January 06, 2006
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 1
Over two thousand two hundred US military men and women have sacrificed their lives in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq -- over four hundred more than at the time of our last posting, six months ago. And for what? The neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich. Nothing more.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Calm ‘Em Powell’s top aide for sixteen years, has denounced Cheney, Rumsfeld and the so-called neo-cons: “They are not neo-cons. They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre. And to say that these people are dead, dormant or lying quiescent is not encouraging because there are enough of them left. And it's going to be incumbent on the rest of us, in this country at least, to watch these trends and make sure that their ugly head doesn't rise up and cause more problems in the future…” (SPIEGEL ONLINE. 12-6-05). Brent Scowcroft, Poppy Bush’s National Security Adviser, has also denounced them: “The first Gulf War was a success, Scowcroft said, because the President knew better than to set unachievable goals. ‘I'm not a pacifist,’ he said. ‘I believe in the use of force. But there has to be a good reason for using force. And you have to know when to stop using force.’ Scowcroft does not believe that the promotion of American-style democracy abroad is a sufficiently good reason to use force. ‘I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes," he said. "You encourage democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not how the neo-cons do it.’” (New Yorker, 10-23-05). Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady of the Falklands War, has chastised the Bush regime over the war in Iraq: "I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again...The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return." (Independent/UK, 10-14-05). Zbigniew Brezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, one of the architects of the Afghan guerilla war against the Soviet Union, writes of Bush’s “suicidal statesmanship:” "Sixty years ago, Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental 'Study of History,' that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was 'suicidal statecraft.' Sadly for President George W. Bush's place in history but - much more important - ominously for America's future, it has lately seemed as if that adroit phrase might be applicable to the policies pursued by the United States since the cataclysm of 9/11”. ( International Herald Tribune, 10-13-05). Gen. William Odom, Ronald Reagan’s NSA Director, has termed the war in Iraq “the worst strategic disaster in American history” and called for withdrawal: “The invasion of Iraq may well turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In any event, the longer we stay, the worse it will be. Until that is understood, we will make no progress with our allies or in devising a promising alternative strategy. ‘Staying the course’ may make a good sound bite, but it can be disastrous for strategy. Several of Hitler's generals told him that ‘staying the course’ at Stalingrad in 1942 was a strategic mistake…He refused, lost the Sixth Army entirely, and left his commanders with fewer forces to defend a wider front…the Middle East is not a pottery store. It is the site of major military conflict with several different forces that the United States is galvanizing into an alliance against America. To hang on to an untenable position is the height of irresponsibility. Beware of anyone, including the president, who insists that this is ‘responsible’" or ‘the patriotic thing to do” (Neiman Watchdog, 11-11-05).
US Army Captain Ian Fishback, a West Point graduate, turned to Human Rights Watch, after he had “tried for more than a year to get his commanding officers to pay attention to reports of widespread abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops,” and reported that “the abuses committed by Army enlisted soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which sparked an international furor, ‘were not isolated.’” (USA Today, 9-27-05) U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison released despite government claims that they could damage America's image (AP, 9-28-05). Meanwhile, the Bush regime still refuses to allow the International Red Cross access to some detainees: “The United States said Friday that it would continue to deny the International Committee of the Red Cross access to "a very small, limited number" of prisoners who are held in secret around the world, saying they are terrorists being kept incommunicado for reasons of national security and are not guaranteed any rights under the Geneva Conventions.) (NY Times, 12-10-05)
Lewis Libby, the VICE-_resident’s Chief of Staff has been indicted on five counts (obstruction of justice, perjury, etc.) Rove and perhaps others will also be indicted in the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA covert operative, and the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson. David Safavia, “the top administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget” has resigned and been arrested (WP, 9-2-05). Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) the Senate Majority Leader is under SEC investigation. Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), the House Majority Leader has been indicted on money-laundering and conspiracy charges. The vast right-wing conspiracy’s ace fund-raiser Jack Abramhoff has made a deal with prosecutors: “In a plea agreement with government prosecutors, Abramhoff agreed to tell the FBI about alleged bribes to lawmakers and their aides on issues ranging from Internet gambling to wireless phone service in the House. The full extent of the investigation is not yet known, but Justice Department officials said they intended to make use of the trove of e-mails and other material in Abramoff's possession as part of a probe that is believed to be focusing on as many as 20 members of Congress and aides.” (AP, 1-4-06). Another House Republican has already fallen: “A tearful, trembling Rep. Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) resigned Monday after pleading guilty to receiving $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors and evading more than $1 million in taxes.” (LAT, 11-29-05) In Ohio, Tom Noe, “whose failed rare-coin deal with the state has triggered multiple investigations and rocked Ohio’s Republican leadership,” has been indicted for “illegally funneling $45,400 to President Bush’s re-election campaign.” (Toledo Blade, 10-28-05) Furthermore, “Federal and state authorities are investigating the Bush Pioneers and Rangers, individuals who raised at least $100,000 or $200,000 for President Bush's re-election, for bribery, money laundering, stock manipulation, and extortion.” (Toledo Blade, 12-18-05) “Follow the money,” as Deep Throat said (an FBI agent who upheld his oath to the U.S. Constitution) “follow the money…” And there is more to come…for example, whether or not US Justice Department concerns about violations of the Voting Rights Act during the redistricting of Texas were suppressed for political gain…
Furthermore, whether or not there was criminal negligence or worse involved in the Hurricane Katrina debacle has yet to be investigated by any independent, duly empowered entity. Both the evidence already available in open source publications, and devastating impact are both damning to the Bush regime. Michael Brown, FEMA Director of the Federal Office of Emergency Management, whose prior experience was as an Arabian horse association commissioner, has resigned in disgrace after losing New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and lied under oath, in Congressional hearings, about why Bush omitted New Orleans from a critical letter authoring a federal response (although his testimony remains unchallenged by the Democratic leadership and the US mainstream news media). Thousands of Americans, including hundreds of children, who disappeared during the disaster, are still missing.
The _resident’s approval ratings, even in the cooked corporatist news media polls, have sunk to unprecedented lows, i.e. below 40%.
Cindy Sheehan’s long hot summer “Camp Casey” protest in Crawford exposed them for what they are, and the Hurricane Katrina debacle further exposed them for what they are; soon, hopefully, Patrick Fitzgerald and other career prosecutors will continue to expose them for what they are.
We are witnessing a revolt of the professionals – federal prosecutors, military officers, intelligence officials, career diplomats throughout the U.S. government are reasserting the rule of law – from below. Meanwhile, the political commissars of the would-be One Party State are purging those who have not gulped down the Kool-Aid, one by one…We are all in a race against time…
A few Democratic leaders have acted with courage: notably Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) on withdrawal from Iraq, former President Jimmy Carter on torture, the war and the danger of the religious right, former Vice-President Al Gore on global warming, the news media and the war, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) on the 2004 election and the war, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) on the US Constitution, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on the 2004 election, and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), DNC chairman, on a range of issues, including Bush’s Supreme Court nominees. But many elected officials from the Democratic Party are still sheepish, in denial, or simply playing the role of a faux opposition. Where should we begin the litany of disappointments and embarrassments? With Sen. John Kerry’s political cowardice in conceding the stolen election of 2004, Sen. Russ Feingold’s vote to confirm Roberts, a corporatist thug, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, an odious lapse which detracts from his principled opposition to the war in Iraq and the so-called PATRIOT Act, and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s self-serving, weak and politically MIS-calculating pro-war stance on Iraq.
But there is no alternative--yet.
Certainly not the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Ralph-Nader, who said there was no difference between Bush and Gore in 2000, cavorted with Grover Norquist and accepted “vast right-wing conspiracy” money in 2004.
The US mainstream news media, in particular the cable and network news organizations, have lost all credibility on issues of national security, economic security and environmental security. Numerous examples – from Bob Woodward and Judith Miller to Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon – have verified our claim that they are clearly complicit and compromised – perhaps beyond redemption. If they were not complicit and compromised, if they had provided the context and the continuity that the LNS and other bastions of the Internet-based information rebellion have provided over the past five years, masses of outraged citizens would have already descended on the Capitol and the White House to demand an end to this illegitimate, incompetent and corrupt regime.
Those who prattle on about health care, education and social security, or critique the communications skills of the Democratic Party, are missing the point. We are in a state of national emergency – whether you accept it or not. Let’s put it in simple terms. The elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen. Pre-9/11 negligence and post-9/11 incompetence have snatched defeat from victory in the “war on terrorism.” The budget surplus has been gutted for an unnecessary tax cut and the US government has been plunged deep into debt. The occupation Iraq is worse than immoral and illegal, it is stupid. (Indeed, as LNS foreign correspondent Dunston Woods remarks, it is the kind of stupendous folly that brings about the collapse of regimes and even entire nations.) We have lost five years we could not afford to lose in the struggle against global warming. The Western alliance is fractured. Our prestige in the world is at an all-time low. War crimes, including torture and the use of chemical weapons, have been committed in our name. The U.S. Constitution (in particular the Bill of Rights and the principles of checks and balances, and separation of church and state) has been suspended in all but open declaration at the imperial whim of two men who cannot even lay clear claim to having been duly elected.
Here is an agenda that is relevant to our circumstances:
Restore fair elections (e.g., voting according to international standards, and 100% public financing of campaigns) and a free press (e.g., constraints on media monopolization, and a revived “fairness doctrine”)
Embrace the Kyoto Accords and lead the world on global warming
Mandate a national commitment (industry, government and consumer) to alternate and renewable energy resources
Restore fiscal responsibility, i.e. balance the budget by rolling back Bush tax cuts
Withdraw from Iraq, and concentrate on avenging 9/11 (e.g. capturing or killing Bin Laden, Zawahiri, etc.) and mitigating the risk of future attacks (through an intensive multilateral approach to regional conflicts and WMD proliferation, a significantly reduced dependency on foreign oil and a serious investment in real homeland security)
The Liberation News Service was started as a response to installation of an illegitimate government in 2000, and has continued ever since – in one form or another. Here, today, it wraps up. This posting will stand as a time capsule capturing an extraordinary moment in U.S. history.
Perhaps in a year or two, Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative, and on the verge of ascending to the Presidency because of the imminent impeachment of the _resident and the VICE _resident. Hopefully, in a year or two, we will not be languishing under martial law after another terrorist strike, e.g., an attack on Capitol Hill or the destruction of a U.S. city.
Perhaps those who thirst for WWIII can be thwarted, perhaps not.
The U.S. is at a crossroads. We are in the throes of a political crisis that overshadows both Watergate and Vietnam. Throughout this national emergency, LNS has been a shaman’s drumbeat, and a rain dance. We vowed to keep it going until the U.S. Presidential election of 2004, and we did. In the aftermath, we continued to post periodically, so that we could provide you with some context and continuity concerning the theft of that election, and to prepare for the inevitable impeachment struggle and other Constitutional confrontations to come. We had hoped that this nightmare, for our nation and for the world, would have ended in 2004, but we also feared that they would simply refuse to leave—and, indeed, they have simply refused to leave.
This last posting of the LNS, and the whole of the LNS archive, as I said, will remain posted as a time capsule.
If you come across in the future, you will be able to look back and say “yes, this was written just before the beginning of the restoration of the Republic,” or “yes, this was written just before the death of the Republic.”
The U.S. has to return to the healthiest of its original impulses and its guiding principles -- it is, at its best, a revolutionary, secular, progressive, democratic, free market agent of change in the world.
This renewal of the vision and passion that inspired the Founders may have already started in state houses and city halls all across the countries, as local governments adopt the Kyoto Accords, and challenge the Bush regime both on Iraq and their anti-Constitutional, anti-American actions.
Meanwhile, we will be focusing on the interdependent issues of security, sustainability and spirit on a planetary scale. You can keep in touch with us through www.wordsofpower.net and http://words-of-power.blogspot.com.
When the LNS started, the information rebellion was just get started. But now it is vibrant and expanding. Those with financial, creative, spiritual and intellectual resources should dedicate some significant percent of the rest of their lives to its growth and its security. Listen to Air America. Support the bastions of the Internet-based information rebellion, in particular, www.buzzflash.com, www.truthout.org, and www.mediamatters.org, as well as the heroic investigative and analytic efforts of the bloggers, in particular, www.bradblog.com. Read Mark Crispin Miller’s Fooled Again (ISBN: 0465045790) and buy it for all your friends. Work with www.moveon.org. Stay in touch with Cindy Sheehan (www.gsfp.org) and Michael Moore (www.michaelmoore.com). Support the men and women of the U.S. military at Iraq and Afganistan Veterans of America (www.iava.org/index2.html). Get it on with World Can't Wait (www.worldcantwait.net). Remember, the oath is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Remember, and resist.
Two weeks ago, a former NSA intelligence officer publicly announced that he wants to testify before Congress. His name is Russell Tice. For the past two decades he has worked in the intelligence field both inside and outside government, most recently with the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency. He was fired in May 2005 after he spoke out as a whistleblower. In his letter, Tice wrote, "It is with my oath as a US intelligence officer weighing heavy on my mind that I wish to report to Congress acts that I believe are unlawful and unconstitutional. The freedom of the American people cannot be protected when our constitutional liberties are ignored and our nation has decayed into a
AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.
RUSSELL TICE: Well, the main reason is, you know, I'm involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to…
AMY GOODMAN: Russell Tice, you have worked for the National Security Agency. Can you talk about your response to the revelations that the Times, you know, revealed in -- perhaps late, knowing the story well before the election, yet revealing it a few weeks ago -- the revelation of the wiretapping of American citizens?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, as far as an intelligence officer, especially a SIGINT officer at N.S.A., we're taught from very early on in our careers that you just do not do this. This is probably the number one commandment of the SIGINT Ten Commandments as a SIGINT officer. You will not spy on Americans. It is drilled into our head over and over and over again in security briefings, at least twice a year, where you ultimately have to sign a paper that says you have gotten the briefing. Everyone at N.S.A. who’s a SIGINT officer knows that you do not do this. Ultimately, so do the leaders of N.S.A., and apparently the leaders of N.S.A. have decided that they were just going to go against the tenets of something that’s a gospel to a SIGINT officer…
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of the Justice Department launching an investigation into the leak, who leaked the fact that President Bush was spying on American citizens?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, I think this is an attempt to make sure that no intelligence officer ever considers doing this. What was done to me was basically an attempt to tell other intelligence officers, ‘Hey, if you do something like this, if you do something to tick us off, we're going to take your job from you, we're gonna do some unpleasant things to you.’
So, right now, the atmosphere at N.S.A. and D.I.A., for that matter, is fear. The security services basically rule over the employees with fear, and people are afraid to come forward. People know if they come forward even in the legal means, like coming to Congress with a concern, your career is over. And that's just the best scenario. There’s all sorts of other unfortunate things like, perhaps, if someone gets thrown in jail for either a witch-hunt or something trumping up charges or, you know, this guy who is basically reporting a crime…
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play for you the clip that we ran of President Bush earlier and get your response. This is President Bush on Sunday.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I can say that if somebody from al-Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why. In the meantime, this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I...
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush. Russell Tice, you’re with the National Security Agency, or you were until May 2005. If al-Qaeda's calling, the U.S. government wants to know. Your response?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, that's probably a good thing to know. But that's why we have a FISA court and FISA laws. The FISA court – it’s not very difficult to get something through a FISA court. I kinda liken the FISA court to a monkey with a rubber stamp. The monkey sees a name, the monkey sees a word justification with a block of information. It can't read the block, but it just stamps “affirmed” on the block, and a banana chip rolls out, and then the next paper rolls in front of the monkey. When you have like 20,000 requests and only, I think, four were turned down, you can't look at the FISA court as anything different.
