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Putin to Suspend Pact With NATO

By C. J. CHIVERS and MARK LANDLER

Published: April 27, 2007

MOSCOW, April 26 — President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the cold war, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO and the Kremlin.

Alexander Natruskin/Reuters President Vladimir V. Putin entering the Marble Hall in the Kremlin Thursday to deliver his annual state of the nation address to Parliament.

Back Story With The Times's Mark Landler (mp3)The announcement, made in Mr. Putin’s annual address to Parliament, underscored the Kremlin’s anger at the United States for proposing a new missile defense system in Europe, which the Bush administration insists is meant to counter potential threats from North Korea and Iran.

Mr. Putin suggested that Russia would use its future compliance with the treaty as a bargaining point in that disagreement with the United States.

The new standoff also demonstrated the Kremlin’s lingering frustration over NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders and with the treaties negotiated in the 1990s when Russia, still staggering through its post-Soviet woes, was much weaker and less assertive on the world stage than it is today.

Although Mr. Putin did not mention it on Thursday, Russia is angry that in 2001 the Bush administration unilaterally pulled out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

On Monday, Mr. Putin’s defense minister, Anatoly E. Serdyukov, rejected an offer from the visiting American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, to share antimissile technology, which had been intended as a way to assuage Moscow’s opposition to Washington’s missile defense plan.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking in Oslo at a gathering of diplomats from NATO countries, reacted coldly to Mr. Putin’s speech.

“These are treaty obligations, and everyone is expected to live up to treaty obligations,” she said.

Ms. Rice also dismissed Russian concerns that introducing new military technology to Europe could upset the balance of forces there and set off an escalation that could lead to a new cold war. She called such claims “purely ludicrous” and said the scale of the proposed missile defense system was obviously far too small to defend against the Russian nuclear arsenal.

Though the step by Mr. Putin was incremental, it was highly symbolic and reminiscent of brinkmanship in the cold war.

The agreement in question, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, known by the initials C.F.E., was signed in 1990 by the members of NATO and of the Warsaw Pact, including Russia.

It required the reduction and relocation of much of the main battle equipment then located along the East-West dividing lines, including tanks, artillery pieces, armored vehicles and attack aircraft. It also established an inspection regime.

Under the treaty more than 50,000 pieces of military equipment were converted or destroyed by 1995. With its initial ambitions largely achieved, it was renegotiated in 1999, adding a requirement that Russia withdraw its forces from Georgia and Moldova, two former Soviet republics where tensions and intrigue with Moscow run high.

Russia has not withdrawn its troops, and the revised treaty has not been ratified by most of the signing nations, including the United States, which has withheld ratification until the Kremlin complies with the troop withdrawal commitments.

Though in many ways the treaty has already stalled, it has remained a powerful diplomatic marker, a central element in the group of agreements that defused the threat of war in Europe as Communism collapsed.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s secretary general, expressed dismay at the Kremlin’s decision, saying the alliance greeted Russia’s announcement with “concern, grave concern, disappointment and regret” and calling the treaty “one of the cornerstones of European security.”

Mr. Putin abruptly called the treaty’s future into question. In doing so, he pointedly did not use any of the conciliatory language he sometimes inserts into his speeches to leaven his criticisms of the United States.

He did not define specifically what he meant by a moratorium, nor did his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, when asked in an appearance in Oslo whether Russia might resist inspections or shift conventional forces now that it was no longer observing the treaty. “Everything will be in moratorium,” Mr. Lavrov said. “It is clear, is it not?”

Mr. Lavrov’s hard-line position in public was preceded by what one senior American official described as a “riveting” session with NATO diplomats in private. In an intense 10-minute monologue, he presented a list of grievances about NATO and its role in the world, from its enlarged membership to the missile defense system.

The officials said Mr. Lavrov’s tone prompted stern responses from several NATO members. “The push-back was universal,” the official said, “including some countries that have been reserved about missile defense. It did not have the effect that he may have anticipated.”

The back-and-forth underscored the intensity and breadth of the dispute, and the degree to which the two sides have parted.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavrov warned that Russia might withdraw completely from the treaty if the Kremlin was not satisfied with the results of negotiations in the NATO-Russia Council, an organization created in 2002 to increase cooperation between the former enemies.

