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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Specter Supported by Pro-life Turncoat Orrin Hatch

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Senator Orrin G. Hatch, (R.Utah) yesterday praised Arlen Specter saying he would support Specter’s bid for the Chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee. “Arlen is an excellent lawyer,” Mr. Hatch said. “I have total confidence that he will be supportive of the president and this administration.”

The barrage of phone calls, faxes and emails has continued as conservatives in the US and abroad have put on the pressure on the GOP leadership to prevent Specter’s appointment to the post that would allow him to block presidential court nominees. Specter has made no secret of his anti-Christian and anti-life biases.

Ann Coulter is quoted by Joseph Farah in the September Whistleblower as stating, “More than any other person in America, Arlen Spector is responsible for a runaway Supreme Court that has turned every political issue into a ‘constitutional’ matter, giving radical liberals an uninterrupted string of victories in the culture wars.”

Hatch is the current holder of the Chairmanship, and said, "I expect him to be a great chairman. And I'm going to help him.” Hatch added that most of the committee Republicans support Specter.

Hatch lost the confidence of conservatives and pro-lifers when he and pro-abortion Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill that would allow cloning for the creation of human embryo farms and required that the embryos created be killed before full gestation. He made the bizarre claim that an embryo is not a human being unless it is implanted.

Since then Hatch has angered defenders of the traditional family by supporting, with notorious pro-abort Senator Ted Kennedy, a homosexual hate crimes bill that would criminalize criticism of the homosexual social engineering agenda.

Commenting on Specter’s impending appointment to the Chairmanship of the Judicial Committee, Hatch said, “The fact that he might be in total agreement with me or anybody else on the committee is irrelevant." Hatch claims that Specter intends to support Bush’s nominees for the Supreme Court, despite what Specter himself has said in newspaper interviews. “All I want is the committee to be operated in an honest, decent, effective manner, and I do want the administration to be supported,” said Hatch.

Death, Delusion and Democracy

So the death of Yasser Arafat is a great new opportunity for the Palestinians, is it? The man who personified the Palestinian struggle - "Mr Palestine" - is dead. So things can only get better for the Palestinians. Death means democracy. Death means statehood. That the final demise of the corrupt old guerrilla leader should be a sign of optimism demonstrates just how catastrophic the conflict in the Middle East has now become. It's a bit like Fallujah. The more we destroy it, the crueler we are, the brighter the chances of Iraqi democracy. The more successful we are, the worse things are going to get. That's what George Bush said on Friday: that violence will increase as Iraqi elections grow closer - a total mind warp since the more violent Iraq becomes, the less the chances of any election ever being held.

Note how Bush could not even bring himself to mention Arafat's name. It's the same old agenda. The Palestinians have to have a democracy. They have to prove themselves; they - not the Israelis - have to show that they are a worthy "negotiating partner". And any new leader - the colorless Ahmad Qureia or the equally colorless and undemocratic Abu Mazen - must "control his own people". That was what Arafat failed to do even though he thought his job was to represent his own people, which is what democracy is supposed to be all about.

It's worth noting how this narrative has been written. The Israelis, with their continued occupation, their continued illegal construction of colonies for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, their air strikes and helicopter executions and live-fire shooting at stone-throwing children, are not part of this equation. They are just innocently waiting to find a new "negotiating partner" now that Arafat is in his grave. Ariel Sharon, held "personally responsible" for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre by the Kahan commission report, remains, in George Bush's words, "a man of peace". No one asks whether he can control his own army. Or whether he can control his own settlers. He wants to close down the colonies in Gaza - even though his spokesman has told us that this will put Palestinian statehood into "formaldehyde".

So let's just take a look back at those tragic years of the Oslo accord. In 1993, we are supposed to believe, the Palestinians were offered statehood and a capital in Jerusalem if they accepted the right of Israel to exist. Oslo said nothing of the kind. It did set down a complex system of Israeli withdrawals from occupied Palestinian land and a timetable that the Israelis were supposed to meet. We all knew that any failure to do so would humiliate Arafat - and make him less able to "control" his own people.

