CONTENTS NOVEMBER 14, 2000
Click. USS COLE GUARDS TOLD NOT TO FIRE FIRST SHOT.
Click. Iraqis and former GIs to sue in US over depleted uranium.
Click. Democrats point finger at Bush's ally.
Click. Republicans begin to air doubts over Bush tactics.
Click. Documents Shed Light on Assassination of Chilean in U.S.
Click. Black Elk family members connect readers to holy man.
Click. Judge alters probation of Cabazon executive. Mark Nichols of the Coachella Valley tribe had pleaded guilty to charges arising from political donations.
Democrats point finger at Bush's ally
FROM BEN MACINTYRE IN WASHINGTON November 14, 2000, London Times
KATHERINE HARRIS, multi-millionaire, avid supporter of George W. Bush and Florida’s Secretary of State, may represent the Republican candidate’s best remaining hope of clinching victory in the presidential election.
Ms Harris flatly declined yesterday to extend an election deadline to accommodate manual recounting of the votes in several Florida counties, prompting outrage among Democrats, delight among Republicans, fresh litigation and a new flood of controversy, to which she is no stranger.
The Republican camp opposes the hand recounts, which are likely to produce additional votes for Al Gore and could swing the election by wiping out Mr Bush’s slim lead in Florida.
Ms Harris, 43, who took office in January last year, is a close ally of the Bush clan. “I am thrilled and honoured to announce my support of George W. Bush for the presidency,” she declared after becoming co-chairwoman of Mr Bush’s Florida campaign.
A delegate to the Republican National Convention, she recently proclaimed that working alongside Jeb Bush, the candidate’s brother and the Governor of Florida, had “provided a constant reminder of the power of values-based leadership — the same leadership George has shown in Texas.”
Ms Harris, who is married with a teenage daughter, is the granddaughter of a citrus fruit tycoon. Last January she could be found, alongside Jeb Bush and other Republican dignitaries, during the primary campaign, handing out Florida strawberries and oranges in the snowy hills of New Hampshire, where she campaigned on Mr Bush’s behalf.
Her actions drew immediate suggestions of bias. “She is clearly a partisan Republican,” Robert Wexler, a Democratic Congressman from Florida, said. He added: “The only reason to certify the elections at 5pm tomorrow is partisan one.”
When she took office last year, Ms Harris declared that she intended her job, usually focused on overseeing state elections, the arts and historic preservation, to shift attention to international affairs. Last month it was reported that the Secretary of State, inevitably nicknamed “Florida’s Madeleine Albright”, had made ten foreign trips to promote trade and culture, with an out-of-state travel bill of more than $100,000 (Ј70,000).
One of the wealthiest women in Florida, worth more than $6.5 million, she reportedly filed several expenses items for less than $5.
Her globetrotting has also raised suspicions she is angling for a ambassadorial post in a future Bush Government.
She raised Democratic hackles during the election when she recruited retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, a vociferous Bush supporter, to appear in a nominally impartial public television advertisement calling on Floridians to vote. A former executive at IBM and a vice-president of a property company, Ms Harris served for four years in the Florida Senate before her election as Secretary of State.
Black Elk family members connect readers to holy man
BY JODI RAVE LEE Lincoln Journal Star
"Black Elk Lives: Conversations with the Black Elk Family" by Esther Black Elk DeSersa, Olivia Black Elk Pourier, Aaron DeSersa Jr. and Clifton DeSersa, University of Nebraska Press, 168 pages, $25
The night of the Lakota holy man's wake, soft moonlight and a gentle wind ensconced family members of Nicholas Black Elk as they sat outside his house on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
"It was really a nice night," said Olivia Black Elk Pourier, "and it was just the night to sit, warm and with a wind. All of a sudden it started to get light, and it was almost like daylight, and the Northern Lights were dancing. I thought it was the end of the world, the way the whole thing was just lit up! Those lights were dancing like fire!"