“I propose discussing this problem,” Mr. Putin said, “and should there be no progress in the negotiations, to look at the possibility of ceasing our commitments under the C.F.E. treaty.”

His comments drew the loudest applause of the day from Russia’s largely compliant Parliament, which for the most part sat quietly during his 70-minute speech.

The Russian president’s remarks coincided with the latest effort by the Bush administration to promote its missile defense system, which it says is necessary to protect Europe if diplomacy fails to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The system would take at least several years to install and be put into operation, American officials say, and the project would be running on a parallel clock against Iran’s suspected weapons program.

Mr. Lavrov said forcefully that Russia saw no such danger, and that in any event Russia, Europe and the United States should assess the region’s strategic risks jointly. “Our starting point is that we should conduct a joint analysis of whom we should protect ourselves against,” he said. “Who are our enemies?”

He added, “We cannot see at the moment any kind of justified threat.”

American officials were equally adamant in dismissing Russia’s contention that the system would threaten its security.

“The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous, and everybody knows it,” Ms. Rice said, slipping inadvertently into cold war terminology with her reference to the Soviet Union.

Aside from the military issues, Mr. Putin chided the West for what he called meddling in Russia’s domestic affairs in the guise of democracy promotion efforts.

The argument simultaneously evoked old times and raised questions about how, and through whom, the latest disagreement might be resolved. Mr. Putin restated to the Parliament his intention to leave office next year, at the end of his second four-year term, which would mean that the issues raised on Thursday could well fall to a successor.

The Russian Constitution limits the president to a maximum of two terms, but there have been calls by politicians loyal to Mr. Putin to set the rule aside and let him remain in office, and speculation has never fully subsided that he might do so. But on Thursday, Mr. Putin was clear about his intentions, saying this annual address was his last.

“In the spring of next year my duties end, and the next state of the nation speech will be delivered by a different head of state,” he said.

The disagreement with the West seemed certain to extend well into that next term. “On missile defense,” Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said, “we do not see eye to eye.”

C. J. Chivers reported from Moscow, and Mark Landler from Oslo.

Pelosi in Trouble Over Earmark

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Feinstein isn’t the only Democratic leader in hot water for using her influence in Congress to enrich her husband (and, potentially, herself.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised a new era of ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, snuck a $25 million gift to her husband in a $15 billion Water Resources Development Act recently passed by Congress.

Members of Congress regularly abuse the appropriations process by earmarking public monies to fund pet projects of special interests and donors often in their own congressional districts or states. Earmarks are an area of the legislative process particularly susceptible to corruption. (There were literally hundreds of these types of projects inserted into the water bill.)

In this case, the special interest may have been Pelosi’s wealthy husband, Paul Pelosi. And the pet project involved renovating ports in Speaker Pelosi’s home base of San Francisco. Paul Pelosi just happens to own apartment buildings near the areas targeted for improvement, and will almost certainly experience a significant boost in property value as a result of Pelosi’s earmark.

Pelosi, capitalizing on the public’s distaste for the earmarking process, pledged reform during the elections last fall. The good news is that the House did reform the process a bit by requiring members to certify that they had no personal financial interests in earmarks they sponsor. Pelosi followed the new rules and reportedly signed a form certifying that neither she nor her husband would benefit financially from the earmark. That may not actually be the case and the Speaker’s office will have some more explaining to do.

PROGRESS IN THE FIGHT TO STOP NAU AND NAFTA SUPERHIGHWAY

By Tom DeWeese

NewsWithViews.com | 05/11/07

http://www.newswithviews.com/DeWeese/tom83.htm

A tiny but determined band of organizations and individuals are standing up to Goliath and are beginning to see his knees wobble.

Goliath is the globalist-inspired Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) - better known as the North American Union (NAU) and the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) - also know as the NAFTA Highway.

To date a dozen states have introduced resolutions to oppose the SPP and the NAU. Some states have also included language to oppose creation of a new currency called the Amero. Also opposed in most of the resolutions is the super highway (TTC) to run from Laredo, Texas all the way to Kansas City and more. Specifically, all of the resolutions are reacting to a wide range of concepts and structures dealing with the integration of North America into one "harmonized" union.

