Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Molly Ivins on Sinclair Broadcasting

AUSTIN, Texas -- Now is the time for all good men -- and women -- to race to the aid of their country. Liberals and libertarians unite! The Sinclair Broadcasting Group has moved this election into the realm of creeping fascism, state propaganda, Big Brother and brainwashing. What me, hyperbole?

This is SO simple -- how would you conservatives feel if NBC, CBS or ABC decided to pre-empt primetime programming a week before the election to air Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11"? And then announced, "But we've offered President Bush a chance to reply"?

Sinclair has also offered President George W. Bush the inestimable service of diverting attention from his record and is using OUR publicly owned airwaves to do it.

For Sinclair's lobbyist and on-air editorialist Mark Hyman to claim this long attack ad is "news" is ludicrous -- almost as strained as his claim, somewhere between infelicitous and crackers, that those who disagree are like "Holocaust deniers."

Sinclair Group is the perfect example of what's wrong with the concentration of ownership in media: Just a few companies now own almost all the major information outlets. Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation. It controls 62 stations in 39 markets and reaches at least 25 percent of Americans every day, all day.

As FCC Commissioner Michael Copps noted in a 2001 decision: "Over the last several years (Sinclair) has pursued a strategy of acquiring interests in or management of more than one station in each market in which it has a television station. In so doing, it has continually pushed against the parameters of ownership structures prohibited by the commission. With the investigation before the commission today, Sinclair has crossed the line into behavior that the majority has found to violate the commission's rules. In assessing a fine on Sinclair for this violation, the majority purports to stop the expansion of Sinclair's forays ... but in fact it merely points out that lines have been crossed, while allowing Sinclair to run over those lines and to continue its multiple ownership strategy." Truer words were never written.

When Sinclair bought a second station in Pittsburgh, it sold its existing station to the first station's manager, an employee of Sinclair, on favorable terms, and then proceeded to operate both. It repeated this trick at least twice and then used a new one: The president of Sinclair had his mother "buy" the new station. The new corporation's stock was 70 percent owned by his mother and the same station manager, who then transferred control of these stations to Sinclair.

Sinclair sends prerecorded right-wing editorial commentary to its affiliates to be broadcast as "local news." Sinclair's management has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars almost entirely to Republicans (97 percent this year), as it continued to lobby for looser ownership rules. The Bush administration is pushing aggressively to remove those same rules.

The producer of the alleged "documentary," which is actually just a very long Swift Boat Liars ad, makes the same arguments and features some of the same people as the thoroughly discredited short ads.

Carlton Sherwood, the ad's producer, was part of a Gannett team that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1980, but he has since moved far to the right and away from anything resembling actual journalism. In 1986, he joined The Washington Times, a right-wing daily owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. In 1991, he wrote a book "Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon," defending the self-described "Son of God." Sherwood then went to work for then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, now homeland security director for Bush.

I have not seen Sherwood's ad. I am relying on press reports that its central thesis is that John Kerry's congressional testimony in 1971 prolonged the Vietnam War. Sure, the North Vietnamese would have surrendered long before they never did, if it hadn't have been for Kerry. Look, 14,000 more Americans died after his testimony -- how many would it take to make that war anything other than a mistaken horror?

The ad also alleges that Kerry impugned the good names of all those who served in Vietnam. That is not only false but malicious. I heard his testimony at the time and have reviewed it since during this campaign -- it is honorable and patriotic. I am also familiar with the Winter Soldier hearings on which his testimony was partly based, and they were just as he reported.

I am sick of the right wing claiming patriotism as its exclusive purview. No one serves this country well who blindly supports misbegotten wars in the name of patriotism. The right to dissent is one of the founding principles of this country and is in itself a high form of patriotism. What you owe your country is your best evaluation of whether we are or are not going in the right direction.

As Huey P. Long once said, "Sure we'll have fascism in America, but it'll come disguised as 100 percent Americanism."

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

Originally Published on Thursday October 14, 2004

Draft the Nurses/Doctors? Soon???

October 19, 2004
U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 - The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

On the one hand, the report said, the Selective Service System should establish contacts in advance with medical societies, hospitals, schools of medicine and nursing, managed care organizations, rural health care providers and the editors of medical journals and trade publications.

On the other hand, it said, such contacts must be limited, low key and discreet because "overtures from Selective Service to the medical community will be seen as precursors to a draft," and that could alarm the public.