Pourier, the granddaughter of Black Elk, is among four family members who provide first-source accounts, for the first time, about their lives, the legacy of their relative, Black Elk, and how it affects them and Native people today in the newly released "Black Elk Lives."
The Oglala man's life story and extraordinary visions were told to poet and writer John G. Neihardt who wrote "Black Elk Speaks," first published by William Morrow & Co., in 1932. It since has been named one of the ten best spiritual books of the 20th century by Philip Zaleski of HarperSanFrancisco.
On Saturday at 2 p.m., Pourier, Esther Black Elk DeSersa - Black Elk's granddaughters - and Hilda Neihardt, Neihardt's daughter, will read from and sign copies of "Black Elk Lives" at Lee Booksellers' Edgewood Center, 5500 S.
Born in 1863, Black Elk witnessed historical events, such as the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. His family shares their memories of the man whose visions and stories, recounted in books by Neihardt and Joseph Epes Brown, are expected to resonate for decades to come.
"The basic works of the Black Elk theological tradition now bid fair to become the canon or at least the central core of a North American Indian theological canon, which will someday challenge the Eastern and Western traditions as a way of looking at the world," Vine Deloria Jr., has said in previous editions of Neihardt's book.
For now, the Lakota healer's living family members connect readers to the holy man and to life on the Pine Ridge Reservation by offering new perspectives on the religious, economic and political events that Lakota people face in the next century. The family also shares personal moments spent with Black Elk as a teacher and family man.
His story pivots upon a powerful vision he received as a 9-year-old - an ethereal story about the Sioux Nation that has been translated into 16 languages.
"My great-grandpa's vision wasn't a spiritual vision," said Aaron DeSersa Jr., as part of the book's family conversations. "It was the future of our people, the Lakota people. Some people don't look at it that way - they want it to be spiritual and have a deep meaning. But what it is, when you look at and interpret it, is what our people are going through in this life and in the future, and how they're going to be put back on that good road - bringing back the old ways and ceremonies and understanding them."
University of Nebraska Press expects to sell 750,000 copies of "Black Elk Speaks" by the end of the year with its newly released 2000 edition. It also recently launched the book's full text at http://www.blackelkspeaks.unl.edu.
Jodi Rave Lee can be reached at 473-7240 or .
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000 06:58:31 -0000
From: "Al Giordano" <> http://www.narconews.com
Subject: new documents on Letelier assassination
File under shame:
In tomorrow's NY Times, there is a story on newly declassified documents on the
1973 Chile coup and the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffit in DC.
Then-US Ambassador David Popper comes through as complicit.
But Popper pleads "I'm an old man" -- he's 88, to escape judgement. Kind of like Pinochet did in Spain.
Not mentioned in the NY Times story -- of course not -- is the current US Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow, Popper's political counsel during
the coup years in Santiago.
Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/14/world/14CHIL.html
ASHINGTON, Nov. 13 — A month before the assassination of a Chilean diplomat and an American colleague in downtown Washington in 1976, the United States government ordered its envoys in Latin America to try to avert a plot to murder leftist opponents of the region's governments, documents released today show.
But the American ambassador in Chile, David Popper, refused to convey what Washington had learned of the plot or even the government's concerns to the leader of Chile's military junta, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, saying he did not want to offend the general by associating him with the plot, known as Operation Condor, the documents show. "He might well take as an insult any inference that he was connected with such assassination plots," Mr. Popper said in a cable to Washington.
General Pinochet's secret police chief, Gen. Manuel Contreras, was later convicted in Chile of ordering what was, up to that time, the worst act of foreign-sponsored terrorism on American soil: the bombing on Sept. 21, 1976, of the car in which Orlando Letelier, a former confidant of the deposed Chilean president, Salvador Allende, was traveling to his job at a Washington research institute along with two colleagues. He and Ronni K. Moffitt were killed; her husband, Michael Moffitt, survived the blast.
While there is no evidence that an American warning to General Pinochet or General Contreras would have thwarted the attack on Embassy Row here, critics of the American government's role in Chile during the 1970's said today that it represented, at a minimum, a lost opportunity.
