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web posted February 18, 2002

Klamath Basin water fight may have hurt fish

A House Resources subcommittee will hear testimony next month from experts who say that shutting off irrigation water to Klamath Basin farmers last summer may not only have hurt the region's economy, but also may have hurt the fish.

The Water and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing March 7 on the findings from a National Academy of Science report that found insufficient evidence to justify shutting off the water to Klamath Basin, said Rep. Greg Walden.

Faced with drought conditions in 2001, federal biologists recommended that water be diverted from irrigation canals to the river to help sucker fish and coho salmon listed as an endangered species.

The move angered the 1,000 farmers in the region who, in defiance of laws, turned on the floodgates and created body chains to prevent federal officials from turning the water off again.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton ruled in July that Klamath Lake would supply 75,000 acre feet of water to the farmers, not enough to save the 2001 growing season, but enough to save livestock and topsoil for the next year.

Walden, a Republican who represents Klamath, said he was shocked by the NAS report, because it showed that coho salmon may actually have been harmed by increasing the flow of water in the Klamath River. The NAS report found that there is no link between water levels and mortality rates of sucker fish and reservoir water could "equal or exceed the lethal temperatures for coho salmon in the warmest months."

“Had we not gotten an outside review of the science and the decisions leading to the water shut-off, the federal government would have continued down the wrong road. Now we find out that higher lake levels don’t help suckers and higher stream flows may actually kill coho salmon," Walden said.

Walden said he hopes the hearing will lead to action on legislation he's sponsoring to require peer review of government science reports.

Retiring Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, chairman of the committee, said he hoped the findings would bring a final demise to the Endangered Species Act.

“A handful of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service bureaucrats withheld desperately needed water from farmers in the Klamath Basin last summer. Now we find out that that decision was based on sloppy science and apparent guesswork. I am appalled. They made decisions that devastated the economy of an entire region — and they literally backed that decision up with armed federal agents," Hansen said.

Clintons got $75,000 in home furnishings

Expensive gifts poured into the Clinton White House in the weeks between Hillary Rodham Clinton's election to the Senate from New York and her swearing-in last year, according to a new congressional investigation.

Seventeen separate gifts of china, cutlery and furniture worth more than $75,000 arrived in December 2000 alone, a time when the Clintons were looking to furnish two newly purchased homes, one each in Washington and Chappaqua, N.Y., Republican investigators said.

The timing of the gifts had not been made public before. As a senator, Mrs. Clinton is prohibited from accepting most gifts worth more than $50. But since the presents arrived while she still was first lady, no such limit applied.

The Clintons took with them $360,000 worth of large gifts when they left the White House in January 2001, according to the yearlong investigation by a House Government Reform subcommittee. The Clintons also left with additional gifts too small to trigger public disclosure.

Investigators alleged the Clintons undervalued dozens of gifts, including a suit from Yves Saint Laurent reported as being worth $249, a dollar below what was then the threshold for public disclosure. The investigators did not say how much they believe the suit was worth.

Dozens of gifts were labeled "lost" or "misplaced" in the records investigators examined, including a $4,200 18-karat gold saxophone pin and a $1,200 rug from Pakistan.

The gifts were the subject of a hearing Tuesday intended to bolster support for legislation that would change the rules governing gifts to presidents. Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., the panel's chairman and the bill's author, wants to consolidate responsibility for receiving, cataloging and storing gifts in one government office. Now, six agencies are involved.

The National Park Service, one of the agencies, already has tightened its policy for accepting donations.

Bruce Lindsey, a confidant of the former president, declined to testify at Tuesday's hearing, Ose said. Lori Krause, who investigators said was a political appointee who headed the White House gifts office, also was invited to testify. Krause did not return telephone calls Monday.

Controversy over presidential gifts first arose last year when the Clintons disclosed they had received $190,027 in the president's final year in office. According to investigators' records, the Clintons returned 21 items worth $44,000 a year ago after some donors complained the gifts were for the White House, not the former first family.

Spokesmen for the Clintons referred calls to former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart.

"This is really kind of sad," Lockhart said. "The core right-wing of the Republican party is refusing to let go of an issue that was fully resolved last year."

Subcommittee staff members, who briefed reporters on the investigation on condition of anonymity, said it took nearly a year to compile the results.

Academics defend U.S. war on terrorism

Sixty leading intellectuals, mostly high-powered academics who study ethics, religion and public policy at American universities and think tanks, issued an open letter on February 12 explaining why they believe the war on terrorism is necessary and just.

"There are times when waging war is not only morally permitted, but morally necessary, as a response to calamitous acts of violence, hatred and injustice. This is one of those times," the letter says.

Among the signers of "What We're Fighting For: A Letter From America" are former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), now a professor at Syracuse University; Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins; James Q. Wilson of the University of California at Los Angeles; Samuel Huntington and Theda Skocpol of Harvard; and Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University. Though weighted toward the moderate right, the signers run the gamut politically from Michael Walzer, a democratic socialist at Princeton, to Michael Novak, a conservative at the American Enterprise Institute.