And what happened? It's important, at this supposedly "optimistic" moment, to reflect on the facts of the previous "peace process" in which Europe as well as the United States spent so much time, energy and - in the EU's case - money. Under the Oslo agreement, the occupied West Bank would be divided into three zones. Zone A would come under exclusive Palestinian control, Zone B under Israeli military occupation in participation with the Palestinian Authority, and Zone C under total Israeli occupation. In the West Bank, Zone A comprised only 1.1 per cent of the land whereas in Gaza - overpopulated, rebellious, insurrectionary - almost all the territory was to come under Arafat's control. He, after all, was to be the policeman of Gaza. Zone C in the West Bank comprised 60 per cent of the land, which allowed Israel to continue the rapid expansion of settlements on Arab land.

But a detailed investigation shows that not a single one of these withdrawal agreements was honored by the Israelis. And in the meantime, the number of settlers illegally living on Palestinians' land rose after Oslo from 80,000 to 150,000 - even though the Israelis, as well as the Palestinians, were forbidden from taking "unilateral steps" under the terms of the agreement. The Palestinians saw this, not without reason, as proof of bad faith.

Since facts are sometimes elusive in the Middle East, let's remind ourselves of what happened after Oslo. The Oslo II (Taba) agreement, concluded by Yitzhak Rabin in September 1995 - the month before he was assassinated - promised three Israeli withdrawals: from Zone A (under Palestinian control), Zone B (under Israeli military occupation in co-operation with the Palestinians) and Zone C (exclusive Israeli occupation). These were to be completed by October 1997. Final-status agreement covering Jerusalem, refugees, water and settlements were to have been completed by October 1999, by which time the occupation was supposed to have ended. In January 1997, however, a handful of Jewish settlers were granted 20 per cent of Hebron, despite Israel's obligation under Oslo to leave all West Bank towns. By October 1998, a year late, Israel had not carried out the Taba accords.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, negotiated a new agreement at Wye River, dividing the second redeployment promised at Taba into two phases - but he only honored the first of them. Netanyahu had promised to reduce the percentage of West Bank land under exclusively Israeli occupation from 72 per cent to 59 per cent, transferring 41 per cent of the West Bank to Zones A and B. But at Sharm el-Sheikh in 1999, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, reneged on the agreement Netanyahu had made at Wye River, fragmenting the latter's two phases into three, the first of which would transfer 7 per cent from Zone C to Zone B. All implementation of the agreements stopped there.

When Arafat finally went to Camp David to meet Barak, he was allegedly offered 95 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza but turned it down and went to war with the second intifada. A study of the maps, however, shows that - with the exclusion of Jerusalem and its extended boundaries, with the exclusion of existing major Jewish colonies and with the inclusion of an Israeli cordon sanitaire, Arafat was offered nearer to 64 per cent of the 22 per cent of mandate Palestine that was left to him. Then a new explosion of Palestinian suicide bombings, usually aimed at Israeli civilians, destroyed Israel's patience with Arafat. Sharon, who had provoked the second intifada by strolling on to the Temple Mount with a thousand policeman, decided that Arafat was a Bin Laden-style "terrorist" and all further contact ended.

This is not to excuse the PLO or Arafat himself. His arrogance and corruption, and his little dictatorship - initially encouraged by the Israelis and Americans who lent Arafat their CIA boys to "train" the Palestinian security services - ensured that no democracy could thrive in "Palestine". And I suspect that while he personally disapproved of suicide bombings, Arafat cynically realized that they had their uses; they proved that Sharon could not provide Israel with the security he promised at his election, at least until he built the new wall - which is stealing further Palestinian land. But that was only one side of the story - and last week Bush and Blair went back to the old game of seeing only the other side. The Palestinians - the victims of 39 years of occupation - must prove themselves worthy of peace with their occupiers. The death of their leader is therefore billed as a glorious occasion that provides hope. All this is part of the self-delusion of Bush and Blair. The reality is that the outlook in the Middle East is bleaker than ever.