"An extraordinary tragedy," said Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a private clearinghouse for declassified documents. "Such a meeting might well have prevented that act of assassination from taking place."
The information came to light today as the Clinton administration released more than 16,000 documents on America's relationship with Chile from the years before the 1973 military coup in which the junta deposed President Allende to 1991, after the country's transition to democracy. It was the final release in a declassification project ordered in February 1999 by President Clinton.
The documents, including more than 450 on covert operations that the Central Intelligence Agency earlier sought to withhold, support those who argue that General Pinochet was complicit in the assassination conspiracy, Mr. Kornbluh said.
While critics of United States policy in the region have long said that the Letelier murder could not have been carried out without General Pinochet's knowledge, the documents released today include a State Department cable showing that he called President Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay asking him for "an urgent favor." The favor was that Paraguay issue passports to two agents of the Chilean secret police, according to the State Department document, which was marked "secret" and apparently written in the summer of 1976.
The government of Paraguay complied, but the American Embassy there barred the agents from traveling to the United States, asserting that they had lied about their plans and their reason for going to the United States. The two later entered using Chilean passports.
Those two men, Michael Townley and Armando Fernбndez, were convicted years later for their role in arranging the car bombing.
General Pinochet returned to Chile this year after being held under house arrest in Britain at the request of a Spanish judge who wanted him tried under an international torture treaty. But the general was released after he was ruled to be too ill to stand trial.
The newly declassified documents also show that General Pinochet's intelligence chief, General Contreras, tried to fend off demands for his extradition to the United States after he was indicted here for the Letelier murder with threats that he could implicate American officials in the killings. The documents provide no proof that General Contreras could produce such evidence.
In 1991, the documents show, the C.I.A. destroyed its file on General Contreras, who had been a paid informant for the agency.
Mark Mansfield, the agency's spokesman, said the documents "speak for themselves." But he urged people to "view them and the events they describe within their proper historical context."
"C.I.A. activities were conducted within the framework of U.S. foreign policy at the time," he said, "and covert actions were undertaken at the direction of the White House and interagency policy coordinating committees."
The outlines of Washington's role in Chile are known, including the Nixon administration's support of groups plotting to prevent Mr. Allende from assuming the presidency after his election in 1970, and its subsequent efforts to destabilize his socialist government.
In 1975 the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that from 1963 to 1973, the C.I.A. spent more than $8 million on disinformation campaigns, propaganda and financial aid to groups plotting a coup.
And this September, a C.I.A. report to Congress acknowledged that the agency had a relationship with General Contreras from 1974 to 1977, and that he received a one-time payment of an undisclosed sum in 1975.
A senior administration official said the new documents "reveal the evolution of U.S. policy quite well."
The documents released today show American officials moving from open enthusiasm for the coup that toppled the Allende government and brought General Pinochet to power, to reservations about his junta's human rights abuses, to support for the democratic opposition that unseated the general.
Minutes of high-level meetings released today show that President Nixon feared that the election of Mr. Allende could set off a drift toward Communism in South America. And he appeared determined to undermine the Allende government.
"We are going to cold turkey them on the economy," Mr. Nixon said, suggesting that the United States would flood world markets with copper to force down the price of Chile's main resource. His advisers warned that such dumping would be illegal.
After General Pinochet's coup, the junta arrested vast numbers of people they suspected of being leftists — Chileans and foreigners living in Chile. Imprisoned in soccer stadiums, they were interrogated. Many were tortured and some 3,000 were killed, according to a investigation in 1990 by the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.
The documents reveal that one of the Americans killed at a stadium in Santiago, Frank Teruggi, had been labeled a subversive by the C.I.A.
Mr. Mansfield said the agency had "no prior knowledge" of the circumstances leading to Mr. Teruggi's death.
Documents declassified by the Clinton administration have shown that American officials were aware of plans for assassinations in foreign capitals nearly two months before Mr. Letelier's killing. In late August 1976, Philip Habib, then under secretary of state for political affairs, ordered United States ambassadors throughout Latin America to voice American disapproval.
