"Creating a Genuine 'Opportunity Society'" -- Senator Edward Kennedy on jobs and income inequality in the United States (speech at CUNY Graduate Center, 3/1/04).
Amy Goodman's interview with Maxine Waters at democracynow.org, 3/1/04:
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman. Congressmember Waters, can you tell us about the conversation you just had with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?
MAXINE WATERS: I most certainly can and he's anxious for me to get the message out so people will understand. He is in the Central Republic of Africa at a place called the Palace of the Renaissance, and he's not sure if that's a house or a hotel or what it is and he is surrounded by military. It's like in jail, he said. He said that he was kidnapped; he said that he was forced to leave Haiti. He said that the American embassy sent the diplomats; he referred to them as, to his home where they was lead by Mr. Moreno. And I believe that Mr. Moreno is a deputy chief of staff at the embassy in Haiti and other diplomats, and they ordered him to leave. They said you must go NOW. He said that they said that Guy Phillipe and U.S. Marines were coming to Port Au Prince; he will be killed, many Haitians will be killed, that they would not stop until they did what they wanted to do. He was there with his wife Mildred and his brother-in-law and two of his security people, and somebody from the Steel Foundation, and they're all, there's five of them that are there. They took them where -- they did stop in Antigua then they stopped at a military base, then they were in the air for hours and then they arrived at this place and they were met by five ministers of government. It's a Francophone country, they speak French. And they were then taken to this place called the Palace of the Renaissance where they are being held and they are surrounded by military people. They are not free to do whatever they want to do. Then the phone clicked off after we had talked for about five -- we talked maybe fifteen minutes and then the phone clicked off. But he, some of it was muffled in the beginning, at times it was clear. But one thing that was very clear and he said it over and over again, that he was kidnapped, that the coup was completed by the Americans that they forced him out. They had also disabled his American security force that he had around him for months now; they did not allow them to extend their numbers. To begin with they wanted them to bring in more people to provide security they prevented them from doing that and then they finally forced them out of the country. So that's where his is and I said to him that I would do everything I could to get the word out. . . . that I heard it directly from him I heard it directly from his wife that they were kidnapped, they were forced to leave, they did not want to leave, their lives were threatened and the lives of many Haitians were threatened. And I said that we would be in touch with the State Department, with the President today and if at all possible we would try to get to him. We don't know whether or not he is going to be moved. We will try and find that information out today.
AMY GOODMAN: Did President Aristide say whether or not he resigned?
MAXINE WATERS: He did not resign. He said he was forced out, that the coup was completed.
Amy Goodman's interview with Randall Robinson at democracynow.org, 3/1/04:
RANDALL ROBINSON: The president called me on a cell phone that was slipped to him by someone -- he has no land line out to the world and no number at which he can be reached. He is being held in a room with his wife and his sister's husband, who happened to be at the house at the time that the abduction occurred. The soldiers came in to the house and ordered them to use no phones and to come immediately. They were taken at gunpoint to the airport and put on a plane. His own security detachment was taken as well and put in a separate compartment of the plane. The president was kept with his wife with the soldiers with the shades of the plane down and when he asked where he was being taken, the soldiers told him they were under orders not to tell him that. He was flown first to Antigua, which he recognized, but then he was told to put the shades down again. They were on the ground there for two hours before they took off again and landed six hours later at another location again told to keep the shades down. At no time before they left the house and on the plane were they allowed to use a phone. Only when they landed the last time were they told that they were in the Central African Republic. Then taken to a room with a balcony. They do not know what the room is a part of, maybe a hotel, maybe some other kind of building, but it has a balcony and outside they can see that they are surrounded by soldiers. So that they have no freedom. The president asked me to tell the world that it is a coup, that they have been kidnapped. That they have been abducted. I have put in calls to members of congress asking that they demand that the president be given an opportunity to speak, that he be given a press conference opportunity and that people be given an opportunity to reach him by phone so that they can hear directly from him how he is being treated. But the essential point is clear. He did not resign. He was taken by force from his residence in the middle of the night, forced on to a plane, and taken away without being told where he was going. He was kidnapped. There's no question about it.
AMY GOODMAN: How does he actually know, Randall Robinson, how does president Aristide know that he is in the Central African Republic?
RANDALL ROBINSON: He was told that when he arrived. As a matter of fact there was some official reception of officials of that government at the airport when he arrived. But, you see, he still had and continues to have surrounding him American military.
AMY GOODMAN: You spoke with him and Mildred Aristide up to 10 times a day in the last days before they were removed from Haiti. How did president Aristide sound when you spoke with him today?
RANDALL ROBINSON: They sounded tired and very concerned that the departure has been mistold to the world. They wanted to make certain that I did all that I could to disabuse any misled public that he had not resigned, that he had been abducted. That was very, very important to him and Mrs. Aristide explained to me the strange response to my calls on Saturday night. I had talked to her on Saturday morning and him on Friday. But when I called the house on Saturday night, the phone was answered by an unfamiliar voice who told me that the president was busy, a response that was strange, and then when I asked for Mrs. Aristide, I was told that she was busy, too. As she told me then, that even that early on, before they were taken away and before the soldiers came, they had been instructed they were not allowed to talk to anyone. And so, she said that was the reason she explained this today, a few minutes ago - why she was not able to talk to me and he was not able to talk to me when I called the house on Saturday evening.
AMY GOODMAN: Who did they say was the person that you had actually spoken to?
RANDALL ROBINSON: No, but it was not someone who worked at the house because they know my voice when they hear it and they respond to it because I call so many times. This was something new, a new person, a new voice, with a new kind of tone. That is when we began to be concerned that something was amiss.
AMY GOODMAN: I will ask you the same question I asked Congressmember Waters who also spoke with president Aristide. The issue of whether president Aristide resigned. Did he say he did or he didn't?
RANDALL ROBINSON: Emphatically not.
AMY GOODMAN: He said he did not resign?
RANDALL ROBINSON: He did not resign. He did not resign. He was kidnapped and all of the circumstances seem to support his assertion. Had he resigned, we wouldn't need blacked out windows and blocked communications and military taking him away at gunpoint. Had he resigned, he would have been happy to leave the country. He was not. He resisted. Emphatically not. He did not resign. He was abducted by the United States, a democratic, a democratically elected president, abducted by the United States in the commission of an American-induced coup. This is a frightening thing to contemplate.
"Aristide: US Forced Me to Leave" -- BBC, 3/2/04:
The exiled former President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has said that he was forced to leave his country.