So, you have to ask yourself the question: Why would someone want to go around the FISA court in something like this? I would think the answer could be that this thing is a lot bigger than even the President has been told it is, and that ultimately a vacuum cleaner approach may have been used, in which case you don't get names, and that's ultimately why you wouldn't go to the FISA court. And I think that’s something Congress needs to address. They need to find out exactly how this system was operated and ultimately determine whether this was indeed a very focused effort or whether this was a vacuum cleaner-type scenario.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you support the President, Russell Tice? Did you vote for President Bush?
RUSSELL TICE: I am a Republican. I voted for President Bush both in the last election and the first election where he was up for president. I’ve contributed to his campaign. I get a post -- I mean, a Christmas card from the White House every year, I guess, because of my nominal contributions. But – so, you know, it’s not like, you know -- I think you’re going to find a lot of folks that are in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community are apt to be on the conservative side of the fence. But nonetheless, we're all taught that you don't do something like this… the question has to be asked: What did the President know? What was the President told about this? It's just -- there's just too many variables out there that we don't know yet. And, ultimately, I think Congress needs to find out those answers. If the President was fed a bill of goods in this matter, then that's something that has to be addressed. Or if the President himself knew every aspect of what’s going on, if this was some sort of vacuum cleaner deal, then it is ultimately, I would think, the President himself that needs to be held responsible for what’s going on here.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think should happen to him?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, you know, it’s certainly not up to me, but I've heard all of the talk about impeachment and that sort of thing. You know, I saw our last president get impeached for what personally I thought should have been something between his wife and his family, and the big guy upstairs. It’s not up to me, but if the President knew, if this was a vacuum cleaner job and the President knew exactly what was going on -- and ultimately what we're hearing now is nothing but a cover-up and a whitewash -- and we find that to be the case, then I think it should cause some dire consequences for even the President of the United States, if he indeed did know exactly what was going on and if it was a very large-scale, you know, suck-up-everything kind of operation…
AMY GOODMAN: And your colleagues at the N.S.A. right now, their feelings, the National Security Agency?
RUSSELL TICE: Boy, I think most folks at N.S.A. right now are just running scared. They have the security office hanging over their head, which has always been a bunch of vicious folks, and now they've got, you know, this potential witch hunt going on with the Attorney General. People in the intelligence community are afraid. They know that you can't come forward. You have no protections as a whistleblower. These things need to be addressed.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean you have no protection?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, like I said before, as a whistleblower, you're not protected by the whistleblower laws that are out there. The intelligence community is exempt from the whistleblower protection laws.
AMY GOODMAN: So why are you doing it?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, ultimately, I don't have to be afraid of losing my job, because I have already lost my job, so that's one reason. The other reason is because I made an oath when I became an intelligence officer that I would protect the United States Constitution, not a president, not some classification, you know, for whatever, that ultimately I'm responsible to protect the Constitution of the United States. And I think that’s the same oath the President takes, for the most part. So, something like -- imagine if something -- if we were like, I don't know, taking Americans and assassinating them for suspicions of suspicions of terrorism, and then we just put some classification on it and said, ‘Well, this is super top secret, so no one can say anything about that.’ Well, at what point do you draw the line and say enough is enough. We have to say something here.
Amy Goodman Interviews Russell Tice, National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a “Police State,” 1-3-06
Recently, President Bush has admitted to carrying out surveillance on U.S. citizens in the interest of national security. He unabashedly admits to doing it. He offers no apologies. With his bellicose swagger, he once again uses 9/11 as his justification for breaking our constitutional laws. The President's justification of 9/11 to carry out such surveillance begs a closer examination. President Bush should be stopped in his tracks with regard to his use of 9/11 scare tactics to circumvent constitutional laws that are meant to protect U.S. citizens. His justification for doing so -- the inability to conduct surveillance on the 9/11 hijackers -- is a red herring. History will bear out the truth -- our intelligence agencies held a treasure trove of intelligence on the 9/11 hijackers, intelligence that was gathered through their initially unencumbered surveillance. President Bush should busy himself by investigating why that information was then stymied and not capitalized upon to stop the 9/11 attacks…
Respectfully, President Bush, before you fecklessly dissolve our constitutional rights in the name of national security and invoke the failures of 9/11, the following questions should be answered:
1. Who ordered the alleged Able Danger special operation to be shut down in May 01? What were the reasons? The individuals involved in the operation have testified that it was not shut down for reasons of posse comitatus. What reasoning was responsible for shutting down a successful surveillance operation on terrorist cells planning terrorist activities within the United States a mere 5 months before 9/11?
2. Was any information gleaned in the alleged Able Danger operation used as the basis for the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that mentioned "patterns of suspicious activities" by sleeper cells within the United States that indicated possible hijackings?
3. Why did the State Department order its agents to "not detain" al Mihdhar on September 5, 2001? Who is responsible for issuing that order?
4. Regarding the State Department entry on September 5, 2001, what FBI investigation was al Mihdhar thought to be a witness in?
5. At what time did the U.S. government have in its possession actionable intelligence regarding the identity of the terrorists who carried out the USS Cole bombing? Was that information gleaned from any alleged Able Danger analysts? When was it shared with the CIA? Was that the information used to justify the alleged "taking out of the cells" in the Able Danger operation between January 01 and May 01? If so, why did certain governmental officials in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations lie to the 9/11 Commission in stating that they did not have in their possession conclusive evidence linking al Qaeda to the bombing of the USS Cole until after the 9/11 attacks?
6. What is the interpretation of "taking out of cells"? Is it merely apprehension and detention or more severely elimination of the cells?
7. What countries were linked to the targets identified in the alleged Able Danger program? Was Iraq one of those countries?
8. Why was the Able Danger chart allegedly destroyed immediately after 9/11 (and prior to your decision to attack Iraq)? Who is responsible for the alleged destruction of this chart and other vital documents relating to this successful, cutting edge program? Who were the Congressional officials and Executive Branch officials present in this meeting? Are any of the targets allegedly contained on the Able Danger chart still within this country and planning or participating in terrorist acts?
9. In March 2001, an internal debate ignited at the Justice Department and the FBI over wiretap surveillance of certain terrorist groups. Prompted by questions from Royce C. Lamberth, the Chief Judge of the FISA court, the Justice Department opened an inquiry into Michael Resnick, an FBI official who coordinated the FISA acts applications. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller (then deputy Attorney General) ordered a full review of all foreign surveillance authorizations.
Justice Department and FBI officials have since acknowledged the existence of this internal investigation, and said that the inquiry forced officials to examine their monitoring of several suspected terrorist groups--including al Qaeda. And while senior FBI and Justice Department officials contend that the internal investigation did not affect their ability to monitor al Qaeda, other officials have acknowledged that the inquiry might have hampered electronic surveillance of terror groups pre-9/11.
Where is the final report of this inquiry? And, what effect did this investigation have on our nation's ability to carry out surveillance on al Qaeda prior to 9/11? Perhaps, receiving such answers would eliminate your current need to circumvent constitutional law?
Kristen Breitweiser found herself widowed at age thirty when her husband Ron died at Tower Two of the World Trade Center on September 11. Along with four other widows (nicknamed the "Jersey Girls"), Breitweiser fought tirelessly for the 9/11 Commission, in spite of initial opposition from President Bush, whom she voted for in 2000.
Kristen Breitweiser, The King's Red Herring, Huffington Post, 12-20-05
Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous President. It has become apparent that this Administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our Country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.
We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the Administration's flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this Administration as "domestic terrorists."
We now know that the F.B.I.'s use of National Security Letters on American citizens has increased one hundred fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order. Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA’s practice of rendition, and the so-called "black sites," secret locations in foreign countries, where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses. We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. Thank God his pleas have been rejected by this Congress. Now comes the stomach-churning revelation through an executive order, that President Bush has circumvented both the Congress and the courts. He has usurped the Third Branch of government -- the branch charged with protecting the civil liberties of our people -- by directing the National Security Agency to intercept and eavesdrop on the phone conversations and e-mails of American citizens without a warrant, which is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. He has stiff-armed the People's Branch of government. He has rationalized the use of domestic, civilian surveillance with a flimsy claim that he has such authority because we are at war. The executive order, which has been acknowledged by the President, is an end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it unlawful for any official to monitor the communications of an individual on American soil without the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. What is the President thinking? Congress has provided for the very situations which the President is blatantly exploiting…I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the Administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the Legislative and Judicial Branches. The President has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizures guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution. We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and Constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the President speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of Liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled. These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government…These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible Administration under the banner of "national security" are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of "executive privilege" in order to avoid further embarrassment. The practice of domestic spying on citizens should halt immediately. Oversight hearings need to be conducted. Judicial action may be in order. We need to finally be given answers to our questions: where is the constitutional and statutory authority for spying on American citizens, what is the content of these classified legal opinions asserting there is a legality in this criminal usurpation of rights, who is responsible for this dangerous and unconstitutional policy, and how many American citizens' lives have been unknowingly affected?
Senator Byrd: No President is Above the Law, www.byrd2006.com, 12-19-05
CONYERS RELEASES REPORT ON MISCONDUCT OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION CONCERNING IRAQ WAR
Calls for Censure of President Bush and Vice President Cheney
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the following statement regarding today's release of a staff report entitled "The Constitution in Crisis: The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retributions and Cover-ups in the Iraq War." The Report is my best effort to examine all of the charges of misconduct by the Bush Administration concerning the Iraq War.
Conyers Report: http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/iraqrept.html
"In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration. There is at least a prima facie case that these actions that federal laws have been violated - from false statements to Congress to retaliating against Administration critics. In response to the Report, I have already taken several initial steps. First, I have introduced a resolution (H. Res. 635) creating a Select Committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war and report on possible impeachable offenses. In addition, I have introduced Resolutions regarding both President Bush (H. Res. 636) and Vice-President Cheney (H. Res. 637) proposing that they be censured by Congress based on indisputable evidence of unaccounted for misstatements and abuse of power in the public record. There are a number of additional recommendations in the Report that I expect to be taking up in the coming weeks and months.
The Report rejects the frequent contention by the Bush Administration that there pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they have been exonerated. No entity has ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision to go to War, and the Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review of pre-war intelligence information, while the Silberman-Robb report specifically cautioned, that intelligence manipulation "was not part of our inquiry." There has also not been any independent inquiry concerning torture and other legal violations in Iraq; nor has there been an independent review of the pattern of cover-ups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald."
Conyers Releases Report on Misconduct of Bush Administration Concerning Iraq War; Calls for Censure of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, www.buzzflash.com, 12-5-05
Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act…GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. “I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”
And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of the United States is little more than toilet paper stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad despots have dumped on the freedoms that “goddamned piece of paper” used to guarantee.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the “Constitution is an outdated document.”
Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or personal beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn’t matter if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite our differences, the Constitution has stood for two centuries as the defining document of our government, the final source to determine – in the end – if something is legal or right.
Every federal official – including the President – who takes an oath of office swears to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper,' 12-09-05
The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps, seeing the institution they lead as "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth", to use the biting words of their spokesman, John Murtha, as he reiterated on December his denunciation of Bush's destruction of the Army.
A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility." It's true. Even in the US Senate there's no one with quite Murtha's standing to deliver the message, except maybe for Byrd, but the venerable senator from West Virginia was a vehement opponent of the war from the outset , whereas Murtha voted for it and only recently has turned around.
So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly, stinging the White House into panic-stricken and foolish denunciations of Murtha as a clone of Michael Moore.
It cannot have taken vice president Cheney, a former US Defense Secretary, more than a moment to scan Murtha's speech and realize the import of Murtha's speech as an announcement that the generals have had enough.
Listen once more to what the generals want the country to know:
"The future of our military is at risk. Our military and our families are stretched thin. Many say the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on a third deployment. Recruitment is down even as the military has lowered its standards. They expect to take 20 percent category 4, which is the lowest category, which they said they'd never take. They have been forced to do that to try to meet a reduced quota.
"Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We cannot allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared.
"The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls in our bases at home. I've been to three bases in the United States, and each one of them were short of things they need to train the people going to Iraq.
"Much of our ground equipment is worn out.
"Most importantly -- this is the most important point -- incidents have increased from 150 a week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over a time when we had additional more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revolution at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled."
What happened on the heels of this speech is very instructive. The Democrats fell over themselves distancing themselves from Murtha, emboldening the White House to go one the attack.
From Bush's presidential plane, touring Asia, came the derisive comment that Murtha was of "endorsing the policies of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."
It took the traveling White House about 48 hours to realize that this was a dumb thing to have said. Murtha's not the kind of guy you can slime, the way Bush and Co did the glass-jawed Kerry in 2004. The much decorated vet Murtha snapped back publicly that he hadn't much time for smears from people like Cheney who'd got five deferments from military service in Vietnam.
By the weekend Bush was speaking of Murtha respectfully…
Ten days after Murtha's speech commentators on the TV Sunday talk shows were clambering aboard the Bring ‘em home bandwagon. Voices calling for America to “stay the course" in Iraq were few and far between. On December 1 Murtha returned to the attack in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, telling a civic group there that he was wrong to have voted for the war and that most U.S. troops will leave Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth.”
The stench of panic in Washington that hangs like a winter fog over Capitol Hill intensified. The panic stems from the core concern of every politician in the nation's capital: survival. The people sweating are Republicans and the source of their terror is the deadly message spelled out in every current poll: Bush's war on Iraq spells disaster for the Republican Party in next year's midterm elections…
Amid this potential debacle, the Republicans' only source of comfort is the truly incredible conduct of the Democrats. First came the Democrats' terrified reaction to Murtha, symbolized by Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi's cancellation of a press conference supporting Murtha…
Alexander Cockburn, Revolt of The Generals, www.counterpunch.com, 12-3-05
These haven't been a good couple of months for President Bush.
His approval ratings have plummeted so far that even staunch members of his own party are admitting they disagree with him on several key issues and some are now openly challenging some of his policies…But Bush's personal political problems are nothing compared to the problems that now face our country, problems brought on by a reckless administration that seems to have little regard for the country's future.
In a word, it's scandalous.
A front page of USA Today last week showed it all in graphic detail. If we continue on the same track we are today, our annual $319 billion deficit will be more than $4 trillion in 2050, when our grandkids are nearing retirement.
"We face a demographic tsunami," insists David Walker, the U.S. comptroller general. He compares the United States to Rome before the fall of the empire. The country faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings and its leadership, he told USA Today.
And he's far from alone. Both conservative and liberal economic experts are starting to sound the alarm. We can't keep spending on everything from an incredibly expensive war to a Medicare drug program that mainly benefits insurance companies and cut taxes by hundreds of billions at the same time…
There's going to come a time - perhaps earlier than we realize - that foreign lenders are going to stop funding that deficit we keep growing.
Dave Zweifel, The cost of Bush will be huge, lasting, Capitol Times (Madison, WI), 11-25-05
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 2
One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.
The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.
The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.
Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.
So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.
In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.
His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.
His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.
On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.
A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.
How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?
T. Christian Miller, A Journey That Ended in Anguish, L.A. Times, 11-27-05
A lawmaker said Friday he had filed a parliamentary motion urging Prime Minister Tony Blair to publish a leaked document that allegedly suggests President Bush wanted to bomb the headquarters of Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warned editors they could face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for disclosing the contents of a document that has been described as a transcript of discussions between Bush and Blair.
Labour Party backbencher Peter Kilfoyle filed a motion calling for publication of the document, which was leaked to the Daily Mirror newspaper. Civil servant David Keogh and Leo O'Connor, who formerly worked for a British lawmaker, have been charged with violating the Official Secrets Act.
"I would hope we can have a fair and full discussion of the very important issues that were discussed at that meeting," Kilfoyle, a former defense minister, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"The information is out there in the public domain and it seems ludicrous that the media can't discuss it in its entirety," he added.
Kilfoyle's motion has little chance of success.