Oh yes, and - since we'd be asking this question today if Sharon had gone to meet his maker in an equally mysterious way - just what did Arafat die of?

Robert Fisk
11/16/04 "The Independent"
© 2004 lndependent Newspapers, Ltd.

Phantom Fury in Fallujah

"Phantom Fury" is the perfect name for the latest U.S.-led assault on Fallujah, but not for the reasons the marketing wizards at the Pentagon might think.

While creating the perception that the insurgents in Iraq are being defeated, Phantom Fury is likely to have the opposite effect, just like all the other, long-forgotten offensives since April 2003.

The other military offensives, with decisive-sounding names like "Operation Iron Fist," occurred at a rate of about one every two months. And, each time, the Pentagon assured us the insurgency would be crushed.

Yet with each succeeding month, the insurgency grew and became more sophisticated. U.S. and Iraqi government casualties only increased.

Iraq's history is well-known: Iraqis will fight to the death all foreign invaders, including those claiming to be liberators.

But for those who continue to believe the Bush administration's rosy assertions that things are getting better, I can assure you of this: The situation in Iraq is much worse than you think and it will deteriorate further. As a U.S. diplomat stationed in Baghdad said in the Sept. 20 Newsweek magazine, "All hell is breaking loose."

Yet, I agree with those who say Iraq is not Vietnam. In reality, Iraq is more like Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979 or Lebanon after Israel's conquest in 1982.

The Soviets fought a draining guerrilla insurgency in Afghanistan for a decade before turning tail, while Israel bogged down in Lebanon for nearly 20 years prior to its withdrawal.

The anti-Soviet Afghan insurgency (the mujahedeen) formed the nucleus that later became al-Qaeda and the Taliban, while the Lebanese resistance to Israel's occupation spawned Hezbollah. None of these organizations in Afghanistan or Lebanon existed before the Soviet or Israeli invasions.

As we saw with Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanese resistance morphed and adapted to the occupying Israeli forces. The insurgency there went through three or four incarnations before it gave rise to Hezbollah as the dominant force.

The same is happening in Iraq. The first generation or incarnation of the insurgency was primarily the remnants of the Baath Party. The second generation is characterized by Muqtada al-Sadr's militia and the what is loosely labeled as Islamists.

We have yet to see what the third and fourth generations of the Iraqi insurgency will look like, since that will depend on how long we insist on staying. The longer we stay, the more generations of the insurgency our military occupation will spawn.

Thanks to our unprovoked conquest and mismanagement of Iraq, that country is devolving into a failed state, much like Afghanistan in the 1980s and '90s, and is becoming a primary breeding ground for new terrorism. Ironically, Iraq is actually becoming the threat the Bush administration deceived us into thinking it was under Saddam Hussein.

We knew then and we know now that Iraq was not a threat to the United States before our March 2003 invasion and Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted as much on Feb. 24, 2001: "He \[Saddam Hussein\] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

I was one of many people familiar with that country who warned that a U.S.-led conquest of Iraq was a flawed strategy doomed to fail.

We weren't saying this because we liked Hussein's Baath Party and wanted to see it stay in power. On the contrary, I spent months in Iraq's prisons, tortured by Baathists, because I was a threat to its regime.

As I saw it, a U.S. invasion of Iraq - particularly one based on deliberate falsehoods - would be about as beneficial as a heart and lung transplant on a patient with stomach cancer.

The end result is that we are now creating enemies faster than we can kill them off, as Operation Phantom Fury lives up to its unfortunate name of being all fury and phantom success.

The Denver Post
Ibrahim Kazerooni was a dissident in his native Iraq and fled in 1974 after being repeatedly imprisoned and tortured by the Baathist regime for his beliefs and opposition to the government. He currently is the director of the Abrahamic Initiative at St. John's Cathedral in Denver.