In interviews with US television and news agencies, he said he had been the victim of a "coup d'etat".
He said he had signed documents relinquishing power because of fears that violence would erupt if he did not comply with the demands of US agents.
But he repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about whether he had been kidnapped.
Earlier, friends of Mr Aristide in the US had alleged that the former president was abducted by American agents - allegations described by US Secretary of State Colin Powell as "absolutely baseless, absurd". . . .
The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says Mr Aristide's supporters in America, including the Democratic party activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson, are outraged.
They are calling for an inquiry into whether the US Central Intelligence Agency had a role in the rebellion which led to the downfall of Mr Aristide and his democratically elected government.
"U.S. Denies Aristide's Charges He Was Kidnapped from Haiti" AP story at usatoday.com, 3/2/04:
The Bush administration on Tuesday sought to put aside the controversy over Jean-Bertrand Aristide's departure from Haiti, expressing little interest in his claims that he was forced to go into exile by the American military.
"I think the story's been addressed," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, referring to emphatic administration denials. "The decision to leave was Mr. Aristide's to make and it was a decision that was in the best interest of the Haitian people."
Aristide's resignation letter said he was leaving "in order to avoid a bloodbath," according to a U.S. translation from Creole. "I accept to leave, with the hope that there will be life and not death." A copy of the letter was provided by the Bush administration.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, said he thought there ought to be some investigation of the claim that Aristide was forced out and escorted by U.S. troops.
"I have a very close friend in Massachusetts who talked directly to people who have made that allegation," Kerry said on Today on NBC. "I don't know the truth of it. I really don't. But I think it needs to be explored and we need to know the truth of what happened." . . .
Aristide told The Associated Press that his resignation was coerced. He said U.S. agents who came to his home "were telling me that if I don't leave they would start shooting and be killing in a matter of time." It was unclear whether Aristide meant that the rebels or U.S. agents would begin shooting.
"I was forced to leave," Aristide said in a telephone interview from Africa.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rumsfeld denied that, but U.S. officials acknowledged privately that Aristide was told that if he remained in Haiti, U.S. forces would not protect him from rebels who wanted him put on trial on allegations of murder and corruption.
Powell relayed that news over the weekend in a telephone call to Ronald Dellums, a former California congressman who is now a Washington lobbyist for Aristide. As for Aristide's claims of abduction, Powell said: "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly, and that's the truth."
A small delegation from the Congressional Black Caucus took their misgivings over the end of Aristide's rule in Haiti to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. One member, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said she would raise Aristide's plight Wednesday before the House International Relations Committee.
The lawmakers, as well as Jesse Jackson and international advocacy group TransAfrica Forum, demanded a congressional investigation. They argued that the Bush administration engineered Aristide's ouster by cutting off badly needed aid and supporting his political rivals.
In a telephone interview Monday night with CNN, Aristide said the United States withdrew on Saturday the 19 Americans who had been assigned to his security detail.
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said Aristide asked the Americans whether some of the 50 Marines that President Bush had sent a week ago to protect the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince might shift to the presidential palace if the rebels drew close.
The answer was no.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said the pressure put on Aristide to resign seemed to indicate that the Bush administration had sided with "the opposition and the coup people." He worried that further violence could erupt if Haitians believe the United States was behind Aristide's ouster.
"Why They Had to Crush Aristide" -- Peter Hallward in The Guardian, 3/2/04:
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was re-elected president of Haiti in November 2000 with more than 90% of the vote. He was elected by people who approved his courageous dissolution, in 1995, of the armed forces that had long terrorised Haiti and had overthrown his first administration. He was elected by people who supported his tentative efforts, made with virtually no resources or revenue, to invest in education and health. He was elected by people who shared his determination, in the face of crippling US opposition, to improve the conditions of the most poorly paid workers in the western hemisphere.
Aristide was forced from office on Sunday by people who have little in common except their opposition to his progressive policies and their refusal of the democratic process. With the enthusiastic backing of Haiti's former colonial master, a leader elected with overwhelming popular support has been driven from office by a loose association of convicted human rights abusers, seditious former army officers and pro-American business leaders.
It's obvious that Aristide's expulsion offered Jacques Chirac a long-awaited chance to restore relations with an American administration he dared to oppose over the attack on Iraq. It's even more obvious that the characterisation of Aristide as yet another crazed idealist corrupted by absolute power sits perfectly with the political vision championed by George Bush, and that the Haitian leader's downfall should open the door to a yet more ruthless exploitation of Latin American labour.
If you've been reading the mainstream press over the past few weeks, you'll know that this peculiar version of events has been carefully prepared by repeated accusations that Aristide rigged fraudulent elections in 2000; unleashed violent militias against his political opponents; and brought Haiti's economy to the point of collapse and its people to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
But look a little harder at those elections. An exhaustive and convincing report by the International Coalition of Independent Observers concluded that "fair and peaceful elections were held" in 2000, and by the standard of the presidential elections held in the US that same year they were positively exemplary.
Why then were they characterised as "flawed" by the Organisation of American States (OAS)? It was because, after Aristide's Lavalas party had won 16 out of 17 senate seats, the OAS contested the methodology used to calculate the voting percentages. Curiously, neither the US nor the OAS judged this methodology problematic in the run-up to the elections.
However, in the wake of the Lavalas victories, it was suddenly important enough to justify driving the country towards economic collapse. Bill Clinton invoked the OAS accusation to justify the crippling economic embargo against Haiti that persists to this day, and which effectively blocks the payment of about $500m in international aid.
But what about the gangs of Aristide supporters running riot in Port-au-Prince? No doubt Aristide bears some responsibility for the dozen reported deaths over the last 48 hours. But given that his supporters have no army to protect them, and given that the police force serving the entire country is just a tenth of the force that patrols New York city, it's worth remembering that this figure is a small fraction of the number killed by the rebels in recent weeks.
One of the reasons why Aristide has been consistently vilified in the press is that the Reuters and AP wire services, on which most coverage depends, rely on local media, which are all owned by Aristide's opponents. Another, more important, reason for the vilification is that Aristide never learned to pander unreservedly to foreign commercial interests. He reluctantly accepted a series of severe IMF structural adjustment plans, to the dismay of the working poor, but he refused to acquiesce in the indiscriminate privatisation of state resources, and stuck to his guns over wages, education and health.