The Daily Mirror this week claimed that the document was a transcript of a meeting in April 2004 between Bush and Blair in which Bush spoke of attacking Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The newspaper, which cited unidentified sources, said Blair argued against an attack.
Lawmaker Urges Release of Bombing Document, 11-25-06
The US Justice Department's probe of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is broader than previously thought, examining his dealings with four lawmakers, former and current congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions are looking into Abramoff's dealings with four Republicans - former House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, Rep. John Doolittle of California and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, the paper said, citing several people close to the investigation.
Abramoff is under investigation over his lobbying efforts for Indian tribes with casinos. He has also pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Florida that he defrauded lenders in a casino cruise line deal.
The prosecutors are also investigating at least 17 current and former congressional aides, about half of whom later took lobbying jobs with Abramoff, as well as an official from the Interior Department and another from the government's procurement office, the Journal said…Michael Scanlon, a former aide to DeLay and partner to powerful Republican lobbyist Abramoff, pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Monday under a deal in which he is cooperating with prosecutors probing the alleged influence-buying. Scanlon left DeLay's office and become a partner to Abramoff, who has been indicted for fraud in a separate case in Florida. The plea agreement has been seen as a major advance in prosecutors' efforts to investigate the lobbyist.
Abramhoff Probe Spreads to White House, 4 Lawmakers, Reuters, 11-25-05
John Murtha's courageous call for American troops to leave Iraq is the right policy at the right time. The Bush chickenhawks already are impugning Murtha's patriotism, but when you have a purple heart and a silver star compared to a President with a spotty attendance record with the National Guard and a Vice President with five deferments, that dog don't hunt…
To defeat the insurgency, we will need at least 400,000 troops on the ground. At the present time, the United States does not have sufficient troop strength to ramp up to that level. Our choice is simple--either we come up with the additional forces and commit ourselves to an effort that will stretch on for at least five years with 400,000 plus soldiers and marines in theatre or we withdraw…
Our best alternative is to withdraw from Iraq and establish covert relations with the secular insurgents. Over the long run our interest as a nation is to prevent the religious jihadists from consolidating their control over Iraq and forging a closer relationship with Iran. The question is not, will there be a civil war? A civil war is already underway. Rather, the proper question is what can we do as a nation to protect our longterm interests?
We have two key long term strategic interests. First, we want to promote a secular society. The current Iraqi constiturion enshrines the Quran as the law of the land and encourages sectarian strife. Second, we must enlist the support of Russia, China, Europe, and the Muslim nations in rooting out and destroying the jihadists. Most of that effort can be handled with intelligence and law enforcement work rather than military operations. The Beatles had it right--we can get by with some help from our friends.
Given these facts, John Murtha is right. We must withdraw, sooner rather than later, from Iraq. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in a quagmire reminiscent of Vietnam. Only this time, the jihadists who are carrying out urban combat operations will be equipped and trained through their experience to carry out future attacks against our interests around the world. John Murtha and Chuck Hagel are patriots who understand this dilemma. We have lit a fuze on the next generation of jihadist terrorism. We must douse the fuse with water, and put it out sooner rather than later.
Larry C. Johnson, Why John Murtha is Right!, 11-18-05
Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIA director, accused US Vice President Dick Cheney of overseeing policies of torturing terrorist suspects and damaging the nation's reputation, in a television interview.
"We have crossed the line into dangerous territory," Turner, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1970s, said on ITV news.
"I am embarrassed that the USA has a vice president for torture. I think it is just reprehensible. He (Mr Cheney) advocates torture, what else is it? I just don't understand how a man in that position can take such a stance."
Former CIA director accuses Cheney of overseeing torture, Agence France Press, 11-17-05
Statement of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): Sen. Reid just took the senate into closed session to discuss the body's failure to pursue 'phase two' of the senate intel investigation into the Iraq WMD intel failure.
Below the fold are his remarks, as prepared for delivery, before taking the senate into closed session.
"This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President's Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years.
"This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.
"The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm's way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress.
"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.
"As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration's mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.
"And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.
"Let's take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.
"The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.
"There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.
"The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam's nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq "has reconstituted its nuclear weapons." Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.
"Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam's nuclear capabilities were false.
"The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam's links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, "We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization."
"The Administration's assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government's top experts did not agree with these claims.
"What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration's manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.
"Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.
"Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.
"There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.
"For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam's WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration's claims of Saddam's nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.
"Given this Administration's pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.
"This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone - the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm's way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.
"The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration's Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.
"They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:
How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration's assertions?
Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?
"Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than one and a half years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.
"At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.
"We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee's annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests."
Senator Harry Reid's Statement, www.truthout.org, 11-1-05
As we meet this evening another category 5 hurricane is making its way, perhaps, from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico. It's not a mystery any longer why there has been a significant increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes. They're fed by warmer water. The oceans are warming because the gaseous pollution of industrial civilization has changed the relationship between the earth and the sun. We're trapping more of the outgoing infrared radiation that would otherwise naturally escape from the earth and keep our relationship to the rest of the universe in balance…Fifty-five years ago, a little less, another kind of storm was brewing on the continent of Europe. Winston Churchill, in England, warned his countrymen that this storm was different from anything they had ever experienced before. The marriage of the industrial revolution, electronic mass communication, and totalitarian politics created a concentrated destructive force that was new and much more powerful than anything politics had ever encountered.
And he said the time for vacillation, for dithering, for indecision is now over. We are entering a period of consequences. Hurricane Katrina convinced many Americans that we have now entered a period of consequences. The images of Americans starving, in extremis, abandoned, helpless, fearful, nowhere to go, no salvation in sight, labeled as refugees in one of our great cities was a startling realization that we have entered a period of consequences.
More than 200 American cities set all time records for high temperatures this year. One of them was New Orleans. And the waters around New Orleans also set an all time record. When Katrina hit the southern tip of Florida it was a category 1 hurricane, but then it crossed over the Gulf, and the extraordinarily warm waters of the Gulf, warmed beyond the boundaries of previous human experience, fed the energy of that hurricane and it grew to a category 5. And it collected much more water than hurricanes have in the past and it drowned one of our greatest and most elegant cities.
There were warnings, but they went unheeded. The chief meteorologist in Louisiana working for the Federal government was beside himself trying to get attention for the clear scientific consequences of what he saw developing. We will see conditions, he said, that are unprecedented in modern times.
They predicted exactly which sections of this great city would be drowned when the levees broke. But the warnings, as I said, went unheeded and a lot of people died unnecessarily and America was shamed before the world. When our founders wrote about the new message of this great revolutionary departure in human history they said that we should humbly always maintain a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, by which they meant humankind. We've been shamed before the opinions of humankind.
I was in China last week as I mentioned and a student at Ching Wah University asked a question through the interpreter. "We've always respected the United States," she said "but after the recent hurricane we saw degradation that puzzled us. How could this happen to Americans?" she asked.
Four years ago, in August, during another time that is often described as the dog days, there was a warning that, and I quote, that "Osama Bin Laden is determined to strike in the United States of America." And that warning was not heeded either. If it had been, if a meeting had been called, and if the head of the FBI and the CIA had been asked to collect the available intelligence from their field offices they would have found the full names of 80 percent of the hijackers who later flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. They would have found the plot, they would have found the training on how to fly planes received by people who were not curious about how to land the planes, they would have found enough evidence to prevent that tragedy.
But my purpose in drawing a comparison between the warnings unheeded in New Orleans and the warnings unheeded prior to 9/11 is to point toward other warnings that are right now being given to us and that are also being unheeded.
The scientists who follow the rule of reason and respect the principle of the best evidence, now tell us that we are creating an imbalance in the relationship between civilization and the earth and that the most prominent manifestation of this dysfunction is global warming. Perhaps a term that could have been better when it was first formed but there it is. What it really means is that we are destroying the ecological balance that has existed since just prior to the beginning of human civilization…
We are now enthralled with illusions, shadows and light. Plato wrote that his representative people in the cave who saw the shadows thought that was all there was.
But then they learned that there was a source of reality greater than that. T.S. Eliot wrote that between the thought and the deed falls the shadow. We are enthralled by shadows and light: on televisions and movies and advertising and culture. We must disenthrall ourselves, realize the reality of our situation and save our country. I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic. And I want to close by saying that I truly believe that we, even we here, have everything we need to change our present course, to reestablish balance, to provide an avenue for the emergence of a way of life that enables us to find that transcendence. We have everything we need, save perhaps one element, and that is political will. But in America, political will is a renewable resource.
Gore Says It Is Not Too Late to Combat Climate Change, Harvard Medical School, 10-27-05
The first suggestion that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium to construct a nuclear weapon came on Oct. 15, 2001, shortly after 9/11, when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his newly appointed chief of the Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare (SISMI), Nicolo Pollari, made an official visit to Washington. Berlusconi was eager to make a good impression and signaled his willingness to support the American effort to implicate Saddam Hussein in 9/11. Pollari, in his position for less than three weeks, was likewise keen to establish himself with his American counterparts and was under pressure from Berlusconi to present the U.S. with information that would be vital to the rapidly accelerating War on Terror. Well aware of the Bush administration’s obsession with Iraq, Pollari used his meeting with top CIA officials to provide a SISMI dossier indicating that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Niger. The same intelligence was passed simultaneously to Britain’s MI-6.
But the Italian information was inconclusive and old, some of it dating from the 1980s. The British, the CIA, and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research analyzed the intelligence and declared that it was “lacking in detail” and “very limited” in scope.
In February 2002, Pollari and Berlusconi resubmitted their report to Washington with some embellishments, resulting in Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger. Wilson visited Niamey in February 2002 and subsequently reported to the CIA that the information could not be confirmed.
Enter Michael Ledeen, the Office of Special Plans’ man in Rome. Ledeen was paid $30,000 by the Italian Ministry of the Interior in 1978 for a report on terrorism and was well known to senior SISMI officials. Italian sources indicate that Pollari was eager to engage with the Pentagon hardliners, knowing they were at odds with the CIA and the State Department officials who had slighted him. He turned to Ledeen, who quickly established himself as the liaison between SISMI and Feith’s OSP, where he was a consultant. Ledeen, who had personal access to the National Security Council’s Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley and was also a confidant of Vice President Cheney, was well placed to circumvent the obstruction coming from the CIA and State…
On Sept. 9, 2002, Ledeen set up a secret meeting between Pollari and Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley. Two weeks before the meeting, a group of documents had been offered to journalist Elisabetta Burba of the Italian magazine Panorama for $10,000, but the demand for money was soon dropped and the papers were handed over…Panorama, perhaps not coincidentally, is owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi. On Oct. 9, the documents were taken from the magazine to the U.S. Embassy, where they were apparently expected. Instead of going to the CIA Station, which would have been the normal procedure, they were sent straight to Washington where they bypassed the agency’s analysts and went directly to the NSC and the Vice President’s Office.…The possible forgery of the information by Defense Department employees would explain the viciousness of the attack on Valerie Plame and her husband. Wilson, when he denounced the forgeries in the New York Times in July 2003, turned an issue in which there was little public interest into something much bigger. The investigation continues, but the campaign against this lone detractor suggests that the administration was concerned about something far weightier than his critical op-ed.
Philip Giraldi, Forging the Case for War: Who was behind the Niger uranium documents?, The American Conservative, 11-21-05
A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe, the former Toledo-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal, of illegally laundering money into President Bush's re-election campaign.
The three-count indictment states that beginning in October 2003, Mr. Noe contributed to President Bush's election campaign "over and above the limits established by the Federal Election Campaign Act."
"He did so, according to the indictment, in order to fulfill his pledge to raise $50,000 for a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser held in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 30, 2003," Gregory White, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced at an afternoon news conference.
The two other counts were for conspiracy and filing false statements…
"It's one of the most blatant and excessive finance schemes we have encountered," said Noel Hillman, section chief of the U.S. Department of Justice's public integrity section…
The indictment only adds to troubles for the former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, who is already under several state investigations related to a $50 million rare coin investment the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation made with him.
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has accused Mr. Noe of stealing millions from the investment. The scandal has spelled trouble for Gov. Bob Taft and his administration. In August, the governor was convicted of four misdemeanors for accepting golf outings and other gifts and not reporting them..
Christopher D. Kirkpatrick, Noe Indicted for Laundering Money to Bush Campaign, The Toledo Blade, 10-27-05,
Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed…
Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable - a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June, Bush announced his "new" pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that "military action was now seen as inevitable" and that "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that "Brutus is an honorable man," Bush insisted he wanted peace.
Americans may have been unaware of this deceit then, but they have since learned the truth. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52% of Americans now believe the President deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war. In an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org and completed October 9, 50% said that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war Congress should consider impeaching him. The President's deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.
So what do citizens do? First, they must insist that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence complete Phase II of its investigation, which was to be an analysis of whether the administration manipulated or misrepresented prewar intelligence. The focus of Phase II was to determine whether the administration misrepresented the information it received about Iraq from intelligence agencies. Second, we need to convince Congress to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the administration's deceptions about the war, using the same mechanism that led to the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the outing of Valerie Plame. (As it happens, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and others have recently written to Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert McCallum Jr. pointing out that the Plame leak is just the "tip of the iceberg" and asking that Fitzgerald's authority be expanded to include an investigation into whether the White House conspired to mislead the country into war.)
Third, we can no longer shrink from the prospect of impeachment. Impeachment would require, as John Bonifaz, constitutional attorney, author of Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, has explained, that the House pass a "resolution of inquiry or impeachment calling on the Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into whether grounds exist for the House to exercise its constitutional power to impeach George W. Bush." If the committee found such grounds, it would draft articles of impeachment and submit them to the full House for a vote. If those articles passed, the President would be tried by the Senate. Resolutions of inquiry, such as already have been introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich demanding that the Administration produce key information about its decision-making, could also lead to impeachment.
These three actions can be called for simultaneously. Obviously we face a GOP-dominated House and Senate, but the same outrage that led the public to demand action against corporate law-breakers should be harnessed behind an outcry against government law-breakers. As we now know, it was not a failure of intelligence that led us to war. It was a deliberate distortion of intelligence by the Bush Administration. But it is a failure of courage on the part of Congress (with notable exceptions) and the mainstream media that seems to have left us helpless to address this crime. Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, I offer the following legal analysis to encourage people to press their representatives to act…
From the fall of 2001 to at least March 2003, the following officials, and others, made hundreds of false assertions in speeches, on television, at the United Nations, to foreign leaders and to Congress: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Under Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Their statements were remarkably consistent and consistently false…
The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress's lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind - if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war - we must hold them accountable. It's not a question of politics. It's a question of law.
Elizabeth de la Vega, The White House Criminal Conspiracy, Tom Dispatch, 10-30--5
The Grand Jury supervised by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has returned an indictment charging Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide and reputed "alter-ego" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby with perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements to the grand jury. But this indictment does not end the story; rather, a close reading suggests that these charges are most likely merely a chapter in a long and tragic story. Here, from a former federal prosecutor, are thoughts about four things we should expect, four things we shouldn't, and one question we should all be asking.
We should not expect a final resolution any time soon. Complex cases usually take years to proceed through the courts. In addition, the indictment released today describes a chronology of close to two years and a complicated set of facts. Obviously, Fitzgerald is taking a "big picture" approach to this case. This mirrors his approach to previous cases. In December 2003, for example, Fitzgerald announced the indictment of former Illinois Governor George Ryan on corruption charges in Operation Safe Road, which began in 1998. In that year, the investigation of a fatal accident revealed that truckers were purchasing commercial licenses from state officials. Indictments were announced in stages, culminating in the indictment of Ryan, who was the 66th defendant in the case...
