Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop – or I’ll use the pain ray

Raytheon has developed an active denial system (ADS) which behaves much like a ray gun. It projects microwave-like radiation for distances of more than 500 yards, creating an excruciating, full-body burning sensation in anyone caught in its beam. The millimetre-wave rays penetrate skin to a depth of about 1/64in but cause no permanent damage, according to Raytheon, the system’s US-based maker. Prototypes of the weapon, called Silent Guardian, weighed about three tons and were mounted on trucks. Both the British and U.S. governments are evaluating it for use by police and military.

The Silent Guardian™ protection system by Raytheon is a revolutionary less-than-lethal directed energy application that employs millimeter wave technology to repel individuals or crowds without causing injury. The system provides a zone of protection that saves lives, protects assets and minimizes collateral damage. Silent Guardian produces precise effects at longer ranges than current less-than-lethal systems and provides real-time ability to establish intent and de-escalate aggression. Various commercial and military applications include law enforcement, checkpoint security, facility protection, force protection and peacekeeping missions. The system is available now and ready for action.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Extending A UN Mandate for US presence in Iraq??

In the news right now are many articles talking about a "UN Mandate" that will expire at the end of 2008, beyond which U.S. presence would not be allowed. UN Mandate? What Mandate? In Feb 2003 the United Nations voted against approving the invasion of Iraq, and (former) Secretary General Kofi Annan said the U.S. war in Iraq was illegal.

State: UN mandate in Iraq not needed relates an assertion by the U.S. State Department saying that neither a UN mandate nor Congressional approval is required to continue U.S. presence in Iraq. It further explains that with the expiration of the UN mandate the administration is negotiating a different agreement, a "long-term security plan", and that this agreement also would not require Congressional approval because it's not a "treaty". Elsewhere the article refers to Democrats who say all this is unconstitutional. Uh, yeah, unconstitutional activities would legitimately result in impeachment and conviction, would it not? Then why aren't the Democrats taking the impeachment resolutions seriously?

In any case the article does say this about the mandate: In his statement, Satterfield cites two legislative measures that he says gives the administration cover to remain in Iraq: the 2001 and 2002 resolutions authorizing force in Iraq and against nations harboring al-Qaida terrorists.

These are: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1382 (29 November 2001) which appears to be a continuing resolution granting continued approval for disarmament activities and names UNMOVIC and a specific list of armaments etc supposedly present in Iraq. And United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 which deplores the uncooperativeness expressed by Iraq etc and threatens further actions etc and again names UNMOVIC. In reviewing the UN Security Council Resolutions there's a large number of them which concern the situation in Iraq and often are worded to continue approval for prior resolutions. It's likely the mandate in question is derived from one of these continuing resolutions and it's possible the U.S. Administration believes it has authority deriving from the authority granted to UNMOVIC and previous organizations, whose intent was to disarm Iraq following the 1992 Gulf War.

Bush's attempt to dodge Congress on Iraq makes a summary of events.. In Nov 2007 a Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America is an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq which does include security guarantees such as Providing security assurances and commitments to the Republic of Iraq to deter foreign aggression against Iraq that violates its sovereignty and integrity of its territories, waters, or airspace. The Salon article refers to two other articles, by Spencer Ackerman of Talking Points Memo and by Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, which raises constitutionality concerns and being "unprecedented in U.S. history and unconstitutional". But wait, in Feb the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, told a Senate committee that the agreements being negotiated did not include any security guarantees. Iraq - UN Documents is a listing of major resolutions concerning Iraq (up to 2004).

There were similar prior events surrounding prior extensions of a UN Mandate. In late 2007 The Extension of the United Nations Mandate for Iraq discusses a mandate that would expire at the end of 2007 and discusses a previous mandate that would have expired in 2006. In 2007 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent a letter to the UN Security Council requesting that the Council extend the mandate of the U.S.-led Multinational Forces for one year, beginning December 31, 2007. However for al-Maliki to do this was unconstitutional by the Iraqi Constitution, as it requires The Council of Representatives (their Parliament) to be involved with such requests. And, also in 2007, the Council of Representatives, sent to the UN a letter requesting that the mandate not be extended. "The Iraqi Cabinet has unilaterally requested a renewal of the U.N. mandate keeping the occupation troops (MNF) in Iraq" despite the fact that "such a request issued by the Iraqi cabinet without the Iraqi parliament's approval is unconstitutional."...The important thing to understand is that the run-around goes beyond the issue of the mandate itself. Iraq is not in the midst of an incomprehensible religious war over some obscure theological differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims but is deeply and profoundly divided over fundamental questions about the future of the country. In cutting the nationalist majority in the parliament out of the process of governing, the Maliki administration, Bush administration and, apparently, the U.N. secretary-general are making political reconciliation much more difficult.

