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Old 07-14-2007, 05:00 PM   #1
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Al Qaeda better positioned to strike the West

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19730468/

Bold emphasis is mine:
Quote:
Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Al-Qaida is stepping up its efforts to sneak terror operatives into the United States and has acquired most of the capabilities it needs to strike here, according to a new U.S. intelligence assessment, The Associated Press has learned.

The draft National Intelligence Estimate is expected to paint an ever-more-worrisome portrait of al-Qaida’s ability to use its base along the Pakistan-Afghan border to launch and inspire attacks, even as Bush administration officials say the U.S. is safer nearly six years into the war on terror.

Among the key findings of the classified estimate, which is still in draft form and must be approved by all 16 U.S. spy agencies:

Al-Qaida is probably still pursuing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would use them if its operatives developed sufficient capability.

The terror group has been able to restore three of the four key tools it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders. It could not immediately be learned what the missing fourth element is.

The group will bolster its efforts to position operatives inside U.S. borders. In public statements, U.S. officials have expressed concern about the ease with which people can enter the United States through Europe because of a program that allows most Europeans to enter without visas.

The document also discusses increasing concern about individuals already inside the United States who are adopting an extremist brand of Islam.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative written judgments that reflect the consensus long-term thinking of senior intelligence analysts.

Government officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been finalized, described it as an expansive look at potential threats within the United States and said it required the cooperation of a number of national security agencies, including the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security Department and National Counterterrorism Center.

National security officials met at the White House on Thursday about the intelligence estimate and related counterterrorism issues. The tentative plan is to release a declassified version of the report and brief Congress on Tuesday, one government official said.

Ross Feinstein, spokesman for National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, declined to discuss the document’s specific contents. But he said it would be consistent with statements made by senior government officials at congressional hearings and elsewhere.

The estimate echoes the findings of another analysis prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center earlier this year and disclosed publicly on Wednesday. That report — titled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West” — found the terrorist group is “considerably operationally stronger than a year ago” and has “regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001,” a counterterrorism official familiar with the reports findings told The Associated Press.

On Thursday, news of the counterterrorism center’s threat assessment renewed the political debate about the nature of the al-Qaida threat and whether U.S. actions — in Iraq in particular — have made the U.S. safer from terrorism.

At a news conference Thursday, President Bush acknowledged al-Qaida’s continuing threat to the United States and used the new report as evidence his administration’s policies are on the right course.

“The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on Sept. 11,” he said. “That’s why what happens in Iraq matters to security here at home.”

Yet Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Iraq has distracted the United States. He said the U.S. should have finished off al-Qaida in 2002 and 2003 along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Instead, “President Bush chose to invade Iraq, thereby diverting our military and intelligence resources away from the real war on terrorism,” Rockefeller said. “Threats to the United States homeland are not emanating from Iraq. They are coming from al-Qaida leadership.”
Dear Mr. President: I'm sorry to interject, but I have to correct you. It is not because Al Qaeda has rebuilt itself that war in Iraq must go on. It is because the war in Iraq is going on (and was started in the first place) that Al Qaeda has been able to rebuild itself. Thanks for that.





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Old 07-14-2007, 05:18 PM   #2
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wow, two wars lost in just 6 years.

well done, Mr. Bush.
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:55 PM   #3
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Well if you'd give Bush a little bit more time, you cowardly wimps, you'd see!!
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Old 07-14-2007, 06:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Ron Paul warns of staged terror attack

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, said the country is in "great danger" of the U.S. government staging a terrorist attack or a Gulf of Tonkin style provocation, as the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate.

The Texas congressman offered no specifics nor mentioned President Bush by name, but he clearly insinuated that the administration would not be above staging an incident to revive flagging support.

"We're in danger in many ways," Paul said on the Alex Jones radio show. "The attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that's in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment which endangers our troops and our national defense."

Paul was asked to respond to comments by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan that the U.S. is in danger of a staged terror attack or a provocation of an enemy similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 before the Vietnam War.

During the radio interview, Paul said the government was conducting "an orchestrated effort to blame the Iranians for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq."

The comments come as several prominent terrorism experts have warned the U.S. is facing an increased risk of attack this summer. Earlier this week, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he had a "gut feeling" the U.S. would be attacked again.

The remark angered some Democrats, who criticized Chertoff for being too vague. And some pundits seized on his remarks, saying the vague warnings were meant only to revive flagging support for the war in Iraq and Bush’s larger war against terroris
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Old 07-14-2007, 06:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Usama Bin Laden Appears in New Video, Officials Probe Authenticity

Saturday , July 14, 2007



Al Qaeda Leader Usama bin Laden appears on new recording being analyzed for authenticity, U.S. officials confirmed Saturday to FOX News.