We should not expect to hear much more from Fitzgerald. The Special Counsel has been widely admired, and sometimes criticized, for his "tight-lipped" approach and "leak-free" grand jury investigation. But that, folks, is how it's supposed to be. Federal prosecutors are required to maintain grand jury secrecy. If they don't do that, they not only jeopardize their investigations, they could lose their jobs and/or be charged with a crime. The public has come to expect leaks from grand jury investigations because Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was not a federal prosecutor, ignored secrecy rules during the investigation of President Clinton (and got away with it)…
We should not expect a smoking gun.Even when there actually is a gun, there's hardly ever a smoking gun. In the case against Libby, as in most white-collar crime cases, the evidence is likely to consist mainly of documents, thousands of them. And considering that the weapon employed in this crime appears to be a telephone, the closest thing to a smoking gun may well be telephone records.
We should not expect the President to take steps to "get to the bottom of this." He professed that desire in October 2003, but belied it in the next breath, saying he "had no idea who the leaker was and didn't know if we'd ever find out. "There's a lot of senior officials [out there]," he commented. "You tell me," he asked a group of reporters, "how many sources have you had that's leaked information, that you've exposed, or had been exposed? Probably none." Of course, assuming Bush didn't already know who the leakers were, all he had to do was make darned sure his aides told him….
We should expect red herrings from the defense (even if not smoking guns from the prosecution). Fox hunters once tossed smoked red herrings out to test whether their dogs could stay on the right trail…
We should expect more attacks on Joseph Wilson, even though they represent a very large red herring (more the size of a mackerel) These will be meant only for the court of public opinion…
We should expect another red herring, one that should have been thrown back in the river long ago: that perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements charges are not "substantive," and so somehow less serious. "Substantive" is a legal term, referring to a crime that can be proved without reference to the elements of another crime. For example, bank robbery is a "substantive crime" and conspiracy to commit bank robbery is not. (But they're both crimes.) Perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements may arise out of the investigation of other crimes, but they stand on their own. So they too are "substantive" crimes. More to the point, as Patrick Fitzgerald eloquently explained in his press conference, lying in an investigation is extraordinarily serious, because it undermines the integrity of the process…
We should expect attempts by pundits to derive "meaning" from the absence of charges under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act. Reasons for the absence of such charges can range from insufficient evidence to concerns about the Classified Information Procedures Act, which governs the use of classified information in a criminal case. No one other than Fitzgerald, his staff, and the grand jury knows why certain charges were not brought and they will never be able to explain their decisions.
We should expect a campaign to demonize Fitzgerald through claims that he is overzealous and has exceeded his authority. Such attacks are legally irrelevant, but more important, they're wrong…
We should also expect pundits to argue that this prosecution is political. That is the most despicable of red herrings considering that Fitzgerald has been a career prosecutor forbidden by the Hatch Act to participate in politics for twenty years, is registered without political affiliation, and was appointed by a Republican. Also, the resulting indictments were returned by grand jurors who heard evidence for two years, after which a majority, at least 12 out of 23, decided that there was probable cause to believe -- in other words, it was "more likely than not" -- that the defendant had committed all the elements of the crimes charged…
But should we expect, given the Republicans' attempts to belittle and politicize the case thus far, that President Bush will pardon his senior administration official if Libby is convicted on these serious charges? The 1992 Christmas Eve pardons of Iran/contra defendants by former President George Bush Sr. provide cause for concern. Let us hope that the current President Bush will not undermine the rule of law in this way.
Elizabeth de la Vega, Smoking Guns and Red HerringsWhat Should We Expect Now that Fitzgerald Has Announced the Indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby?, Mother Jones, 10-28-05
Bush has so thoroughly destroyed the Republican establishment that no one, not even his dad, can rescue him now.
There is no one left to rescue the Republican Party from George W. Bush. He is home alone. The Republican-establishment wise men whose words were once quiet commands are shouting unheeded warnings. The Republican leaders of Congress are distracted and obsessed with their own crises of corruption…The storm enveloping President Bush is a consequence of his adoption of the vicious smear tactics of the Nixon political operation, learned there by Karl Rove, who was called as a witness to testify about them before the Watergate inquiry, and of Bush's elevation to power of the neoconservatives removed by Reagan and excluded from office by Bush's father. Bush is haunted by the history he insisted on defying.
The elements of the Republican establishment that Bush brought into his first administration as a sort of symbolic tribute were gone by his second. By their nature, these people are discreet, measured and private. It is not their impulse to voice disagreement in public. Their sweeping and emotional jeremiads against what Bush has wrought are extraordinary not only in their substance but in having been made at all. Those expressing their disquiet about Bush are more than simply losers in bureaucratic struggles for primacy of place. Once representative of the heart and soul of the Grand Old Party, they are historical castaways. They stand for another Republican Party that has been supplanted by Bush's version…
Brent Scowcroft, perhaps more than anyone else, personifies the realist, bipartisan Republican tradition of internationalism. He is also the former national security advisor to the elder Bush and among his closest friends. President Bush dismissed him early this year from the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, having ignored his advice through the first term. Scowcroft's candid views appear in an article in the current issue of the New Yorker, in which he details his rejection by Bush at length. "I don't want to go there," Scowcroft replied when asked about the difference between the father and son. He said dismissively of the Iraq policies of a leading neoconservative, former Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, "He's got a utopia out there." On Cheney, Scowcroft sounded perplexed: "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney. I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." But Scowcroft the foreign policy mandarin may not have been exposed to the partisan Cheney when he served as secretary of defense in the administration of Bush Sr…
Bush's highhanded treatment of the few Republican moderates of his first term all but eviscerated what was left of the establishment that once controlled the party. The story of the old party's fall from grace and Bush's part in it is a well-known bildungsroman, a family saga that begins with the father…
The Republican Party after Bush, minus its traditional establishment, threatens to become the party of its irreducible base, the party of the old Confederacy and the sparsely populated Rocky Mountain states. But this base, however loyal and obsequious to Bush, regardless of any crisis, does not offer statesmen to step in to handle his shaken White House.
A sharp reversal of policy and turnover in personnel are the only actions that may enable Bush to salvage the shipwreck of his presidency, as they did for Reagan. But bringing in the elders, even if they could be summoned, would be psychologically devastating to Bush, a humiliating admission that his long history of recklessness and failure, from the Texas Air National Guard to Harken Energy, with rescue only through the intervention of his father and his father's friends, has reached its culmination.
Sidney Blumenthal, Shipwrecked, Salon.com, 10-27-05
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 3
Due to security design issues and contractual non-performance, Leon County supervisor of elections Ion Sancho told Black Box Voting that he will never use Diebold in an election again. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. He will issue a formal announcement to this effect shortly. Finnish security expert Harri Hursti proved that Diebold lied to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the memory card. (BBV: Leon County, FL to Dump Diebold After Undetectable Hack Reverses Test Election!, www.bradblog.com, 12-14-05)
Diebold voting machines will soon be history in Volusia County. After a nearly five-hour hearing today, County Council members voted to replace its Diebold machines with an entirely new system manufactured by Election Systems & Software. The move, which will cost more than $2.5 million just for the equipment, was prompted by a federal mandate to buy at least one handicapped-accessible voting machine per precinct by Jan. 1. But the only such devices approved for use in Florida are ATM-like touch-screen machines that don't use paper ballots. But a majority of County Council members want devices that use paper…A report received by The BRAD BLOG late last night from an activist down in Volusia in regard to the meeting anticipated today, summed it up thusly: Between Ion Sancho scrapping his Diebold machines, the successful hack of his Diebold op-scan system, the securities fraud lawsuit, the resignation of Diebold's CEO, the illegal certification of the Diebold touch-screens by the state of Florida, and the fact that the Diebold TSX does not meet the requirements of state statutes for disabled access (not to mention not meeting the requirements of HAVA), we're hoping that NO ONE will end up supporting Diebold. (Breaking News: Volusia County Dumps Diebold Too, www.bradblog.com, 12-16-05)
The non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which reports to the U.S. Congress, has released a comprehensive analysis of the concerns raised by the increasing use of electronic voting machines. Overall, GAO found that "significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems" have been raised (p. 22), and that "some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes" (p. 23). According to GAO, "election officials, computer security experts, citizen advocacy groups, and others have raised significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete standards, among other issues. ... The security and reliability concerns raised in recent reports merit the focused attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for election administration" (p. 22-23)…Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) computer systems that fail to encrypt data files containing cast votes, allowing them to be viewed or modified without detection by internal auditing systems; (2) systems that could allow individuals to alter ballot definition files so that votes cast for one candidate are counted for another; and (3) weak controls that allowed the alteration of memory cards used in optical scan machines, potentially impacting election results. GAO said that "these weaknesses could damage the integrity of ballots, votes, and voting system software by allowing unauthorized modifications (p. 25)…Examples of problems reported by GAO include (1) the failure to password-protect files and functions; (2) the use of easily guessed passwords or identical passwords for numerous systems built by the same manufacturer; and (3) the failure to secure memory cards used to secure voting systems, potentially allowing individuals to vote multiple times, change vote totals, or produce false election reports…According to GAO, "in the event of lax supervision, the…flaws could allow unauthorized personnel to disrupt operations or modify data and programs that are crucial to the accuracy and integrity of the voting process" (p. 26). In addition to identifying flaws in software and access controls, GAO identified basic problems with the physical hardware of electronic voting machines. Example of problems reported by GAO included locks that could be easily picked or were all controlled by the same keys, and unprotected switches used to turn machines on and off that could easily be used to disrupt the voting process (p. 27). Experts contacted by GAO reported a number of concerns about the practices of voting machine vendors, including the failure to conduct background checks on programmers and system developers, the lack of internal security protocols during software development, and the failure to establish clear chain of custody procedures for handling and transporting software (p. 29).
GAO found multiple examples of actual operational failures in real elections. These examples include the following incidents:
In California, a county presented voters with an incorrect electronic ballot, meaning they could not vote in certain races (p. 29).
In Pennsylvania, a county made a ballot error on an electronic voting system that resulted in the county's undervote percentage reaching 80% in some precincts (p. 29-30).
In North Carolina, electronic voting machines continued to accept votes after their memories were full, causing over 4,000 votes to be lost (p. 31).
In Florida, a county reported that touch screens took up to an hour to activate and had to be activated sequentially, resulting in long delays (p. 31).
GAO reported that voluntary standards for electronic voting, adopted in 2002 by the Federal Election Commission, have been criticized for containing vague and incomplete security provisions, inadequate provisions for commercial products and networks, and inadequate documentation requirements (pp. 32-33).
GAO further reported that "security experts and some election officials have expressed concern that tests currently performed by independent testing authorities and state and local election officials do not adequately assess electronic voting system security and reliability," and that "these concerns are amplified by what some perceive as a lack of transparency in the testing process" (p. 34)
GAO made several recommendations, primarily aimed at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (p. 53), including:
Collaborate with appropriate technical experts to define specific tasks, outcomes, milestones, and resource needs required to improve voting system standards;
Expeditiously establish documented policies, criteria, and procedures for certifying voting systems;
Improve support for state and local officials via improved information dissemination information on voting machine software, the problems and vulnerabilities of voting machines, and the "best practices" used by state and local officials to ensure the security of electronic voting machines.
GAO reported that voluntary standards for electronic voting, adopted in 2002 by the Federal Election Commission, have been criticized for containing vague and incomplete security provisions, inadequate provisions for commercial products and networks, and inadequate documentation requirements (pp. 32-33).
GAO further reported that "security experts and some election officials have expressed concern that tests currently performed by independent testing authorities and state and local election officials do not adequately assess electronic voting system security and reliability," and that "these concerns are amplified by what some perceive as a lack of transparency in the testing process" (p. 34) (www.truthout.org, 10-22-05)
To view the full report: http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20051021122225-53143.pdf.
Published on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 by the Free Press (Columbus, Ohio)
Why Can't the Left Face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
If some of its key publications are any indicator, much of the American left seems unable to face the reality that the election of 2004 was stolen. So in all likelihood, unless something radical is done, 2008 will be too.
Misguided and misinformed articles in both TomPaine.com and Mother Jones Magazine indicate a dangerous inability to face the reality that these stolen elections mean nothing less than the death of what's left of American democracy, and the permanent enthronement of the Rovian GOP.
As investigative reporters based in Columbus, Ohio, we witnessed first-hand, up close and personal, exactly how the 2004 election was stolen, and how it will most likely be done in 2008. In the precinct in which Harvey Wasserman grew up, and in the one where Bob Fitrakis now lives, we saw the well-funded, profoundly cynical and deadly effective mechanisms by which the Bush-Cheney-Rove-Blackwell GOP machine switched a victory for John Kerry to an easily-repeatable defeat for democracy.
That Kerry and the spineless Ohio and national Democratic Parties have been complicit is a crucial part of the problem much of the left also seems unwilling to face. But if you live in Franklin County, Ohio, and watch the Republican and Democratic Parties run joint pickets against progressive candidate, and cut backroom deals allowing incumbents of either party run unopposed, you may miss the full scope of the disaster.
And until the left faces the rot that defines the Democratic Party, there is no hope for a fair election in this country. In other words: those who think the White House can be retaken in 2008, but refuse to face the theft of the vote in 2004, should prepare to be ruled by the likes of Jeb Bush, now and forever.
Before we go into the sordid details, we have to ask: exactly what is it about Team Bush that makes people think they could not or would not steal an American election? Do they lack funds? Do they lack expertise? Is there something in the Machiavellian/mobster moral code of Karl Rove and the Bush Family that would prevent them from doing here what they've been doing throughout the Third World for so long?
CIA meister Poppy Bush long ago perfected the art and science of stealing elections. US manipulators have interfered with and tipped elections for decades. Why should Ohio be any different? Especially when all the world knew control of the most powerful office on earth would be decided right here.
Lets do the bookends: before the voting, Ohio's infamous Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell clearly and vehemently denied poll access to teams of international observers from the United Nations and other international election observers.
Since the election, he has effectively stonewalled and sabotaged all recount attempts, to the point that no credible accounting of the Ohio election has ever been done. To this day, at least 100,000 votes remain uncounted, electronic voting machines remain unaudited, key hardware and data files have been trashed, paper ballots have sat unguarded for anyone to pilfer and tallies in dozens of key counties remain filled with statistical impossibilities.
In our How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, we list more than 180 bullet points on how this theft was perpetrated. It was a brilliant, cynical and masterfully executed campaign of death by a thousand cuts.
In Florida 2000, the means of the crime were limited to a few instances of intimidation, butterfly ballots, computer manipulation and a corrupt Supreme Court. But four years after, in Ohio, dozens of sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant tricks were designed to steal a few thousand votes here, a few thousand more there, until victory was in GOP hands. Unless they are exposed and blocked, every one of these scams can and will be duplicated throughout the United States in 2006 and 2008. The question is: will the left follow mainstream Democrats with sheep-like acceptance as every election goes the same way from here on? And if so, why bother even staging more votes in this country at all?
Starting with Russ Baker at TomPaine.com, the indicators are grim. Last January, Baker penned an absurd, ill-reported piece of nonsense called "What Didn't Happen in Ohio." Baker traipsed into Columbus for a few days, interviewed the usual faux Democrats, and left with a Big Story: "The Election Was Fair."
If Baker had done any meaningful research he might have seen the dozens of other instances of intimidation, irregularities and fraud that went unmentioned in his glib paragraphs. Instead he relied on Bill Anthony, chair of the Franklin County Democrats and Board of Elections.
Bill is a pleasant, affable African-American with no commitment or fight for democracy or even the Democrats. He has appeared on Bob's local radio show and with Harvey on others. On one of them, Bill admitted that the Franklin County BOE knew there would be problems with voting machines, and asked Blackwell for paper ballots well before the 2004 election. Blackwell, Anthony said, turned them down. The result was the now infamous chaos at the polls, with inner city voters stuck in the rain for hours. Just what Blackwell wanted.
But did Bill Anthony fight Blackwell's absurd ruling? Did he make it a public issue prior to the election?