UN renews mandate for Iraq troops (BBC: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 21:58 GMT) Is an example of how prior mandates existed. There was a mandate which expired December 31, 2006 and was extended in November 2006. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723 is the relevant resolution which in turn refers back to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. UN extends mandate of Iraq troops (BBC; Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 19:03 GMT)

Bush, Maliki Break Iraqi Law to Renew U.N. Mandate for Occupation By Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted December 20, 2007 also covers the questionable legal status of the 2007 mandate extension. ...The move violated both the Iraqi constitution and a law passed earlier this year by the Iraqi parliament...Earlier in the week, a group representing a majority of lawmakers in Iraq's parliament sent a letter to the Security Council, a rough translation of which reads: "We reject in the strongest possible terms the unconditional renewal of the mandate and ask for clear mechanisms to obligate all foreign troops to completely withdrawal from Iraq according to an announced timetable."...This move speaks to the degree to which occupation and democracy are mutually exclusive, and to how Bush and Maliki must run roughshod over the Iraqi legislature (not to mention the U.S. Congress), sacrificing opportunities for political reconciliation along the way, in order to maintain an almost universally despised American military presence in the country....The U.N. mandate provides vital political cover for the occupation. The Bush administration has ignored or violated much of the international law governing the conduct of an occupying power. As Orwellian as it is, the United States, having bombed the hell out of Iraq, invaded it with a huge mechanized army and installed a government that exists wholly within the confines of its sheltered "international zone" -- the "Green Zone" -- and now maintains that its troops are in the country by the invitation of that government. The United Nations' mandate is a key part of maintaining that fiction....

Hmm.. this process of renewing a supposed UN Mandate of the US Occupation of Iraq.. the US Administration asserts it doesn't need approval from the UN, from Congress, and that they've been flouting Iraqi law in forcing the Iraqi government to "request" extension of the Mandate ... Uh...?

Bush pledges on Iraq bases a ruse analyzes some recent Bush Administration statements about the negotiations concerning the coming mandate renewal slated to occur later this year. Basically a series of statements have been made which appear to be using obscurating legalese to make what are effectively permanent bases to be legally defined as not "permanent". There are allegations the Administration plans to use bases in Iraq as a launching pad for an invasion of Iran, which the Administration denies, but it's clear the Administration wishes to launch an invasion of Iran. At the same time the Administration is seeking justification for the presence of forces in Iraq. Bush's Word Games on Permanent Bases is essentially the same article, by the same author, discussing how the Administration is using word play to avoid admitting the truth.

Secret US plan for military future in Iraq outlines secret plans being negotiated between the U.S. and Iraq. It is a draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorizes the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit. It goes on to relate how critics point out the agreement is including no limits, so while it may not be specifying "permanent" bases (as noted above about official word play), if there are no limits on U.S. presence and no limits on what U.S. forces can do, then it's effectively permanent, and effectively the bases could be used to launch an Iran war. ...Senator Edward Kennedy, a senior member of the armed services committee, have said it goes well beyond other such agreements and amounts to a treaty, which has to be ratified by the Senate under the constitution....

DoD News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael G. Mullen from the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. is a press briefing referred to by several articles which includes this statement:-

Q Mr. Secretary, there have been some critics who have questioned whether the talks with Iraq on a status of forces agreement could lead to security guarantees that might tie the hands of a future president in terms of how long to leave U.S. forces there. Is that a valid concern?

And the other thing is, they say that any agreement should go to Congress for congressional approval. What do you say to that?

SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, we haven't even -- we've hardly even started to talk about it among ourselves at this point. I think it's pretty clear that such an agreement would not talk about force levels. It would not involve -- we have no interest in permanent bases.

I think the way to think about the framework agreement is an approach to normalizing the relationship between the United States and Iraq.

As I say, I have -- there haven't even -- I haven't been involved in any discussions of what kind of form the agreement would make -- take or anything else. I do know that there's a strong commitment inside the administration to consult very closely with the Congress on this, but, you know, without any idea of what the form of an agreement is going to be right now, I think it's premature to talk about congressional agreement or executive agreement. I think we just don't know.