What happened in Haiti is not that a leader who was once reasonable went mad with power; the truth is that a broadly consistent Aristide was never quite prepared to abandon all his principles.
"Aristide's Departure: The U.S. Account" -- Peter Slevin and Scott Wilson in The Washington Post, 3/3/04:
In a sequence described by administration officials, Aristide's security team members met with embassy security personnel on Saturday as violence spread. They were told that if Aristide wanted American help in leaving, he had to decide quickly.
That day -- two days after [Secretary of State Colin] Powell signaled that the Bush administration would no longer back a power-sharing arrangement -- an Aristide emissary contacted U.S. Ambassador James Foley to say the Haitian leader was considering stepping down.
U.S. officials said Aristide wanted to know what Foley thought would be best for Haiti. The ambassador discussed the situation with Powell and told Aristide that his position was politically unsustainable and personally perilous. If Aristide waited until the rebels reached Port-au-Prince, Foley told him, the Bush administration could not guarantee his safe departure.
Aristide consulted with his wife and agreed to leave.
U.S. officials said they knew Aristide had already begun getting ready when he told Foley that he could not send him an e-mail message because his computer was packed.
It was after midnight when Foley called [US diplomat Luis] Moreno and asked him to drive to Tabarre to accompany Aristide and his American wife Mildred to the airport, where a jetliner chartered by the U.S. government would pick them up.
When Aristide greeted him at the house, Moreno said he asked the president for a resignation letter. He said Aristide did not give him the letter right away, but promised to give one to him before he was airborne.
"You have my word and you know my word is good," Aristide said, according to Moreno.
Moreno said they then drove to the airport in separate vehicles. Aristide's young children, who are U.S. citizens, had already been sent to the United States.
The caravan arrived at the airport and waited in the dark for the U.S. plane. When Moreno received word that the plane was about 20 minutes from landing, he said he walked over and tapped on the window of Aristide's car.
"I need the letter," he recalled telling the Haitian president. Aristide reached into his wife's purse and handed him a letter written in Creole. Moreno said he passed it to a Creole-speaking embassy political officer, who confirmed that the document was indeed a letter of resignation.
"From His First Day in Office, Bush Was Ousting Aristide" -- Jeffrey D. Sachs in The Los Angeles Times, 3/4/04:
The United States has repeatedly sponsored coups and uprisings in Haiti and in neighboring Caribbean countries.
Ominously, before this week, the most recent such episode in Haiti came in 1991, during the first Bush administration, when thugs on the CIA payroll were among the leaders of paramilitary groups that toppled Aristide after his 1990 election.
Some of the players in this round are familiar from the previous Bush administration, including of course Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Also key is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega -- a longtime aide to Jesse Helms and a notorious Aristide-hater -- widely thought to have been central to the departure of Aristide. He is going to find it much harder to engineer the departure of gun-toting rebels who entered Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.
Rarely has an episode so brilliantly exposed Santayana's famous aphorism that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
In 1991, when Congressional Black Caucus members demanded an investigation into the U.S. role in Aristide's overthrow, the first Bush administration laughed them off, just as this administration is doing today in facing new queries from Congressional Black Caucus members.
Indeed, those who are questioning the administration about Haiti are being smeared as naive and unpatriotic. Aristide himself is being smeared with ludicrous propaganda and, most cynically of all, is being accused of dereliction in the failure to lift his country out of poverty.
In point of fact, this U.S. administration froze all multilateral development assistance to Haiti from the day that George W. Bush came into office, squeezing Haiti's economy dry and causing untold suffering for its citizens. U.S. officials surely knew that the aid embargo would mean a balance-of-payments crisis, a rise in inflation and a collapse of living standards, all of which fed the rebellion.
Another tragedy in this episode is the silence of the media when it comes to asking all the questions that need answers. Just as in the war on Iraq's phony WMD, wherein the mainstream media initially failed to ask questions about the administration's claims, major news organizations have refused to go to the mat over the administration's accounts on Haiti. The media haven't had the gumption to find Aristide and, in failing to do so, to point out that he is being held away from such contact.
"Admit WMD Mistake, Survey Chief Tells Bush" -- Julian Borger in The Guardian, 3/3/04:
David Kay, the man who led the CIA's postwar effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has called on the Bush administration to "come clean with the American people" and admit it was wrong about the existence of the weapons.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Kay said the administration's reluctance to make that admission was delaying essential reforms of US intelligence agencies, and further undermining its credibility at home and abroad.
He welcomed the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate prewar intelligence on Iraq, and said the wide-ranging US investigation was much more likely to get to the truth than the Butler inquiry in Britain. That, he noted, had "so many limitations it's going to be almost impossible" to come to meaningful conclusions.
Mr Kay, 63, a former nuclear weapons inspector, provoked uproar at the end of January when he told the Senate that "we were almost all wrong" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
He also resigned from the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which he was appointed by the CIA to lead in the hunt for weapons stockpiles, saying its resources had been diverted in the fight against Iraqi insurgents.
"I was more worried that we were still sending teams out to search for things that we were increasingly convinced were not there," Mr Kay said.
His call for a frank admission is an embarrassment for the White House at the start of an election year. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has dismissed Mr Kay's assertion that there were no WMD at the start of the Iraq war as a "theory" that was "possible, but not likely".
In his state of the union speech in January, George Bush did not refer to his prewar claims that Iraq was an "immediate threat" but instead said the ISG had found "weapons of mass destruction-related programme activities".
Mr Kay, who was formerly a UN weapons inspector, called for the president to go further. "It's about confronting and coming clean with the American people. He should say we were mistaken and I am determined to find out why," he said.
A White House official said it was too early to draw conclusions: "The ISG is still working, and the commission on this has not even started."
However, Mr Kay said that continued evasion would create public cynicism about the administration's motives, which he believes reflected a genuine fear of WMD falling into the hands of terrorists. He also said that if the administration did not confront the Iraq intelligence fiasco head-on it would undermine its credibility with its allies in future crises "for a generation".
"At Least 143 Die in Attacks at Two Sacred Sites in Iraq" -- John F. Burns in the New York Times, 3/3/04:
Suicide bombers and other attackers detonated mortars, grenades and roadside bombs on Tuesday among crowds of Shiite Muslims gathered for one of the holiest occasions in the Shiite calendar.
Within a few hours, the death toll was at 143; counts made in the evening put it as high as 170. Some of the dead were reportedly pilgrims from Iran.