In this election year, the report said, "very few ideas or activities are viewed without some degree of cynicism."

President Bush has flatly declared that there will be no draft, but Senator John Kerry has suggested that this is a possibility if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

Richard S. Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System, said Monday: "We have been routinely updating the entire plan for a health care draft. The plan is on the shelf and will remain there unless Congress and the president decide that it's needed and direct us to carry it out."

The Selective Service does not decide whether a draft will occur. It would carry out the mechanics only if the president and Congress authorized a draft.

The chief Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence T. Di Rita, said Monday: "It is the policy of this administration to oppose a military draft for any purpose whatsoever. A return to the draft is unthinkable. There will be no draft."

Mr. Di Rita said the armed forces could offer bonus pay and other incentives to attract and retain medical specialists.

In 1987, Congress enacted a law requiring the Selective Service to develop a plan for "registration and classification" of health care professionals essential to the armed forces.

Under the plan, Mr. Flahavan said, about 3.4 million male and female health care workers ages 18 to 44 would be expected to register with the Selective Service. From this pool, he said, the agency could select tens of thousands of health care professionals practicing in 62 health care specialties.

"The Selective Service System plans on delivering about 36,000 health care specialists to the Defense Department if and when a special skills draft were activated," Mr. Flahavan said.

The contractor hired by Selective Service, Widmeyer Communications, said that local government operations would be affected by a call-up of emergency medical technicians, so it advised the Selective Service to contact groups like the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties.

Doctors and nurses would be eligible for deferments if they could show that they were providing essential health care services to civilians in their communities.

But the contractor said: "There is no getting around the fact that a medical draft would disrupt lives. Many familial, business and community responsibilities will be impacted."

Moreover, Widmeyer said, "if medical professionals are singled out and other professionals are not called, many will find the process unfair," and health care workers will ask, "Why us?"

In a recent article in The Wisconsin Medical Journal, published by the state medical society, Col. Roger A. Lalich, a senior physician in the Army National Guard, said: "It appears that a general draft is not likely to occur. A physician draft is the most likely conscription into the military in the near future."

Since 2003, the Selective Service has said it is shifting its preparations for a draft in a national crisis toward narrow sectors of specialists, including medical personnel.

Colonel Lalich, citing Selective Service memorandums on the subject, said the Defense Department had indicated that "a conventional draft of untrained manpower is not necessary for the war on terrorism." But, he said, "the Department of Defense has stated that what most likely will be needed is a 'special skills draft,' " including care workers in particular.

That view was echoed in a newsletter circulated recently by the Selective Service System, which said the all-volunteer force had "critical shortages of individuals with special skills'' that might be needed in a crisis.

The Selective Service and Widmeyer held focus groups this summer to sample public opinion toward registration and a possible draft including medical personnel. People from a variety of professions, including doctors and nurses, were questioned.

The report summarized the findings this way:

¶"There was substantial resistance to the notion of a call-up of civilian professionals that would send draftees to foreign soil."

¶A draft of civilian professionals was seen as unworkable because "training would be inadequate to transform groups of people who had never worked together into cohesive units."

¶People are apprehensive about the length of service that might be required. The "occupation of Iraq has proved more costly, in terms of dollars and lives, than most Americans expected." Members of the National Guard are "serving tours of duty far longer than many ever anticipated."

¶People believe the government has the ability to "find whomever it needs" in a crisis, by using a "master database" if necessary.

President Bush and Mr. Kerry have said they oppose a draft. "Forget all this talk about a draft," Mr. Bush said at the second presidential debate, on Oct. 8 in St. Louis. "We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm the president."

But Mr. Kerry said, "You've got a backdoor draft right now" because "our military is overextended" as a result of policies adopted by Mr. Bush.

Bryan G. Whitman, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said: "The all-volunteer force has been working very well for 30 years. There is absolutely no reason to go back to a draft."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

A Torture How-To.....