U.S. to seek broad powers in Iraq as UN mandate expires by Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers Published: January 25, 2008

While the United States currently has status-of-forces agreements with 80 countries, including Japan, Germany and South Korea and a number of Iraq's neighbors, none of those countries are at war. And none has a population outraged about civilian deaths at the hands of armed American security contractors who are not answerable to the law of the land.

U.S. Asking Iraq for Wide Rights on War (Jan 2008, NY Times)

Iraq May Request Extension For U.S.

...The Bush administration has said the accords -- a status of forces agreement on the rights and responsibilities of U.S. troops in Iraq, and a vaguely defined "strategic framework" on the broader U.S.-Iraqi security and political relationship -- are "non-binding." But U.S. lawmakers have questioned whether they commit the United States to a long-term security role in Iraq and challenged the White House contention that that they do not require congressional approval. Both Republicans and Democrats have accused President Bush of trying to tie the hands of his successor.

In a letter Wednesday to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the four senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee emphasized that Congress is in charge of funding any administration commitment, "regardless of election outcomes in November."

The letter, signed by Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and ranking minority member Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), along with John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), cited "the Constitutional and legal implications of these potentially sweeping arrangements," and said the need for legislative approval "remains an open issue."

The Wikipedia tells of the 2002 Iraq Resolution (Public Law No: 107-243) which is the U.S. Congress authorization of the War in Iraq. There is further analysis of the Legality of the Iraq War ..

... US and UK officials have argued that existing UN Security Council resolutions related to the first Gulf War and the subsequent ceasefire (660, 678), and to later inspections of Iraqi weapons programs (1441), had already authorized the invasion. Critics of the invasion have challenged both of these assertions, arguing that an additional Security Council resolution, which the US and UK failed to obtain, would have been necessary to specifically authorize the invasion....

No UN member has brought this issue of the war's legality before the Security Council and no nation-member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has expressed the desire to have the ICC rule on the war's legality....The UN Security Council, as outlined in Article 39 of the UN Charter, has the ability to rule on the legality of the war, but has not been asked by any UN member nation to do so. ...

... UNSC resolution 1441 was passed unanimously on November 8, 2002 to give Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in several previous resolutions (resolution 660, resolution 661, resolution 678, resolution 686, resolution 687, resolution 688, resolution 707, resolution 715, resolution 986, and resolution 1284). ...

...The legal right to determine how to enforce its own resolutions lies with the Security Council alone (UN Charter Articles 39-42), not with individual nations. On 8 November 2002, immediately after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1441, Russia, the People's Republic of China, and France issued a joint statement declaring that Council resolution 1441 did not authorize any "automaticity" in the use of force against Iraq, and that a further Council resolution was needed were force to be used. Critics have also pointed out that the statements of US officials leading up to the war indicated their belief that a new Security Council resolution was required to make an invasion legal, but the UN Security Council has not made such a determination, despite serious debate over this issue. To secure Syria's vote in favor of Council resolution 1441, Secretary of State Powell reportedly advised Syrian officials that "there is nothing in the resolution to allow it to be used as a pretext to launch a war on Iraq."...

...Debate about the legality of the 2003 invasion of Iraq under international law centers around ambiguous language in parts of UN Resolution 1441 (2002). The UN Charter prohibits any war unless it is out of self-defense or when it is sanctioned by the UN security council. If these requirements are not met international law describes it a war of aggression.

The position of the US and UK is that the invasion was authorized by a series of UN resolutions dating back to 1990. Resolution 1441 declared that Iraq was in "material breach" of the cease-fire under UN Resolution 687 (1991), which required cooperation with weapons inspectors. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that under certain conditions, a party may invoke a "material breach" to suspend a multilateral treaty. Thus, the US and UK claim that they used their right to suspend the cease-fire in Resolution 687 and to continue hostilities against Iraq under the authority of UN Resolution 678 (1990), which originally authorized the use of force after Iraq invaded Kuwait. This is the same argument that was used for Operation Desert Fox in 1998.[29] They also contend that, while Resolution 1441 required the UNSC to assemble and assess reports from the weapons inspectors, it was not necessary for the UNSC to reach an agreement on the course of action. If, at that time, it was determined that Iraq breached Resolution 1441, the resolution did not "constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq"....

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors (By Patrick Cockburn Thursday, 5 June 2008)

...the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated...The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal....The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge."...