The videotaped statement, which surfaced on jihadist Web sites, is apparently short, and does not appear to be a dramatic aside from martyrdom videos from various al Qaeda followers from Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkistan.

Though U.S. sources tell FOX News there has never been a fake tape from Bin Laden in the past, they contend that the analysis is not complete and there does not appear to be any time specific references so there is no way to know when the tape was made.

Click here to see video report from ABC News.com.

FOX News Baghdad reports that the clip may be from a previous unseen portion of video released five to six years ago.

FOX News has been reporting for nearly two weeks, there have been a handful of postings on the Islamic forums, which suggested a new Bin Laden tape was coming.

It has been over a year since the last audio tape from Bin Laden, shortly after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq was killed.

Bin Laden is seen wearing his familiar dress of standard camouflage battle jacket, watch cap and Pashtun pantaloons.

ABC News.com reports that the Al Qaeda leader appears older in the clip, where he is reportedly addressing an unseen group in a mountainous region.

Anyone remember how there was a BinLaden tape released right before the 2004 election.


It seems like whenever the CIA analyzes them, they are always good.


Does anyone expect BinLaden to hold a press conference and say, "Hey, that's a fake, its not me."?
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Old 07-14-2007, 08:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Iranian missiles aimed at US base found in Iraq

THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 15, 2007

US armed forces in Iraq uncovered a field containing 50 Iranian-made rocket launchers, all aimed at a US army base, Israel Radio reported.
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:12 AM   #7
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Who didn't see this coming?
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:55 AM   #8
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If you won the election in 2008, what would you do differently? How would you protect your nation from terrorism (as much as it is possible to do so)?
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Old 07-15-2007, 09:21 AM   #9
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Well, those are two completely different questions, AEON, because Iraq and protecting us from terrorism have nothing to do with each other.

I would withdraw from Iraq and continue a non-military campaign against terrorism.
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:01 PM   #10
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How about this. If I had won the election in 2000, I would not have invaded Iraq and would have continued to concentrate my resources on capturing Bin Laden and eliminating safe havens for Al Qaeda.
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Old 07-15-2007, 04:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diemen
How about this. If I had won the election in 2000, I would not have invaded Iraq and would have continued to concentrate my resources on capturing Bin Laden and eliminating safe havens for Al Qaeda.

That's fair. But what would you do if you won in 2008?
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Old 07-15-2007, 04:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by phillyfan26

...and continue a non-military campaign against terrorism.
What woud this entail? Propaganda? Financial aid?
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:17 PM   #13
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[q]Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, said the country is in "great danger" of the U.S. government staging a terrorist attack or a Gulf of Tonkin style provocation, as the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate.

The Texas congressman offered no specifics nor mentioned President Bush by name, but he clearly insinuated that the administration would not be above staging an incident to revive flagging support.[/q]





the fact that this is not beyond the realm of possibility is a complete and total tragedy.

yay. a summer of sweating on the Metro, and not because it's in the mid-90s and humid.
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON



That's fair. But what would you do if you won in 2008?
I rather like Dennis Kucinich's plan that unico posted a week ago or so. It's got a few problems (like how to form an international peace keeping force when we've squandered much of our international goodwill), but it's certainly a good starting point in my eyes.

http://kucinich.us/iraqplan
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Old 07-16-2007, 01:35 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON
If you won the election in 2008, what would you do differently? How would you protect your nation from terrorism (as much as it is possible to do so)?
First, I would put across to the American people that war and terrorism are both morally ambiguous and neither is morally superior to the other. We have to stop the roots of aggression by understanding what causes terrorism.
I would pressure US allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to stop funding extremist teachings that only lead to Al Qaeda type groups. I would try to ensure that desperate people don't become martys for some vague cause by helping economically depressed people. I would stop supporting Israel and pressure it to deal with Palestinians humanely, instead the hypocritical historical approach of supporting occupation and brutality of Israel no matter what it does while talking down to Palestinians. Palestinians have engaged in cease-fires repeatedly, but Israel is allowed to continue settlements and oppression and violence to arrest or kill targets. If Israel won't stop, why should Palestinians?

Bush is not the first to play this hypocritical game, and until this trend is broken away from, Muslims the world over will be galvanized by this injustice of Israeli colonialism and oppression, and Al Qaeda-type group membership will grow. Terrorism in this case grows out of injustice, not Islamic fundamentalist colonial dreams. There's a difference between Al Qaeda and reasonable groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which may occasionally do the wrong thing, but are not evil or unacceptable by using the only means they have to prevent Israel from rolling over their peoples even more than they have in the past. Israel had a chance for peace, but used aggression from its inception, and now balks at Arab/Muslim 'barbarism' for self-defense. Israel's actions are similar to what European settlers did to native Americans, yet no US politician is willing to accept the moral imperative this acknowlegement would bring about.
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Old 07-16-2007, 02:03 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diemen
a safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas
Just to further gloomify the picture--the present political situation in Pakistan doesn't inspire much hope that this "key tool" will disappear anytime soon either.
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Bush Aides See Failure in Fight With Al Qaeda in Pakistan

By MARK MAZZETTI and DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times, July 18


WASHINGTON — President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan. The intelligence report, the most formal assessment since the Sept. 11 attacks about the terrorist threat facing the United States, concludes that the United States is losing ground on a number of fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda, and describes the terrorist organization as having significantly strengthened over the past two years.