June 20, 2004
The Army and Torture: What the Rule Book Says
International Herald Tribune

FORT HUACHUCA, Arizona — The pace is brisk at Fort Huachuca, the desert outpost where the army trains its human intelligence teams. The soldiers who graduate from the army's Humint Collector Course are taught to interrogate prisoners, exploit captured documents and develop sources in foreign battle zones. With the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army expects more than 1,000 soldiers to graduate in fiscal 2006, a fourfold increase over 2003. But it is the content of the instruction, more than the quantity of it, that is receiving the most attention in light of the scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison "What we have done is put a spotlight at what took place at Abu Ghraib," said Major General James Marks, the outgoing commander of the Army Intelligence Center here. "We don't train that. It is foreign to us. It is almost as if it popped in from outer space.

"We have taken those bad examples and put them in front of our soldiers and demonstrated to them what you must not do. You can't even get close to that." The fact is that U.S. military and civilian officials do not need to devise new rules to avoid the sort of abuses that have cropped up at Abu Ghraib.

The scandal could have been avoided by adhering to the old rules as they are laid down by FM 34-52, the 1992 field manual that serves as the basic primer for students and instructors at Fort Huachuca and that outlines the army's doctrine for conducting interrogations. The field manual makes all the right arguments about why mental and physical torture are illegal, morally wrong and counterproductive. It expressly forbids beatings or forcing an individual to sit, stand or kneel in an abnormal position for prolonged periods or tying prisoners up as a form of punishment. Threats, insults or inhumane treatment are not allowed.

The field manual makes several arguments against torture. First, torture is an unreliable technique since a prisoner will say anything to end his suffering. Second, it will undermine public and foreign support for the U.S. military efforts. Third, it will increase the risk that captured American and allied personnel will be abused. Lastly, it is against the Geneva conventions and U.S. policy.

Psychological ploys, verbal trickery and nonviolent ruses are allowed. The field manual offers a common-sense test for determining if interrogators have crossed the line: Imagine that a technique was being applied to American prisoners of war and ask yourself if it would be consistent with U.S. law. "If a doubt still remains as to the legality of a proposed actions, seek a legal opinion from your servicing judge advocate," it instructs.

"Experience indicates that the use of prohibited techniques is not necessary to gain the cooperation of interrogation sources." The Abu Ghraib abuses, in short, constituted not only an outrage that fanned already deep resentments in Iraq about the occupation and increased the danger to U.S. troops, but also represented a case in which the army ran afoul of fundamental tenets of its own long-established doctrine. What could lead to such an outcome? Poorly trained and motivated troops, for one. (The investigation by Major General Antonio Taguba portrayed the military police at the prison as a dysfunctional unit and also faulted Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and a former official at Fort Huachuca, for having failed to supervise his soldiers and ensuring that they stayed faithful to the Geneva conventions.)

Another factor investigators need to assess is whether the responsibility needs to be shared by senior military commanders, who have been under tremendous pressure to obtain intelligence about an increasingly threatening insurgency. And what of the signals sent by the nation's civilian leaders? It is jarring, for example, that Justice Department lawyers seem to have taken a more tolerant attitude toward torture than the drafters of Army Field Manual 34-52. An August 2002 memo prepared by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for the White House essentially argued that some degree of physical and mental torture could be acceptable.

Physical pain that is induced in a prisoner must be comparable to the intense suffering associated with organ failure or death to be considered to be torture, the Justice Department lawyers argued.

To be considered torture, any mental anguish that is induced, the lawyers reasoned, must result in lasting psychological disorders that endure for months or even years. The lawyers at the Justice Department seemed to be doing what lawyers generally try to do: create a loophole for their client.

While there is no direct link between the memo and the problems at Abu Ghraib, the memo does appear to reflect an ends-justify-stretching-the-means attitude of some government officials. At Fort Huachuca, the soldiers in the Humint collection course are provided with a hypothetical war situation. (In the current one, renaming two Southwestern states as countries, the Republic of Arizona is fighting the Republic of New Mexico.)

Students conduct 12 three-hour interrogations, with instructors playing the role of enemy soldiers and insurgents. The goal is to elicit vital military information from recalcitrant subjects. The exercises are videotaped and the results analyzed. Violations of the Geneva conventions receive a failing grade. The whole art of the exercise is to obtain the information without breaching the convention.