It was the deadliest day in the 11 months since American troops toppled Saddam Hussein's Sunni Muslim-dominated government. Both attacks began around 10 a.m., at mosques in Baghdad and Karbala, a Shiite holy city some 70 miles southwest of the capital.
Scenes of horror at the sites caused waves of anger and hysteria, much of it focused on the American occupation. In Baghdad, streaks of blood and bits of flesh were strewn across the walls of golden tile and stone floors at the shrine to Imam Musa al-Khadam, considered the city's most sacred Shiite site. In Karbala, groups of wailing survivors outside two revered mosques loaded the dead and wounded onto wooden carts, leaving trails of blood as they rushed in search of help.
The highest previous toll during the American occupation was the 105 people killed in two bombings of Kurdish political gatherings in the north, at Erbil, on Feb. 1. . . .
There was also a devastating attack on Tuesday on Shiites celebrating the same holy day, Ashura, in Pakistan. There, three assailants threw grenades and sprayed gunfire at a procession in Quetta, in the southwest. At least 40 people were killed and 150 wounded, officials said. . . .
After the Baghdad bombing, Iraqi officers summoned help from the Americans at a joint operations center set up with Iraqi agreement half a mile away. A convoy of United States military vehicles approached the shrine, including an armored ambulance and several Humvees, only to be barred from approaching by an angry crowd throwing stones and shouting curses against America.
Later, American officers said, a crowd marched on the operations center, pelting soldiers and tanks with stones, and was met with warning shots.
"Suicide Attacks Add to U.S. Frustration" -- Walter Pincus and Thomas E. Ricks in The Washington Post, 3/3/04:
U.S. forces in Iraq have been largely stymied in their efforts to thwart or even identify those behind the wave of suicide bombings that preceded yesterday's devastating attacks, said military and intelligence officials, who predicted that the sectarian violence will escalate as the United States approaches a June 30 deadline for ending its occupation.
There is no "definitive" evidence of who was behind the bombings in Karbala and Baghdad, but the pattern "fits the modus operandi, the pattern and the writings of [Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi," a senior intelligence official yesterday.
Zarqawi, a radical Jordanian-born Sunni, is seeking to lead his own terrorist network throughout the Middle East, U.S. officials say. In a 17-page letter to al Qaeda leaders, seized by U.S. intelligence in January, Zarqawi wrote that he would reignite the traditional rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq "through martyrdom operations and car bombs."
But Zarqawi is far from the only source of the terrorist attacks that have been taking place throughout Iraq. Military and intelligence officials have repeatedly said Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish radical Islamic terrorist organization driven from its former base in northern Iraq, is active in the Sunni Triangle. An offshoot Islamic fundamentalist group, calling itself Army of the Helpers of the Sunnah (AHS), recently claimed to have carried out dozens of attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces, including the November killing of seven Spanish intelligence officers.
"Signs have been growing" that there will be more violence as different religious, ethnic and political forces seek power as the time for transferring sovereignty grows nearer, one senior analyst said. . . .
U.S. intelligence against Baathist fighters in the Sunni Triangle, who are linked to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, improved enormously in recent months but came up short against the suicide bombers, a senior Central Command official said in a January interview.
"A car bomb is a very secretive thing," this official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. There are few foreign fighters attacking U.S. forces or Iraqis in Iraq, he said, but those that are in the country seem to be concentrating on car bombs and other forms of suicide attack.
The U.S. intelligence apparatus knows very little about the operations of those networks, he noted, and it has been reduced to studying the ankles and other intact body parts of bombers in an effort to determine their nationality and ethnicity. The basic conclusion, he said, is that most suicide bombers are male adolescents of Arab origin. Beyond that, little is known about them. Yesterday's attacks may prove to be a break in that pattern, however. Officials in Iraq said seven suspected attackers have been captured and will be questioned, including a man whose explosive vest did not detonate.
U.S. forces in Iraq are not configured to counter bomb attacks, especially against Iraqi civilians. "There is no way for U.S. troops to be able to counter the suicide attackers, especially when they hit at targets not near U.S. bases or troops," said As'ad AbuKhalil, an expert on terrorism at California State University at Stanislaus.
He and others warned that this situation bodes ill for U.S. plans for Iraq.
"For Bush, an Election-Year Powder Keg" -- Dana Milbank and Robin Wright in The Washington Post, 3/3/04:
The terrorists probably did not plan yesterday's attacks on Iraqi Shiites to coincide with the American electoral festival of Super Tuesday. But the timing is an apt reminder that this year's presidential election is likely to be shaped by events the Bush administration cannot control.
Vice President Cheney, in a trio of interviews with cable news outlets yesterday, brushed off the attacks as a sign of "desperation" among U.S. foes -- a response the administration has used for other bloody setbacks in Iraq. But administration officials also acknowledge that there is little that can be done to stop the attacks and that such violence is likely to worsen as power is transferred to Iraqis on June 30.
That raises the danger for President Bush that the public will come to see the attacks not as an inevitable side effect of democratic progress in Iraq but as the unraveling of the nearly year-old U.S. occupation there -- the main foreign enterprise of the Bush presidency. With the presidential election looming, Bush needs to show by this fall that democracy is waxing in Iraq and violence is waning.
The administration's critics say more violence like yesterday's would discredit Bush's promise to stabilize Iraq. "Iraq goes directly to Bush's main vulnerability -- credibility," said Henri J. Barkey, a former State Department official during the Clinton administration who now teaches at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He added: "Each bombing adds to the disenchantment of the American public and forces people to question whether this was worth it."
Bush administration officials counter that yesterday's attacks are a byproduct of U.S. progress. "What it is more than anything else is major desperation on their part, as we get closer and closer to standing up a new government in Iraq," Cheney told MSNBC yesterday. He also pointed to a "fairly significant decline in American casualties in the last couple of months." . . .
For now, at least, the American public continues to share Bush's belief that the United States is winning in Iraq. "There is still remarkable optimism among the public," said Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who has studied public opinion about Iraq. But he said that optimism has been created in part by the administration's own expressions of confidence. To keep that going, "they have to present a credible measure of success," Feaver said.
The problem is, almost every expert expects the violence to continue, if not intensify. "This is the beginning of an intensive effort that could go on for a very long time," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former national security official in the Clinton and Bush administrations now with the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Juan R.I. Cole, an expert on Iraq and Shiism at the University of Michigan, agrees that attacks "are likely to become more frequent and more spectacular."
