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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Free Internet Press Newsletter - Sunday September 30 2007 - (813)

Sunday September 30 2007 edition
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Iraq Wiretap Delay Not Quite As Intelligence Chief Told Congress
2007-09-29 19:16:40
Lag is attributed to internal disputes and time to reach Gonzales, not FISA constraints.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress last week that a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured south of Baghdad.

Yet new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours and was caused primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.

Justice officials also spent nearly two hours trying to reach then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to authorize the emergency wiretap. He was in Texas appearing before a gathering of U.S. attorneys.

Earlier, the DNI's attorney had determined that legal requirements for surveillance had been met, but Justice lawyers and intelligence officials spent four hours debating that issue and obtaining more evidence, according to officials and a summary of events provided to the House intelligence committee Thursday. Justice officials say the lengthy deliberations were necessary to ensure that the surveillance was legal.

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Editorial: Runaway (Spending) Train
2007-09-29 19:16:07
Intellpuke: The following editorial appears in the New York Times edition for Friday, September 28, 2007.

If, as he says, President Bush is going to start withdrawing troops from Iraq, why on earth does he need vastly more money from Congress to wage war? The staggering, ever escalating numbers tell the real story: As long as it’s up to Mr. Bush, the American presence in Iraq will be endless and ever more costly, diverting resources from other national priorities that are being ignored or shortchanged.

The administration showed its cards on Wednesday when it asked Congress for an additional $42.3 billion in “emergency” funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. This comes on top of the original 2008 spending request, which was made before Mr. Bush announced his so-called “new strategy” of partial withdrawal. It would bring the 2008 war bill to nearly $190 billion, the largest single-year total for the wars and an increase of 15 percent from 2007.

And here are a few more facts to put the voracious war machine in context: By year’s end, the cost for both conflicts since Sept. 11, 2001, is projected to reach more than $800 billion. Iraq alone has cost the United States more in inflation-adjusted dollars than the Gulf War and the Korean War and will probably surpass the Vietnam War by the end of next year, according to the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

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U.S. Urges China To Help Curb Violence In Burma, Prepare For Transition
2007-09-29 19:16:29

Senior Bush administration officials have pressed Chinese officials in private conversations this week to use their leverage with Burmese authorities to limit the violence and help manage a transition to a new government in Burma,  which is experiencing its most serious and violent demonstrations in two decades, U.S. officials said Friday.

The Chinese have deflected the entreaties by describing Burma's turmoil as an internal matter. But one senior U.S. official said the Chinese have been "shocked" by the world's reaction to the confrontation between the government and protesters. He added that he believes they are "reconsidering the amount of support" China provides to the Burmese government.

China, which has extensive commercial interests in Burma, has received a blunt message from the United States: "You wanted to become a big power - part of being a big power is you will be held responsible for your client states," said this official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing private meetings. U.S. officials have also urged China to consider some form of refuge for Burmese leaders, to help speed a transition to a new government, this official said.

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