The 10-page letter tries to speak for Americans as a whole, elaborating American values and declaring the nation's right to defend itself after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It sticks to broad moral arguments and does not specifically mention the U.S.-led military campaign that ousted the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Nor does it address some of the war's thorniest issues, such as how to treat Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners and how to balance security and civil liberties in the United States.

But the letter does define, perhaps more clearly than the Bush administration has, who the enemy is: "radical Islamicism," a "violent, extremist and radically intolerant religious-political movement that now threatens the world, including the Muslim world."

Although the movement "claims to speak for Islam, [it] betrays fundamental Islamic principles," which forbid the deliberate killing of noncombatants and allow military action to be ordered only by legitimate authorities, the letter says.

"[T]his radical Islamicist movement . . . clearly denies the equal dignity of all persons and, in doing so, betrays religion and rejects the very foundation of civilized life and the possibility of peace among nations," it says.

Because the letter's main thrust -- that America is justified in using military force after Sept. 11 -- is widely accepted in the United States, its intended audience and purpose are not quite clear.

One of the four principal authors, Jean Bethke Elshtain, professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago, said in an interview that they went back and forth over whether the title should say "A Letter From America" or "A Letter to America."

Ultimately, she said, they chose "from" because "we thought it was necessary to address our Muslim brethren" around the world.

But, Elshtain added, she and several other signers wanted to stir a debate among fellow academics, because "inside the academy . . . there's this view that the American use of force always represents an imperial or nefarious purpose."

The other main authors were David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values; Wilson, an emeritus professor of management and public policy at UCLA; and Mary Ann Glendon, a professor at Harvard Law School. All are affiliated with the Institute for American Values, a New York think tank that focuses on civil society, motherhood and families.

Gore says U.S. must address roots of Mideast anger

Al Gore, re-entering America's foreign policy debate, accused the Bush administration on Ferbuary 12 of showing "impatience and disdain" toward U.S. allies in the war in Afghanistan and said military force alone would not win the long struggle against terrorism.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Gore embraced President Bush's controversial description of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil." But he said that other dangerous forces have to be addressed, such as poverty, ignorance, environmental problems, disease, corruption and political oppression.

For Gore, the appearance at the council marked another step back into the national spotlight. Members of the New York-based think-tank include some of the nation's most influential foreign policy experts, and the media was invited to listen in.

Not long ago ago, Gore gave a "return to the national debate" speech at a Tennessee Democratic Party fund-raiser. In recent months he's also appeared at Democratic fund-raisers in key political states such as Florida, New Hampshire and Iowa. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, he spoke out to proclaim his support of Bush in the war on terrorism.

In his first policy address since the 2000 election, Gore renewed his support for the Bush administration's "highly successful opening counterattack" to the attacks. But he said it is crucial that the administration show "a more evident respect" for the coalition of allies it has built or that alliance could quickly crumble. Gore said the administration sometimes sends the message: "With others, if we must; by ourselves, if possible."

Gore said U.S. policy should also be aimed long-range at "draining the aquifer of anger that underlies terrorism."

"The evil we now confront is not just the one-time creation of a charismatic leader and his co-conspirators, or even a handful of regimes," Gore said. "What we deal with now is today's manifestation of an anger welling up from deep layers of grievance shared by many millions of people."

Foreign policy is one area in which Gore, during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign, believed he had an advantage over then-Gov. George Bush.

Gore, a two-term vice president and 23-year veteran of Congress, had an influential hand in President Clinton's foreign policy. He traveled frequently overseas to represent the United States on missions to the Middle East and China, for example, and at world economic and environmental forums.

He headed several country-to-country commissions designed to shape U.S. relations with such nations as Russia, Ukraine, Egypt and South Africa. His work on those bilateral commissions was reflected on the campaign trail as he rattled off the names of presidents and prime ministers.

Gore had advocated an active and involved international role for the United States, much like the policy Bush has pursued since Sept. 11, when he shelved the go-it-alone approach he had championed during the campaign and his first months in office.

In his speech to the council, Gore said many have told him they wanted him to speak out on public policy earlier after he lost the election.

"In the aftermath of a very divisive election," he said, "I thought it would be graceless to do so, and possibly damaging to the nation. And then came Sept. 11."

Gore offered some cautionary thoughts on dealing with Iraq, Iran and North Korea — the nations Bush referred to as an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address.

The United States must deal with the threat of Iraq "on our terms," he said.

That means U.S. strategy must be mindful of the survival of Pakistan's leader, avoid an escalation of Middle East violence and protect the security and interest of allies like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states.

Gore said that once a strategy for Iraq is developed, "we must be prepared to go the limit."

Iran must be recognized as a potential threat greater than Iraq, but the U.S. should also find ways "to encourage the majority who obviously wish to develop a more constructive relationship with us," Gore said.

He said the United States needs to keep the peace on the Korean peninsula by being ready for war. He said that in the 1990s, the Clinton administration showed "that a creative, sustained program could help move the North Korean regime in new directions."

Gore said a long view of the fight against terror is essential.

"It isn't enough to destroy what is evil, then seek to leave by the nearest door," Gore said. "We must make the commitment to work with those whom we have rescued until they can stand on their own feet."


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