Friday, December 31, 2004

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 26, 2004 - January 01, 2005 Archives

Ayn Rand institute says US aid to disaster victims is wrong...

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 26, 2004 - January 01, 2005 Archives

Justice Expands 'Torture' Definition (

Justice Expands 'Torture' Definition (
Justice Expands 'Torture' Definition
Earlier Policy Drew Criticism
By R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 31, 2004; Page A01

The Justice Department published a revised and expansive definition late yesterday of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most criticized policy memorandums drafted during President Bush's first term.

In a statement published on the department's Web site, the head of its Office of Legal Counsel declares that "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms" and goes on to reject a previous statement that only "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" constitute torture punishable by law.

That earlier definition of torture figured prominently in complaints by Democrats and human rights groups about White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, who oversaw its creation and is Bush's nominee to become attorney general for the second term. The new memo's public release came one week before the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Gonzales's nomination.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin said in the new memo that torture may consist of acts that fall short of provoking excruciating and agonizing pain and thus may include mere physical suffering or lasting mental anguish. His opinion is meant, according to its language, to undermine any notion that those who conduct harmful interrogations may be exempt from prosecution.

This second effort by the Bush administration to parse the legal meaning of the word "torture" was provoked by the damaging political fallout from the disclosure this summer of the first memo, drafted in August 2002 and criticized by human rights lawyers and experts around the globe.

Many of the critics charged that the first memo -- which they said laid out a very narrow view of what behavior might constitute torture and was crafted to help interrogators at the CIA evade prosecution -- created the context for a record of persistent ill treatment by that agency and the U.S. military of detainees at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba's Guantanamo Bay and undisclosed locations.

"Clearly the release of this now is backfilling for Gonzales's confirmation hearing," said I. Michael Greenberger, a senior Justice Department official in the Clinton administration who now heads the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "These memos have been a tremendous source of embarrassment to both Gonzales and the administration."

Greenberger said that recent accounts of widespread abuse at U.S. detention facilities -- including disclosures that military interrogation practices were sharply criticized over the past two years by FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel in the field -- have given ammunition to those within the administration who favor adherence to international norms against torture.

"It could be that this is not just a cynical ploy but a real sign of change," Greenberger said.

One of the most controversial provisions of the earlier memorandum, signed by Levin's predecessor, Jay S. Bybee, was an assertion that the president's executive powers were sufficient to permit tolerance of torturous acts in extraordinary circumstances. The International Committee of the Red Cross had declared in response that the prohibition on torture, embodied in a global convention signed by the United States, has no exceptions.

But advocates of strict adherence to the convention previously lost interagency battles to hard-liners in the Defense Department, the Justice Department and the White House, who maintained that the president has expansive powers during the war on terrorism. The new memo pointedly sidesteps this issue, stating that the "consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture."

The memo, which states that it "supersedes the August 2002 memorandum in its entirety," also drops an attempt in the earlier version to rule that harmful acts not specifically intended to cause severe pain and suffering might be legal, and to define "specific intent." Instead, it deliberately left the notion of "specific intent" undefined to avoid, Levin wrote, any notion that conduct amounting to torture might under some circumstances be considered legal.

The memo also explicitly states that "a defendant's motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question" of his or her intent under the law.

Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, which has been critical of the Bush administration's legal opinions regarding the treatment of detainees, gave the memo a generally positive review and said its "definition of torture is not as tortured as it was."

But John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who helped draft the first memo while working in the legal counsel's office, said the new version "makes it harder to figure out how the torture statute applies to specific interrogation methods. It muddies the water. Our effort . . . was to interpret the statute clearly."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Aljazeera.Net - Mosul election staff quit en masse

Aljazeera.Net - Mosul election staff quit en masse
Democracy is on the March!

Tariq Aziz...and his house

Left I on the News

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial Observer: Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib


December 30, 2004
Legal Breach: The Government's Attorneys and Abu Ghraib

he most obvious victims of the brutal treatment of prisoners at American military jails are the men, women and children who have been humiliated, sexually assaulted, beaten, tortured and even killed. But, as in all wars, the Bush administration's assault on the Geneva Conventions has caused collateral damage - in this case, to the legal offices of the executive branch and the military.