Fallujah: Murder Made Respectable

Iraq is under martial law, complete with curfews and press restrictions. A report in the prestigious Lancet says 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the invasion. Unemployment is running at 70 percent, kidnappings and beheadings are rife, while the breakdown in security has driven every international aid agency out of the country.

But never mind, Fallujah — a town of 300,000 souls of which many have already met their Maker — has finally been pacified. That’ll teach them to lay off foreign mercenaries in future. Oops! I mean contractors, of course. Congratulations USA!

Now that all is right with the world, some 200,000 exiled civilians can return home, provided they still have one that is. A report in the Los Angeles Times describes the city as “a tableau of destroyed buildings, burned-out cars, battered mosques and piles of rubble”. No building was sacrosanct including hospitals and clinics.

The fate of those who stayed behind because they have nowhere else to go or did not want to abandon their belongings and valuables is uncertain. Reports of families burying their dead in gardens, eking out an existence on flour or dates, bleeding to death without medical assistance or becoming ill after drinking contaminated water paint an ugly picture.

We have yet to discover how many newly minted orphans there are, courtesy of the Marines, such as five-year-old Aysha Saleem who lost her parents and grandparents in one of the US military’s “precision strikes”. Indeed, we may never know as the mouths of reporters embedded with the troops open and close according to military diktats.

We would never know how US soldiers are breaching the Geneva Conventions but for a renegade video aired by Australian ABC television. In it, a Marine shouts: “I’ve just injured one. He’s between two buildings”. One of his colleagues walks over to a tiny alleyway separating two houses, climbs up onto a metal drum, and fires his weapon in cold blood. “He’s done,” he announces flippantly.

We may never learn whether his victim, exterminated like a rat, was a hardcore foreign fighter, a local insurgent or merely a male resident of Fallujah prevented from leaving. Men aged between 15 and 55 were either rounded up or forced to fight to stay alive. Members of the Scottish Black Watch regiment, whose job they say is to patrol the ”rat run”, confirmed the status of fleeing Iraqis as rodents.

In a further breach of the Geneva Conventions, US troops prevented a Red Crescent convoy of emergency aid from reaching the main Fallujah hospital, where wounded residents have been forbidden from entering.

Yet even though the stench of human flesh pervades their nostrils, one Marine held to the view: “We will win the hearts and minds of Fallujah by ridding the city of insurgents. We are doing this by patrolling the streets and killing the enemy.” Those who have lost mothers, daughters, sons and brothers to his bountiful nature will, no doubt, be grateful.

Another such enlightened soldier Lt. Col. Gareth Brandl told the BBC: “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah”. Others of his ilk were holding evangelical ceremonies or dressing up as gladiators for chariot races, using horses confiscated from Iraqis, in the mold of the movie Ben Hur.

A third, a music lover, was quoted as saying: “Only two songs send a shiver up my spine. The Marine hymn, and that song by Toby Keith after 9-11 which says ‘we’re gonna kick you up the ass — that’s the American way.” The majority of US soldiers in Iraq still believe the lie that Saddam Hussein had links to Osama Bin Laden and the attacks on America.

For the 48 percent of Americans who voted against the Bush doctrine, this is not the American way. They include a former Marine Staff Sergeant James Massey from Waynesville, North Caroline, who told the WSW website: “We’re committing genocide in Iraq”.

He describes his disillusionment thus: “We were like a bunch of cowboys who rode into town shooting up the place. I saw charred bodies in vehicles that were clearly not military vehicles. I saw people dead on the side of the road in civilian clothes.” He recalls how his trigger-happy compatriots mowed down 30 civilians at a checkpoint on a single day.

Iraq’s Girl Blogger who pens Baghdad Burning is similarly angry over Fallujah. She writes: “Iraqis will never forgive this. Never! It’s outrageous. It’s genocide and America — with the help and support of (Iyad) Allawi — is responsible.”