The states where resolutions have been introduced include Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington. http://www.stopthenau.org/

The TTC itself has come under specific attack. First, in April, 2007 a group of trucking and environmental organizations, led by the Teamsters Union, filed a law suit against an announced Bush Administration pilot project that would authorize up to 100 Mexican-based trucking companies to travel beyond U.S. Border States. The suit demands that the American public be given an opportunity to comment on the policy before it is implemented. It is widely understood that the pilot program is a necessary first step in the creation of the NAFTA Highway, which will allow traffic across the border to move with out stopping for inspection. In filing the suit, Teamster president Jim Hoffa said the Bush Administration "is ignoring the American people in its zeal to open our borders to unsafe Mexican trucks."

Meanwhile, in Texas, at the center of the storm, the state legislature passed legislation to impose a 2-year moratorium for the highway. This will slow down the process and give the opposition a chance to organize and stop the highway completely.

The state has already signed a 50 year lease with a private Spanish company named Cintra. That lease not only allows the company to make huge profits from the tolls to be collected, but also includes a no-complete clause that prevents the state from building new government roads or improving existing highways that travel in the same direction as the TTC. This fact prompted one Texas official to call the rush to impose public/private partnerships a "rush to sell the crown jewels of Texas."

The Texas House passed the moratorium legislation on April 11 by a vote of 137 - 2. Now the Senate has passed it with one 4 votes in opposition. This is an incredible result considering that just months before most Texas legislators claimed the Corridor was just a highway improvement bill. It is even more impressive when considering that he Texas Governor tried to team up with the Federal Department of Transportation to threaten the Texas legislators that federal highway funds would be "in jeopardy" if the moratorium passed. The action simply served to anger legislators who then voted for the moratorium with a vengeance.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership is a threat to our national sovereignty and independence. The United States, with its Constitution which protects individual liberty from government, is the most unique on earth and cannot be "harmonized" with nations which do not share our values.

These victories against the effort to create a North American Union are exciting and important. However, the fight is far from over. The forces driving the SPP and the TTC are rich, powerful and determined. Opponents must continue to pour on the attack and we must score again and again to have any hope in stopping the SPP.

Two actions are necessary to stop the SPP threat. The first is to stop the Trans Texas Corridor. The second is to impose strong immigration policy that stops the flood of illegals across our border. Texas has taken steps to provide the first. Now every American must flood Congress with calls and letters to demand the second. Meanwhile, we must also encourage every state legislature to pass resolutions against the whole concept of a North American Union.

But it's not a bad bit of work for a tiny band of dedicated activists which have no national media voice, no massive funding and little support among political leaders. All we have is some truth and a lot of heart. It works

Tucker: Active-Duty Generals Will ‘Revolt’ Against Bush If He Maintains Escalation Into 2008

Appearing on NBC’s Chris Matthews Show this morning, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker revealed that sources within the military are warning of “a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into ‘08.” Watch it:

Noting that retired generals such as Gen. John Batiste have already begun voicing their discontent with the president’s strategy in Iraq, Tucker added that the generals “don’t want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost.”

When President Bush vetoed the Iraq timeline legislation earlier this month, he claimed that “the measure would ‘impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat’ by forcing them to ‘take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, DC.’”

But despite past claims that “the right force level” will be determined by “the sober judgement of our military leaders,” the Bush administration has a proven track record of disregarding the advice of military leaders. As recently as last December, when the White House was first pushing its escalation plan, the administration explicitly ignored “the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

It appears the commanders on the ground in Iraq are getting tired of “taking fighting directions” from a politician “6,000 miles away” in the White House. And they might not stay quiet for long.

click here to watch it

Transcript:

TUCKER: Look for a revolt from active-duty generals if September rolls around and the president is sticking with the surge into ‘08. We’ve already heard from retired generals. But my Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague Jay Bookman has lots of sources among currently serving military officers who don’t want to fall by the wayside like the generals in Vietnam did, kept pushing a war that they knew was lost.

Liberal Democrats are out to silence you!

May 11, 2007

Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.

Liberal Democrats are out to silence you!

Urgent Telephone Alert on the Meehan Amendment (H.R. 2093)!

Dear John,

I wrote to you in January about legislation in the U.S. Senate that could have silenced grassroots communication from groups like American Family Association. Thankfully, that part of the legislation was defeated after you and other concerned citizens let your voices be heard.

Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to reconsider the “grassroots gag order” when the Meehan Amendment (H.R. 2093) will be offered on Tuesday, May 15, during debate on a broader "lobbying reform" bill. This amendment, sponsored by Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.), would establish, for the first time, federal regulatory authority over efforts aimed at motivating citizens to communicate with their representatives about bills moving in Congress.