Patrick Cockburn: The reality is that Iraqi authority would be nominal Thursday, 12 June 2008

...The reaction in Iraq to the US demands for the long-term use of military bases and other rights has been so furious that Washington is now offering limited concessions in the negotiations. For example, the US is lowering the number of bases it wants from 58 to "the low dozens" and says it is willing to compromise on legal immunity for foreign contractors...US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, denied The Independent's report that the US wanted permanent bases in Iraq. But the reality of the US plan is that Iraqi authority would be purely nominal with a few Iraqi soldiers stationed outside the bases....It will also be difficult for the US to concede that the tens of thousands of foreign contractors in Iraq, who vary from heavily armed security men to support staff, be liable to Iraqi law because the US Army has become dependent on these forces and could scarcely function without them....

External Media

Friday, June 13, 2008

Senate Report: Bush Used Iraq Intel He Knew Was False

There's long been a question whether the Bush Administration was knowing telling falsehoods to justify the Iraq War or whether they were just confused. There's no doubt that the justifications they used were false ... but impeachability or culpability in a large extent rests on whether they purposely lied. Of course being so completely confused as to threaten us with Iraqi nuclear weapons, that did not exist, doesn't give any confidence as to their qualifications for high office.

Senate Intelligence Committee has finally released a long delayed report which covers these questions.

...The two final sections of a long-delayed and much anticipated "Phase II" report on the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence, released on Thursday morning, accuse senior White House officials of repeatedly misrepresenting the threat posed by Iraq.

...The "Phase II" report states -- in terms clearer than any previous government publication -- that there was no operational relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, that Bush officials were not truthful about the difficulties the United States would face in post-war Iraq and that their public statements did not reflect intelligence they had at the time, and, specifically, that the intelligence community would not confirm any meeting between Iraqi officials and Mohamed Atta -- a claim that was nevertheless publicly repeated.

"Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence," Rockefeller said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post.

However on a brief read of the reports the situation isn't as clear cut as "they lied" or that everything they said was 100% false.

The report follows a format of, for each type of potential weapon Iraq might have possessed, it first delineates the statements made by the Administration and then explores any existing supporting evidence in various reports. In many cases the administration statements were not completely supportable but not clearly a lie.

On nuclear weapons - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOMM) repeatedly found that Iraq's nuclear program had been destroyed or neutralized. It was clear they had been buying dual use technologies, however, and that they retained intellectual capital (people and information) that would let them restart a nuclear program if they had the freedom. That it would take 7-8 years, with foreign help, to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon and a bit more time to build a missile. The Defense Intelligence Agency produced several reports discussing the aluminum tubes as dual use material, and attempts to buy nuclear material, however recall that the DIA was this special office set up to concoct propoganda and cooked intelligence. It's not surprising, then, in the next bullet to learn that the Department of Energy (DOE) contradicted these claims. The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (State/INR) also disagreed, and instead reported that the aluminum tubes were meant for other purposes. The National Ground Intelligence Center had also disagreed and found that the aluminum tubes were consistent with "rocket casings" (which they were) and inconsistent with centrifuges.


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Democrats scuttle proposal to impeach Bush

As expected the articles of impeachment ran into some headwind and got detoured into limbo.

By a 251-166 vote, the House sent the 35-count articles of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee, which is expected to let it die without further action. While the vote technically forces the measure to the committee for consideration, it also means the full House will avoid having to debate and vote on impeaching the 43d president. -- notice, 166 of the Representatives did not want this referred to committee.

Another thing to note is the subtle framing of the story as "impeachment is doomed". The article title "Representatives turn back impeachment" comes from a view that impeachment attempts must fail.

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News coverage of the Articles of Impeachment

Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley discuss the Articles of Impeachment introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the House of Representatives.

“It is imperative that Members of Congress have a thorough opportunity to read the Articles of Impeachment and study the documentation,” said Kucinich, in the release. “When they do, I am confident that they will agree that it is both appropriate and necessary for the Judiciary Committee to begin hearings on the Resolution.”

In November, the House sent the Judiciary Committee a Kucinich-sponsored measure to begin impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney. No hearings or further action have followed that move, and the same fate is likely to befall his attempt to impeach Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long said that impeachment was “off the table” as a legislative issue for the now-Democratic Congress, and Democrats seem more willing to simply run out the clock on the Bush presidency than to spend time on impeachment proceedings.

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How to Impeach

How to Impeach is an ouline of the method of conducting an impeachment.

Impeachment itself is technically just an accusation of guilt, made by the House of Representatives. As we saw during the Clinton years a President can be impeached without being removed from office if the Senate did not Convict. In this case, unlike the Clinton case, there are clear high crimes and misdemeanors which ought to be addressed.

