UPI Political Briefs

Sept. 10, 2004 at 5:56 PM
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Bush slams Kerry over Iraq

HUNTINGTON, W.Va., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush targeted rival John Kerry on Iraq and said Saddam Hussein would still be in power if the Massachusetts Democrat had his way.

Kerry, he reminded a rally in West Virginia Friday, had voted in 2002 for the use of force against Saddam, but later voted against funding operations there. He then declared himself an anti-war candidate and nuanced twice more -- saying he would have voted the same way today knowing what was now known, and then saying the Iraq War was the wrong war at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

"The newest wrinkle is that Senator Kerry has now decided we are spending too much money in Iraq, even though he criticized us earlier for not spending enough," Bush said.

"If he had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and would still be a threat to the security and to the world."

Earlier Bush had said Kerry "has more different positions than all his colleagues in the Senate combined" on Iraq.

Bush has repeatedly hammered Kerry over the war on terrorism and the Iraq War, which Kerry Thursday called a mistake that was diverting funding needed for domestic programs.

Kerry behind in battleground states

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- President Bush's New York convention gave him a political first in this campaign: a majority of probable voters saying they plan to vote for him.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Friday found among those most likely to vote in November, Bush holds a lead of 52 percent to 43 percent over Kerry, with independent Ralph Nader getting 2 percent of the hypothetical vote.

Among all registered voters, Bush leads Kerry 50 percent to 44 percent.

In 19 closely contested states Bush holds a narrower lead among likely voters, 50 percent to 46 percent, the poll found.

Among all voters in these states, the two candidates are running even.

A total of 1,202 randomly selected adults, including 952 self-described registered voters and 788 likely voters, were interviewed by telephone Sept. 6-8. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Presidential-election debate is contentious

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Members of the bipartisan panel running the debates between the main U.S. presidential candidates are wearying of each side's pre-debate posturing.

Democrat John Kerry has named two of the most powerful lawyers in Washington and the sitting governors of Michigan and Arizona to his team.

President Bush has named a former secretary of state, the former Republican Party national chairman turned governor of Mississippi, and one of the party's sharpest media personalities, Mary Matalin, to his.

Their actual job, besides posturing and sending signals, is to settle debate details such as the height of podiums, formats and number of debates. With all the star power on each side, it's taking longer than expected and irritating the commission.

"If they want to get in each other's faces and do the little playground routine, OK," said one person involved in the debate preparations, "but there's an event waiting to happen."

The first debate proposed by the bipartisan commission would be on Sept. 30 at the University of Miami, with the PBS anchor Jim Lehrer as moderator; it is to focus primarily on domestic policy. One or two more presidential debates are to follow.

Kerry, Dems to throw 'sink,' White House says

HUNTINGTON, W.Va., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The White House said Friday the Kerry campaign and Democrats were coordinating attack campaigns on President Bush to reverse low poll standings.

The latest flap over Bush's National Guard service, in which possibly forged documents critical of Bush were given to CBS News, could be just the beginning of an assault in which Democrats would "throw the kitchen sink," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"One thing that is clear is the timing and the coordination going on here," he said. "There is an orchestrated effort by Democrats and the Kerry campaign to tear down the president because of the direction the polls are moving.

"The Democrats are determined to throw the kitchen sink at us, and I suspect this is just the beginning."

The documents were purportedly from the personal files of Bush's former commander in the National Guard. They indicated Bush had disobeyed an order and was using influence to shirk his duty. Democrats jumped on the allegations and accused Bush of lying about his service.

Kerry's is behind Bush by 7 points in latest polling as Bush hammers him over changing political positions and anti-Kerry Vietnam veterans attack Kerry over alleged fabrications of his war record and for his anti-war activism.

GAO: Government underestimated anthrax risk

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. public-health officials underestimated the risk of the 2001 anthrax mailings, according to a new government report.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, released findings Thursday that medical help for postal authorities was delayed too long after letters containing anthrax spores were discovered.

The review focused on the postal facilities where the four letters -- to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., along with members of the news media -- were handled in September and October 2001, which resulted in 22 cases of anthrax including five that proved fatal.

The postal service is in the process of installing equipment aimed at detecting future attacks.

Congress approves suicide-prevention bill

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Congress approved a measure Thursday providing $82 million over three years for youth suicide-prevention programs.

The measure approved by the House and Senate was sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., whose son Garret Lee Smith took his own life last year.

The original bill, which was approved by the Senate in July, was altered by the House Thursday to require parental permission before students are allowed to attend suicide-prevention programs.

DARPA seeks self-repairing computer

ROME, N.Y., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding work on computers that can learn and repair themselves after being damaged.

Under a $1.2 million DARPA contract, Honeywell of Minneapolis will work to create software for a self-aware, self-adaptive and self-regenerative computer environment. The effort will include "cognitively inspired sensing, planning and learning algorithms," said John Maxey, program engineer in the directorate's Defensive Information Warfare Branch.

"The envisioned software will link network sensors to automatically recognize and react to attacks or unintentional errors," Maxey said in a statement. "There will also be efforts to have the software continue a learning process in real time so that the system will work even better detecting the next event."

The contract is funded under DARPA's Self-Regenerative Systems program. SRS works to develop technology for military computer systems to enable them to perform successfully over long periods in spite of damage.

Be prepared, Ridge tells nation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A partnership between the U.S. government and the private sector is telling Americans to get ready for disasters of all kinds.

"Everyone is freedom's beneficiary," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told a luncheon on Capitol Hill Thursday. "Therefore, shouldn't everyone -- in however small a way -- be freedom's protector?"

Ridge was launching National Preparedness Month, an initiative of the non-profit America Prepared Campaign, which is supported by businesses.

America Prepared has produced TV advertisements, awards ceremonies and short films encouraging Americans to make plans in case of a terror attack or natural disaster. Plans include linking up with family and friends, getting information on the nature of any real threat, and stocking supplies and equipment to sustain their households for two to three days.

"Frankly, (the recent hurricane in) Florida has reminded everybody how important it is to be prepared," said Susan Neely, the department's director of public affairs.

Ridge said that whether a situation was natural or man-made, every citizen who was properly prepared was one less person that emergency responders would have to look after.

CBS papers on Bush guard duty questioned

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Top U.S. forensic document specialists say papers described by CBS News as proving President Bush shirked military duty may have been faked.

Earlier this week CBS' "60 Minutes II" said newly discovered documents indicate Bush did not fulfill his obligations to the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.

However, forensic document specialists contacted by the Washington Post said the font, spacing and use of superscriptions used were either rare or unknown in the early '70s.

For example, William Flynn said documents generated by the kind of typewriters used in 1972 spaced letters evenly across the page, so that an "i" used as much space as an "m." In the CBS documents -- by contrast -- each letter uses a different amount of space, a post-1972 development.

Flynn also said the CBS documents appear to use proportional spacing both across and down the page, a relatively recent innovation. Further, the documents include superscripted "th" in phrases like "111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron."

Phil Bouffard, a forensic document examiner from Cleveland, said the font used in the CBS documents appeared to be Times Roman, widely used by word-processing programs but rare on typewriters.

CBS says its forensic document experts verified the papers' authenticity, but the network is declining to identify any of its experts.

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