But more than a week after the Letelier assassination, Mr. Popper, the American ambassador in Chile, cabled the State Department to reject approaching General Pinochet. Instead, he suggested that an intelligence official convey Washington's concerns to General Contreras.
Mr. Popper declined to comment on his actions then. "It was a long time ago," said Mr. Popper, who is 88. "I'm a very old man."
Iraqis and former GIs to sue in US over depleted uranium
Iraqi victims of cancer and former American soldiers suffering from Gulf war syndrome are joining forces to sue the US government over use of de-pleted uranium (DU) missiles.
Meetings have been held between US-based families of the Iraqis, former American service personnel and lawyers over legal action in America. Former British personnel who say they have been affected by DU will be invited to join the multi-million-dollar claims.
A decade after Operation Desert Storm, lawyers believe there is enough evidence to link the massive rise in cancer in Iraq and the effect on British and American soldiers to almost 950,000 DU missiles and shells fired. A conference will be held in Spain this month, to be attended by international medical experts, Gulf war veterans and lawyers, including Ramsay Clark, a former American attorney general. The impending legal action is likely to dominate the agenda.
Among the veterans to address the conference, in Gijon, will be two Gulf war syndrome sufferers, Ray Bristol, a Briton, and the former US sergeant Carol Picou, who gave evidence to a congressional commission on DU munitions.
Their lawyers are expected to say the American government "recklessly" used DU, a bi-product of nuclear energy, knowing its devastating effect. DU-hardened missiles have a high penetration rate. When a projectile hits a target, 70 per cent of the DU coating burns and oxidises, bursting into toxic radioactive particles. One of the main arguments expected to be put forward is that American soldiers were not given protective clothing when sent to inspect damage caused by shells coated with DU.
In Iraq, campaigners say, almost 250,000 civilians have been affected by DU and there has been a sevenfold leap in cancer, especially among children, and deformities in birth. Unicef, the UN children's organisation, says 4,000 children under five die every month.
Professor Ashraf Elbayoumi, a former professor of chemistry at Michigan State University, said yesterday: "There is ample evidence to link the pattern of cancer to DU."
At the Saddam Children's Hospital in Baghdad there is a continuous stream of children diagnosed with cancer. And the international ban on trade is biting. Mohammed Firas, the 29-year-old chief resident doctor, shrugged hopelessly at the end of a 19-hour shift.
"The number of children we are getting with cancer has gone up 400 per cent," he said. "But we lack the most basic medication. You see these children bleed and die in front of you. I just wish there was more we could do ..."
USS COLE GUARDS TOLD NOT TO FIRE FIRST SHOT.
By Thomas E. Ricks and Steve Vogel Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 14, 2000; Page A01
The sailors on sentry duty aboard the USS Cole when it was bombed last month did not have ammunition in their guns and were not authorized to shoot unless fired upon, according to members of the ship's crew.
Even if the sentries had recognized the threat from a small boat approaching the guided missile destroyer in a Yemeni harbor on Oct. 12, their "rules of engagement" would have prevented them from firing without first obtaining permission from the Cole's captain or another officer, the crew members said.
Petty Officer John Washak recalled that shortly after the small boat blew a 40-by-40-foot hole in the destroyer's side, killing 17 sailors, he was manning an M-60 machine gun on the Cole's fantail when a second small boat approached. Washak said he pointed the machine gun directly at the boat to warn it off. But, he recalled, a senior chief petty officer ordered him to turn the gun away.
Washak protested, fearing that the ship was still under attack. But even in the aftermath of the bombing, "with blood still on my face," he said, he was told: "That's the rules of engagement – no shooting unless we're shot at."
The rules of engagement aboard a U.S. warship are set by its captain following Navy guidelines. Pentagon officials have declined to discuss publicly the specific rules in effect aboard the Cole, but senior officers said in congressional testimony that the ship had filed a detailed security plan, which they believe was followed.