Bush aides said their task is to prepare the public for more violence as an inevitable part of Iraq's growing pains. "It's important to have realistic expectations, because as the terrorists grow more desperate over Iraq's success they're certainly going to grow more desperate in their tactics," said Jim Wilkinson, a deputy national security adviser.
"State to Church: I Want a Divorce" -- Alisa Solomon in The Village Voice, March 3-9, 2004:
Marriage itself violates the establishment clause by defining matrimony according to particular religious beliefs.
Take the sacral out of the state, and what reason can it give for preferring hetero to homo couplings? Not a one. It can only cite, as the president did, "cultural, religious, and natural" traditions. But not all religions forbid same-sex nuptials. (I, for one, was hitched under a chuppah to another woman in 1992.) As Rabbi Arthur Waskow puts it, "God forbid?and I do mean God forbid!?that as a country we dig ourselves into a pit where Orthodox Jews and Southern Baptists are affirmed by the Constitution while Reform Jews and Episcopalians are ghettoized." Besides, various religions restrict rites in other ways?my rabbi won't perform interfaith marriages, for example. But should endogamy be the law of the land? Evangelical activists see gay marriage as a wedge issue for driving their theology into the Bill of Rights. The spirit of sharia law has been written into the new Afghan constitution, and apparently is making its way into the Iraqi one as well; Bush and his flock see no reason not to have their own version inscribed in ours.
The prospect of a "defense of marriage" amendment proves how urgently the state needs to sue the church for divorce. And there is one clear way to do it: Grant civil unions to all?including straights. If government must insist on offering special privileges to pledged pairs as a means of social engineering and sexual containment, let it provide them through a properly secular arrangement. Leave holy matrimony to the church, mosque, and synagogue. Folks can register at City Hall for legal recognition of their bond (and the tax benefits, inheritance rights, and all the rest that go with it). If they want their union blessed?or simply celebrated among family and friends in a secular bash?they have to go elsewhere.
That's largely the system we've got now, of course: Practically speaking, the license and the benediction are issued from different offices. And when it comes to benefits, only the former counts. (That's why I pay income tax on the health insurance my partner gets from the Voice.)
Nonetheless, even atheists, anti-clericals, the party-averse, and those in a Vegas-style hurry can't just sign a paper. For the knot to be tied, they need to undergo what philosophers call a performative act?a deed that is committed through words. What actually makes them married is that someone in whom the state has vested authority pronounces them husband and wife. For the vast majority of Americans, that ritual affirmation occurs in a religious setting with a clergy member uttering the magic words. This melding of ecclesiastic and bureaucratic functions lies at the core of today's marriage debate. The evangelical right seeks to blur the boundaries between church and state even more. Their arguments find easy assent from so many Americans because (apart from plain old homophobia) the realms of church and state have been merged in the marriage ceremony for so long, the fusion has come to seem organic.
But if queer studies has taught us anything, it is to show how what may look natural is indeed constructed?and to what ends. The institution of marriage has been in constant flux since its establishment as a form for promoting patriarchal control over property?understood to include women and children. Upon saying "I do," women lost the rights to sign a contract or own property. Until 1967, the U.S. permitted states to ban interracial marriage. When Bush warned of the danger of "redefining" marriage, he sounded just like those who railed against restoring women's individual rights in the late 19th century, or who rioted to oppose giving state sanction to lovers who crossed the color line. But because resistance to same-sex marriage is argued solely on the basis of scripture, our relationships will never be accorded equal protection under the law until those acting in the name of the Bible or Koran or Torah are not part of proclaiming them into legal being. The queer-marriage movement needs a divestment campaign: The only way we will win is if the state's authority to pronounce is stripped from ministers, rabbis, imams, and priests. They of course would be able to declare "according to the laws of Moses" or "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," but not on behalf of the state.
"Educated, Experienced, and Out of Work" -- Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief #198, 3/4/04:
Long-term unemployment -- when unemployed workers have been seeking work for six months or more -- is the most severe form of joblessness. The consequences of extended periods of joblessness are significant: the long-term unemployed often face financial, personal, and health care hardships as well as the loss of their unemployment insurance benefits. An analysis of long-term unemployment from 2000 to 2003 (a period spanning the recession that occurred between March and November 2001) shows that the number of people without work for six months or more has risen at the extraordinarily high rate of 198.2% over this period. Job seekers with college degrees and those age 45 and older have had an especially difficult time finding work, with long-term unemployment for those groups rising by 299.4% and 217.6%, respectively. . . .
In 2002 and 2003, college graduates, workers age 45 and older, and workers in the information and manufacturing sectors entered the ranks of the long-term unemployed at alarming rates; however, no industry or demographic group has escaped the effects of the jobless recovery. Large numbers of workers will likely not return to their previous jobs. Many companies have either reorganized production to make do with a smaller workforce or made arrangements with foreign contractors to accomplish the tasks previously done by workers in the United States. The prevalence of long-term unemployment among skilled and educated workers indicates that no group is immune from the devastating impact of this shift in business practices as the labor market responds to the lack of job growth.
"Next Opponent Is Bush's $100 Million" -- David Westphal in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2/24/04 (updated 3/3/04):
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a striking display of party unity and confidence, Democratic voters anointed Sen. John Kerry Tuesday, setting up a classic fall showdown against President Bush.
Giving the Massachusetts senator huge victory margins in nearly every part of the country, voters firmly rejected Sen. John Edwards and his bid to subject Kerry to further one-on-one primary tests.
Instead, with Bush about to launch millions of dollars worth of TV ads, Democrats coaxed Edwards out of the race, called a halt to the presidential selection process and deputized Kerry to battle against Bush.
Kerry's victory party in Washington Tuesday night capped a remarkable six-week run that looked like a Hollywood version of every candidate's dream campaign.
Practically given up for dead last fall, Kerry shook up his staff, pulled off a near-miracle victory in Iowa and then rode that momentum to a six-week romp in which he swept nearly all of the next 29 contests. . . .
Kerry enters the fray against a sitting president in historically strong shape within his own party.
Famous for producing nominees wounded by fierce infighting, the Democratic primaries morphed this year into a kind of protective cocoon in which the candidates aimed their nastiest rhetoric at the president, not each other.
Week after week, Kerry presented himself as a winning politician who just might have the stuff to give Democrats their fervently hoped-for victory over Bush in the fall.
The upshot is that Kerry reached the winner's circle in the best shape of any Democratic challenger in decades -- owner of a double-digit lead over Bush in a Gallup Poll match-up against Bush.