Specialist Ken Anderson, a reservist from California, who was taking the course in preparation for a tour in Kosovo, said that the episode at Abu Ghraib had been discussed as an example of what can happen when the army's standards are not upheld. "We are taught, when we do see something like that, it is our responsibility to report that information," he said. It is hard to find saints in a war zone, but the 1992 field manual presciently lays out the stakes: "Revelation of use of torture by U.S. personnel will bring discredit upon the U.S. and its armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company |

"Another Texan in Action"

October 19, 2004
The Man Who Bought the Oil From Iraq

HOUSTON, Oct. 18 - Billions of dollars of Iraqi oil had been sold under a United Nations program - and food and other goods bought with the proceeds - when Saddam Hussein decided in 2000 that he personally wanted a bigger cut of the action. Documents now suggest that at least one United States company acceded to that demand, paying surcharges that kept the oil flowing.

The action by the Coastal Corporation, which was founded by the Texas entrepreneur and oilman Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., is detailed in a formal Iraqi government tally of secret payments made from September 2000 to December 2003, when steps were taken by American and British officials to stop the surcharges.

Coastal, the only publicly traded American oil company on the list, is shown as having paid $201,877 in surcharges. It is a small piece of the $228 million in surcharges on oil sales that Mr. Hussein collected, largely from Russian companies, according to a Central Intelligence Agency report released last week.

Mr. Wyatt, a former drill-bit salesman in South Texas who built a hydra-headed energy empire, said through a spokeswoman Monday that he had no knowledge of Coastal's paying any surcharges. A spokeswoman for the El Paso Corporation, which acquired Coastal in 2001, declined to comment, citing a grand jury subpoena the company received from a federal court in New York.

The inclusion of Coastal on the list - prepared by postwar officials from the State Oil Marketing Organization of Iraq - is one indication of the special relationship that Mr. Wyatt and Coastal had with Iraq, dating back three decades.

Mr. Wyatt, 80, acknowledged Monday through the spokeswoman that he had traveled to Baghdad as recently as early 2003, as the United States was preparing for war, to meet with officials in Mr. Hussein's government. Mr. Wyatt - once called in Texas Monthly magazine "the most hated oilman in Texas" - met Mr. Hussein in 1972, just after Iraq's oil industry had been nationalized, and eventually became one of the biggest United States importers of Iraqi oil.

The two met again in 1990, after Iraq invaded Kuwait and Mr. Wyatt flew to Baghdad on a company jet to help negotiate the release of nearly two dozen American oil workers whom Mr. Hussein had turned into "human shields."

The relationship was so close that when the United Nations authorized Iraq in 1996 to begin selling oil again, under the Oil for Food program, Mr. Wyatt and Coastal secured the first tanker shipment to leave the country.

After Coastal was sold to El Paso, Mr. Wyatt is listed personally as the recipient of an Iraqi oil allocation and Coastal was no longer listed. United States companies were not allowed to have any direct contact with the Iraqi government outside of the official Oil for Food program, and any money that went to Mr. Hussein's government was supposed to be used only to pay for food, medicine and other approved items.

Mr. Wyatt said in an interview earlier this year that he was aware that it was a common practice within the Iraqi oil industry for companies to pay surcharges, generally 10 to 35 cents a barrel.

Regarding Coastal's shipments, Mr. Wyatt said in the interview that company executives had no doubt that a broker, but not the company, had to pay a surcharge. Mr. Wyatt said Coastal officials also told him that "there was always a charge at the port" as well.

The years of effort on Mr. Wyatt's part to court Iraqi officials and build a venture to export Iraqi oil to the United States produced ample rewards: he and companies that he has been linked to earned an estimated $23 million in profit in the seven years of the Oil for Food program, according to sales and profit estimates included in the C.I.A. report by Charles Duelfer; Mr. Wyatt disputes that figure.

The unusually close ties with Mr. Hussein's Iraq and the inclusion of Coastal on this list of entities that paid the surcharges have drawn Mr. Wyatt into a maelstrom of inquiries, including efforts by committees in Congress and officials at the Treasury Department and the United States attorney's office in Manhattan.

"If you did not pay, you did not play," said a spokesman for the House International Relations Committee, which is investigating the Oil for Food program, including the operations of Mr. Wyatt and other oil traders. "We have an obligation to find out what happened."

Explaining his affinity for dealing with Iraq, Mr. Wyatt once compared his approach as an independent oil trader with that of the largest American oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco. These multinational concerns had a hold on the easily accessible markets in the Persian Gulf and although they also imported Iraqi crude under the United Nations program, they are thought to have dealt in much smaller quantities than Mr. Wyatt.