In identifying the main reasons for Al Qaeda’s resurgence, intelligence officials and White House aides pointed the finger squarely at a hands-off approach toward the tribal areas by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who last year brokered a cease-fire with tribal leaders in an effort to drain support for Islamic extremism in the region. “It hasn’t worked for Pakistan,” said Frances Fragos Townsend, who heads the Homeland Security Council at the White House. “It hasn’t worked for the United States.”

While Bush administration officials had reluctantly endorsed the cease-fire as part of their effort to prop up the Pakistani leader, they expressed relief on Tuesday that General Musharraf may have to abandon that approach, because the accord seems to have unraveled. But American officials make little secret of their skepticism that General Musharraf has the capability to be effective in the mountainous territory along the Afghan border, where his troops have been bloodied before by a mix of Qaeda leaders and tribes that view the territory as their own, not part of Pakistan.

“We’ve seen in the past that he’s sent people in and they get wiped out,” said one senior official involved in the internal debate. “You can tell from the language today that we take the threat from the tribal areas incredibly seriously. It has to be dealt with. If he can deal with it, amen. But if he can’t, he’s got to build and borrow the capability.”

The bleak intelligence assessment was made public in the middle of a bitter Congressional debate about the future of American policy in Iraq. White House officials said it bolstered the Bush administration’s argument that Iraq was the “central front” in the war on terror, because that was where Qaeda operatives were directly attacking American forces. The report nevertheless left the White House fending off accusations that it had been distracted by the war in Iraq and that the deals it had made with President Musharraf had resulted in lost time and lost ground.

While the assessment described the Qaeda branch in Iraq as the “most visible and capable affiliate” of the terror organization, intelligence officials noted that the operatives in Iraq remained focused on attacking targets inside that country’s borders, not those on American or European soil.

In weighing how to deal with the Qaeda threat in Pakistan, American officials have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss what some said was emerging as an aggressive new strategy, one that would include both public and covert elements. They said there was growing concern that pinprick attacks on Qaeda targets were not enough, but also said some new American measures might have to remain secret to avoid embarrassing General Musharraf.

Ms. Townsend declined to describe what may be alternative strategies for dealing with the Qaeda threat in Pakistan, but acknowledged frustration that Al Qaeda had succeeding in rebuilding its infrastructure and its links to affiliates, while keeping Mr. bin Laden and his top lieutenants alive for nearly six years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The intelligence report, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, represents the consensus view of all 16 agencies that make up the American intelligence community. The report concluded that the United States would face a “persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years.” That judgment was not based on any specific intelligence about an impending attack on American soil, government officials said. Only two pages of “key judgments” from the report were made public; the rest of the document remained classified.

Besides the discussion of Al Qaeda, the report cited the possibility that the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, a Shiite organization, might be more inclined to strike at the United States should the group come to believe that the United States posed a direct threat either to the group or the government of Iran, its primary benefactor.

At the White House, Ms. Townsend found herself in the uncomfortable position of explaining why American military action was focused in Iraq when the report concluded that main threat of terror attacks that could be carried out in the United States emanated from the tribal areas of Pakistan. She argued that it was Mr. bin Laden, as well as the White House, who regarded “Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.”

Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state, acknowledged that Al Qaeda had prospered during the cease-fire between the tribal leaders and General Musharraf last September, a period in which “they were able to operate, meet, plan, recruit, and obtain financing in more comfort in the tribal areas than previously.” But Mr. Boucher also described General Musharraf as America’s best bet, and several administration officials on Tuesday cited his recent aggressive actions against Islamic militants at a mosque in Islamabad.