"If Bush goes on to win, he will become the only president out of the last eight incumbents to win after trailing a challenger in polling conducted after January of the election year," said Gallup editor Frank Newport.
But this morning the protective cocoon of the 2004 Democratic primary will be gone, and Kerry face will face a much starker world.
The victory party confetti will barely be swept up when Bush begins spending some of his $100 million in campaign reserves on TV ads that will shore up his soft approval ratings and then take on Kerry.
With little money of his own, Kerry will find the tables suddenly turned. So much for that heady string of Tuesday night victory bashes.
Republican strategist Scott Reed says Kerry is soon to discover that he remains largely a political unknown, and that Bush has the money to fill the vacuum with an unflattering portrait. Bush campaign officials say they expect to portray Kerry as a liberal Massachusetts senator who has a history of waffling on critical issues.
The time from now to the Democrats' national convention in late July, says Reed, will be "the longest five months of John Kerry's life."
Democrats hope to fill the void through intervention of the national party and independent groups. But it remains to be seen whether they can stop Bush from duplicating the feat of former President Clinton in 1996, when he buried former Sen. Bob Dole with an avalanche of negative ads.
Democratic officials say they'll counter with a strikingly united party that is determined to limit Bush to a single term. But Republicans say their side will be no less committed. "I think our supporters are pretty intense, too," said Bush-Cheney campaign chief Ken Mehlman.
"GOP Aides Implicated in Memo Downloads" -- Helen Dewar in The Washington Post, 3/5/04:
A three-month investigation by the Senate's top law enforcement officer found a systematic downloading of thousands of Democratic computer files by Republican staffers over the past few years as well as serious flaws in the chamber's computer security system.
The report released yesterday by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William H. Pickle noted that two former Senate GOP staff members -- including the Republicans' top aide on judicial nomination strategy -- were primarily responsible for accessing and leaking computer memos on Democratic plans for blocking some of President Bush's judicial nominations.
Pickle made no recommendations about whether to pursue criminal prosecutions in the case, but he cited several federal laws that might be considered, including statutes involving false statements and receipt of stolen property.
Pickle and his investigators said forensics analyses indicated that 4,670 files had been downloaded between November 2001 and spring 2003 by one of the aides -- "the majority of which appeared to be from folders belonging to Democratic staff" on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said at least 100 of his computer files were also accessed by the GOP aides.
The report identified the two former staffers as Jason Lundell, a nominations clerk who originally accessed the files, and Manuel Miranda, a more senior staff member and later the top aide to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on judicial nominations. Miranda, the report said, advised Lundell and was said by other aides to have been implicated in leaking the documents to friendly journalists or other parties outside the Senate. Miranda had previously denied leaking the materials.
Both men left their Senate jobs during the investigation. . . .
In remarks before the release of the report, both at a committee meeting and a news conference, Hatch and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the panel's ranking Democrat, praised the report and condemned the two aides' actions.
"Regardless of whether any criminal law was broken, the improper access was wrong and unjustifiable," Hatch said. "It will go down as a sad chapter in the Senate."
"It was wrongdoing by calculation and stealth, not by inadvertence or mistake, and we know it was intentional, repeated, longstanding and . . . systematic and malicious," Leahy said. "It was carried out surreptitiously, because those who did it knew it was wrong."
According to Pickle's report, Lundell learned how to access the files by watching a systems administrator work on his computer. Miranda guided Lundell in his accessing endeavors, the report said. In addition, the probe found "a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence implicating him," the report said.
In a statement e-mailed to reporters, Miranda said the report "fails to find any criminal hacking or credible suggestion of criminal acts," and called on Hatch to investigate the substance of the Democratic memos. He accused Pickle of having "acted improperly toward me from the first day I met with the investigators."
The probe was prompted late last year after 14 memos written by staffers working for Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) turned up in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and a conservative Web site.
The memos discussed the Democrats' nominations strategy, often in bluntly political terms, including a suggestion that action on a Michigan nominee be held up because of a pending affirmative action case.
Hatch, expressing outrage at the GOP staffers' infiltration of Democratic files, conducted an inquiry of his own and then triggered the sergeant-at-arms probe, for which Pickle used Secret Service agents and General Dynamics Corp. computer experts to trace the Democratic documents. Pickle conducted about 160 interviews and seized the hard drives and backup tapes of several Senate computers, officials said.
"Air Force One Phone Records Subpoenaed" -- Tom Brune in Newsday, 3/5/04:
The federal grand jury probing the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed records of Air Force One telephone calls in the week before the officer's name was published in a column in July, according to documents obtained by Newsday.
Also sought in the wide-ranging document requests contained in three grand jury subpoenas to the Executive Office of President George W. Bush are records created in July by the White House Iraq Group, a little-known internal task force established in August 2002 to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
And the subpoenas asked for a transcript of a White House spokesman's press briefing in Nigeria, a list of those attending a birthday reception for a former president, and, casting a much wider net than previously reported, records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets.
The three subpoenas were issued to the White House on Jan. 22, three weeks after Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, was appointed special counsel in the probe and during the first wave of appearances by White House staffers before the grand jury. . . .
[One of the subpoenas] sought all documents from July 6 to July 30 of the White House Iraq Group. In August, the Washington Post published the only account of the group's existence.
It met weekly in the Situation Room, the Post said, and its regular participants included senior political adviser Karl Rove; communication strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; policy advisers led by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen J. Hadley; and I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Wilson alleged in September that Rove was involved in the leak but a day later pulled back from that, asserting that Rove had "condoned" it.
Hughes left the White House in the summer of 2002. Matalin, who left at the end of 2002, did not return a call for comment. Matalin appeared before the grand jury Jan. 23, the day after the subpoenas were issued.
"Experts Say U.S. Never Spoke to Source of Tip on Bioweapons" -- Walter Pincus in The Washington Post, 3/5/04:
The Bush administration's prewar assertion that Saddam Hussein had a fleet of mobile labs that could produce bioweapons rested largely on information from an Iraqi defector working with another government who was never interviewed by U.S. intelligence officers, according to current and former senior intelligence officials and congressional experts who have studied classified documents.
In his presentation before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said "firsthand descriptions" of the mobile bioweapons fleet had come from an Iraqi chemical engineer who had defected and is "currently hiding in another country with the certain knowledge that Saddam Hussein will kill him if he finds him."