Not a chance.
For a quickie reporting job, Anthony is a dream. He's well-spoken, charming and convincing. As an African-American with union connections, he would seem the perfect liberal source.
In 2003, Anthony endorsed the Republican mayor's former press secretary for the Columbus School Board. He then supported two Republican candidates on a "Reform Slate" aimed at ousting the Board's only progressive Democrat, an African-American.
Bill Anthony is just one of a legion of what are known throughout the state as DINOs---Democrats in Name Only. The Ohio Democratic Party is a national embarrassment. Its chair, Denny White, was not long ago a Republican, and will soon be one again, once the party is fully disemboweled, a job very close to done. Throughout Ohio, DINOs piously cover this piece of fraud and that piece of theft with glib "I hate Bush" rhetoric. The pity is, out-of-state reporters actually take them seriously.
Mark Hertsgaard is a well respected author and reporter and a long-time friend of Harvey Wasserman, and of election critic Mark Crispen Miller. He has contributed some very valuable work over the years. But he's done himself---and the voting public---very wrong on "Recounting Ohio" in the new Mother Jones.
Mark is smart and thorough enough to leave open the possibility that Ohio's election was, indeed, stolen. But he also falls prey to the DINO trap, failing to cover far too much of what happened here while taking seriously centrist Democrats who are known locally to have no credibility.
So Mother Jones questions the significance of the firing of a Democratic election official who blew the whistle on computer manipulations by Triad, an obscure Republican voting machine company. But Triad was involved in counting the votes in nearly half of Ohio's 88 counties. Questions are still being raised about Triad, including: "How did they get all these contracts in the first place?"
Mother Jones correctly points out that seven times the number of votes by which Bush took Ohio were cast on Republican-controlled machines. But the magazine fails to follow up with mention that those votes have been tabulated on proprietary non-transparent software---a fact we pointed out in our own article in Motherjones.com many months prior to the election.
Mother Jones also discounts the fact that a phony Homeland Security alert in Warren County landed the vote count in an unauthorized warehouse rather than the official secure location, and that reporters were barred from the vote count. That count, which went hugely and suspiciously and very importantly for Bush, was observed by nominal Democrats. But so were other highly dubious vote counts around the state, as they had been in Florida 2000, which Mother Jones argues adamantly was indeed stolen.
The irony of this is that the same issue of Mother Jones leads off with a dead-on story about Ohio and national Democrats who are sabotaging the campaign of the aggressively electable Paul Hackett for a key US Senate seat. And another MoJo piece bemoans the fact that national Democrats seem adept only at losing.
Yet here the back of the book is a story discounting evidence compiled by a legion of independent, grassroots election rights advocates, while favoring phone interviews with the very Democrats being denounced in the front of the book.
Above all, the core of evidence that the election was stolen in Ohio 2004 comes from some 500 sworn statements and signed affidavits taken by people of all political parties, including two Republican hearings officers, in the weeks after the election. Anyone truly committed to finding out what happened here needs to start with that huge body of evidence.
As MoJo points out, none of this has been made easier by the "abandon ship" of the biggest DINO of all, John Kerry. Kerry had $7 million in the bank earmarked to "count every vote" and was apparently losing by just 136,000 Ohio votes with more than 250,000 still uncounted when he turned tail and conceded. Even Blackwell's corrupt, virtually meaningless first fake recount dropped Bush's official tally by 18,000 votes.
The Democrats have since attacked the election protection movement here through a lawyer named Daniel Hoffheimer who comes from none other than the stalwart Cincinnati Republican law firm of Taft, Stettinius et. al. MoJo quotes another Kerry/DINO lawyer Michael O'Grady, counsel to the state Democratic Party, who argues that for Ohio to have been stolen, the entire GOP would have had to be "conspiratorial," while the Democrats were "dumb as rocks."
In fact, that's an assessment many activists in Ohio heartily endorse, though you might add the word "inert" to the description of the Democrats.
O'Grady claims, for example, that an impossible vote count in three southern Ohio counties that gave Bush his entire margin of victory can be explained by a feminist outpouring for an African-American court candidate who ran zero campaign in those counties. But the presumption is that those same feminists somehow didn't bother to vote for Kerry over George W. Bush. No local student of that election could begin to take such an assessment seriously.
Or how about the quote from Chris Rakocy, a "tech specialist" about those notorious touchscreens in Mahoning County where voters who chose Kerry saw Bush light up. Rakocy says that problem was "only" on 18 of 1,148 machines, and that it was corrected early.
But Rakocy stands alone against dozens of sworn statements and affidavits confirming that the problem went on all day, and was never fixed, and may have involved far more machines than 18, and not only in Mahoning County but also in Franklin. Even at that, in heavily Democratic Youngstown (not to mention Columbus), just 18 machines could have accounted for switching thousands of votes. And, in fact, Kerry's margins in both Youngstown and Columbus were suspiciously light.
And what would Mother Jones herself do to machines that disenfranchised even one voter, no matter what the apparent impact on the ultimate vote count? Why is the magazine named for her discounting the you-couldn't-make-this-one-up reality of voters pushing one candidate's name on a touchscreen and seeing another's name light up, time after time after time? Or are we taking this---and her---all too seriously?
Then there's the song and dance from Warren Mitofsky. The father of exit polls saw his work used to overturn a stolen election in Ukraine just prior to the American vote. But when his poll-taking here showed John Kerry with a nationwide margin of 1.5 million votes, somehow Mitofsky jumped ship on his own decades of professionalism.
Exit polls funded by six major news organizations showed Kerry carrying Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada as late as 12:20 am on Wednesday morning, well after balloting stopped even in Alaska and Hawaii. These four "purple states" gave the election to the "blue" Democrats, then miraculously switched to "red" for Bush, giving him the White House once again.
Given all that's known about exit polls---and it's a lot---the odds on one state switching like that are about one in one hundred. For four, it's a virtual statistical impossibility. Add the fact that not one, not four, but TEN of eleven swing states showed drastic shifts from Kerry to Bush and you enter the realm of, well, a stolen election.
Add huge, unexplained shifts from pre-election polls to post-election vote counts in crucial 2002 Senatorial races in Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado, then remember what happened in Florida 2000, and examine the basic Bush attitude toward democracy itself, and you've got a pattern to say the least. And an obvious prescription for one-party rule as far as the eye can see.
Except when you are dealing with America's Democratic Party in 2004 and with reportage that relies on a few phone calls and a disheartening lack of grassroots perspective. If all politics is local, as Tip O'Neill well knew, then so are all vote counts.
Our first article predicting what would happen in Ohio 2004 was published many months before the election in, of all places, MotherJones.com. We warned that electronic voting machines deployed by the likes of Diebold could give Ohio and thus the nation to George W. Bush. Wally O'Dell, Diebold's infamous CEO, pledged to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004, and all evidence points to the fact that he at least helped.
What we missed in addition was the myriad clever tricks the GOP would bring to bear in pulling this off. Ohio has a long history as a test market. New products like white bread and spam are brought here first, to see how they'll fly with America at large.
In Ohio 2004, scores of tools for stealing an American election were tried and proven out. Outside reporters have come here again and again to pull at this one and tear at that one. Almost always, they get even that wrong. And almost always, they fail to see the bigger picture.
If we have a "know it all" attitude, as is sometimes charged, it's because we were (and are) here, we saw it happen, we witnessed the seven-hour waits and the denials of the absentee ballots, and we took the testimony of the hundreds who later went under oath.
And we see more unravel every day. Conspiracy theories happen sometimes when actual conspiracies occur. The stakes involved, the players on both sides and the events that are out there plain as day are all of a piece that's simply too obvious for anyone on the ground here to miss.
Hertsgaard has the good sense to mention indictments that have recently come down on election thieves in Cuyahoga County. We know that to be the tip of the iceberg.
What matters now is whether the GOP will be allowed to repeat nationwide in 2006 and 2008 what they saw they could get away with in Ohio 2004.
Election theft skeptics tend to conclude their put-downs by urging we forget about the vote-count stuff and concentrate on coming up with candidates so good that "the election won't be close enough to steal."
Having seen what we saw here, knowing what Mother Jones is reporting about the Democratic attacks on Paul Hackett, and about the loser instinct ingrained in the Dems' DLC/DNA, we must charitably describe such a conclusion as being profoundly wishful thinking.
Someday we may indeed have candidates far worthier than Al Gore and John Kerry. But they both won the presidency of the United States, however corruptible their margins of victory.
We need to guarantee that if someone worthwhile and willing to fight ever does come along, we will have a left that's prepared to make sure the votes are fairly counted.
As Rev. Jesse Jackson put it while speaking to election protection activists here, "We can afford to lose an election. We can't afford to lose our democracy."
Who would agree more strongly than Tom Paine and Mother Jones?
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, available at Freepress.org and harveywasserman.com. Their upcoming What Happened in Ohio, with Steve Rosenfeld, will be published by The New Press in spring, 2006.
None Dare Call It Stolen - Ohio, the Election, and America's Servile Press
By Mark Crispin Miller
The Columbus Free Press
Sunday 24 July 2005
While commentators, prompted by Republicans, claimed Bush won the 2004 election through the votes of a silent majority concerned with "family values," Mark Crispin Miller writes that when voters were asked to state, "in their own words the most important factor in their vote,"only 14 percent named "moral values." He details how the press (except for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC) ignored "the strange details of the election-except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss themIt was as if they were reporting from inside a forest fire without acknowledging the fire, except to keep insisting that there was no fire."
Then he lists the copious evidence pointing to a stolen election, easily available on the web or in paperback, from Michigan Representative John Conyers' report, Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio. More than dirty tricks, it covers "the run-up to the election, the election itself, and the post-election cover-up," listing "specific violations of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act."
The Conyers report details the disenfranchisement of Democrats through "intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio."
There was unequal placement of voting machines. County boards of elections were ordered to reject all Ohio voter-registration forms not printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight. Access was limited to provisional ballots. "Caging"was used to challenge 35,000 individuals who did not sign for registered letters sent to new voters. There was restriction of media from covering the election and conducting exit polls. There was a prearranged FBI terrorist attack warning in Warren County which kept reporters from observing a post-election ballot-counting. There was restriction of foreign monitors from "watching the opening of the polling places, the counting of the ballots, and, in some cases, the election itself. Numerous statistical anomalies all deducted votes from Kerry. In Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties, "the arrows on the absentee ballots were not properly aligned with their respective punch holes, so that countless votes were miscast." In Mercer County, 4000 votes were mysteriously not in the final count. In Lucas County a polling place never opened because no one had the key. In Hamilton County, many absentee voters could not vote for Kerry because his name was not on the ballot. In Mahoning County 25 electronic machines changed Kerry votes to Bush. Dirty tricks told voters to go to false polling places; that Democrats were to vote on November 3; volunteers offered to take absentee ballots to the election office; voters were challenged to prove eligibility to vote. The "Texas Strike Force" (25 people registered at a Franklin County Holiday Inn, paid by the Republican Party) threatened targeted people from a pay phone, if they voted. Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell created rules for the Ohio recount (requested by the Green and Libertarian Parties) which would prevent "countywide hand recounts by any means necessary." The end result was "the Ohio vote was never properly recounted, as required by Ohio law." On December 13, 2004, it was reported by Deputy Director of Hocking County Elections Sherole Eaton, that a Triad GSI employee had changed the computer that operated the tabulating machine, and had "advised election officials how to manipulate voting machinery to ensure that [the] preliminary hand recount matched the machine count." This same Triad employee said he worked on machines in Lorain, Muskingum, Clark, Harrison, and Guernsey counties.
"Based on the above, including actual admissions and statements by Triad employees, it strongly appears that Triad and its employees engaged in a course of behavior to provide "cheat sheets" to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets told them how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand recount mandated by state law. If true, this would frustrate the entire purpose of the recount law-to randomly ascertain if the vote counting apparatus is operating fairly and effectively, and if not to conduct a full hand recount."
In Union County, Triad replaced the hard drive on one tabulator. In Monroe County, "after the 3 percent hand count had twice failed to match the machine count, a Triad employee brought in a new machine and took away the old one. (That machine's count matched the hand count.)" Green and Libertarian volunteers reported that in Allen, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Morrow, Hocking, Vinton, Summit, and Medina counties, "the precincts for the 3 percent hand recount were preselected, not picked at random, as the law requires." Even though the 3 percent hand recount in Fairfield County was different than the machine count, there was no hand count as required. "In Washington and Lucas counties, ballots were marked or altered, apparently to ensure that the hand recount would equal the machine count." "In Ashland, Portage, and Coshocton counties, ballots were improperly unsealed or stored." At great cost, Belmont County had an independent programmer change the counting machines so they would only count votes for President. "..Democratic and/or Green observers were denied access to absentee, and /or provisional ballots, or were not allowed to monitor the recount process, in Summit, Huron, Putnam, Allen, Holmes, Mahoning, Licking, Stark, Medina, Warren, and Morgan counties.
Miller writes about the January 6, 2005 Electoral challenge from Ohio Representative Stephonie Tubbs-Jones and California Senator Barbara Boxer. He decries its rejection by the Congress and the press, with the Republicans calling the Democrats "troublemakers and cynical manipulators", etc., etc.
According to Miller, "all this commentary was simply wrong" and "went unnoticed and/or unreported;" and with Bush's re-inauguration "all inquiries were apparently concluded, and the story was officially kaput." Miller emphasizes that, even after the National Election Data Archive Project, on March 31, 2005, "released its study demonstrating that the exit polls had probably been right, it made news only in the Akron Beacon-Journal," while "the thesis that the exit polls were flawed had been reported by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Columbus Dispatch, CNN.com, MSNBC, and ABC.."
In conclusion, Mark Crispin Miller does not expect to reverse the 2004 election, but to make it possible for us to move on, and achieve real electoral reform.
The point of our revisiting the last election.. is to see exactly what the damage was so that the people can demand appropriate reforms for there has never been a great reform that was not driven by some major scandal.
...In this nation's epic struggle on behalf of freedom, reason, and democracy, the press has unilaterally disarmed-and therefore many good Americans, both liberal and conservative, have lost faith in the promise of self-government. That vast surrender is demoralizing, certainly, but if we face it, and endeavor to reverse it, it will not prove fatal. This democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded.
The piece on which this summary is based was originally published in Harper's. Mark Crispin Miller is a professor at New York University, a political/media commentator, and author of his latest book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the Election of 2004, and Why They Will Keep Doing It Unless We Stop Them, which will be published by Basic Books this October.
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 4
IN PRESIDENT BUSH'S first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. When I first discussed this group in a speech last week at the New America Foundation in Washington, my comments caused a significant stir because I had been chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell between 2002 and 2005. But it's absolutely true. I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less. More often than not, then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.
Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and "guardians of the turf."
But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.
I watched these dual decision-making processes operate for four years at the State Department. As chief of staff for 27 months, I had a door adjoining the secretary of State's office. I read virtually every document he read. I read the intelligence briefings and spoke daily with people from all across government.
I knew that what I was observing was not what Congress intended when it passed the 1947 National Security Act. The law created the National Security Council — consisting of the president, vice president and the secretaries of State and Defense — to make sure the nation's vital national security decisions were thoroughly vetted. The NSC has often been expanded, depending on the president in office, to include the CIA director, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Treasury secretary and others, and it has accumulated a staff of sometimes more than 100 people.
But many of the most crucial decisions from 2001 to 2005 were not made within the traditional NSC process…
From managing the environment to securing sufficient energy resources, from dealing with trafficking in human beings to performing peacekeeping missions abroad, governing is vastly more complicated than ever before in human history.
Further, the crises the U.S. government confronts today are so multifaceted, so complex, so fast-breaking — and almost always with such incredible potential for regional and global ripple effects — that to depart from the systematic decision-making process laid out in the 1947 statute invites disaster.