This threat is so serious that American Family Association has joined with other pro-family groups, as well as organizations from the left of the political spectrum, including the ACLU, to oppose the bill. Last week, we signed a joint letter calling on members of Congress to reject this dangerous effort to exclude men and women like you from the democratic process. To read the letter, click here.

The full House of Representatives is expected to act on the "lobbying reform" legislation on May 22. Depending on what happens in the Judiciary Committee on May 15, the full House may also vote on whether to include the Meehan provision in the broader bill.

Take Action

Click Here to be shown the phone number for your representative's office, and an appropriate suggested message -- one message if he is a member of the Judiciary Committee, and a different message if he is not. This is urgent -- please act today!

If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.

Sincerely, Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman

American Family Association

Venezuela:the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is a "drug cartel. Global Research | 05/13/07 http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CAR20070513&articleId=5633

Mérida, May 8, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— The Venezuelan government responded yesterday to United States Drug Czar John Walters' criticisms that Venezuela is not cooperating with the United States in the fight against drugs by saying that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is a "drug cartel." The Venezuelan government rejected Walters' statements, saying that the U.S. has the intention of damaging Venezuela's reputation and intervening in its affairs.

John Walters, who is the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, made the statement in an interview with the Colombian magazine Semana last week. And today in Brussels, Walters made further statements about Venezuela at a meeting with the European Union and NATO about drug-related issues. Walters warned of an increasing problem with cocaine entering Europe from South America, and in particular from Venezuela.

"Venezuela is gaining importance for drug dealers," said the US Drug Czar. "There are flights from legal airports to Dominican Republic and Haiti. Sea shipments are dispatched from several points on the Venezuelan coast."

But the Venezuelan government rejected the claims made by Walters, saying it was an attempt to discredit anti-drug efforts in Venezuela. Minister of the Interior Pedro Carreño warned that the recent declarations are a new attempt to intervene in Venezuela with the intention of putting military bases in Venezuelan territory.

¨The United States establishes cooperation agreements in the fight against drug trafficking through economic cooperation so that they can later impose the presence of military bases under the pretense of cooperation," said Carreño yesterday.

Carreño dismissed any possibility of permitting the intervention of US authorities in Venezuela to fight drug trafficking and accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of forming its own “drug cartel.” According to the Carreño, when Venezuela ended its cooperation with the DEA two years ago, they observed that the US agency was trafficking drugs through the country.

"They were making a large quantity of drug shipments under the pretense of monitoring them, and they didn't carry out arrests or breakup the cartels," explained Carreño. "We were able to determine the presence of a new drug cartel in which the United States Drug Enforcement Agency was monopolizing the shipment of drugs," he said.

Carreño assured that Venezuelan security forces are willing to receive information that the United States can offer in order to detain drug traffickers in the country, but he maintained that Venezuela "is not going to allow them to carry out operations in our territory."

"Venezuela is a free, independent country that has its own National Armed Forces and security forces to provide protection to our country, and we are not going to let some other Armed Forces come to our government and impose on us the presence of military bases," stated Carreño.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez ordered an end to the country's cooperation with the DEA in 2005, alleging that some members of the agency were infiltrating government intelligence and were a threat to the security of the country. Since then, Washington has made repeated accusations about drug trafficking in Venezuela, claiming that their lack of cooperation is allowing drugs to be passed through the country and into the United States.

The Venezuelan government, however, sees these declarations as an attempt to coerce them into allowing US intervention in the country. Venezuela insists that if the United States government is sincerely concerned about fighting drugs, it should lead by example and protect its own borders from illegal drugs.

"Just like they ask Venezuela to do flyovers under the excuse that this is a drug trafficking route, they should use their Air Force to flyover their own airspace," said Carreño.

Carreño suggested that instead of continuing the supposed anti-drug program Plan Colombia, that the United States "should apply a Plan Washington, New York, or Miami, so that they flyover their own air space, and take care of their coast and border because 85% of the drugs that are produced in Latin America go to the United States."

Just as other South American countries have suggested, Venezuela insists that the United States could best fight drug production in Latin America by lowering the demand for drugs inside the United States. ¨By the law of the market, if you reduce the demand, you reduce the production," said Carreño

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