To get around the inconvenience of the Geneva Conventions, the administration twisted the roles of the legal counsels of the White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department beyond recognition. Once charged with giving unvarnished advice about whether political policies remained within the law, the Bush administration's legal counsels have been turned into the sort of cynical corporate lawyers who figure out how to make something illegal seem kosher - or at least how to minimize the danger of being held to account.

This upheaval has been particularly vivid at the Pentagon, where the usual balance between civilian and military authority has been stood on its head. The American system of civilian control of the military recognizes that soldiers' attention must be fixed on winning battles and staying alive, and that the fog of war can sometimes obscure the rule of law. The civilian bosses are supposed to provide coolheaded restraint.

Now America has to count on the military to step up when the civilians get out of control.

When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the initial list of interrogation methods for Guantánamo Bay in late 2002 - methods that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions and anti-torture statutes - there were no protests from the legal counsels for the secretary of defense, the attorney general, the president, the Central Intelligence Agency or any of the civilian secretaries of the armed services. That's not surprising, because some of those very officials were instrumental in devising the Strangelovian logic that lay behind Mr. Rumsfeld's order. Their legal briefs dutifully argued that the president could suspend the Geneva Conventions when he chose, that he could even sanction torture and that torture could be redefined so narrowly that it could seem legal.

It took an internal protest by uniformed lawyers from the Navy to force the Pentagon to review the Guantánamo rules and restrict them a bit. But the military lawyers' concerns were largely shoved aside by a team of civilian lawyers, led by Mary Walker, the Air Force general counsel. The group reaffirmed the notion that Mr. Bush could choose when to apply the Geneva Conventions.

That principle was originally aimed at the supposed members of Al Qaeda held at Guantánamo Bay, but it was quickly exported to Iraq and led, inexorably, to the horrors at Abu Ghraib and other recently disclosed crimes by American soldiers against Iraqi and Afghan prisoners.

If it had not been for a group of uniformed lawyers, the nation might never have learned of the torture and detention memos. In May 2003, soon after Ms. Walker's group produced its rationalization for prisoner abuse, a half-dozen military lawyers went to Scott Horton, who was chairman of the human rights committee of the City Bar Association in New York.

That led to a bar report on the administration's policies, a report that was published around the same time the Abu Ghraib atrocities came into public view. Those lawyers had to do their duty anonymously to avoid having their careers savaged. Meanwhile, the Justice Department official who signed the memo on torturing prisoners, Jay Bybee, was elevated by Mr. Bush to the federal bench.

This month, several former high-ranking military lawyers came out publicly against the nomination of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. They noted that it was Mr. Gonzales who had supervised the legal assault on the Geneva Conventions.

Jeh Johnson, a New York lawyer who was general counsel for the secretary of the Air Force under President Clinton, calls this shift "a revolution."

"One view of the law and government," Mr. Johnson said, "is that good things can actually come out of the legal system and that there is broad benefit in the rule of law. The other is a more cynical approach that says that lawyers are simply an instrument of policy - get me a legal opinion that permits me to do X. Sometimes a lawyer has to say, 'You just can't do this.' "

Normally, the civilian policy makers would have asked the military lawyers to draft the rules for a military prison in wartime. The lawyers for the service secretaries are supposed to focus on issues like contracts, environmental impact statements and base closings. They're not supposed to meddle in rules of engagement or military justice.

But the civilian policy makers knew that the military lawyers would never sanction tossing the Geneva Conventions aside in the war against terrorists. Military lawyers, Mr. Johnson said, "tend to see things through the prism of how it will affect their people if one gets captured or prosecuted."

Some Senate Democrats have said they plan to question Mr. Gonzales about this mess during his Senate confirmation hearings. But given the feckless state of Congressional oversight on this issue, there's not a lot of hope in that news.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the civilian and the military lawyers has gotten so bad that Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, pushed through legislation that elevated the military services' top lawyers to a three-star general's rank. That at least put them on a more equal footing with the civilian lawyers.

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MyDD :: Democrats Must Abandon the War on Terror

MyDD :: Democrats Must Abandon the War on Terror

GOP's Soft Sell Swayed the Amish (

GOP's Soft Sell Swayed the Amish (
GOP's Soft Sell Swayed the Amish
Unlikely Voters Cast Lot With Bush
By Evelyn Nieves
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A03


Early on a pale blue morning, a horse-drawn buggy clop-clopped along a farmland stretch of Route 340. A lone little Chevy compact came toward it at a Sunday pace.