Local governments can play a role in impeachment. While they cannot directly impeach a President but when local governments pass Impeachment resolutions it puts pressure on Congress to do the same.

Proposed Resolutions for Impeachment by Cities, Counties, State Legislatures or Political Party Committees is several ways to word such a local Impeachment Resolution.

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Dennis Kucinich Sums It Up

I don't think we should shut up about that. That is, we shouldn't shut up about the tremendous litany of crimes and misdemeanors committed by the Bush Administration. Bush should not be able to just leave office and slink on back to Texas or Kuwait or wherever he's going to end up and live off the millions made from the blood of American soldiers. Indeed.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"America is addicted to oil"


In the 2006 State of the Union speech our dear president, George W. Bush, admitted something we thought he wasn't honest enough to say: "America is addicted to Oil" .. duh! But given that fact why has our dear administration stonewalled real efforts to cut that addiction?

President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address
United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 31, 2006

9:12 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: Today our nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush reacts to applause during his State of the Union Address at the Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006. White House photo by Eric DraperEvery time I'm invited to this rostrum, I'm humbled by the privilege, and mindful of the history we've seen together. We have gathered under this Capitol dome in moments of national mourning and national achievement. We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history -- and it has been my honor to serve with you.

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another -- and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong -- and together we will make it stronger. (Applause.)

In this decisive year, you and I will make choices that determine both the future and the character of our country. We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom -- or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life. We will choose to build our prosperity by leading the world economy -- or shut ourselves off from trade and opportunity. In a complex and challenging time, the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting -- yet it ends in danger and decline. The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership -- so the United States of America will continue to lead. (Applause.)

Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal -- we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. On September the 11th, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, and feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer -- so we will act boldly in freedom's cause. (Applause.)

Far from being a hopeless dream, the advance of freedom is the great story of our time. In 1945, there were about two dozen lonely democracies in the world. Today, there are 122. And we're writing a new chapter in the story of self-government -- with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union Address at the Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006. White House photo by Eric Draper No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam -- the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder -- and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. (Applause.)

In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will -- by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself -- we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals, or even in our own courage. But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil. (Applause.)

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire. Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace. We remain on the offensive against terror networks. We have killed or captured many of their leaders -- and for the others, their day will come.

President George W. Bush greets members of Congress after his State of the Union Address at the Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006. White House photo by Eric Draper We remain on the offensive in Afghanistan, where a fine President and a National Assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy. We're on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we're helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized.

Second, we're continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. And, third, we're striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom. (Applause.)

Our work in Iraq is difficult because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory; I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people; I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. (Applause.)

The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels -- but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq. We've adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction. Along the way, we have benefitted from responsible criticism and counsel offered by members of Congress of both parties. In the coming year, I will continue to reach out and seek your good advice. Yet, there is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. (Applause.) Hindsight alone is not wisdom, and second-guessing is not a strategy. (Applause.)

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country, and show that a pledge from America means little. Members of Congress, however we feel about the decisions and debates of the past, our nation has only one option: We must keep our word, defeat our enemies, and stand behind the American military in this vital mission. (Applause.)

Laura Bush is applauded as she is introduced Tuesday evening, Jan. 31, 2006 during the State of the Union Address at United States Capitol in Washington. White House photo by Eric Draper Our men and women in uniform are making sacrifices -- and showing a sense of duty stronger than all fear. They know what it's like to fight house to house in a maze of streets, to wear heavy gear in the desert heat, to see a comrade killed by a roadside bomb. And those who know the costs also know the stakes. Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting in Fallujah. He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: "I know what honor is. ... It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to.... Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting."

Staff Sergeant Dan Clay's wife, Lisa, and his mom and dad, Sara Jo and Bud, are with us this evening. Welcome. (Applause.)

Our nation is grateful to the fallen, who live in the memory of our country. We're grateful to all who volunteer to wear our nation's uniform -- and as we honor our brave troops, let us never forget the sacrifices of America's military families. (Applause.)

Our offensive against terror involves more than military action. Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election -- and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism. The Palestinian people have voted in elections. And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. (Applause.) Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform -- now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush waves toward the upper visitors gallery of the House Chamber following his State of the Union remarks Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006 at the United States Capitol. White House photo by Eric Draper The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran. (Applause.)

To overcome dangers in our world, we must also take the offensive by encouraging economic progress, and fighting disease, and spreading hope in hopeless lands. Isolationism would not only tie our hands in fighting enemies, it would keep us from helping our friends in desperate need. We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, and organized crime, and human trafficking, and the drug trade.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life. Short-changing these efforts would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security, and dull the conscience of our country. I urge members of Congress to serve the interests of America by showing the compassion of America.

