and screaming.
Such was the template on which the presidential runs were based. Bush has occasionally bristled at the perception that Rove is running the show - his unlovely nickname for his consultant is "Turd Blossom" - but for the most part he has been given absolutely nothing to complain about. Bush campaigns, like the Bush White House, are always about supreme control, and anyone who gets off message - usually because of an unwarranted fit of honesty - is ruthlessly dispatched from the scene.
Rove does not share Bush's religiosity, but the two men have a similar antipathy to East Coast intellectual types and a preference for political discourse that is simple, forceful and appealing to the gut more than the head. One of Rove's favourite books is The Dream and the Nightmare, an excoriation of the progressive values of the 1960s by a neoconservative thinker called Myron Magnet. Magnet blames poverty on liberal permissiveness and suggests the problem is best left to Christian charities - an embryonic form of what Rove and Bush would come to call "compassionate conservatism". Rove is a master coiner of such political labels. "Compassionate conservatism" manages to appeal both to the religious right and also to moderates. In this campaign, accusing Kerry of being a "flip-flopper" has been singularly effective (even though the president has flip-flopped plenty himself). The Democrats have managed nothing half so memorable, believing - perhaps naively - that they can still win this election the old-fashioned way, by arguing the issues.
The Rove camp dismisses such thinking as the workings of the "reality-based community", something they believe they have moved beyond. In a few days, we'll know if the rest of the United States is prepared to follow their lead.
Born: Born one of five siblings in Colorado 25 December 1950. At 19, discovered that his mother's husband was not his biological father. At 30, his mother committed suicide.
Family: Married twice, with a 15-year-old son from second marriage.
Education: Enrolled at University of Utah, but never graduated. Completed studies at Texas University and George Mason University.
Career: Volunteered on his first campaign while still in high school. Worked with College Republicans in Washington. Through the Bush family, ran Republican campaigns throughout Texas and the South. Masterminded George W Bush's runs for governor of Texas (1994, 1998) and president of the United States (2000, 2004). His job in the Bush administration is senior adviser on political strategy.
He says...: "[George Bush] was the kind of candidate and officeholder political hacks like me wait a lifetime to be associated with."
They say...: "A junkyard dog of campaign consulting, no holds barred" - Texas political commentator and satirist Molly Ivins