From an intersection, a black SUV the size of an Indian elephant barreled up to the buggy's back, passing with a quick jerk that nearly clipped the oncoming car -- and the horse's nose.

That's Pennsylvania's Amish country, where the 19th and 21st centuries coexist, commingle and collide on a regular basis. The Amish may hold fast to their plain ways, rejecting cars, indoor electricity, home phones and televisions. But contact with the outside world is unavoidable. Malls stand on land where corn used to grow, tourists run around the village streets, and even the old unspoken rule -- leave the Amish alone -- is gone, left in the dust of the presidential campaign, when the Republicans came calling for votes.

Yes, the Republicans, true to their vow to leave no vote unwooed, came to Lancaster County hoping to win over the famously reclusive Old Order Amish -- who shun most modern ways -- along with their slightly less-strict brethren, the Mennonites. Democrats laughed at the very idea. The Amish had no use for politics. Were the Republicans that desperate? But the GOP effort, underscored by President Bush's meeting with some Amish families in early July, did the trick.

"Yup, we voted this time," said an elder Old Order Amish man approached at his home-based quilt shop on Route 340. He had a beard that straggled down to his chest and bright blue eyes. His first name, he said, is Amos, but in keeping with the Amish edict against calling attention to oneself, he would not give his last name.

"I didn't vote for the last 30 years," he said, puffing on a pipe. "But Bush seemed to have our Christian principles."

Outside looking in, it makes sense that the Amish would pay little attention to national politics. They have their own schools (formal education for eight years), their own churches (or religious gatherings, at one another's homes) and their own rules. This has worked for them. The population of Amish and Mennonites, at more than 20,000 in Lancaster County, keeps growing.

But it seems the outside world, the "English" world, as the Amish call it, has been creeping in too closely for the plain people not to worry. In recent months, reports of child abuse in Amish country have made local papers and national news. The reality show "Amish in the City" has brought a slew of curiosity seekers asking all kinds of questions. (Do you take showers? Read newspapers? Ride buses? Yes, yes and yes.) And the plain people have daily worries as well. "We've been worrying about liquor and beer being sold in the grocery stores," said Sam, a gazebo maker and writer who said he would "get into trouble" if his last name was printed.

"We were down," Sam said, "and when the president visited, it cheered us right up. We got a firsthand look at him, and it really warmed our hearts."

In short, as Sam and half a dozen other Amish men explained (women were hard to find, and harder to talk to), Bush won votes with a time-honored campaign convention: He showed up. On July 9 his campaign bus rolled down Route 340, hoping to fire up the base in Republican Lancaster County. The Amish, watching the spectacle from the road, became part of it.

"We came out," Amos said. "We were about 70 people. One of his security said he wanted to meet us and invited us to meet with him across the road at Lapp's Electric."

"They knew we didn't like publicity," said Amos, smiling at the recollection. "So the president met with us all in an office at Lapp's. He shook everyone's hand -- even the littlest ones in their mother's arms -- and he told us all he hoped we would exercise our right and vote."

Did Bush ask them to vote for him?

"Nope," Amos said. "That's another thing we liked about him."

Not to mention, the 4,000 Republican volunteers who blanketed Lancaster County for months and visited the fairs and farm auctions in Amish country talking up the president's Christian values. That helped them think abortion might be outlawed, Sam said. Thinking of Bush's Christian values even helped with their questions about the carnage in Iraq.

And so, while Bush lost Pennsylvania by more than 120,000 votes, he nearly halved his losing margin from 2000. In large part, that was because of the GOP's push among rural voters. Here in Lancaster County, where the party set a goal of besting the Democrat by 70,000 votes (or about 10,000 more than in 2000), Bush ended up winning by 70,896. Several hundred of those votes came from men in suspenders and black suits and women in bonnets and wide-skirt black dresses. Republicans registered more than 300 new voters in each of three mostly Amish districts. In Leacock Township, the GOP nearly doubled its voter rolls, from 1,000 to 1,800, with all but a handful of the new voters being Amish or Mennonite.

