WASHINGTON, D.C.–Republican efforts to refocus the nation’s
attention from the indictment of Scooter Libby to the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito flopped yesterday as
the Democrats briefly got control of the Senate and forced a closed session on the Bush administration’s handling of intelligence before the war in Iraq–the real essence of the Libby case.
“They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what
happened and why,” Democratic leader Harry Reid
The article continued:
. . . Bill Frist, the majority leader, angrily responded: “The United States Senate has been hijacked
by the Democratic leadership,” adding the President’s
nomination of Alito to the Supreme Court had “set the
Democrats back on their heels. … This may just be a
reaction to that.”
“They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas,” the Republican leader said.
At base, the Libby case is whether
the government rigged intelligence and manipulated the
press in preparing to invade Iraq. Robert Scheer points out that if New York Times reporter Judy Miller had acted a year ago, when Libby first granted her permission to go public
with his name, the case might have influenced the
2004 presidential election. Viewed in this light, her role and that of
the Times gain added importance.
Another maneuver on Tuesday by President Bush, his
announcement of a $7.1 billion request to Congress to
fight potential pandemic of avian flu, immediately
opened the door for more problems for the
president. Hidden in the small print was Bush’s plan
for financing a large part of the project with state
and local funds–an aspect sure to raise hackles outside the Beltway.
Here’s how it played in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The states’ collective tab would reach $510 million, said Kim Elliott, deputy director of the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health. She worried that some wouldn’t buy any, and that others wouldn’t share their Tamiflu stash if a pandemic struck in a part of the country that ran out.
“It depends on where you live and the state of your state’s budget as to whether or not you might receive a treatment drug,” she said.
The president’s proposal will
inevitably involve sizable purchases of Tamiflu, the
world’s hottest drug. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and former Reagan secretary of state
George Shultz-are big investors in Gilead Sciences, the
California biotech company that owns the rights to
Tamiflu. Shultz sits on the manufacturer’s board of
directors. Roche is the only company licensed to make
the vaccine, and though it promises to make more of it, the process of doing so is complicated and time
Rumsfeld was Gilead Research’s chairman from 1997
to 2001, and holds stock worth anywhere from $5 to $25
million, reports Fortune. On news of a possible pandemic, Gilead stock has jumped
over the last year from $35 to $47, making Rumsfeld a
cool $1 million richer, according to the publication.