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Carlyle Covers Up

Bin Laden tape puts Pakistan in quandary

Bin Laden tape puts Pakistan in quandary
- - - - - - - - - - - -By Paul Haven

Oct. 30, 2004 ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- The envelope containing terror mastermind Osama bin Laden's latest message to the world was dropped into a letter box in an upscale neighborhood of the Pakistani capital, the second purported al-Qaida video to come out of this nation in little over a week.
Officials cautioned on Saturday that the tape's release to the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera's Islamabad office does not prove that bin Laden is in Pakistan. But its appearance was nonetheless an embarrassment to a nation that bills itself as a key ally in Washington's war on terror, and that has spent months focusing its troops on a swath of tribal communities along the Afghan-Pakistan border where the fugitive al-Qaida leader has reputedly been hiding.
Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Pakistan, said the tape was dropped off at the gate of the station's office Friday, just hours before it aired.
"The guard brought it to me along with other mail. It was in an envelope, I opened it and it was a big scoop," Zaidan told The Associated Press. Zaidan immediately sent the tape to Al-Jazeera's headquarters in the Gulf nation of Qatar.
Pakistan has sent tens of thousands of troops to the long and porous border with Afghanistan, concentrating on forbidding North and South Waziristan, where bin Laden and his top deputy, Egyptian surgeon Ayman al-Zawahri, are both believed to be hiding.
Scores of soldiers and civilians have been killed, but the operations so far have not netted any major fugitives, leading to charges that the sweeps are conducted as a political show to curry favor with Washington, which has given Islamabad billions of dollars in aid since President Gen. Pervez Musharraf threw his support behind the anti-terror effort.
Bin Laden appeared far healthier in the video released Friday than many would have suspected, considering speculation that he was already ailing in the winter of 2001 when U.S., Afghan and Pakistani forces began their dragnet. U.S. officials have often described him as holed up in a dank and dreary cave, all but cut off from the outside world.
Pakistani officials were quick to move into damage-control mode on Saturday, saying they had no idea how Al-Jazeera got the tape, and insisting its existence did not prove the terror leader was here.
Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the army spokesman, said the intensity of Pakistan's efforts in North and South Waziristan would make it impossible for bin Laden to hide there.
"Even if the tape was dropped here, that doesn't mean that he is here," Sultan said. "Nobody knows where he is, but he cannot be in Pakistan's tribal areas because of the presence of so many troops."
Added Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao: "I don't think he is in Pakistan."
In Afghanistan, the U.S. military dismissed the videotape as "propaganda," and insisted bin Laden would be caught.
"Although we don't have a timeframe for when bin Laden will be captured, we have full confidence that he will be," U.S. military spokesman Maj. Scott Nelson told reporters.
Asked where bin Laden was hiding, Nelson said the military still suspected he could be somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistani border.
"If we knew exactly where he was, we would be there in a moment and we would have a very happy day and a happy election," Nelson said.
Pakistan has made more than 500 al-Qaida arrests since the Sept. 11 attacks, including a series of arrests this summer that led to a terror warning in the United States.
Observers say the success can be seen as confirmation of Pakistan's cooperation in the war on terror -- or as evidence that this is still the nation of choice for many of bin Laden's followers.
The tape was the second released here to a major television network.
ABC News received a tape showing a shrouded man claiming to be an American member of al-Qaida in Pakistan on Oct. 22, then waited several days to air it while it looked into its authenticity.
The man, who spoke in English threatened more attacks and said U.S. streets would "run red with blood."
Intelligence officials, however, have not been able to verify the tape's authenticity, and officials do not have information linking the video to a specific threat, said an intelligence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
They also have not been able to positively identify the speaker.
Both the bin Laden video and the one aired by ABC News carried banners attributing them to the Sahab Production Committee, a purported al-Qaida propaganda company.
Talat Massood, a defense analyst and former Pakistani general, said bin Laden probably was in Pakistan, despite the official denials, and that he could be either in the sprawling Pakistani port city of Karachi or well cared for by followers in the tribal region.
"The fact that he has the courage to come out shows that he feel protected in his surroundings," Massood said. His healthy appearance "shows that he is probably living in reasonable comfort and he is being taken care of."
Associated Press reporters Stephen Graham in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Sadaqat Jan in Islamabad contributed to this report.
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Down with the Kerry haters

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Down with the Kerry hatersOutside the Bush-Arnold rally in Ohio, Republicans railed at demonstrators with apocalyptic fury.
- - - - - - - - - - - -By Michelle Goldberg