The land of deprivation, death and degradation, which Iraq has become due to US intervention, is there for all to see but where is the outrage? Why aren’t decent people of every faith up in arms?

Author and philosopher George Orwell may have the answer. “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

“Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable” goes another of Orwell’s remarkable insights.

But the politicians aren’t the only ones to blame for the horror masquerading as the spread of democracy. Extremist religious leaders are just as culpable as is a supine media, which despite its various mea culpas over its failure to say it like it is, has once again stifled truth.

Think about it. How can individuals, fighting for their own freedom against a foreign power in the towns and cities of their birth and protecting their wives and children, possibly be “terrorists”?

And by the same token why should those rampaging foreign armies whose members believe freedom extends to being able to play video games be labeled honorable? Such is the big lie, and one that is the duty of all those who are able to cut through the propaganda, to quash.

There is but one truth for the vast majority of Iraqis. They want no more pretty promises, corrupt plutocrats, superpower pawns or deviant torturers. Amid a growing insurgency, most of all, they want the invaders and their military hardware gone. Who of sound mind and compassionate heart can possibly blame them?

— Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes comments

Trauma Symptoms After Abortion Common

New Study Shows

Women Attribute Substance Abuse, Sexual Disorders, and Suicidal Thoughts to Abortion

Springfield, IL (November 16, 2005) -- Post-traumatic reactions to induced abortion may be far more common than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Medical Science Monitor. Sixty-five percent of American women studied experienced multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which they attributed to their abortions. Slightly over 14 percent reported all the symptoms necessary for a clinical diagnosis of abortion induced PTSD.

Researchers gathered data from women seeking general health care treatment at clinics and hospitals in both the United States and Russia. Women with a history of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage or abortion, were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire about their experiences.

The subsample used in this study included 331 Russian women and 217 American women. American women were significantly more likely to report traumatic reactions they attributed to their abortions, while Russian women were more likely to report disruption of cognitive schema, which is described as the equivalent of one's "psychological road map" for understanding the world and one's place in it.

Both Russian and American women were more likely to experience negative reactions to abortion if they had prior negative opinions of abortion, felt pressured into unwanted abortions, were more religious, or received little or no counseling prior to the abortion. American women were more likely to report being exposed to one or more of these risk factors. For example, 64 percent of American women felt pressured by others to choose abortion compared to 37 percent of Russian women. In addition, only 25 percent of American women reported receiving adequate counseling prior to their abortions compared to 64 percent of the Russian women.

American and Russian women reported fewer postive reactions to abortion than negative ones. The most commonly reported positive reaction was relief, but only 7 percent of Russian women and 14 percent of American women attributed this feeling to their abortions. American women were more likely to attribute to their abortion subsequent thoughts of suicide (36 percent), increased use of drugs or alcohol (27 percent), sexual problems (24 percent), relationship problems (27 percent), guilt (78 percent), and an inability to forgive themselves (62 percent). Approximately two percent of the American women studied attributed a subsequent psychiatric hospitalization to their abortion.

"This is the first published study to compare reactions to abortion among women in two different countries," said Dr. Vincent Rue, the lead author of the study and a traumatologist who heads the Institute for Pregnancy Loss. "It is also the first to provide a detailed breakdown of traumatic symptoms which the subjects themselves attribute to their abortions. These results will help mental health workers to be better prepared to recognize and treat the psychological complications of abortion."

While this new study focuses on traumatic reactions to abortion, it follows on the heals of nearly a dozen other peer-reviewed studies published in the last three years linking abortion to increased risk of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicidal behavior. Recent studies have also linked abortion to higher rates of death from heart disease, which investigators believe may be a long term effect of elevated rates of anxiety and depression.

Because of the increasing concern about the mental health effects of abortion on women, legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand funding for treatment programs and research in this area.