Interviews with about 20 members of the ship's crew in recent days also revealed several other previously undisclosed aspects of the bombing:
The Cole may have been boarded and surreptitiously surveyed by Islamic militants, possibly including one of the suicide bombers, as it passed through the Suez Canal a few days before the attack, crew members said they have been told by FBI investigators.
The FBI also has been questioning crew members about the behavior of the Yemeni pilot who guided the Cole into port, which some described as "agitated." In addition, some crew members believe that Yemeni harbor workers acted suspiciously.
The boat that exploded may first have attempted to tie up to the Cole's stern, then moved around to the side of the ship after being ordered away.
As the FBI tries to determine who was behind the suicide attack, the Defense Department and congressional committees are searching for broader lessons about how to protect U.S. ships. Overwhelmingly, crew members dwelt on the limitations placed on their ability to defend the Cole, especially in the paradoxical situation of visiting a supposedly friendly port during a time of extreme tension in the Mideast.
When it sailed into the Yemeni port of Aden, the ship was operating under "Threat Condition Bravo," the second-lowest on a scale of four threat conditions. Under this moderate posture, crew members said, the ship had a few guards on deck, but no one was posted on big machine guns near the bow and stern.
"It wasn't supposed to be a high-threat port," said Nathan Bair, a fire controlman on the Cole.
Kevin Benoit, a gunner's mate, said the sailors "weren't given any kind of instruction that it was dangerous" to refuel in Aden. "Nothing like that was put out. . . . It wasn't a big deal," he said, adding that he been surprised that the ship even had armed "rovers" patrolling the deck.
"I thought it was kind of far-fetched," he said.
Even now, members of the Cole's crew say they are hard-pressed to think of what they would have done differently as the small boat approached with no outward sign of hostility.
"If we had shot those people, we'd have gotten in trouble for it," said Petty Officer Jennifer Kudrick, a sonar technician. "That's what's frustrating about it. We would have gotten in more trouble for shooting two foreigners than losing 17 American sailors."
"It's kind of hard to say what we should have done," added Washak. "In the military, it's like we're trained to hesitate now. If somebody had seen something wrong and shot, he probably would have been court-martialed."
Benoit, who issued weapons for the security patrol during the refueling, confirmed that the guns were not loaded. He said he issued 9mm pistols to two sailors assigned as roving guards during the refueling, and that those sailors each carried two rounds of ammunition but did not load the weapons. "You can't fire unless fired upon," said Benoit. "We were in no kind of threat-con where we would fire."
But one of the Cole's officers added that the guards could have loaded and fired quickly if the threat had been more clear. "They were prepared to fend off any attack had it been apparent," said Lt. j.g. Robert Overturf. "They have a load that takes a second, and then they're ready to fire."
The threat from the small boat, however, was anything but apparent. Crew members who saw it approaching said "it looked like the boats that had assisted in the mooring" of the Cole to a refueling station in the middle of the harbor, according to Overturf, who was not on deck at the time. "We thought they were one of the boats we had hired."
Even after the attack, crew members said, they were told they should fire only warning shots in the air if strange boats approached.
The Cole's captain, Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold, has declined to be interviewed since coming back to the United States with the unwounded members of his crew on Nov. 3. But a Pentagon official who has spoken with Lippold, and is familiar with what happened aboard the ship, said one reason for the order to fire only warning shots was that boats were approaching the stricken warship to offer help. "You didn't want sailors shooting up those boats," he said.
Cmdr. J.D. Gradeck, a spokesman for the Navy in the Persian Gulf area, declined to comment on the crew's accounts, citing the Navy's ongoing investigation of the incident.
Cole crew members also said they now realize that their ship may have been looked over by Islamic militants as it passed through the Suez Canal on the way to Yemen. While in the canal, the ship followed the Navy tradition of bringing Egyptian vendors aboard to sell souvenirs, they said.