Just as everyone predicted the plain folks would not vote, the postmortems all suggested the Amish vote was a fluke. Amos -- another Amos, who sells wooden toys and other Amish crafts at a roadside stand -- said that bothers him. He could see more plain people voting next time, he said, "for another candidate with good morals."

Sam, the carpenter-journalist, had read reports suggesting that the GOP manipulated the Amish. That did not sit well at all. "They didn't come here just recruiting the Amish," he said. "They were trying to get anybody to vote."

The Amish, in turn, voted with pure hearts, he said, asking for nothing in return.

Or almost nothing.

"We're trying to get tickets for the inauguration," he said. "Do you know how to go about getting those?"

-- Evelyn Nieves

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 26, 2004 - January 01, 2005 Archives

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 26, 2004 - January 01, 2005 Archives
On Nov. 2, GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion, Analysis Shows

By Thomas B. Edsall and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 30, 2004; Page A01

In the most expensive presidential contest in the nation's history, John F. Kerry and his Democratic supporters nearly matched President Bush and the Republicans, who outspent them by just $60 million, $1.14 billion to $1.08 billion.

But despite their fundraising success, Democrats simply did not spend their money as effectively as Bush. That is the conclusion of an extensive examination of campaign fundraising and spending data provided by the Federal Election Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and interviews with officials of the two campaigns and the independent groups allied with them.

In a $2.2 billion election, two relatively small expenditures by Bush and his allies stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision.

Those tactical successes were part of the overall advantage the Bush campaign maintained over Kerry in terms of planning, decision making and strategy. The Kerry campaign, in addition to being outspent at key times, was outorganized and outthought, as Democratic professionals grudgingly admit.

"They were smart. They came into our neighborhoods. They came into Democratic areas with very specific targeted messages to take Democratic voters away from us," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said. "They were much more sophisticated in their message delivery."

The ultimate test of the two campaigns is in the success of their efforts to increase turnout from 2000. Kerry and his allies increased the Democrat's vote by about 6.8 million votes; Bush increased his by nearly 10.5 million. In the key battleground of Ohio, Bush countered Kerry's gains in the metropolitan precincts by boosting his margin in exurban and rural counties from 57 to 60 percent, eking out a 118,457-vote victory.

A supposed strategic advantage for the Democrats -- massive support from well-endowed independent groups -- turned out to have an inherent flaw: The groups' legally required independence left them with a message out of harmony with the Kerry campaign.

A large part of Bush's advantage derived from being an incumbent who did not face a challenger from his party. He also benefited from the experience and continuity of a campaign hierarchy, based on a corporate model, that had essentially stayed intact since Bush's 1998 reelection race for Texas governor.

Take Office, Plan Campaign

When Bush moved into the Oval Office in 2001, planning for his presidential reelection campaign began almost immediately. Under the direction of Karl Rove, Bush's top White House adviser who served as a kind of chairman of the board, White House political director Kenneth B. Mehlman, the chief executive officer, pollster Matthew Dowd, chief operating officer, and Mark McKinnon, the principal media consultant, the Bush political team developed a strategy for 2004, began investing in innovative techniques to target voters and prepared an early and cost-effective advertising plan. During this period, the Republican National Committee, where much of the planning was based, outspent its Democratic counterpart by $122 million.

In 2001, Dowd said that "we made some of the basic strategic assumptions about what we thought the election would look like."

One fundamental calculation was that 93 percent of the voting-age public was already committed or predisposed toward the Democratic or Republican candidate, leaving 7 percent undecided.

Another calculation was that throughout the Bush presidency, "most voters looked at Bush in very black-and-white terms. They either loved and respected him, or they didn't like him," Dowd said. Those voters were unlikely to change their views before Election Day 2004.

That prompted Republicans to jettison their practice of investing 75 to 90 percent of campaign money on undecided voters. Instead, half the money went into motivating and mobilizing people already inclined to vote for Bush, but who were either unregistered or who often failed to vote -- "soft" Republicans.

"We systematically allocated all the main resources of the campaign to the twin goals of motivation and persuasion. The media, the voter targeting, the mail -- all were based off that strategic decision," Dowd said.

Republican officials said they put $50 million into "ground war" drives to register and turn out millions of new voters in 2001 and 2002, and an additional $125 million after that.