The claims about the mobile facilities remain unverified, however, and now U.S. officials are trying to get access to the Iraqi engineer to verify his story, the sources said, particularly because intelligence officials have discovered that he is related to a senior official in Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, a group of Iraqi exiles who actively encouraged the United States to invade Iraq.
Powell also cited another defector in his speech, an Iraqi major who was made available to U.S. officials by the INC, as supporting the engineer's story. The major, however, had already been "red-flagged" by the Defense Intelligence Agency as having provided questionable information about Iraq's mobile biological program. But DIA analysts did not pass along that cautionary note, and the major was cited in an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and was mentioned in Powell's speech, officials said.
"Miles to Go: The Road Ahead May Be Even Tougher" -- John F. Burns in The New York Times, 3/7/04:
It was a week that bared just how far Iraq remains from the ideals proclaimed by President Bush as he prepared to go to war last March. It began and ended with painful evidence for the Americans that even the Iraqis it identified as its most reliable allies, the 25 people who sit on the advisory body known as the Iraqi Governing Council, could not agree on the basics of a temporary constitution, the first big step by Iraqis toward a lasting redefinition of their country.
As well, there were the suicide bombings on Tuesday that killed at least 180 Iraqi Shiite worshipers, the deadliest day since the overthrow of Mr. Hussein. If the bombers sought to sow civil war between the Shiite majority and Sunni minority, as American officials suggested, they failed - but in ways that raised more doubts about the ability to establish anything of lasting value here that would be worth the American sacrifice.
In Baghdad and Karbala, angry survivors of the bombings shouted their curses not against Sunni militants who have stamped the past year with violence, but against America and Israel. Incoherent as that seemed to an outsider, the fury suggested that on the Iraqi street, the old enmities, not the new possibilities, still dictate.
On Washington's timetable, the Governing Council was to have adopted an interim constitution by Feb. 28 to guide the country until an elected government, under a permanent, popularly endorsed constitution, takes power at the end of 2005. After weeks of wrangling, the council approved a draft a day late, but it slipped away again on Friday, when Shiite council members raised new demands just as the signing ceremony was convening.
As the exhausted Americans sat down to new negotiations, Iraqis who had barely bothered to turn on their television sets for the signing shrugged, as if to say that the success or failure of the push for democracy was, to them, largely a matter of indifference.
For most Iraqis, it seemed what mattered were the suicide bombings, which sent ripples of new anti-American feelings across the country, just at the moment when the United States most needs Iraqis to support the American project for their future. . . .
No Iraqi politician will say publicly that it would have been better to wait for democratic habits to root - what one Governing Council member, Muwaffak al-Rubaie, referred to last week as "learning a technique that is new to us, the one called compromise."
But Iraqi moderates acknowledge quietly that the greater wisdom might have been to take more time. In effect, these critics say, the Americans and the Iraqis they chose as partners have been asked to push heavy political freight, fast, across what amounts to a rickety bridge.
Last week's turmoil in the Governing Council was a token of how tricky an exercise that may be.
Members were picked from groups considered to be pro-American, or at least pragmatic, and for their professed commitment to democracy.
But even among the relative moderates who make up the council, many of them returned exiles with long experience of living in the West, crucial differences proved unbridgeable.
Faced with missing the initial deadline for the interim constitution, Mr. Bremer and his British deputy, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, agreed to allow the Iraqis to punt on issues that will now be left to the more contentious forum of electoral politics - if not to the guns of the rival parties' militias.
The document that was tentatively agreed on, then at least temporarily derailed on Friday, included provisions for a separation of powers, elections and a bill of rights.
But it said nothing about how an interim government is to be constructed after June 30, when the United States turns over sovereignty to the Iraqis; the document set no rules for elections, and it was dangerously vague on Islam's relation to the state.
Likewise, it was evasive on how and when ethnic and religious militias, which could wreck a future Iraqi state, are to be integrated into a national guard.
It endorsed minority demands for federalism, but was silent on issues crucial to the Kurds.
It provided for an awkward executive authority, a president with two deputies, and left amorphous the question of where ultimate executive power would lie.
Behind these fudges lay a central quandary: How an Iraq ruled by the Sunni Muslim minority since 1921 could be reconstructed so as to transfer power to the Shiite majority without provoking a Sunni-Shiite civil war.
"In Sweeping Critique, Kerry Condemns Bush for Failing to Back Aristide" -- David E. Sanger and David M. Halbfinger in The New York Times, 3/7/04:
HOUSTON, March 6 ? Had he been sitting in the Oval Office last weekend as rebel forces were threatening to enter Port-au-Prince, Senator John Kerry says, he would have sent an international force to protect Haiti's widely disliked elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"I would have been prepared to send troops immediately, period," Mr. Kerry said on Friday, expressing astonishment that President Bush, who talks of supporting democratically elected leaders, withheld any aid and then helped spirit Mr. Aristide into exile after saying the United States could not protect him.
"Look, Aristide was no picnic, and did a lot of things wrong," Mr. Kerry said. But Washington "had understandings in the region about the right of a democratic regime to ask for help. And we contravened all of that. I think it's a terrible message to the region, democracies, and it's shortsighted."
Mr. Kerry's critique on Haiti, which Bush campaign aides dismissed as political, was emblematic of how he is already using foreign policy and national security issues in his contest with the president.
In his first in-depth interview on foreign affairs since effectively winning the Democratic nomination, Mr. Kerry hop-scotched around the world in the course of an hour. He took issue with Mr. Bush's judgment beyond their well-aired differences on Iraq, questioning his handling of North Korea, the Mideast peace process and the spread of nuclear weapons and arguing that he would rewrite the Bush strategy that makes pre-emption a declared, central tenet of American policy.
Mr. Kerry is trying a bit of election-season pre-emption of his own, attempting to short-circuit the White House argument that he is too much of a straddler, too indecisive and too captivated by the nuances of foreign policy to defend American interests.
"People will know I'm tough and I'm prepared to do what is necessary to defend the United States of America, and that includes the unilateral deployment of troops if necessary," said Mr. Kerry, who has rarely used the word "unilateral" in the campaign except to describe how Mr. Bush has alienated allies. "But my standard is very different from George Bush's." . . .
[T]he core of Mr. Kerry's argument in the interview was that divisions within Mr. Bush's foreign policy team have frozen the art of preventative diplomacy and kept Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from doing his job.