The growing Qaeda threat in Pakistan has prompted repeated trips to Islamabad by senior administration officials to lean on officials there and calls by lawmakers to make American aid to Pakistan contingent on a sustained counterterrorism effort by General Musharraf’s government. Some members of Congress argue that concern for the stability of General Musharraf’s government had for too long dominated the White House strategy for dealing with Pakistan, thwarting American counterterrorism efforts. “We have to change policy,” said Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee who has long advocated a more aggressive American intelligence campaign in Pakistan.
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Old 07-18-2007, 02:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diemen


I rather like Dennis Kucinich's plan that unico posted a week ago or so. It's got a few problems (like how to form an international peace keeping force when we've squandered much of our international goodwill), but it's certainly a good starting point in my eyes.

http://kucinich.us/iraqplan
i you b/c you dennis! i think the international community would embrace us once again once this plan is implemented. i'd like to think the whole community isn't going to give the next prez a hard time for this administration's mistakes. hopefully people will help him/her to try and clean up the mess they made if asked.
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Musharraf Rejects State of Emergency

By Pamela Constable and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post, August 9


KABUL -- Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf, under intense pressure from his own advisers and the U.S. government not to curtail civil liberties, has rejected the option of imposing a state of emergency to deal with a deepening political crisis, top government officials said Thursday.

Musharraf skipped a peace conference in Afghanistan that drew hundreds of tribal leaders from both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border, electing instead to huddle with personal and political advisers in Islamabad on how to combat deteriorating security conditions and the growing threat of violence by Islamic extremists at home. Senior government officials said Wednesday that an emergency declaration was being considered. But after a call early Thursday from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and dire warnings from his own advisers that such a move would have disastrous consequences, Musharraf appeared to abandon the idea.

"President Pervez Musharraf after hectic consultations with his colleagues has decided that emergency should not be declared in the country," Minister for Information and Broadcasting Muhammad Ali Durrani told Pakistani television, according to the country's official news service. "The main objective of the government is to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country . . . The President is very clear that steps like emergency can hinder the democratic process and should therefore be avoided," Durrani said.

Under the country's constitution, the president may impose emergency rule if Pakistan faces a severe internal or external threat. Such a decree could restrict freedom of speech and movement. Elections, now scheduled by year's end, could be postponed or suspended. Military analysts in Pakistan said emergency rule would not be accepted by the great majority of the public.

In Kabul, meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened the peace conference without Musharraf, who sent Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in his place. Karzai told the jirga, or tribal council, that the growing Taliban insurgency has taken a heavy toll on the people of Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported. "People are dying daily. Our schools are burning, our mullahs are dying," Karzai said in a 40-minute speech delivered in the same white tent where the country's post-Taliban constitution was hammered out in 2004. He accused militants of abducting and killing women in the name of the Taliban and Islam, and of barring girls from going to school. The extremism, Karzai added, is now creeping across the border into Pakistan, where al-Qaeda is feared to have regrouped.

Taliban leaders and tribal elders from the most volatile region in Pakistan's border region are boycotting the conference, which drew 350 delegates from Afghanistan and about 300 from Pakistan. The main focus is security and terrorism, but talks will include economic development and battling the drug trade as well.

Musharraf took power in a bloodless coup in October 1999 and has since been a key ally in the U.S. fight against terrorism. Analysts say he has ruled with a relatively light hand, seeking to co-opt both political and religious groups while bending the laws to his political aims. He has hoped to be reelected by Parliament to another five-year term without having to give up his position as army chief. But in the past several months, Musharraf's popularity has declined, as a pro-democracy movement has gained speed. At the same time, radical Islamic organizations have turned violently against his government. Students seeking to impose Islamic law on the country seized a mosque complex in Islamabad last month. Security forces crushed the rebellion, but a spate of retaliatory bombings and other attacks left more than 300 people dead.

In Washington, the once-praised Musharraf has come under increasingly harsh criticism for failing to crack down on violent Islamic groups, many in the tribal region along the Afghan border. For the first time, U.S. officials have threatened to send troops into Pakistan to pursue insurgents, while Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama levied a similar warning.

South Asia experts said they were perplexed and concerned by Musharraf's apparent consideration of emergency rule, a device that recalls harsher periods of military control in Pakistan.
Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said such a move would seem "more like a sign of weakness than a sign of strength" for the Islamabad government. He said that there appeared to be no obvious reason for a crackdown and that the government would need to justify such a move.

In the past, Musharraf has tended to dismiss Islamic insurgency as a homegrown Afghan problem and has often criticized President Karzai for failing to halt the revival of the Taliban militia. Karzai, in turn, has accused Pakistan of fomenting the insurgency and offering a haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. The four-day peace parley this weekis an attempt to overcome some of the enmity. Afghan officials insisted Wednesday that the meeting would not be derailed by Musharraf's absence. The idea of the jirga emerged from a September 2006 meeting in Washington between President Bush, Karzai and Musharraf that focused on ways to combat rising border violence. Aziz met with Karzai and addressed the delegates Thursday, then returned to Pakistan.
A bit of good news, and this will guardedly raise hopes that Musharraf is coming to accept that he has no viable choice but to "submit" to the democratic process--though it's not a good sign that he withdrew from the peace conference. But this situation will get worse before it gets better.
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:44 PM   #20
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That's what I thought of when I read the Ron Paul bit. Also, certain 24 plots.
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