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Bhutto fallout

The New York Times notes that many of the presidential candidates continued to talk about Pakistan and Bhutto's death while on the campaign trail yesterday. "Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Democrats who have struggled to attract voters' attention, edged into the spotlight on Friday after talking about Pakistan for weeks… Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, spent the day asserting their own personal expertise: their private conversations with Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf, their visits to Pakistan and their concerns about fallout affecting the nation's nuclear arsenal to the hunt for Osama bin Laden."

"The Bhutto assassination is one of those rare things in a presidential race -- an unscripted, unexpected moment that lays bare a candidate's leadership qualities and geopolitical smarts. Think of Mr. bin Laden's videotape message late in the 2004 election … or the twists of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980."

In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Huckabee cited an article from the Denver Post written by Bruce Finley as the source for his information on his claim that there are more illegal immigrants from Pakistan than from any other country besides south of the US border, NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy reports. (Here's the full write-up.). "The number came from Homeland Security," Huckabee said, referring to his speech yesterday in which he claimed that 660 illegal Pakistani immigrants entered the US last year. "There are two stories that are published that report that number. One is Bruce Finley of the Denver Post and there is also a Jim Pinkerton column in which that is mentioned. And that's where that figure, they were quoting Homeland Security on that number."

Later in the call, Pinkerton said that his article referenced Finley's -- meaning that Finley's March 2006 article is the source of the misleading information. Although that number is included in the Denver Post's article in association with Pakistani immigrants, it is in reference to "non-Mexican migrants caught entering the United States illegally in fiscal years 2002 to 2005," not the number that entered last year.

In his article, Finley writes that non-Mexican migrants "came mostly from Central America and Brazil. Also among them were: Iranians (95), Iraqis (74), Pakistanis (660), Syrians (52), Yemenis (40), Egyptians (106) and Lebanese (91)." Then Finley goes on to write that the list of countries he has chosen to report on comes from a list of "35 'special-interest' nations the State Department lists as hotbeds for terrorism," and not a true ranking of the largest numbers of illegal nationals across the board.

According to estimates released by the Department of Homeland Security in August, the largest ethnic group of illegal immigrants currently living in the US who are not originally from the Western Hemisphere -- i.e. not from "immediately south of the border" -- are Indians. There are an estimated 270,000 illegal Indian nationals residing in the U.S. as of January 2007, which is an increase of 125 percent over the same estimates in 2000.

The New York Times adds that "Huckabee has made several erroneous or misleading statements at a time when he has been under increasing scrutiny from fellow presidential candidates for a lack of fluency in foreign policy issues."