Discounting the professional experience available within the federal bureaucracy — and ignoring entirely the inevitable but often frustrating dissent that often arises therein — makes for quick and painless decisions. But when government agencies are confronted with decisions in which they did not participate and with which they frequently disagree, their implementation of those decisions is fractured, uncoordinated and inefficient. This is particularly the case if the bureaucracies called upon to execute the decisions are in strong competition with one another over scarce money, talented people, "turf" or power.
It takes firm leadership to preside over the bureaucracy. But it also takes a willingness to listen to dissenting opinions. It requires leaders who can analyze, synthesize, ponder and decide…
Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38% and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White).
It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.
Lawrence B. Wilkerson, The White House cabal, L.A. Times, 10-25-05
One early turning point in the switch from “skeptical” journalism to “patriotic” journalism occurred in 1976 with the blocking of Rep. Otis Pike’s congressional report on CIA misdeeds. CIA Director Bush had lobbied behind the scenes to convince Congress that suppressing the report was important for national security.
But CBS news correspondent Daniel Schorr got hold of the full document and decided that he couldn’t join in keeping the facts from the public. He leaked the report to the Village Voice – and was fired by CBS amid charges of reckless journalism.
“The media’s shift in attention from the report’s charges to their premature disclosure was skillfully encouraged by the Executive Branch,” wrote Kathryn Olmstead in her book on the media battles of the 1970s, Challenging the Secret Government.
“[Mitchell] Rogovin, the CIA’s counsel, later admitted that the Executive Branch’s ‘concern’ over the report’s damage to national security was less than genuine,” Olmstead wrote. But the Schorr case had laid down an important marker.
The counterattack against the “skeptical journalists” had begun.
In the late 1970s, conservative leaders began a concerted drive to finance a media infrastructure of their own along with attack groups that would target mainstream reporters who were viewed as too liberal or insufficiently patriotic.
Richard Nixon’s former Treasury Secretary Bill Simon took the lead. Simon, who headed the conservative Olin Foundation, rallied like-minded foundations – associated with Lynde and Harry Bradley, Smith Richardson, the Scaife family and the Coors family – to invest their resources in advancing the conservative cause.
Money went to fund conservative magazines taking the fight to the liberals and to finance attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, that hammered away at the supposed “liberal bias” of the national news media…
While the Plame case has become a major embarrassment for the Bush administration – and now for the New York Times – it has not stopped many of Miller’s colleagues from continuing their old roles as “patriotic” journalists opposing the disclosure of too many secrets to the American people.
For instance, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen – who hailed George H.W. Bush’s pardons that destroyed the Iran-Contra investigation in 1992 – adopted a similar stance against Fitzgerald’s investigation.
“The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals,” Cohen wrote in a column entitled “Let This Leak Go.”
“As it is, all he has done so far is send Judith Miller of the New York Times to jail and repeatedly haul this or that administration high official before a grand jury, investigating a crime that probably wasn’t one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of cover-up – but again, of nothing much,” Cohen wrote. “Go home, Pat.” [Washington Post, Oct. 13, 2005]
If Fitzgerald does as Cohen wishes and closes down the investigation without indictments, the result could well be the continuation of the status quo in Washington. The Bush administration would get to keep control of the secrets and reward friendly “patriotic” journalists with selective leaks – and protected careers.
It is that cozy status quo that is now endangered by the Plame case. But the stakes of the case are even bigger than that, going to the future of American democracy and to two questions in particular:
Will journalists return to the standard of an earlier time when disclosing important facts to the electorate was the goal, rather than Cohen’s notion of putting the comfortable relationships between Washington journalists and government officials first?
Put differently, will journalists decide that confronting the powerful with tough questions is the true patriotic test of a journalist?
Robert Parry, Rise of the 'Patriotic Journalist,' www.consortiumnews.com, 10-20-05
Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigator’s prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.
We may stand witness to a definitive American moment of democracy. The son of a New York doorman probably has in his hands, in many ways, the fate of the republic. Because far too many of us know and are aware of the crimes committed by our government in our name, we are unlikely to settle for a handful of minor indictments of bureaucrats. The last thing most of us believe in is the rule of law. We do not trust our government or the people we have elected but our constitution is still very much alive and we choose to believe that destiny has placed Patrick Fitzgerald at this time and this place in our history to save us from the people we elected. If the law cannot get to the truth of what has happened to the American people under the Bush administration, then we all may begin to hear the early death rattles of history’s greatest democracy
Fortunately, there are good signs. Fitzgerald has reportedly asked for a copy of the Italian government’s investigation into the break-in of the Niger embassy in Rome and the source of the forged documents. The blatantly fake papers, which purported to show that Saddam Hussein had cut a deal to get yellowcake uranium from Niger, turned up after a December 2001 meeting in Rome involving neo-con Michael Ledeen, Larry Franklin, Harold Rhodes, and Niccolo Pollari, the head of Italy’s intelligence agency SISMI, and Antonio Martino, the Italian defense minister.
If Fitzgerald is examining the possibility that Ledeen was executing a plan to help his friend Karl Rove build a case for invading Iraq? Ledeen has long ties to Italian intelligence agency operatives and has spanned the globe to bring the world the constant variety of what he calls “creative destruction” to build democracies. He makes the other neo-cons appear passive. He brought the Reagan administration together with the Iranian arms dealer who dragged the country through Iran-Contra and shares with his close friend Karl Rove a personal obsession with Machiavelli. Ledeen, who is almost rabidly anti-Arab, famously told the Washington Post that Karl Rove told him, “Any time you have a good idea, tell me.” The federal grand jury has to at least consider whether Ledeen called Rove with an idea to use his contacts with the Italian CIA to hatch a plan to create the rationale for war..
James Moore, The Most Important Criminal Case in American History, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-moore/the-most-important-crimin_b_9183.html
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday. In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. "Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."
Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran..Among his other charges: The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was "a concrete example" of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. "You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it." Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was "part of the problem". Instead of ensuring that Mr Bush received the best possible advice, "she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president.”
Edward Alden, Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked Foreign Policy, Financial Times, 10-20-05
Face it, America. You've been punk'd. It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam-and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic "covert action" program against the citizens of the United States. Covert action refers to behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. intelligence agencies to plant stories, manipulate information and shape public opinion. In other words, you write stories that reporters will publish as their own, you create media events that tout a particular theme, and you demonize your opponent…Americans have died because of the Bush deceit. The unmasking of Valerie Plame was not an odd occurrence. It was part of a pattern of deliberate manipulation and disinformation. At the end of the day, American men and women have died because of this lie. It is up to the American people to hold the Bush administration accountable for these actions…Larry Johnson worked as a CIA intelligence analyst and State Department counter-terrorism official. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Larry C. Johnson, Dick Cheney's Covert Action, www.commondreams.org, 10-19-05
Drunk on power, the Republican oligarchs overreached. Now their entire project could be doomed. For 30 years, beginning with the Nixon presidency, advanced under Reagan, stalled with the elder Bush, a new political economy struggled to be born. The idea was pure and simple: centralization of power in the hands of the Republican Party would ensure that it never lost it again. Under George W. Bush, this new system reached its apotheosis. It is a radically novel social, political and economic formation that deserves study alongside capitalism and socialism. Neither Adam Smith nor Vladimir Lenin captures its essence, though it has far more elements of Leninist democratic-centralism than Smithian free markets. Some have referred to this model as crony capitalism; others compare the waste, extravagance and greed to the Gilded Age. Call it 21st century Republicanism. At its heart the system is plagued by corruption, an often unpleasant peripheral expense that greases its wheels. But now multiple scandals engulfing Republicans - from suspended House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to White House political overlord Karl Rove - threaten to upend the system. Because it is organized by politics it can be undone by politics. Politics has been the greatest strength of Republicanism, but it has become its greatest vulnerability. The party runs the state. Politics drives economics. Important party officials are also economic operators. They thrive off their connections and rise in the party apparatus as a result of their self-enrichment. The past three chairmen of the Republican National Committee have all been Washington lobbyists. An oligarchy atop the party allocates favors. Behind the ideological slogans about the "free market" and "liberty," the oligarchy creates oligopolies. Businesses must pay to play. They must kick back contributions to the party, hire its key people and support its program. Only if they give do they receive tax breaks, loosening of regulations and helpful treatment from government professionals. Those professionals in the agencies and departments who insist on adhering to standards other than those imposed by the party are fired, demoted and blackballed. The oligarchy wars against these professionals to bend government purely into an instrument of oligopolies. Corporations pay fixed costs in the form of legal graft to the party in order to suppress the market, drastically limiting competitive pressure. Then they collude to control prices, create cartels and reduce planning primarily to the political game.
Sidney Blumenthal, Fall of the Rovean Empire?, Salon, 10-6-05,
I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse ... I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions. ..Our Founders, probably the most literate generation in all of history, used words with astonishing precision and believed in the Rule of Reason. Their faith in the viability of Representative Democracy rested on their trust in the wisdom of a well-informed citizenry.…And then one day, a smart young political consultant turned to an older elected official and succinctly described a new reality in America's public discourse: "If it's not on television, it doesn't exist." But some extremely important elements of American Democracy have been pushed to the sidelines ... And the most prominent casualty has been the "marketplace of ideas" that was so beloved and so carefully protected by our Founders. It effectively no longer exists. It is not that we no longer share ideas with one another about public matters; of course we do. But the "Public Forum" in which our Founders searched for general agreement and applied the Rule of Reason has been grossly distorted and "restructured" beyond all recognition. And here is my point: it is the destruction of that marketplace of ideas that accounts for the "strangeness" that now continually haunts our efforts to reason together about the choices we must make as a nation. Whether it is called a Public Forum, or a "Public Sphere," or a marketplace of ideas, the reality of open and free public discussion and debate was considered central to the operation of our democracy in America's earliest decades…The liberating force of this new American reality was thrilling to all humankind. Thomas Jefferson declared, "I have sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." It ennobled the individual and unleashed the creativity of the human spirit. It inspired people everywhere to dream of what they could yet become. And it emboldened Americans to bravely explore the farther frontiers of freedom - for African Americans, for women, and eventually, we still dream, for all…The inherent value or validity of political propositions put forward by candidates for office is now largely irrelevant compared to the advertising campaigns that shape the perceptions of voters. Our democracy has been hallowed out. The opinions of the voters are, in effect, purchased, just as demand for new products is artificially created. Decades ago Walter Lippman wrote, "the manufacture of consent ... was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy ... but it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technique ... under the impact of propaganda, it is no longer plausible to believe in the original dogma of democracy." Like you, I recoil at Lippman's cynical dismissal of America's gift to human history. But in order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum and create new ways to engage in a genuine and not manipulative conversation about our future. Americans in both parties should insist on the re-establishment of respect for the Rule of Reason. We must, for example, stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth…The greatest source of hope for reestablishing a vigorous and accessible marketplace for ideas is the Internet… It is true that video streaming is becoming more common over the Internet, and true as well that cheap storage of streamed video is making it possible for many young television viewers to engage in what the industry calls "time shifting" and personalize their television watching habits. Moreover, as higher bandwidth connections continue to replace smaller information pipelines, the Internet's capacity for carrying television will continue to dramatically improve. But in spite of these developments, it is television delivered over cable and satellite that will continue for the remainder of this decade and probably the next to be the dominant medium of communication in America's democracy. And so long as that is the case, I truly believe that America's democracy is at grave risk. The final point I want to make is this: We must ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible to all citizens without any limitation on the ability of individuals to choose the content they wish regardless of the Internet service provider they use to connect to the Worldwide Web. We cannot take this future for granted. We must be prepared to fight for it because some of the same forces of corporate consolidation and control that have distorted the television marketplace have an interest in controlling the Internet marketplace as well. Far too much is at stake to ever allow that to happen. We must ensure by all means possible that this medium of democracy's future develops in the mold of the open and free marketplace of ideas that our Founders knew was essential to the health and survival of freedom. -------
Al Gore, The Threat to American Democracy, The Media Center, 10-05-05
On its front page Tuesday, The New York Times published a photo of new U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers going over a briefing paper with President George W. Bush at his Crawford ranch “in August 2001,” the caption reads. USA Today and the Boston Globe carried the photo labeled simply “2001,” but many other newspapers ran the picture in print or on the Web with a more precise date: Aug. 6, 2001. Does that date sound familiar? Indeed, that was the date, a little over a month before 9/11, that President Bush was briefed on the now-famous “PDB” that declared that Osama Bin Laden was “determined” to attack the U.S. homeland, perhaps with hijacked planes. But does that mean that Miers had anything to do with that briefing? As it turns out, yes, according to Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. An article by Richard A. Serrano and Scott Gold observes that early in the Bush presidency “Miers assumed such an insider role that in 2001 it was she who handed Bush the crucial 'presidential daily briefing' hinting at terrorist plots against America just a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.” So the Aug. 6 photo may show this historic moment, though quite possibly not. In any case, some newspapers failed to include the exact date with the widely used Miers photo today. A New York Times spokesman told E&P: "The wording of the caption occurred in the course of routine editing and has no broader significance." The photo that ran in so many papers and on their Web sites originally came from the White House but was moved by the Associated Press, clearly marked as an “Aug. 6, 2001” file photo. It shows Miers with a document or documents in her right hand, as her left hand points to something in another paper balanced on the president's right leg. Two others in the background are Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and Steve Biegun of the national security staff. The PDB was headed “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” and notes, among other things, FBI information indicating “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks.” E&P Staff
Miers Briefed Bush on Famous Bin Laden Memo, But Newspapers Handle the AP Photo Quite Differently By E&P Staff Published: October 04, 2005 10:45 AM ET NEW YORK
Where do we get the money? I mean, we, as in "We, the People." We, as in, we, the taxpayers of the United States. I mean we, as in, how do we pay back our share of the national debt that stood at $7,924,890,927,754.51 as of Friday. Where do we get the money to pay for the Iraq war, Katrina, Rita, tax cuts, ongoing federal entitlements, programs and on and on? This ought to be a national security question, a flashing red alert. "There is a looming crisis. American leaders of both political parties can and should act to avert that crisis," writes economist Menzie Chinn in a new report, "Getting Serious About the Twin Deficits." The report was published last week by the Council on Foreign Relations. The source of this looming crisis is the enduring federal budget deficit and the trade or current accounts deficit…"Failure to take the initiative to reduce the twin deficits will cede to foreign governments increasing influence over the nation's fate," the report says. "Perhaps equally alarming, it will lead to slower growth, escalating trade friction and reduced American influence in political and economic spheres."…Chinn's report says there is a small chance for a "disorderly adjustment," economic-speak for a complete collapse and "the potential consequences are so troubling that the possibility of economic disruption cannot be ignored. In addition to the threat of rising unemployment and declining income, sharp movements in asset prices and interest rates could also threaten the stability of our financial system." He says it's time to "aggressively attack" the budget deficit (too much federal spending exacerbates the trade deficit). "Stemming the rapid rise of government debt can only be accomplished by two means," Chinn writes. "Reducing expenditures or increasing revenues."…
Sunday, October 2, 2005 Our cash -- it's a national security issue.
MARK TRAHANT SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Tony Blair risks a "historic" humiliation over the British Army's continued presence in Iraq, a former colonel said last night. Tim Collins: 'The Army could be chased over the border into Iran' Tim Collins, whose eve-of-battle address during the Iraq war has been praised as among the greatest in British military history, raised the spectre of the Army being defeated by insurgents and chased out of the country. He called on the Prime Minister to "fall on his sword" after presiding over what he termed a "right rollicking cock-up". Ministers are likely to try to shrug off his attack as a politically motivated move by a Conservative Party supporter, but the former soldier's credentials add weight to his comments. His starkest warning was that Britain, which has about 9,000 troops in Iraq, could pay an unthinkable price for its political leaders' "incompetence and lack of direction". He told Channel 4's Morgan and Platell programme: "The danger is that we could face defeat in the field. We could be overwhelmed. The Army could be chased over the border into Iran."