# # #

Citing: Rue VM, Coleman PK, Rue JJ, Reardon DC. Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women. Med Sci Monit, 2004 10(10): SR5-16.


Like an outer-space alien from a 1950's science fiction movie, the H -1B monster is back.

H -1B is an immigration classification that has allowed high-tech corporations to import hundreds-of-thousands of low-paid computer engineers, programmers, and other skilled professionals from abroad, rather than paying the middle-class salaries earned by high-tech workers in America. These visas have been a primary tool used by CEOs to bust the salary levels of high-tech jobs–the very jobs that, we were told, were to be the source of upward mobility and middle-class opportunity for our citizens.

At the height of the high-tech boom, greedheaded corporate executives wailed that they simply could not find enough Americans with the computer skills they needed, so it was imperative, they said, that they be allowed to bring in tech workers from India, Russia, and elsewhere to fill the gap. This was pure horsehockey. Far from a shortage of qualified U.S. workers, people with top-notch skills were practically begging for jobs...and being rejected. The industry executives were creating a false crisis for one reason: They wanted to displace well-paid Americans with foreign workers who would take a third or less in pay.

But, horsehockey prevailed. With their campaign contributions and lobbying clout, they got congress to triple the number of H -1B visas issued each year––and many Americans soon found themselves training their foreign replacements.

Then came the high-tech bust of 2000-2001, and hordes of workers of all nationalities were dumped by the CEOs. The H -1B visa levels were no longer an issue and were quietly dropped. But now that the tech economy is picking up again, instead of hiring Americans, the CEOs are wailing the same old tune about "shortages," demanding that congress give them more H -1B visas to import cheap workers to fill the new jobs.

To help stop these greedheads from monstrously misusing our immigration laws, call WashTech: 206-528-6264.

"H-1B visa shortage raises calls to relax restrictions." Austin American Statesman, October 25, 2004.

Jim Hightower

Hawks' Flying High With Rice Posting

U.S. President George W Bush's nomination of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell consolidates the control over U.S. foreign policy of the coalition of hawks that promoted the war in Iraq, led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The promotion of Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, to take her place in the White House also confirms Cheney's pre-eminence in Bush's second term.

A major booster of national missile defence and the development of ''usable'' mini-nuclear weapons, Hadley held a key policy position under the vice president when Cheney served as Pentagon chief under Bush's father, from 1989 to 1993.

Growing speculation that another Cheney ally, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, will be nominated to serve as deputy secretary of state under Rice is adding to the impression that the hawks are on the verge of a clean sweep.

As expected, the State Department's current number two, Richard Armitage, announced his resignation Tuesday, thus opening another key slot in the foreign-policy bureaucracy and one on which Bolton and his neo-conservative and ultra-unilateralist backers have had their eyes for months.

''This is a statement that Bush sees that what he's done in his first term is the way he wants to go into the second term, if not a bit more so'', said Jonathan Clarke, a former British analyst based at the libertarian Cato Institute and co-author of 'America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order'.

''It's a way of saying, 'If you liked what you saw in the first administration, you're going to love the second one','' he added in an interview.

Although Rice began her tenure as Bush's national security adviser a traditional ''realist'', stressing the importance of bolstering U.S. alliances and of committing U.S. troops overseas only in cases where vital national interests were threatened, she was careful from the outset to avoid alienating right-wing forces, particularly Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

On key issues, particularly surrounding the lead-up to the Iraq war, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the U.S. posture toward Iran and North Korea, she more often either aligned herself with or deferred to the hawks, especially Cheney, than she sided with Powell.

That was an immense frustration to the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had assumed at the beginning that, like himself, she was committed to the pragmatic multilateralism of Bush's father and their mutual mentor, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.

Thus, Rice ordered an early draft of the administration's December 2002, National Security Strategy (NSS) that was written by Powell protege and current president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass to be completely rewritten, according to James Mann, author of a highly regarded study of the Bush war cabinet, 'Rise of the Vulcans'.