"I think simply Powell, who I know, like and admire, has been never permitted to be fully a secretary of state in the way that I envision the secretary of state," he said, describing how he believes that Mr. Powell has been regularly undercut by the administration's more hawkish members, led by Vice President Dick Cheney. "I think Powell ? I'm not sure they didn't lock the keys to the airplane up sometimes."
Mr. Kerry warms to these topics in a way he never quite seems to do when talking about his multistep plans to reform health care or roll back parts of Mr. Bush's tax cuts. . . .
In his conversations on foreign policy, sooner or later Mr. Kerry returns to the touchstone of his early adult life, Vietnam. He compared the Bush administration's participation in the exile of Mr. Aristide last weekend to the coup four decades ago that ousted another unpopular authoritarian leader: President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Mr. Bush's more hawkish aides, he argued, have failed to learn how the efforts to change a region's dynamics by changing its government almost always backfire.
In Haiti's case, he contended that if he had been in Mr. Bush's shoes, "I would not have allowed it to arrive at where it was," with mobs roaming the streets of Haiti's cities.
Mr. Bush's aides, led by Mr. Powell, said last week that such critiques distort of the administration's efforts. The crisis grew from Mr. Aristide's own actions and his sponsorship of the marauding gangs, Mr. Powell said last week, and the United States decided not to prop him up after he had lost his legitimacy.
Mr. Kerry charges that a similar lack of constant attention led the administration to avoid dealing with the North Korean crisis for the first 18 months of Mr. Bush's presidency and that even now, Mr. Bush is unwilling to engage in serious negotiations. It was an example, he said, of the president's dealing first with the less threatening problem, Iraq, because it was the easier to solve.
"There's a reason the Bush administration walked that backwards and chose Iraq," he said. "And the reason is in the first eight hours of a conflict with North Korea, you'd have over a million casualties, and they knew that in Iraq you wouldn't."
"Before Fall of Aristide, Haiti Hit by Aid Cutoff" -- Farah Stockman and Susan Milligan in The Boston Globe, 3/7/04:
WASHINGTON -- For three years, the US government, the European Union, and international banks have blocked $500 million in aid to Haiti's government, ravaging the economy of a nation already twice as poor as any in the Western Hemisphere.
The cutoff, intended to pressure the government to adopt political reforms, left Haiti struggling to meet even basic needs and weakened the authority of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who went into exile one week ago.
Today, Haiti's government, which serves 8 million people, has an annual budget of about $300 million -- less than that of Cambridge, a city of just over 100,000. And as Haitians attempt to form a new government, many say its success will largely depend on how much and how soon aid will flow to the country.
Some banking officials said loans could resume in a matter of weeks, but others familiar with the process say it could take years.
"It is important to understand that we need help because we are the poorest country in the hemisphere," said Claude Roumain, a key opposition leader who has called for a special international fund to rebuild Haiti and an audit of the central government. "The main concern is where we stand now. To know exactly and to tell the truth to the people."
Many of Aristide's supporters, in Haiti and abroad, angrily contend that the international community, particularly the United States, abandoned the fledgling democracy when it needed aid the most. Many believe that Aristide himself was the target of the de facto economic sanctions, just as Haiti was beginning to put its finances back in order. "This is a case where the United States turned off the tap," said Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University. "I believe they did that deliberately to bring down Aristide." . . .
The cutoff began as a few lines on a foreign operations bill in November 2000, six years after US Marines restored Aristide to power following a military coup. Passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Clinton, the clause said no money would be given to Haiti's government until it remedied the flawed parliamentary elections that had taken place that spring.
Aristide was still a lightning rod of partisan debate in the United States. Republicans, most of whom opposed the 1994 US intervention, accused him of political violence, corruption, and an inability to work with the opposition. Democrats, some of whom had become friends with Aristide in their fight to restore the democratically elected leader, had hoped to protect Haiti's fragile progress toward democracy.
Aristide's Lavalas Party and his foes had hit a stalemate in 1997, which virtually shut down the government. Between 1997 and 2000, the deadlock cost the country about half of $2.8 billion in promised international aid because donors felt the government did not meet conditions calling for audits and other oversight.
The 2000 parliamentary elections were the last straw: eight Senate seats were awarded to pro-Aristide candidates in a process widely criticized as rigged, and an outraged opposition boycotted further elections. The opposition insisted that Aristide step down and the leader's backers insisted that he serve out his term. Despite Aristide's efforts to convince the international community that he had remedied the election, US aid to his government never resumed.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund also closed up shop in Haiti, citing poor governance. The Inter-American Development Bank held up a $145 million loan for years, partly because Haiti had not been paying interest on past debts but also because of the political crisis.
The IDB loan was earmarked for drinking water, health, and road-building initiatives, and its delay incited the bitterness of American Democratic congressmen and Haiti activists.
The American lobby for Haiti, strongly supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, put much of the blame for the impasse on the Haitian political opposition. They accused it of slowly suffocating Aristide's government to bring him down -- and enable the well-to-do Haitian elite to supplant the former slum priest.
The sanctions imposed after the 2000 elections aggravated the economic troubles, and made Aristide's job harder, and worsened conditions for ordinary Haitians, local people say. Inflation jumped after 2000.
Sachs, a prominent architect of Third World development initiatives for the United Nations and other agencies, said he met with Aristide in Haiti in January 2001 -- around the time that both President Bush took office and Aristide was elected a second time. During that meeting, Aristide persuaded Sachs to ask the World Bank and the IMF to restore funding.
Sachs tried to do so. But he recalls now: "I was shocked when I came back and spoke to senior officials in Washington. . . . They basically told me the essence of it, which is that the United States is freezing aid right now."
Sachs said the move to block Haiti was unfair because US funds had flowed in recent years to far more problematic governments: Chad, Egypt, Pakistan -- even the Taliban regime before Sept. 11. . . .
The halt in funding took its toll. According to the CIA, Haiti's economy shrunk about 1.2 percent in 2001 and 0.9 percent in 2002.
In 2003, Haiti made a drastic attempt to restart the aid, draining its central bank reserves to pay about $32 million in back payments to reactivate the loans from the Inter-American Development Bank. It received an initial $47 million.
The World Bank, too, was set to lend again, partly due to US efforts, Harbert said, adding that Roger F. Noriega, US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, asked the Organization of American States to encourage international institutions to restart the funding.
But just as it appeared money was about to start again -- and just as Aristide agreed to a power-sharing plan designed to break the impasse -- rebel fighters attacked. The international community did not intervene because the democratic opposition rejected the power-sharing plan, which did not stipulate that Aristide resign.