Patrick Hennessy, Army 'risks being chased from Iraq,’ Telegraph, 10-02-05
Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed. The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission. The shortcomings in dealing with Katrina have rocked George Bush's administration. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his post and polls show that a majority of Americans feel the President showed inadequate leadership. The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous." The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts…The report concludes: "The one thing this disaster has demonstrated [is] the lack of coordinated, in-depth planning and training on all levels of Government, for any/all types of emergency contingencies. 9/11 was an exception because the geographical area was small and contained, but these two hurricanes have clearly demonstrated a national response weakness ... Failure to plan, and train properly has plagued US efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now that failure has come home to roost in the United States."
Kim Sengupta , Americas Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds, Indepdent/UK 10-03-05
When Sibel Edmonds was a young girl, her father, a physician in Iran, was asked to falsify an autopsy finding. Angrily, he refused, daring the authorities to retaliate. At home, he told his family: "Things like this do not happen in truly democratic civil societies - like America." Sibel still clings to her father's words, but her Kafka-esque encounter with the U.S. government is challenging her faith. She wanders a wonderland of classified documents and covert hearings, waiting to see if the Supreme Court will take her case and lift the curtain of secrecy that the Bush administration has self-protectively wrapped around it. Sibel's offense? She was a patriot who blew the whistle on incompetence, security breaches and alleged wrongdoing in the U.S. government's counter-terror operations. For that, she was fired. When Sibel challenged her dismissal in court, she became one of several Americans to be penalized in recent months by the government's "very broad and radical use" of an old legal rule known as the "state secrets privilege," says her attorney, Ann Beeson, an associate legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. The administration, which is supposed to cite the rarely-invoked rule only to protect national security interests, has been "invoking the privilege to cover up its own negligence," Beeson says…
john aloysius farrell, denverpostbloghouse.com, 10-02-05
The administration of President George W. Bush broke the law as it resorted to illegal "covert propaganda" in trying to sell its key education initiative to the public, US congressional investigators have found. The finding, made public by the Government Accountability Office, added to a plethora of big and small ethics scandals besetting the administration and its top Republican allies and putting them on the defensive one year before congressional elections. The investigation was ordered by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg earlier this year, in the wake of reports the Education Department had paid newspaper columnist and television commentator Armstrong Williams thousands of dollars to help promote the No Child Left Behind Law…Under the deal, Williams produced a series of radio and television shows as well as wrote newspaper columns under his own name highlighting what he saw as the benefits of the law. But in doing so, he failed to disclose the government paid him for these activities 186,000 dollars (150,000 euros) through Ketchum Inc., a public relations firm, according to the GAO report. "This qualifies as the production or distribution of covert propaganda," said the investigative arm of Congress. "In our view, the department violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition when it issued task orders... without requiring Ketchum to ensure that Mr Williams disclosed to his audiences his relationship with the department."
Bush Administration Found Involved in Illegal 'Covert Propaganda,' Agence France Presse, 10-01-05
A recurring theme in the e-mails responding to our articles, such as “What to Do About the Bush Problem” and “Frog-Marching Bush to the Hague,” was that it’s naïve – or even delusional – to envision the Democratic Party ever standing up to the Republicans.
Some e-mailers went on to conclude that either there’s no political answer, period, or that the answer rests in some long-range radical transformation of the system. In other words, there’s no practical way of ousting Bush or imposing any accountability, short-term.
If recent history is any guide, one would have trouble countering those e-mail arguments.
It is hard to envision the Democratic Party charting a high-risk national strategy for Election 2006 with accountability at the center. It’s difficult, too, to foresee wealthy liberals finally recognizing the need to invest heavily in media outlets and content. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Left’s Media Miscalculation.”]
More likely, the Democrats will want to cobble together some hodge-podge of domestic proposals while tacking on a critique of Bush’s Iraq War that faults him for not sending in more troops and not “fighting to win.” New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and some other presidential hopefuls already are staking out this “right-flank” option on Iraq.
There is, however, another scenario that could make accountability the key issue in Election 2006 and put rank-and-file Americans in a position of leadership.
What if the voters acted independently to defeat as many Republicans as possible, not just to put more Democrats in office, but to send a message to both parties that the extremism, the trickery and the corruption personified by the neoconservatives now in charge of the Republican Party will no longer be tolerated?
What if the result of this popular uprising against Bush is not just some marginal Democratic gains, but a landslide repudiation of recent government policies?
Would a solid Democratic majority in both houses represent a mandate for accountability, an imperative so strong that even the timid Democratic leadership couldn’t ignore it?
Might the top Democrats calculate that shirking their duty again represented more of a political risk than holding Bush accountable through investigations and possible impeachment? Is it possible that out of such a changed climate a worthy political leader – and a reformed Republican Party – might arise?
Without doubt, these questions don’t fit within today’s conventional wisdom. They don’t reflect the tendency toward modern spectator-sport politics where citizens root for a candidate the way fans cheer for a football team, albeit with a lot more passion for the football team.
But for those readers who have e-mailed us with suggestions about the need for deeper change in the American political system, is it a fair question to ask: If a movement can’t organize to repudiate a leader who has bungled so many policies back-to-back-to-back, how can that movement expect to accomplish something bigger?
While it may make little sense to cast a yes vote for Democrats as they currently present themselves, is there a case to be made for a no vote on Bush’s form of Republicanism?
Robert Parry, Can Bush Be Ousted?, www.consortiumnews.com, 10-01-05
The invasion of Iraq was the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history,” a retired Army general said yesterday, strengthening an effort in Congress to force an American withdrawal beginning next year. Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said the invasion of Iraq alienated America's Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists. The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, he said, and reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells. “The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history,” said Odom, now a scholar with the Hudson Institute.
EVAN LEHMANN Lowell Sun, Retired general: Iraq invasion was ‘strategic disaster,’ 9-30-05
Gertz is a right-wing national security reporter for the Rev. Sun Yung Moon's neo-fascist newspaper, The Washington Times. He's also a spigot from which flows much classified information illegally leaked by like-minded "patriots" seeking to advance their hawkish agenda in the military-industrial-congressional complex. And, frankly speaking, that's the only reason I pay any attention to him.
So I was hardly surprised when, on September 16, 2005, Gertz reported on the Bush administration's "computer slide presentation." which was aimed at persuading whoever would listen that Iran is working feverishly to build nuclear weapons…Unlike the Washington Post's article on the subject two days earlier, Gertz predictably failed to mention that the slide show "dismisses ambiguities in the evidence…and omits alternative explanations under debate among intelligence analysts." He also failed to mention that several diplomats "said the slide show reminded them of the flawed presentation on Iraq's weapons programs made by then-secretary of state Colin L. Powell to the UN Security Council in February 2003" ["US Deploys Slide Show to Press Case Against Iran," Washington Post, 14 September 2005]…But much more disconcerting than Gertz's piece was one written by Claude Salhani on 22 September 2005 for the same loony "Moonie" scandal sheet. Salhani shamelessly reintroduced the tactics, which proved so successful in inflaming a frightened American public about the threat posed by Iraq. He invoked the words of an Iranian dissident (today's Ahmad Chalabi), as well as former U.S. government officials (seeking to "empower resistance" inside Iran), to make the claim the Iran is, in fact, "gearing for war" with the United States.
No, notwithstanding the inflammatory title that the Moonie editors attached to Salhani's article—"Is Iran Geared For War?"—Iran is not planning to attack the United States. Instead, it is merely taking very prudent measures to defend itself against a possible illegal preventive war instigated by the "war party" in the Bush administration …Just a few days ago, on September 26, 2005, The Telegraph of Calcutta, India issued an astounding report that has yet to cause a ripple within America's mainstream news media. In the fifth paragraph of the article, "Gulf factor key to PM's Iran vote decision," were the following words: "Top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that THE US HAS PLANS TO INVADE IRAN BEFORE BUSH'S TERM ENDS" (author's emphasis).
Thoughtful, decent, moral citizens of these United States: I urge you to write to the editors of your local and national news outlets to insist that they authenticate or repudiate the information reported by The Telegraph. And I further urge you to write your congressman (or congresswoman) to inquire about their knowledge concerning this assertion. Finally, I urge you to write to President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and/or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to inquire about their plans to invade Iran before they leave office.
We simply cannot permit the Bush "war party" to run roughshod over America's democracy once again.
Walter C. Uhler, The U.S. Has Plans to Invade Iran Before Bush's Term Ends, 9-28-05
Pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released despite government claims that they could damage America's image, a federal judge ruled Thursday. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism." The American Civil Liberties Union sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic. Brutal images of the abuse at the prison have already been widely distributed, but the lawsuit covers additional photos not yet seen by the public…The ruling was expected to be appealed, which could delay a release for months. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero called it historic. "While no one wants to see what's on the photos or videos, they will play an essential role in holding our government leaders accountable for the torture that's happened on their watch," he said.
LARRY NEUMEISTER, Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Photos, Associated Press, 9-28-05
The battle between a grieving family and the U.S. military justice system is on display in thousands of pages of documents strewn across Mary Tillman’s dining room table in suburban San Jose. As she pores through testimony from three previous Army investigations into the killing of her son, former football star Pat Tillman, by his fellow Army Rangers last year in Afghanistan, she hopes that a new inquiry launched in August by the Pentagon’s inspector general finally will answer the family’s questions: Were witnesses allowed to change their testimony on key details, as alleged by one investigator? Why did internal documents on the case, such as the initial casualty report, include false information? When did top Pentagon officials know that Tillman’s death was caused by friendly fire, and why did they delay for five weeks before informing his family? “There have been so many discrepancies so far that it’s hard to know what to believe,” Mary Tillman said. “There are too many murky details.” The files the family received from the Army in March are heavily censored, with nearly every page containing blacked-out sections; most names have been deleted. (Names for this story were provided by sources close to the investigation.) At least one volume was withheld altogether from the family, and even an Army press release given to the media has deletions…A Chronicle review of more than 2,000 pages of testimony, as well as interviews with Pat Tillman’s family members and soldiers who served with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and what appears to be the military’s attempt at self-protection. For example, the documents contain testimony of the first investigating officer alleging that Army officials allowed witnesses to change key details in their sworn statements so his finding that certain soldiers committed “gross negligence” could be softened. Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author. Unlike Cindy Sheehan — who has protested against President Bush because of the death of her son Casey in combat in Baghdad — Mary Tillman, 49, who teaches learning-disabled students in a San Jose public junior high school, and her ex-husband, Patrick Tillman, 50, a San Jose lawyer, have avoided association with the anti-war movement. Their main public allies are Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who have lobbied on their behalf. Yet the case has high stakes because of Pat Tillman’s status as an all-American hero…Moved in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman decided to give up his career, saying he wanted to fight al Qaeda and help find Osama bin Laden. He spurned the Cardinals’ offer of a three year, $3.6 million contract extension and joined the Army in June 2002 along with his brother Kevin, who was playing minor-league baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization. Pat Tillman’s enlistment grabbed the attention of the nation — and the highest levels of the Bush administration. A personal letter from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thanking him for serving his country, now resides in a storage box, put away by Pat’s widow, Marie. Instead of going to Afghanistan, as the brothers expected, their Ranger battalion was sent to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Tillmans saw combat several times on their way to Baghdad. In early 2004, they finally were assigned to Afghanistan…
FAMILY DEMANDS THE TRUTH New inquiry may expose events that led to Pat Tillman’s death Robert Collier, S.F. Chronicle, 9-25-05
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 5
Hurricane Katrina and the Fourth Anniversary of 9/11
Juan Cole, 9/11, 7/7 and 8/30, 9-11-05: On the fourth-year anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the US, it is important that we take stock of where we stand. We do not stand in a good place. The US military is bogged down in an intractable guerrilla war in Iraq, which most Muslims view as an aggressive neo-imperialism. Afghanistan is still unstable. The major al-Qaeda leaders are still at large, and recently struck London. Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans on 8/30 have demonstrated that the US government is unprepared to deal with major disasters, and that Bush administration priorities have often been capricious…The Bush administration has put enormously more resources into its problematic Iraq War than it ever did into the fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. That they have not succeeded in capturing Usamah Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri is a sign of extreme negligence or lack of seriousness. Likewise, the US government appears to have had no inkling that the March, 2004, bombings in Madrid or the July, 2005 bombings in London were in the offing. Given that a very large number of CIA personnel are in Iraq, it is no wonder that they hadn't been able to penetrate or monitor the radical Muslim terrorists in Western Europe…The Bush administration has dropped the ball on al-Qaeda, big time. The Iraq War has created a new recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and its soul mates among the Sunni Arabs of Iraq. In Haifa Street in Baghdad and in Samarra, there have actually been crowds wearing al-Qaeda insignia. Contrary to what the Bush administration would have you believe, Iraqis had had virtually nothing to do with al-Qaeda before the American invasion. Iraqi Sunnis had once mostly been secular Arab nationalists. But the American destruction of the Baath Party has made religious fundamentalism attractive to them as an alternative political identity. The US has succeeded in pushing 5 million Middle Easterners away from secular nationalism and toward the arms of al-Qaeda. Operations such as Fallujah and Tal Afar, involving the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, the damaging of a majority of buildings in the city, and the deaths of thousands, will not soon be forgotten by the country's Sunni Arabs. Some have spoken of taking revenge by finding a way to hit the American homeland. Things are not going well…Bush recently started likening his poorly conceived and misnamed "war on terror" to World War II. What his handlers have forgotten is how long World War II lasted for the United States…In four years, Roosevelt and allies defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In four years, Bush hasn't managed even to corner Bin Laden and a few hundred scruffy terrorists; or to extract himself from the deserts of Iraq; or to put the government's finances in good order so that it can deal with crises like Katrina.
Cornell West, Exiles From a City and From a Nation, 9-11-05, Observer/UK: It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.
What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, where the message for decades has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the fittest. People said: 'It looks like something out of the Third World.' Well, New Orleans was Third World long before the hurricane.
It's not just Katrina, it's povertina. People were quick to call them refugees because they looked as if they were from another country. They are. Exiles in America. Their humanity had been rendered invisible so they were never given high priority when the well-to-do got out and the helicopters came for the few. Almost everyone stuck on rooftops, in the shelters, and dying by the side of the road was poor black.
In the end George Bush has to take responsibility. When [the rapper] Kanye West said the President does not care about black people, he was right, although the effects of his policies are different from what goes on in his soul. You have to distinguish between a racist intent and the racist consequences of his policies. Bush is still a 'frat boy', making jokes and trying to please everyone while the Neanderthals behind him push him more to the right.
Poverty has increased for the last four or five years. A million more Americans became poor last year, even as the super-wealthy became much richer. So where is the trickle-down, the equality of opportunity? Healthcare and education and the social safety net being ripped away - and that flawed structure was nowhere more evident than in a place such as New Orleans, 68 per cent black. The average adult income in some parishes of the city is under $8,000 (£4,350) a year. The average national income is $33,000, though for African-Americans it is about $24,000. It has one of the highest city murder rates in the US. From slave ships to the Superdome was not that big a journey.
New Orleans has always been a city that lived on the edge. The white blues man himself, Tennessee Williams, had it down in A Streetcar Named Desire - with Elysian Fields and cemeteries and the quest for paradise. When you live so close to death, behind the levees, you live more intensely, sexually, gastronomically, psychologically. Louis Armstrong came out of that unbelievable cultural breakthrough unprecedented in the history of American civilisation. The rural blues, the urban jazz. It is the tragi-comic lyricism that gives you the courage to get through the darkest storm.
Charlie Parker would have killed somebody if he had not blown his horn. The history of black people in America is one of unbelievable resilience in the face of crushing white supremacist powers.