Paul Riddle, an operations specialist who worked in the Cole's combat information center, said FBI investigators told him that "they think the Egyptians might have been doing a reconnaissance on us." And they told him that one of the two men who carried out the suicide attack may have been among those who visited the Cole, he said.
Crew members also disclosed that the boat that exploded may at first have attempted to tie up to the Cole's stern. Several sailors said they were told by a shipmate, Russell Dietz, that a small boat with two men aboard pulled up to the stern, where Dietz was working and keeping an eye on a larger scow that had made several trips to haul away the Cole's trash.
Dietz, who shipmates said was injured in the explosion, could not be reached for comment. But he told others on the Cole that he had asked the two men on the smaller boat what they were doing.
The men said they had come to help with the trash, and they may even have tried to throw a line to Dietz, one sailor said. Dietz then called the bridge, which told him to send the boat away. He did, and the boat quickly "veered away" to the port side of the ship, where it blew up, Nsilo Greene, an electronics technician, said he was told by Dietz.
Almost every member of the crew who was interviewed had heard talk that the Yemeni pilot who guided the destroyer into port was extremely anxious and tried to leave the ship earlier than usual. "I was told the Yemeni pilot was pretty much trying to jump ship before it was tied up," said Bair.
Riddle said he was told that the pilot "was real agitated and getting in arguments with the captain." The pilot was prevented from leaving the ship on the orders of an officer, several crew members said.
Kudrick, who met the pilot when he first arrived on the ship, said that he seemed "kind of huffy" but that she just assumed he did not like working with female sailors.
Along the same lines, many members of the crew believe that Yemeni harbor workers on the fueling station near the Cole ran into a cement hut just before the explosion. Kathy Lopez, a petty officer who was involved in the refueling operation, also said that in retrospect, she thinks it is suspicious that Yemeni workers conducted the refueling with unusual speed.
"They were pumping a whole lot faster from the fuel barge than they had for the last ship," said Lopez. In fact, she added, "They were pumping a lot faster than we thought they were capable of pumping."
On the other hand, no one who was interviewed claims to have actually seen the harbor workers run away or the pilot demand to leave the ship, so it is possible that those accounts may be no more than rumors that passed through the Cole in the traumatic days after the attack.
If the accounts are correct, however, they would indicate that knowledge of the impending attack was widespread. That would be consistent with evidence found by investigators that the attack was planned months in advance and that the original target may have been another Navy warship, The Sullivans, which visited Yemen in January. This, in turn, would raise questions about whether any Yemeni government officials knew of the attack and failed to stop it or to warn the United States.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker declined to comment yesterday on reports of tension between the FBI and the U.S. Embassy in Yemen over the possible involvement of well-connected Yemenis. According to the reports, which surfaced last week in the Arab-language daily Al Hayat, the FBI wants to broaden the probe to include people close to the Yemeni government. The embassy, with backing from the State Department, is said to be concerned about the diplomatic consequences of such a move.
Lt. Ann Chamberlain, the Cole's navigator, said an FBI agent asked her about the actions of the Yemeni harbor workers. But, she added, "I think everything is being investigated," from solid fact to unfounded rumor.
Researchers Madonna Lebling and Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.
GEORGE W BUSH was facing increasing criticism from his own party yesterday for his handling of the post-election struggle for Florida.
Some Republicans even criticised him for turning to James Baker III, one of his father's most steadfast allies, to represent him in Florida. Mr Baker's bid to prevent hand recounts failed yesterday, giving Democrats a potentially crucial advantage as final vote totals were being calculated.
William Safire, the New York Times columnist and former speechwriter for President Nixon, wrote that Mr Baker was "always more of a lawyer than a politician" and had made tactical errors in Florida. Despite his vast political and governmental experience, Mr Baker, 70, a Texas lawyer who became Secretary of State during President Bush's administration, seemed to have miscalculated public opinion in Florida and to have been outmanoeuvred by his Democratic adversaries.
Having initially portrayed Mr Gore as the candidate who trusted lawyers rather than the electoral process, the Bush campaign made a volte face on Saturday. Alarmed that hand recounts in four Democratic counties would hand Florida to Mr Gore, Mr Baker announced a lawsuit aimed at stopping them.