Meanwhile, Kerry, faced with a difficult primary campaign and infighting and turnover among his consultants, did not begin seriously to address the general election until after his Super Tuesday primary election victory in March, eight months before the November vote. By that time, the campaign was hamstrung by legal restrictions on any cooperation between the campaign and the independent 527 organizations running ads and mobilizing voters on Kerry's behalf.

527s' Ineffective Messages

The 527 groups, named after a section of the tax code and allowed by law to accept unlimited contributions, provided invaluable help in registering and turning out voters. America Coming Together put about $135 million into what became the largest get-out-the-vote program in the nation's history. But the 527s, fueled with money from billionaires such as George Soros, proved ineffective in helping Kerry deliver a consistent and timely message in his advertising.

Of all the money spent on television advertising for the Democratic nominee, Kerry's campaign controlled 62 percent, according to spending totals analyzed by The Washington Post. The rest was spent on ads whose content or placement could not be coordinated with the campaign. The Bush campaign controlled 83 percent of the money spent on its behalf, giving it far more control over when and how it advertised.

At two junctures, when Kerry was either out of funds or under pressure to conserve resources for the close of the campaign, the absence of an overall strategy had damaging consequences: in March 2004, just when the Bush campaign began its first anti-Kerry offensive; and in August 2004, when the Swift Boat Veterans commercials raised questions about Kerry's service in the Vietnam War.

The Democratic media 527s "didn't do what we wanted done," Kerry media adviser Tad Devine said. "We would have run ads about Kerry, we would have had answers to the attacks in kind, saying they were false, disproved by newspapers."

Harold Ickes, who ran the Media Fund, a 527 organization that raised about $59 million in support of Kerry, said the federal election law prohibiting communication with the Kerry campaign created insurmountable obstacles in crafting effective, accurate responses to anti-Kerry ads. Ickes said he regretted not responding to the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks, but at the time he thought they seemed "a matter so personal to Senator Kerry, so much within his knowledge. Who knew what the facts were?"

Early Research Is Like Yeast

The 2002 elections, along with the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial contests the following year, became testing grounds for the Republican effort to mobilize supporters. Designed to get base voters to the polls, it became known as the "72 Hour Project," whose cost Republican officials refused to disclose but is estimated by sources to have been in the $200 million range.

Under Dowd's direction, the RNC began investing in extensive voter research. One of the most striking findings, according to Republican consultants, was the ineffectiveness of traditional phone banks and direct mail that targeted voters in overwhelmingly Republican precincts. The problem: Only 15 percent of all GOP voters lived in precincts that voted Republican by 65 percent or more. Worse, an even smaller percentage of "soft" Republicans, the 2004 target constituency, lived in such precincts.

The RNC decided to cast a wider net for voters. But to work, Dowd's motivation and mobilization strategy needed expensive, high-tech micro targeting to cherry-pick prospective Republicans who lived in majority Democratic neighborhoods.

Republican firms, including TargetPoint Consultants and National Media Inc., delved into commercial databases that pinpointed consumer buying patterns and television-watching habits to unearth such information as Coors beer and bourbon drinkers skewing Republican, brandy and cognac drinkers tilting Democratic; college football TV viewers were more Republican than those who watch professional football; viewers of Fox News were overwhelmingly committed to vote for Bush; homes with telephone caller ID tended to be Republican; people interested in gambling, fashion and theater tended to be Democratic.

Surveys of people on these consumer data lists were then used to determine "anger points" (late-term abortion, trial lawyer fees, estate taxes) that coincided with the Bush agenda for as many as 32 categories of voters, each identifiable by income, magazine subscriptions, favorite television shows and other "flags." Merging this data, in turn, enabled those running direct mail, precinct walking and phone bank programs to target each voter with a tailored message.

"You used to get a tape-recorded voice of Ronald Reagan telling you how important it was to vote. That was our get-out-the-vote effort," said Alex Gage, of TargetPoint. Now, he said, calls can be targeted to specific constituencies so that, for example, a "right to life voter" could get a call warning that "if you don't come out and vote, the number of abortions next year is going to go up. "

Dowd estimated that, in part through the work of TargetPoint and other research, the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to "quadruple the number" of Republican voters who could be targeted through direct mail, phone banks and knocking on doors.