"The majors controlled the Saudi Arabian oil; most of Abu Dhabi crude was contracted to Asia," Mr. Wyatt said in the interview earlier this year. "So those that didn't have contracts had an opportunity with the Iraqi sour crude."

By the late 1980's, Coastal was importing as much as 250,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq. As these oil imports became more and more important to Coastal's operations, Mr. Wyatt became more outspoken in his opposition to any threatened or standing trade sanctions by the United States in the Middle East, including a move by Congress to impose restrictions on trade with Iraq after Mr. Hussein used poison gas against the Kurds.

It was Mr. Wyatt's surprise trip to Baghdad in December 1990, however, that finally brought his relationship with Iraq into the spotlight. He met then with Mr. Hussein to negotiate the release of American hostages. The effort was opposed by the administration of George H. W. Bush, but Mr. Wyatt came home a hero and he wept at a meeting of the released hostages and their families.

"It was not a stunt," said Bobby Parker, a drilling rig electrician who had been held for 128 days before being rescued. "Oscar Wyatt is just not that type of person."

The hostages were safe, but ultimately, Mr. Wyatt's goal had not been fully achieved. He had hoped to prevent a military move by the United States on Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, a war that, he said, the United States had no reason to start.

It would be more than five years before Mr. Wyatt's ties to Iraq again raised eyebrows, when the first tanker laden with crude oil sailed out of Mina al-Bakr, Iraq's main export oil terminal, in December 1996, in Iraq's legal return to global oil markets.

The ship had been chartered by one of Mr. Wyatt's companies.

This was the start of the Oil for Food program, which ultimately would result in the export of 3.4 billion barrels, earning $65 billion for the Iraqi government over the next seven years, money that was used to buy food and medicine, maintain oil fields and pay reparations from the first gulf war, among other spending.

To maintain at least a hint of sovereignty, the United Nations allowed Mr. Hussein to pick the customers he would sell oil to and those contractors he would buy goods from, although the United Nations was supposed to monitor every sale or purchase and had the right to reject any proposed contract.

From the start, Mr. Hussein was apparently looking for ways to defraud the system, federal investigators say. First, investigators said, he was smuggling oil out of Iraq beyond the limits imposed by the Oil for Food program. He was also demanding payments from contractors that wanted to sell goods to Iraq. And finally, during part of the program, he was demanding that companies or individuals who intended to purchase oil, pay a surcharge for that right, the report by Mr. Duelfer says.

In total, the actions earned Mr. Hussein an estimated $11 billion in improper profits, the report says.

Mr. Wyatt declined, through his spokeswoman, to explain exactly what motivated his trip to Iraq in early 2003, in the final months of the Oil for Food program. He again was listed among the parties who were offered an allocation by the government, the 13th time in of the program's 13 phases that his name or Coastal's appeared on the allocation list.

But in this instance, no one ever picked up the final allotment that was granted.

The spokesman for the House International Relations Committee said that even if Mr. Wyatt or any other United States citizens or businesses did not pay surcharges, the committee members want to know how they ended up on Mr. Hussein's allocation list.

Mr. Wyatt, listed through Coastal or as an individual, is the only American who was granted allocations that resulted in oil being acquired in each of the periods in which the surcharges were being assessed, according to the Duelfer report.

During the ninth phase of the exports, from January 2001 to June 2001, "since many existing customers refused to pay said surcharge," the State Oil Marketing Organization "was instructed to sign contracts with any company willing to pay the surcharge," the report said.

Mr. Wyatt's name is on this list as having taken eight million barrels of oil.

But Mr. Wyatt said, through his spokeswoman, that he never held a contract or directly purchased oil from Iraq, even though his name and his company's name were listed repeatedly in the report of Iraqi oil contractors by the C.I.A.

Records maintained by the State Oil Marketing Organization of Iraq, which coordinated the Oil for Food program, say that Coastal paid $201,877 in surcharges on about one million barrels of oil, while two other companies that Mr. Wyatt is associated with in the Iraq records - Nafta Petroleum of Cyprus and Mednafta Petroleum of Cyprus - are listed as having paid a total of $7 million in surcharges. In total, Iraq collected $222.6 million in surcharges. Mr. Wyatt said through the spokeswoman that he had no ownership interest in Nafta and Mednafta.

Molly Millerwise, a spokeswoman for the Department of Treasury enforcement division, would not address questions specifically about Mr. Wyatt or Coastal. But she did say that an investigation of the program was under way.