Our country must also remain on the offensive against terrorism here at home. The enemy has not lost the desire or capability to attack us. Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives, protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks. (Applause.) They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime -- so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act. (Applause.)

It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed. The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. (Applause.)

In all these areas -- from the disruption of terror networks, to victory in Iraq, to the spread of freedom and hope in troubled regions -- we need the support of our friends and allies. To draw that support, we must always be clear in our principles and willing to act. The only alternative to American leadership is a dramatically more dangerous and anxious world. Yet we also choose to lead because it is a privilege to serve the values that gave us birth. American leaders -- from Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan -- rejected isolation and retreat, because they knew that America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy -- a war that will be fought by Presidents of both parties, who will need steady bipartisan support from the Congress. And tonight I ask for yours. Together, let us protect our country, support the men and women who defend us, and lead this world toward freedom. (Applause.)

Here at home, America also has a great opportunity: We will build the prosperity of our country by strengthening our economic leadership in the world.

Our economy is healthy and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs -- more than Japan and the European Union combined. (Applause.) Even in the face of higher energy prices and natural disasters, the American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.

The American economy is preeminent, but we cannot afford to be complacent. In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors, like China and India, and this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people's fears. So we're seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes. We hear claims that immigrants are somehow bad for the economy -- even though this economy could not function without them. (Applause.) All these are forms of economic retreat, and they lead in the same direction -- toward a stagnant and second-rate economy.

Tonight I will set out a better path: an agenda for a nation that competes with confidence; an agenda that will raise standards of living and generate new jobs. Americans should not fear our economic future, because we intend to shape it.

Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing. And our economy grows when Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest. In the last five years, the tax relief you passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families -- and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. (Applause.) Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome. Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. (Applause.)

I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.) And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. (Applause.)

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favorite people -- me and President Clinton. (Laughter.) This milestone is more than a personal crisis -- (laughter) -- it is a national challenge. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices -- staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending. Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause) -- yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

So tonight, I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include members of Congress of both parties, and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American. With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. (Applause.) To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. (Applause.) And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally, and reduces smuggling and crime at the border. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. (Applause.) Our government has a responsibility to provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility. (Applause.) For all Americans -- for all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need. (Applause.)

We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors. We will strengthen health savings accounts -- making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get. (Applause.) We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. (Applause.) And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice -- leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single OB/GYN -- I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year. (Applause.)

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)

And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hardworking, ambitious people -- and we're going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science. (Applause.)

First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit -- (applause) -- to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come. (Applause.)

Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms, and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world. (Applause.)

Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative, and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row. (Applause.)

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation -- a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record. (Applause.)

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They're concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before -- and we will do it again. (Applause.)

A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under the law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members -- new members on its bench: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. (Applause.) I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench. (Applause.)

Today marks the official retirement of a very special American. For 24 years of faithful service to our nation, the United States is grateful to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. (Applause.)

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. (Applause.)

A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust. (Applause.) Honorable people in both parties are working on reforms to strengthen the ethical standards of Washington -- I support your efforts. Each of us has made a pledge to be worthy of public responsibility -- and that is a pledge we must never forget, never dismiss, and never betray. (Applause.)

As we renew the promise of our institutions, let us also show the character of America in our compassion and care for one another.

A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love. Through the Helping America's Youth Initiative, we are encouraging caring adults to get involved in the life of a child -- and this good work is being led by our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) This year we will add resources to encourage young people to stay in school, so more of America's youth can raise their sights and achieve their dreams.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet. So far the federal government has committed $85 billion to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. We're removing debris and repairing highways and rebuilding stronger levees. We're providing business loans and housing assistance. Yet as we meet these immediate needs, we must also address deeper challenges that existed before the storm arrived.

In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child, and job skills that bring upward mobility, and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity. (Applause.)

A hopeful society acts boldly to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, which can be prevented, and treated, and defeated. More than a million Americans live with HIV, and half of all AIDS cases occur among African Americans. I ask Congress to reform and reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and provide new funding to states, so we end the waiting lists for AIDS medicines in America. (Applause.) We will also lead a nationwide effort, working closely with African American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions, end the stigma of AIDS, and come closer to the day when there are no new infections in America. (Applause.)

Fellow citizens, we've been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We've entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore. Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.

Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma, and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom's advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward -- optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of the victories to come.

May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 10:03 P.M. EST