Democrats had access to similar data files. But the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to make far better use of the data because they had the time and money to conduct repeated field tests in the 2002 and 2003 elections, to finance advanced research on meshing databases with polling information, and to clean up and revise databases that almost invariably contained errors and omissions.

"Very few people understand how much work it takes to get this technology to actually produce political results. We are one election cycle behind them in this area," said a Democrat who helped coordinate voter contact in the 2004 campaign.

The Bush campaign's early fundraising success made much of this possible. By March 2004, Bush had $110 million in the bank and virtually no debt. During this period, Kerry was forced to spend all his time and money in the Democratic primaries, a fight that cost him $36 million and that left him $5 million in debt.

"Nobody was giving a thought at all to the general election," said Kerry pollster Mark S. Mellman. Until that March, "it was: How do we survive this week?"

Bush Ads Undermine Kerry

Two days after Super Tuesday, the Bush campaign, anticipating Kerry would have no money to respond, began a $40 million, six-week televised assault designed to crush the Democratic nominee before he could get off the ground. "We had a financial advantage over them for four to six weeks. That's why we did what we did," Dowd said.

With a $177 million ad budget, the Bush campaign and its allies ran more than 101,000 anti-Kerry "attack" or negative ads, more than the combined total of "positive" and "contrast" ads, according to the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, based on data from Nielsen Monitor-Plus ratings of media buying effectiveness.

Less than 5 percent of Kerry's ads were "attack" or negative, according to the Wisconsin advertising project, and the remaining 95 percent were positive or contrast ads.

During March and April, before the candidate had replenished his war chest to finance TV ads, Kerry strategists were convinced that Kerry needed a barrage of positive biographical ads describing him in a sympathetic light to counter the negative picture drawn by the Bush ads. But when the Democratic 527s began their ad campaign, they aired negative ads reflecting their intensely anti-Bush donor base.

By the time Kerry had raised enough money to begin his positive ad campaign two months later, the Bush "attack" ads had helped convert the ratio of Kerry's positive to negative ratings in battleground states. Kerry's positive ratings fell from 40 percent to 35 percent, and his negative ratings rose from 24 percent to 36 percent at the start of May, according to the National Annenberg Election Surveys.

The negative Bush barrage was followed in August by the Swift Boat Veterans ads, the first one airing on just four cable channels at a cost of $546,000. The Swift Boat Veterans eventually would raise and spend $28 million, but the first ad was exceptionally cost-effective: most voters learned about it through free coverage in mainstream media and talk radio.

An additional Republican television commercial that significantly affected the race, according to surveys, was a positive spot financed by a second GOP 527 group, Progress for America. It invested $17 million in "Ashley's Story," which featured Ashley Faulkner, 11, whose mother had been killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, describing her meeting with Bush.

GOP Dollar Power

Overall, Kerry, the DNC and the Democratic 527s spent $344 million on ads, while Bush and the GOP counterparts spent about $289 million, much of which was disbursed in the final three months. Arguably, Republicans got more bang for their bucks.

The Bush campaign's early strategy decisions shaped GOP spending. Under the guidance of Rove, Dowd and Mehlman, the Bush campaign had financed early research into ways to communicate to center-right voters through nontraditional media.

The Bush campaign concluded that many of their voters did not trust the networks and the establishment press, and therefore did not trust messages transmitted through them.

Mehlman said that talk radio and cable television "are more credible" to potential Bush voters. Ultimately the Bush campaign invested an unprecedented $20 million in narrowly targeted advertising on cable and in radio, with a heavy emphasis on religious, talk and country and western stations, and such specialty outlets as golf and health club channels.

"They did a lot of stuff really well. They were ahead of us," said one of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote managers who did not want to be identified. "They had a strategy set by the beginning that they were going to live and die by. And we didn't."

In an election with a 2.6 percent margin of victory, the Bush campaign was run to ensure that every dollar went to fulfill core strategies, that resources were allocated to capitalize on Bush's strengths and on Kerry's vulnerabilities, and that the money necessary to finance research, technological advance, television and the ground war was available when needed.

At the July Democratic National Convention in Boston, McAuliffe commented on the disciplined Republican team: "We are up against the dirtiest, meanest, toughest group of people we have ever faced. They have money, they have power, and they ain't going to give it up easily."

Researcher Alice Crites, database editor Sarah Cohen and research database editor Derek Willis contributed to this report.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company