"As a government, we established a policy that allowed U.S. companies to purchase petroleum, to supply pipeline parts and equipment and to supply humanitarian goods to Iraq,'' she said. "The Office of Foreign Assets Control is reviewing the licenses and if they find any circumstances of wrongdoing, they will move forward with appropriate enforcement."

Within Texas, where the men who built its petroleum industry are noted for brash actions and braggadocio, Mr. Wyatt continues to loom large.

"He is still wheeling and dealing, going 90 miles an hour," said Bill Greehey, who worked for Mr. Wyatt in the 1960's and 1970's and, on occasion in the years since, had legal battles with him as chief executive of Valero Energy, a refining company in San Antonio. "He is not afraid of the devil."

Simon Romero reported from Houston for this article and Eric Lipton from Washington. Susan Sachs, in Istanbul, contributed reporting.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Are YOU Feeling the Draft Yet?

October 19, 2004
Feeling the Draft

Those who are worrying about a revived draft are in the same position as those who worried about a return to budget deficits four years ago, when President Bush began pushing through his program of tax cuts. Back then he insisted that he wouldn't drive the budget into deficit - but those who looked at the facts strongly suspected otherwise. Now he insists that he won't revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.

There were two reasons some of us never believed Mr. Bush's budget promises. First, his claims that his tax cuts were affordable rested on patently unrealistic budget projections. Second, his broader policy goals, including the partial privatization of Social Security - which is clearly on his agenda for a second term - would involve large costs that were not included even in those unrealistic projections. This led to the justified suspicion that his election-year promises notwithstanding, Mr. Bush would preside over a return to budget deficits.

It's exactly the same when it comes to the draft. Mr. Bush's claim that we don't need any expansion in our military is patently unrealistic; it ignores the severe stress our Army is already under. And the experience in Iraq shows that pursuing his broader foreign policy doctrine - the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive war - would require much larger military forces than we now have.

This leads to the justified suspicion that after the election, Mr. Bush will seek a large expansion in our military, quite possibly through a return of the draft.

Mr. Bush's assurances that this won't happen are based on a denial of reality. Last week, the Republican National Committee sent an angry, threatening letter to Rock the Vote, an organization that has been using the draft issue to mobilize young voters. "This urban myth regarding a draft has been thoroughly debunked," the letter declared, and quoted Mr. Bush: "We don't need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer Army is working."

In fact, the all-volunteer Army is under severe stress. A study commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld arrived at the same conclusion as every independent study: the U.S. has "inadequate total numbers" of troops to sustain operations at the current pace. In Iraq, the lack of sufficient soldiers to protect supply convoys, let alone pacify the country, is the root cause of incidents like the case of the reservists who refused to go on what they described as a "suicide mission."

Commanders in Iraq have asked for more troops (ignore the administration's denials) - but there are no more troops to send. The manpower shortage is so severe that training units like the famous Black Horse Regiment, which specializes in teaching other units the ways of battle, are being sent into combat. As the military expert Phillip Carter says, "This is like eating your seed corn."

Anyway, do we even have an all-volunteer Army at this point? Thousands of reservists and National Guard members are no longer serving voluntarily: they have been kept in the military past their agreed terms of enlistment by "stop loss" orders.

The administration's strategy of denial in the face of these realities was illustrated by a revealing moment during the second presidential debate. After Senator John Kerry described the stop-loss policy as a "backdoor draft," Charles Gibson, the moderator, tried to get a follow-up response from President Bush: "And with reservists being held on duty --"

At that point Mr. Bush cut Mr. Gibson off and changed the subject from the plight of the reservists to the honor of our Polish allies, ending what he obviously viewed as a dangerous line of questioning.

And during the third debate, Mr. Bush tried to minimize the issue, saying that the reservists being sent to Iraq "didn't view their service as a backdoor draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country." In that case, why are they being forced, rather than asked, to continue that service?

The reality is that the Iraq war, which was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the Bush doctrine, has pushed the U.S. military beyond its limits. Yet there is no sign that Mr. Bush has been chastened. By all accounts, in a second term the architects of that doctrine, like Paul Wolfowitz, would be promoted, not replaced. The only way this makes sense is if Mr. Bush is prepared to seek a much larger Army - and that means reviving the draft.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company