The Bush campaign's initial error was failing to request recounts in Republican counties within the stipulated 72 hours. In the early stages of the election aftermath, Republicans were so sure they had won they did not consider this necessary. Saturday's decision appeared to compound this mistake.
Instead of calling for the 72-hour deadline to be waived so that hand recounts could be held in all 67 Florida counties, Mr Baker sought - and failed - to prevent the four already applied for under the usual procedures. Members of the Bush campaign admitted yesterday that this was not only a risky legal gambit but also one that had forced Mr Bush to cede the moral high ground he had occupied earlier in the week.
Mr Baker, a constant behind-the-scenes figure during the campaign, has now indicated that the Bush campaign may be forced to look for extra electoral college votes by demanding recounts in Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Oregon. The chances of Mr Bush winning all these states through recounts are remote. Moreover, having argued that it was Mr Gore who was prolonging the nation's agony, any such move could be politically disastrous for any Geroge W Bush presidency.
Mr Bush may have offended the natural instincts of his party in being seen as the first candidate to rush to the courts. Republicans tend to trust the political rather than the legal process, although Bush aides responded by arguing that they were merely responding in kind to the eight lawsuits filed by Gore supporters.
Mr Baker was also facing the difficult prospect of having to apply belatedly for hand recounts in all 67 of Florida's counties, even though his argument in court yesterday was that hand recounts were intrinsically unfair and time-consuming. There were mutterings within the Bush camp that the Texas governor's leaking of White House appointments and attempts to persuade the public that he was concentrating on planning for his presidency were beginning to look foolish.
They could also alienate the moderate opinion he would need behind him if he were to govern the country. Last Thursday, he decided not to dispatch a team of some 70 lawyers and campaign workers from Austin because his brother Jeb told him the state party had enough strength on the ground.
Jeb Bush had assured him in advance that he would carry Florida and, on election night, that the vote was his. Some Republicans winced when they heard that Mr Bush had quoted his brother in his second conversation with Mr Gore - prompting the Vice President to remark that Florida was not in Jeb Bush's gift.
Mr Bush's apparent complacency since the election mirrors his approach in its closing days. Nine days before the vote, he took a full Sunday off to spend time at his ranch and spent valuable time in states such as California, Oregon, Washington and New Jersey that he was unlikely to win. On the night before the election, Mr Bush returned to Austin at 11pm while his opponent travelled to Florida for midnight and dawn appearances.
Mark Nichols, chief executive officer for the Coachella Valley tribe, had been sentenced last year to five years' probation for his role in funneling thousands of dollars to the 1996 Clinton/Gore re-election campaign.
One term of that probation had barred Nichols from political fund raising and even associating with anyone who does for five years.
In Monday's ruling, U. S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins reduced the ban on political fund raising for candidates to 2 ½ years, said Stanley Greenberg, attorney for Nichols. The judge eliminated the ban on Nichols' associating with people involved in fund raising.
Nichols still must refrain from direct or indirect political fund raising for 2 ½ years, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U. S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. Other terms of probation remain in effect for five years.
The tribe released a statement from Chairman John James saying it was pleased with the ruling, noting its view that the judge wanted Nichols to remain effective for the tribe.
Nichols had asked the judge to eliminate the ban on political fund raising altogether, saying the condition interfered with his political rights of speech, association and participation in the political process for the 35-member tribe, which runs Fantasy Springs Casino near Indio.
Authorities had opposed any change in conditions, noting it was Nichols' fault if he could not do his job properly after perpetrating a criminal scheme.
Nichols had pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors last year and was fined $256,000. Authorities said neither the tribe nor the politicians knew about the illegal donations when they were made.
Nichols filed court papers saying he needed no rehabilitation and that he had already suffered ample public humiliation and embarrassment for what happened.
Mark Henry can be reached at e-mail at or by phone at (760) 325-1154.