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Mail Today, Friday, August 1, 2008

McCain equates Obama with Paris and Britney
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain speaks at a meeting in Sparks, Nevada.

AFTER spending much of the summer searching for an effective line of attack against Barack Obama, John McCain is beginning a new aggressive campaign to define Obama as arrogant, out of touch and unprepared for the presidency.
On Wednesday, the McCain campaign released a new advertisement suggesting — and not in a good way — that Obama was a celebrity along the lines of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Republicans tried to portray Obama as a candidate who believed the race was all about him, relying on what Democrats said was a completely inaccurate quotation.
The Republican National Committee started an anti-Obama website called ‘Audacity Watch’, a play on the title of Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. And, in a concerted volley of television interviews, news releases and e-mail, campaign representatives attacked him on a wide range of issues, including tax policies and energy proposals. The moves are the campaign’s most full-throttled effort to define Obama negatively, on its own terms, by creating a narrative intended to turn the public

Race to the

off to an opponent. Though Obama has been in public spotlight for the one year, he is still new on the national scene. Polls indicate that for all the enthusiasm he has generated among supporters, many still have questions about him. This provided Republicans an opening to shape his image in critical groups like white working-class voters between now and the election day.

‘He has become the biggest celebrity’
McCain’s campaign is now under the leadership of members of President Bush’s re election campaign, including Steve Schmidt, the czar of the Bush war room that painted his opponent, Senator John Kerry, as effete, elite, and equivocal with a daily blitz of sound bites and videos that were carefully coordinated with Bush’s advertisements. The run of attacks against Obama over the last couple of weeks have been strikingly reminiscent of that drive, including

the Bush team’s tactic of seeking to make campaigns referendums on its opponents — not a choice between two candidates — and attacking the opponent’s perceived strengths head-on. The latest is an attempt to use against Obama the huge crowds and excitement he has drawn, including on his foreign trip last week, by promoting a view of him as more interested in attention and adulation than in solving the problems facing the US. “I would say it is beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world,” Schmidt told reporters on Wednesday. “The question that we are posing to the American people is this: ‘Is he ready to lead yet?’ And the answer to the question that we will offer to the American people is: ‘No he is not’. ” McCain’s assault comes after one of his worst weeks of the general election campaign, when he seemed to fumble for a consistent, overarching critique of Obama. McCain’s advisers continue to look for ways to bring more discipline to his message. The intensity of the recent drive — which has included some assertions from the McCain campaign that have been widely dismissed as misleading — has even surprised some allies of McCain, who has frequently spoken about the need for civility in politics. The New York Times

Paris Hilton

Britney Spears

US says ISI warned al-Qaeda allies of attack
PAKISTAN on Thursday acknowledged the US distrust of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), its prime espionage agency. The US has accused ISI members of tipping off al-Qaeda-linked militants before US missile attacks on targets in Pakistani tribal lands, said Pakistan defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar. “They think there are elements in the ISI at some level who, when the government of Pakistan is informed of targets, leak it to the militants,” Mukhtar told Geo in Washington. This is an issue on which the US was annoyed. The disclosure of American displeasure by a minister in the fourmonth-old civilian government of Pakistan may embarrass President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani military, and re-awaken concern about the stability of India’s nuclear-armed neighbour. The US no longer gives Pakistan advance notice when it targets militants in tribal areas. The News, a Pakistani daily from the same media group as Geo, reported that President George Bush had asked who was controlling the ISI.

Gilani spoke for the ISI & said reports were ‘unbelievable’
The ISI is the main intelligence arm of the Pakistani military, which directs its operations, though under the law it reports to the prime minister. Pakistan’s security apparatus consists of the ISI, and Military Intelligence, which deals solely with military matters, and their civilian cousins — the Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, and the police Special Branch.

Pakistan is going through a transition to civilian rule after eight years of military-led government, and the new leaders want to streamline reporting lines. Last Saturday the government issued a decree saying the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau will be placed under the interior ministry, but backtracked the next day with a clarification that raised doubts in sections of the media about its own competence. The coalition government has still to find its feet, and is fraught with internal tension and an economic and energy crisis, and analysts say it would be unwise to get into a confrontation with the military. Past civilian rulers, including Nawaz Sharif and the late Benazir Bhutto, appointed men of their choice as head of the ISI, but each time it led to differences with the army, which has led the

Muslim nation for a long time. US ally Musharraf stepped down as army chief last November and promoted General Ashfaq Kayani, who had been the head of the ISI, to succeed himself. He also chose the current ISI chief, Lt Gen. Nadeem Taj. After abandoning support for the Taliban government in Afghanistan after alQaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on US cities, Musharraf had ordered a clear out of the ISI’s Afghan desk dealing with the Islamist militia, but the agency is still periodically criticised for retaining links. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, whose Pakistan People’s Party has a history of mistrust with the army, spoke up for the ISI, calling it a great institution and saying he found reports that the ISI was sympathetic to the militants unbelievable.

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