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September 28, 2006, 1:45 P.M.

Blog Jam '06: As polls around the country start to show a trend towards replacing incumbents in the upcoming congressional elections, the dirty tricks players are starting to crawl out from under their rocks. Most recently, and right here at home, Democrat Paul Hodes was the victim of bogus postings by a Bass staffer on several websites. Hodes is deep into his second attempt to unseat Bass and polls are showing him narrowing the gap on the incumbent.

According to the Associated Press and other sources, Tad Furtado, policy director for Bass, resigned from his position following an admission that he posted “misleading” messages on political blogs using a government computer. The messages were traced back to the House of Representatives computer by two bloggers who became suspicious of the persistently negative postings. The comments were posted under the screen names IndyNH and IndieNH. Apparently Furtado claimed that he was a Hodes supporter in the messages, but he did not feel that Hodes could win in the November elections. Of course these messages came at a time when polls were showing Hodes about even with Bass and gaining momentum.

Associated Press writer Anne Saunders reported that Bass said he had no knowledge of the postings before last week and that Furtado's actions violated office policy. She also reported that Furtado had worke for Bass in various positions for about eight years, and that he was apparently the number 2 staffer in Bass’ office.

Saunders reports that Furtado, having been caught in the act, told Bass "I shouldn't have done it, I apologize, and you are justified in taking any action you see fit," Bass told the associated press that he also referred the matter to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for Review because House ethics rules prohibit the use of congressional resources for campaign purposes. These same rules make Bass responsible for the actions of his staff, however, his statement to the press, while accepting responsibility for Furtado's actions offered no contrition for any effect on the Hodes campaign.

In his written statement to the press yesterday, Bass said “I must ultimately accept responsibility for the actions of my staff,” and “I sincerely apologize to anyone whose websites may have been disrupted by these posts." He didn’t apologize for any impact the incident might have had on the Hodes Campaign. To me it seems that he is only sorry that Furtado got caught.

Apparently, Furtado was posing as a Hodes supporter in his posts at two New Hampshire sites, Blue Granite, and NH-02 Progressive. According to Saunders, the people running the sites said “they were suspicious of IndieNH's postings from the beginning. But they decided to trace the IP address after IndieNH posted a message scoffing at a poll showing Hodes tied with Bass and suggesting New Hampshire Democrats should invest their time and money in other states.” It seems to me that the message was not intended to harm the weblogs, but the Hodes campaign, and Bass offers no apology to Hodes.

In addition to trying to undermine Hodes campaign and minimizing polling data that showed Hodes even with Bass in the race, Furtado was apparently also doing opposition research using the House computer. For his part, Hodes said “The sad thing is to use taxpayers' money to play dirty tricks in an election."

Apparently this new tactic is not confined to the Hodes/Bass race. According to the Saunders article, “There was a similar controversy in New Jersey earlier this month, when a liberal blogger accused a campaign staffer for Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. of using aliases to pose online as an ‘ardent Democrat.’ Kean denied the accusation.”

So here in New Hampshire we not only have Phone Jamming to look back on, we now have blog seeding to look forward to. I hope that the publicity from this incident will highlight just how close this race is, as well as a need to “clean house.” I support Paul Hodes in his campaign to unseat Charlie Bass.

September 27, 2006, 3:10 P.M.

The Truth Will Set Us Free: David Corn and Michael Isikoff have recently published a book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War. Among other things, the book deals with the Bush administration’s reliance, in part, on fraudulent intelligence to claim that Saddam was attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger as a basis for invading Iraq. I have not yet read the book, but hope to (as soon as I get through the current backlog on my nightstand). There is, however, a good series of articles on Slate.com about the supposed yellowcake deal.

The first article is by Corn and in it he debunks Christopher Hitchens’ desperate attempts to hold onto the Niger/yellowcake/Saddam myth and the second is Hitchens’ response. Both are worth a read.

Assuming, and I do not, that Hitchens is correct in his suppositions about visits by Iraq’s Vatican ambassador to Niger, there is still no evidence that Wissam al-Zahawie was looking to make a yellowcake deal. The facts simply weigh against it. Furthermore, the Bush administration had evidence to suggest that the allegation was false at the time that Bush gave his January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech.

The language of the speech itself does not square with Hitchens’ theory. Bush did not say “we think the Iraqis have been sniffing around after yellowcake.” His remarks were far more specific. He said that Iraq had “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” That statement is based on the forged documents discredited by the CIA before the speech, not on the itinerary of al-Zahawie.

This irrational, almost maniacal defense of the administration and the invasion of Iraq is curious and disturbing. There is little evidence to suggest that our invasion of, and continued presence in, Iraq is doing anything to make the world a safer place. In fact, the invasion has served to further inflame anti-American, and by extension, anti-western sentiments. The April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (bits of which have recently been declassified) suggests that we are more threatened by radical terrorist organizations than ever before. Indeed, our “efforts” in Iraq seem to be breeding hatred among new generations in the middle east and elsewhere.

There is no moral high ground for the U.S. in the middle east. Our presence there is entirely based in self-interest, anyway you look at it. If you buy the line that it is in our national best interest to invade Iraq, unseat its government and impose our will upon the disparate groups in the country in an attempt to impose our will on them, you need to consider that our efforts have met with no success. There are parts of the country that we do not control militarily, and the number of suicide bombers and anti-American fighters continues to increase. This ought to point up the fact that we are in a place where we are not needed, and where our presence is seen as an insult to the indigenous population.

I can’t see how anyone can argue that this war in Iraq has anything to do with fighting terrorism. Of course, I never could, and neither time nor the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans has done anything to change my opinion. Yet I still hear a chorus of irrational support for this effort. I have heard the President say that we are making progress, but I don’t believe anything he says. There is no objective measure of success and no end in sight. There was not, until now, any connection between the war and any threat to the U.S. The threat comes from our actions. We have created a new wave of anti-Americanism with our new crusade, and we are less secure than ever as a result. The reasons for involving ourselves in Iraq were manufactured, based on forgeries and lies. The truth is, we need to get out now.

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