Kerry's Plan for America

John Kerry for President

Download the .pdf file (1.36 M) at the above link. It's a campaign document (read: full of high sounding rhetoric), but it also has specifics:

We will also enhance the capabilities of our own intelligence services. From the failure to uncover the September 11th plot to the deeply flawed reports about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, we have experienced significant intelligence failures in recent years. It is time for serious reform. This will require the kind of leadership that the president has not provided. We will strengthen our intelligence capabilities so that we can more effectively prevent another terrorist attack by:

Restoring the credibility of our intelligence community by ensuring the basic integrity of the intelligence process. We will make certain that our intelligence agencies are protected from political pressures and operate in a culture of diversity of thought, dissent, and forceful challenging of assumptions,

Strengthening accountability and leadership by creating a true Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet-level position with the authority to manage and direct all of the components of the intelligence community, including personnel and budgets,

Maximizing coordination and integration by structuring the intelligence community around key threats like terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and hostile countries, so that all available resources are brought to bear on addressing the most pressing threats,

Transforming our intelligence services to ensure that they have sufficient personnel with the skills, languages, training, and orientation needed to meet today’s threats. We will make sure that the FBI is fully prepared to perform necessary counter-terrorism intelligence operations and strengthen our capabilities overseas, particularly our clandestine services, so that we have our own robust human intelligence network.
In other words, actually implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

How about healthcare?
Our plan starts by providing health insurance for every child in America. Under the Kerry-Edwards plan, the federal government will pay the full costs for the 20 million children in the Medicaid program. In return, we will ask states to expand coverage to children in families with higher incomes than are currently eligible, as well as low-income adults. This plan will expand coverage to millions of people and provide much needed relief for states that are struggling under persistent growing budgetary pressures.

The plan will also simplify the health care system so we can prevent children from falling through the cracks. Right now, there are millions of kids who are eligible for federalstate health insurance programs but are not signed up. There are lots of reasons—sometimes the enrollment forms require the skills of an accountant to figure out. Some states make parents sign up every six months in person, making it virtually impossible for a parent who cannot get time off or afford to lose a whole day of work. Some parents do not even know these programs are available.

Under our plan, kids will be signed up automatically at hospitals, community health centers, and schools. And $5 billion in enrollment bonuses will be available to states as an incentive to find uninsured children and keep them covered. Children do not choose their parents. They do not choose whether to have health insurance. Children deserve a good start—with both high quality education and health care. Under our plan, every child in America will have health insurance, and every parent will have a little more peace of mind.
Every child in America covered by health insurance - that's a good start. They're also advocating opening the Congressional Medical Plan (the health plan for members of Congress) to all Americans, offering tax credits to help ease the sting of the premiums. 27 million Americans (including all children) could be covered by this plan - that's another step in the right direction.

Tell your friends and neighbors - this is the sourcebook for Kerry's positions on the issues.

Bush's Military Past

The Nation

Ian Williams does a great job in summing up the current state of understanding Bush's National Guard. To my immense surprise and pleasure, I'm cited in the article. The post that he uses can be found here: The Guard Record Bush Doesn't Want You To See.

Thanks for the nod, Mr. Williams. My momma can finally be proud of me.

Forged Niger-Iraq Documents Traced Back To Italian Military Intelligence

Talking Points Memo

Josh Marshall gives a few more hints on his big story about the Niger-Iraq forgeries, and one big promise. The forged papers were given to the American government by an Italian journalist. She got them from a source, a security consultant, who was accused recently of being the actual forger.

This isn't true. The security consultant, a former Italian intelligence agent, recieved the document from an current Italian military intelligence agent, whom Josh promises to name in his upcoming article. I'll bet that guy isn't too happy right now.

The agent had hooked the consultant up with a source in the Nigerian Embassy in Rome. In fact, the agent had only established this relationship with the consultant in order to pass the forgeries to him. The agent then gave the forged documents to the embassy source, who provided them to the consultant in the course of their business.

Furthermore, these documents were used by Italian intelligence to create the widespread impression that Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake uranium. Italian intelligence must have known the documents to be forgeries - wherever they got the documents from, they would have checked up on the veracity of the information, and the documents reveal themselves to be forgeries very easily. Why did they use them to create the widespread impression that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake? Why did they work carefully to get these documents into American hands?

Why did Italy want us to invade Iraq?


Seymour Herch has already reported on a source that told him the documents were forged by former CIA agents to sting a stovepiping of intelligence info by the Vice President's office. In this case, they would only have wanted the Italian intelligence agency to pass the documents onto the stovepipe as quickly as possible.

So did they pass the documents onto Italian military intelligence directly? Could they have given actual instructions or did they foist the documents onto the Italians the same way the Italians foisted them off onto the security consultant?

I think the second is the most likely. Choosing the first means that Italy definitely knew the documents were forgeries, yet used them throughout Europe to flog the idea of Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Africa, finally leaking copies of the documents themselves to the Italian press. Could that have been the intent of the CIA forgers? I don't think so: for their stated objective, all they would want is the documents to get into Cheney's hands as soon as possible.

Yet if the documents came into Italian hands as though authentic, then can we speculate that Italy didn't factcheck the document? Seymour Hersch lays the groundwork for saying yes:

One former senior C.I.A. official told me that the initial report from Italy contained no documents but only a written summary of allegations. “I can fully believe that SISMI would put out a piece of intelligence like that,” a C.I.A. consultant told me, “but why anybody would put credibility in it is beyond me.”
The investigative diligence of the Italian military intelligence leaves something to be desired, evidently. Coming upon these documents, they did more than the forgers expected. They gave details of the documents to other European countries, so that when Cheney got those documents, they were riding a wave of complementary reports from other countries.

So the Administration seized on these documents and pumped the information long and loud. From the Hersch article:
The State of the Union speech was confounding to many members of the intelligence community, who could not understand how such intelligence could have got to the President without vetting. The former intelligence official who gave me the account of the forging of the documents told me that his colleagues were also startled by the speech. “They said, ‘Holy shit, all of a sudden the President is talking about it in the State of the Union address!’ They began to panic. Who the hell was going to expose it? They had to build a backfire. The solution was to leak the documents to the I.A.E.A.”
This is why Josh is using the techtonic plate imagery in regard to this story: the CIA's version of an interoffice prank became a serious part of the Administration's case for going to war. And when the Administration became aware of the forgery, they burned a CIA deep cover agent in retaliation.

That, I think, is what Josh is getting at. Valerie Plame was burned, not to punish Joe Wilson alone, but the CIA as well. This administration bypassed important vetting procedures in order to find any pretext to invade Iraq. They obtained some forged documents and used them indiscriminately as part of the evidence they needed. And when their folly was exposed, they struck out at an important part of America's national security process out of spite.

They aren't fit to govern.