Oct. 30, 2004 COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lisa Dupler, a 33-year-old from Columbus, held up a rainbow-striped John Kerry sign outside the Nationwide Arena on Friday, as Republicans streamed out after being rallied by George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A thickset woman with very short, dark hair, Dupler was silent and barely flinched as people passing her hissed "faggot" into her ear. An old lady looked at her and said, "You people are sick!" A kid who looked to be about 10 or 11 affected a limp wrist and mincing voice and said, "Oh, I'm gay." Rather than restraining him, his squat mother guffawed and then turned to Dupler and sneered, "Why don't you go marry your girlfriend?" Encouraged, her son yelled, "We don't want faggots in the White House!"
The throngs of Republicans were pumped after seeing the president and the action hero. But there was an angry edge to their elation. They shrieked at the dozen or so protesters standing on the concrete plaza outside the auditorium. "Kerry's a terrorist!" yelled a stocky kid in baggy jeans and braces. "Communists for Kerry! Go back to Russia," someone else screamed. Many of them took up the chant "Kerry sucks"; old women and teenage boys shouting with equal ferocity.
With four days to go until the election, you can feel the temperature rising in Ohio.
Among Democrats, it's easy to indulge the fantasy that all the rage in this election is directed one way -- at Bush. Thousands of progressives are campaigning here, going door-to-door to get out the vote, training to watch the polls, holding concerts and rallies and anything else they can think of to beat Bush. Hundreds are from other parts of the country but most are locals. Jess Good, Ohio director of the massive get-out-the-vote group America Coming Together, says that 93 percent of the 12,000 volunteers expected to work on Election Day are from Ohio itself.
Clearly, something exciting and unprecedented is happening. After reviewing Democratic and progressive field operations in Ohio and Florida, L.A. Weekly columnist Harold Meyerson wrote, "I have found something I've never before seen in my 36 or so years as a progressive activist and later as a journalist: an effective, fully functioning American left."
Friday's Republican rally, though, was evidence that many on the right are as fervid and galvanized as their opponents. Pollster John Zogby has called this the "apocalypse election" because people on both sides believe the world will end if their candidate loses. He's right -- the Republicans I met at the Ohio rally spoke in language almost identical to that of the most addled Bush-hater, although often several steps further removed from reality.
Dave, a 54-year-old electronic technician, said that if Kerry wins, "I'm going to leave the country and go to a Third World nation and start a ranch." His wife, Jenny, laughed and accused him of hyperbole, but he insisted he's been studying Portuguese, the language of Brazil, "so we'll have an escape route." Sitting near him was Greg Swalley, a blond electrical contractor. "I think Kerry is the anti-Christ," he said, only half-joking. "He scares me."
We were sitting outside the Nationwide Arena watching the adoring crowd on a massive elevated monitor. Swalley and the others had tickets and I had press credentials. But by the time we arrived, 40 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, security had closed off the area and no more people were being let in. So dozens waited outside and watched their heroes on the screen. The monitor showed a huge W. and then the words, "Let's Roll." When Bush, his wife and Schwarzenegger appeared, wild cheering echoed outside the building.
Inside, Schwarzenegger tried to strike a sunny, moderate note. "There is optimism in Ohio," he said. "There is optimism all over the country because President Bush is leading the way. He's fighting for all of us.
"President Bush knows you can't reason with people that are blinded by hate," Schwarzenegger said. "But let me tell you something: Their hate is no match for our decency, their hate is no match for America's decency, and it is no match for the leadership and the resolve of George W. Bush."
Outside, though, I didn't see much American decency among Bush's followers. The conservative movement has long been fueled by anger and resentment. But here the negativity was at an especially high pitch, perhaps because some were starting to realize they might lose -- and that seemed like the end of the world.
Looking at the small knot of protesters, many of whom were chanting, "Four more days," 22-year-old Nick Karnes, wearing a knit ski cap and baggy jeans, yelled, "Shut up!" Then he turned to his friend and said, "We can take 'em."
"I'm definitely gonna vote for him," Karnes said of Bush. "Because he's been the president for four years and nothing bad has happened since Sept. 11. He's kept me alive for four years." If Kerry becomes president, he said, "We'll be dead within a year."
Karnes told me that most of his friends are voting for Bush, too, but a couple are voting for Kerry. "I'm not speaking to them right now," he said.
When the crowd came pouring out of the arena, the vitriol only increased. One clean-cut man, holding his son by the hand, yelled "coward!" at one of the protesters. I asked him what made him say that, and he said, "Because he's demeaning our troops by saying they are fighting a lost cause."
"Jesus! Jesus!" screamed 26-year-old Joe Robles, pointing to his Bush-Cheney sign. "The man stands for God," he said of the president. "We want somebody who stands for Jesus. I always vote my Christian morals." Robles, a student at Ohio State University, told me that Kerry's daughter is a lesbian. I said I thought that was Dick Cheney's daughter, but he shook his head no with confidence.
Robles said that Kerry would make it illegal for preachers to say that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. In California, he informed me gravely, such preaching has been deemed a hate crime, and pastors who indulge in it are fined $25,000, which "goes to lesbians."
A few of the protesters, meanwhile, were red-faced from yelling at their antagonists about homophobia and budget deficits and a senseless war. Republicans were incensed. A blond woman dragged her young redheaded son toward the protesters, pointed to them, and said, "These are the Democrats," speaking as if she was revealing an awful reality that he was finally old enough to face. As she walked away with a group of other mothers and children, she was so angry she could barely speak. A friend consoled her by promising her that Bush would win. After all, she pointed out, "Look how many more Bush supporters there were on the street!"
That calmed the angry blond woman down a little. But she was still mad. "We," she said, stammering and gesturing contemptuously at the demonstrators, "we are the way it should be!"
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About the writerMichelle Goldberg is a senior writer for Salon based in New York. Sound OffSend us a Letter to the Editor >> News

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