''She thought the Bush administration needed something bolder, something that would represent a more dramatic break with the ideas of the past'', noted Mann.

As rewritten, the NSS marked a comprehensive endorsement of most of the controversial ideas put forward under Bush, including global U.S. military dominance, pre-emption against possible enemies, the aggressive promotion of democracy overseas and the rejection of multilateral mechanisms or treaties that might constrain the exercise of U.S. power.

But Rice appears to have been picked to run the State Department as much for her fierce personal loyalty to Bush as for her own foreign-policy views.

Recommended originally by Scowcroft and former Secretary of State George Shultz to serve as Bush's principal foreign-policy adviser during his 2000 campaign, Rice, who shares a love of football and physical fitness with the president, hit it off immediately with the future leader.

During the last five years, she has frequently spent weekends at the presidential retreat at Camp David or at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with the Bush family.

The closeness of her relationship with Bush -- something that entirely eluded Powell, whose unequalled international and popular standing appeared to evoke some resentment in both the president and vice president -- would normally be seen as a plus by the foreign service officers who toil at the State Department, because it ensures that their views will heard in the White House.

According to Mann, that may yet turn out to be the case. ''The White House saw Powell as an independent force and an independent operator'', he told IPS, adding that such independence limited his influence.

''Rice, who will be more hawkish, will also now be the spokesman for the State Department and for diplomacy within the administration, and I can imagine situations where, once in a while, the same policies that would have been rejected if they came from Powell might get a better reception at the White House because they came from Rice.”

At the same time, Mann described the posting as ''Bush's way of establishing his political control over the State Department'', which has been seen by many of the hawks and their backers in the media as resisting the president's more aggressive policies. In this view, Rice, like newly assigned Porter Goss at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will act as an enforcer of Bush's policy ''vision'' in the department and as a reliable communicator of the president's line to foreign governments.

''She will be a much more forceful advocate (of Bush's policy) to American allies and partners and less inclined to be a sponge for their frustrations'', according to Clarke. ''She'll be more inclined to take the fight to them and not allow the outside world to think that she is somehow a channel into the foreign-policy-making process to deflect or undermine the president's policies.''

Many State Department officials expressed serious concerns about Rice's appointment Tuesday, even as they were recovering from Monday's announcement by Powell that he was indeed leaving.

Powell, who devoted considerable time and effort to managing the department, had raised morale significantly from its nadir under his predecessor, Madeleine Albright, who tended to ignore the career officers in favour of a small group of political appointees. ''We're so sad to see him go'', said one veteran contacted by IPS, who noted that Rice's managerial experience has been far more limited.

Indeed, most analysts assess her experience overseeing the National Security Council (NSC) staff quite negatively because of her reluctance to take a position when policies were deadlocked, to ensure all sides were heard, and to enforce discipline on the various agencies once a policy was decided.

As a result, policy reviews in key areas, such as Iran and North Korea, to cite two of the most prominent examples, dragged on for months and in some cases were never completed.

To the great frustration of Powell and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George Tenet, Rice tolerated informal channels of communication between the mainly neo-conservative appointees around Rumsfeld and Cheney's office, which is headed by his neo-con chief of staff and national security adviser, I Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.

Libby, whose own national security staff has been exceptionally large and aggressive, ''is able to run circles around Condi'', one former NSC staffer told IPS last year.

Hadley, an attorney by profession, is seen as a hard-line technocrat who has specialised in nuclear weapons and national missile defence. He has been a major advocate of pre-emption and the development of ''mini-nukes'' and other new nuclear weapons that could be used for conventional purposes.

Considered particularly discreet -- even self-effacing -- Hadley came under strong criticism in various reports in the run-up to the war in Iraq, primarily because of his close working relationship with Libby on promoting a number of now-discredited efforts to tie ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and to assert that Hussein was reconstituting a nuclear-weapons programme.

Jim Lobe