Be Angry, Be Very Angry, Editorial, Newsday, 9-11-05: Three lost days. For three long, terrifying days, as August turned into September, government failed the residents of New Orleans; failed the tax-paying citizens of this nation who expect that the entities in charge, from the White House on down to City Hall, will carry out their constitutional duties to "insure domestic tranquillity" and "promote the general welfare" - requirements they failed utterly to meet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
This fatal failure should be evidence that it is time for an attitude adjustment in Washington. If just a few heads roll, it won't be enough, because the problem is far more than incompetent, uncaring, slow-to-awaken, negligent appointees. It's the "starve the beast" philosophy that has hollowed out important government agencies. Hurricane Katrina should make the Republicans who control the White House and Congress ashamed of themselves…The failure was at all levels, but it was especially egregious at the top. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to ride to the rescue in catastrophes, especially if local governments mess up and founder in despair.…One could argue that there were six lost days, those between the Saturday declaration of a state of emergency and the following Friday, when the National Guard actually restored order in New Orleans. But to be fair, most Americans - and folks in New Orleans - thought the sultry city had dodged a bullet when the hurricane failed to make a direct hit. The realization that levees were giving way and the city was doomed didn't come until Tuesday. That's the day the Times-Picayune newspaper evacuated its downtown building, and it's the day that TV-watching Americans began to grasp the enormity of the catastrophe they saw unfolding. If ordinary people could see what was happening, how could the emergency experts in Washington be so oblivious? On Wednesday, the Superdome, home to tens of thousands of evacuees, became dangerous. No air conditioning, no working sanitary facilities, not enough food and water. The Convention Center was worse. There, where 10,000 more evacuees had been sent by police, there was no government-supplied food and water, nobody in charge, and anarchy reigned. By Thursday, looters were taking what they could from stores as corpses floated in the street.
Americans saw; FEMA didn't And Americans could see on their televisions that their government was AWOL. Terry Ebbert, the director of homeland security for New Orleans, said Thursday, "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims but we can't bail out the City of New Orleans." At about the same time, Brown, the clueless FEMA head, told CNN that he had only just learned that there were evacuees in the Convention Center. This was Thursday afternoon, by which time every television watcher in America knew there were thousands of people at the Convention Center and that they had no food or water and that people were dying for lack of medical care.
Bill Moyers, 9/11 and the Sport of God, 9-11-05: At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do.
My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others…
The First Amendment neither inculcates religion nor inoculates against it. Americans could be loyal to the Constitution without being hostile to God, or they could pay no heed to God without fear of being mugged by an official God Squad. It has been a remarkable arrangement that guaranteed "soul freedom."
It is at risk now, and the fourth observance of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 is an appropriate time to think about it.
Four years ago this week, the poet's prophetic metaphor became real again and "the great dark birds of history" plunged into our lives.
They came in the name of God. They came bent on murder and martyrdom. It was as if they rode to earth on the fierce breath of Allah himself, for the sacred scriptures that had nurtured these murderous young men are steeped in images of a violent and vengeful God who wills life for the faithful and horrific torment for unbelievers…
The other side of the story:
Muslims have no monopoly on holy violence. As Jack Nelson-Pallmayer points out, God's violence in the sacred texts of both faiths reflect a deep and troubling pathology "so pervasive, vindictive, and destructive" that it contradicts and subverts the collective weight of other passages that exhort ethical behavior or testify to a loving God.
For days now we have watched those heart-breaking scenes on the Gulf Coast: the steaming, stinking, sweltering wreckage of cities and suburbs; the fleeing refugees; the floating corpses, hungry babies, and old people huddled together in death, the dogs gnawing at their feet; stranded children standing in water reeking of feces and garbage; families scattered; a mother holding her small child and an empty water jug, pleading for someone to fill it; a wife, pushing the body of her dead husband on a wooden plank down a flooded street; desperate people struggling desperately to survive. Now transport those current scenes from our newspapers and television back to the first Book of the Bible - the Book of Genesis. They bring to life what we rarely imagine so graphically when we read of the great flood that devastated the known world. If you read the Bible as literally true, as fundamentalists do, this flood was ordered by God…Let's go back to 9/11 four years ago. The ruins were still smoldering when the reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell went on television to proclaim that the terrorist attacks were God's punishment of a corrupted America. They said the government had adopted the agenda "of the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians" not to mention the ACLU and People for the American Way…Suddenly we were immersed in the pathology of a "holy war" as defined by fundamentalists on both sides. You could see this pathology play out in General William Boykin. A professional soldier, General Boykin had taken up with a small group called the Faith Force Multiplier whose members apply military principles to evangelism with a manifesto summoning warriors "to the spiritual warfare for souls." After Boykin had led Americans in a battle against a Somalian warlord he announced: "I know my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his God was an idol." Now Boykin was going about evangelical revivals preaching that America was in a holy war as "a Christian nation" battling Satan and that America's Muslim adversaries will be defeated "only if we come against them in the name of Jesus." For such an hour, America surely needed a godly leader. So General Boykin explained how it was that the candidate who had lost the election in 2000 nonetheless wound up in the White House. President Bush, he said, "was not elected by a majority of the voters - he was appointed by God." Not surprising, instead of being reprimanded for evangelizing while in uniform, General Boykin is now the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. (Just as it isn't surprising that despite his public call for the assassination of a foreign head of state, Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing was one of the first groups to receive taxpayer funds from the President's Faith-Based Initiative for "relief work" on the Gulf Coast.)…It has to be said that their success has come in no small part because of our acquiescence and timidity. Our democratic values are imperiled because too many people of reason are willing to appease irrational people just because they are pious. Republican moderates tried appeasement and survive today only in gulags set aside for them by the Karl Roves, Bill Frists and Tom DeLays. Democrats are divided and paralyzed, afraid that if they take on the organized radical right they will lose what little power they have. Trying to learn to talk about God as Republicans do, they're talking gobbledygook, compromising the strongest thing going for them - the case for a moral economy and the moral argument for the secular checks and balances that have made America "a safe haven for the cause of conscience." As I look back on the conflicts and clamor of our boisterous past, one lesson about democracy stands above all others: Bullies - political bullies, economic bullies and religious bullies - cannot be appeased; they have to be opposed with a stubbornness to match their own. This is never easy; these guys don't fight fair; "Robert's Rules of Order" is not one of their holy texts. But freedom on any front - and especially freedom of conscience - never comes to those who rock and wait, hoping someone else will do the heavy lifting. Christian realism requires us to see the world as it is, without illusions, and then take it on…Christian realists aren't afraid to love. But just as the Irishman who came upon a brawl in the street and asked, "Is this a private fight or can anyone get in it?" we have to take that love where the action is. Or the world will remain a theatre of war between fundamentalists.
Joe Conason, 9/11 -- The Bitter Lessons of Four Years, Salon.com, 9-11-05: Standing among the wreckage of two national disasters, it is no longer possible to deny the plain truth: Bush and his administration are unfit to wield power.
It would have been almost impossible to imagine, during the days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that we might someday look back on that depressing time with a tinge of nostalgia. For Americans, and especially for those of us who live in New York City, those autumn memories are filled with rage and horror, fire and smoke, loss and death; but they are also filled with a spirit of courage, community and real patriotism. United we stood, even behind a government of dubious legitimacy, because we knew that there was no other way to defend what we valued. In a strange way, Sept. 11 - despite all the instantaneous proclamations that things would never be the same - represented a final moment of innocence. Now catastrophe has befallen another American city, with horrors and losses that may surpass the toppling of the twin towers. And while many people in New Orleans have shown themselves to be brave, generous and decent, this season's disaster has instilled more dread than pride, more anger than unity. Why is the mood so different now? At every level, the vacuum of leadership was appalling, but especially among the national leaders to whom all Americans look at a time of catastrophic peril. As rising waters sank the city, summer vacations in Texas and Wyoming, and shoe-shopping on Madison Avenue, appeared to take priority over the suffering on the Gulf Coast.
Four years after 9/11, we know much more than we knew then about the arrogance, dishonesty, recklessness and incompetence of a national government that was never worthy of its power…Four years ago, as we contemplated potential threats from the enemies of civilization, it was impossible to conceive of the vast damage that our own government would inflict upon America before those enemies could strike again. The danger from the perpetrators of 9/11 has not abated, and suddenly we know how vulnerable we remain - because the federal officials who have sworn to defend us, beginning with the president, have neither the character nor the competence to fulfill that oath.
Micheal Moore, To All My Fellow Americans Who Voted for George W. Bush: On this, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I'm just curious, how does it feel? How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows?
That's right. Horse shows.
I really want to know -- and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect -- how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety? C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe…Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake.
That's not a joke. The day the hurricane hit and the levees broke, Mr. Bush, John McCain and their rich pals were stuffing themselves with cake. A full day after the levees broke (the same levees whose repair funding he had cut), Mr. Bush was playing a guitar some country singer gave him. All this while New Orleans sank under water.
It would take ANOTHER day before the President would do a flyover in his jumbo jet, peeking out the window at the misery 2500 feet below him as he flew back to his second home in DC. It would then be TWO MORE DAYS before a trickle of federal aid and troops would arrive. This was no seven minutes in a sitting trance while children read "My Pet Goat" to him. This was FOUR DAYS of doing nothing other than saying "Brownie (FEMA director Michael Brown), you're doing a heck of a job!"
My Republican friends, does it bother you that we are the laughing stock of the world?
Bob Burnett, Al Gore: When there is No Vision, the People Perish, 9-11-05: Gore's theme was based upon the quote from Proverbs, "When there is no vision, the people perish." He dwelt at length on the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina observing, "It is important that we learn the right lessons from what happened, or else we will repeat the mistakes that were made." Gore identified three basic lessons that the American people must grasp: the first is deceptively simple - Presidents should be expected to pay attention. The former Vice President recalled that on August 6, 2001, President Bush received an intelligence briefing, "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.," but took no action as, "it was vacation time." Four years later, the Bush Administration received dire warnings of the damage that would be done to New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast, if Hurricane Katrina kept to its projected course; nothing was done, "It was, once again, vacation time."
The second lesson, according to Gore, involves presidential accountability. "There has been no accountability for horrible misjudgment and outright falsehood - [leading to] the tragedy of Iraq." The former VP argued that this has produced an atmosphere, in the White House, where "there is no fear of accountability" for the Federal missteps surrounding Hurricane Katrina. Gore opined that the management philosophy of the Bush Administration has been dictated by conservative lobbyist, Grover Nordquist, who famously boasted, "my goal is to get [government] down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub." Gore indicated that, as a result, the President deliberately shrunk the size of FEMA, rendering it "weak and helpless."
The former Vice President's third lesson is that Presidents ought to heed warnings. The Bush Administration ignored distress signals about Al Qaeda and the frailty of the New Orleans' levees, and continues to disregard warnings about global warming. "The average hurricane will get stronger because of global warming, he said, noting a scientific study, recently reported in "Nature" magazine, that concluded, "Since 1970, the average hurricane has been 50 percent stronger," specifically because the oceans have grown warmer.
Gore passionately compared present-day America to Great Britain on the eve of World War II. He recalled the words that Winston Churchill spoke after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's infamous 1938 appeasement of Hitler, "They are decided to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent - This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time." Noting the chilling similarities between the crisis-management style of Bush and Chamberlain, the former VP declared that it is time that Americans, "recover our moral health and demand accountability."
Buoyed by a prolonged standing ovation, Gore concluded his speech by observing that the US is at "a moral moment - This is not about scientific debate or political dialogue, but about who we are - [It's about] our expectation to rise to this new occasion, to see with our hearts as well as our heads." The former Vice President remembered that, aft the end of the civil war, Abraham Lincoln remarked, "As the problems are new, we must disenthrall ourselves from the past." Gore implored his audience to help America be similarly disenthralled, "to shed our illusions that have led us to ignore the consequences of the global warming that has already begun."
LNS Articles of Impeachment Jan. '06 Pt. 6
Cindy Sheehan & The Long Hot Summer
Nathan Diebenow, I'm Not Budging, Says Soldier's Mother Camped at Bush's Door, President Bush Ditches Mother of Slain Soldier, The Lone Star Iconoclast, 8-10-05: The mother of a US soldier slain in Iraq was denied a face-to-face meeting with President Bush here Saturday after she walked through a ditch-like path in the August heat to the President's Prairie Chapel Ranch. "I didn't come all this way from California to stand here in a ditch," said Cindy Sheehan, 48, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, attempting to continue her trek to the ranch. Even though two of the President's aides later agreed to deliver her message to him, Sheehan said that she would remain in Crawford for the whole month, if need be, until she is granted a private audience with the commander-in-chief to ask him for what "noble cause" did her son die overseas. "If he doesn't come out to talk to me in Crawford, I'll follow him to D.C., and I'll camp out on his lawn," she said, to a round of applause from her supporters. "I'll go to prison. I don't want to live in a country where people are treated this way." Sheehan's actions, she said, were sparked by President Bush's comments like those made last Wednesday in Grapevine to about 1,800 members of the American Legislative Exchange Council: "Our men and women who've lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in this war on terror have died in a noble cause and a selfless cause." "We all know by now that that's not true, and I want to ask George Bush, 'Why did my son die? What was the noble cause that he died for?'" said Sheehan. "I don't want [President Bush] to use my son's name or my family name to justify any more killing or to exploit my son's name, my son's sacrifice, or my son's honor to justify more killing. As a mother, why would I want one more mother to go through what I'm going through, Iraqi or American? And I want to tell him that the only way to honor my son's sacrifice is to bring the troops home now." Her son, Casey Sheehan, 24, of Vacaville, Calif., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 4, 2004, when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Bush's comments Wednesday coincided with the deaths of 12 Marine reservists from Ohio who were killed in perhaps the deadliest roadside bombing of US troops in Iraq. So far, the lives of about 1,821 Americans in uniform have been taken since the 2003 invasion. Pollsters indicate that Bush's approval ratings are declining in relation to the rise in US casualties in Iraq. Sheehan, joining anti-war activists at the Crawford Peace House, arrived with a busload of veterans from the Veterans for Peace convention which was held in Irving, near Dallas, since Thursday. The total group of activists there numbered over 50 and included members of Veteran's for Peace (VFP), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), CodePink, and the Crawford Peace House. Vietnam veteran Jim Waters, not affiliated with any activist group, said that he drove overnight from Lubbock alone in support of Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace because he is "very concerned" about the war in Iraq and wants to ask President Bush, "Why aren't his daughters there? One of the principles of leadership is you don't ask people to do what you yourself don't have the courage to do, and [President Bush] is asking people to fight to their deaths when he himself and most of the architects of this war never served," said Waters, a retired Navy commander and former hospital administrator. "[President Bush] served, but he jumped over 10,000 people to get into the National Guard Champagne Unit, so he could avoid duty in Vietnam. I had to go to Vietnam, and now he's sending them to their deaths - over 1,800 so far.
"I'm sick and tired of what's happening to our country," he continued. "To me it's almost like the White House operation is a mob operation. These guys are scary, and they're dangerous, in my opinion.”
Greg Mitchell, 'Vanity Fair' Rips Media 'Conspiracy' in Covering Up Role in Plame Scandal, Editors & Publishers, 8-11-05: In an article in the September issue of Vanity Fair (not yet online), Michael Wolff, in probing the Plame/CIA leak scandal, rips those in the news media -- principally Time magazine and The New York Times -- who knew that Karl Rove was one of the leakers but refused to expose what would have been “one of the biggest stories of the Bush years.” Not only that, “they helped cover it up.” You might say, he adds, they “became part of a conspiracy.” If they had burned this unworthy source and exposed his “crime,” he adds, it would have been “of such consequences that it might, reasonably, have presaged the defeat of the president, might have even -- to be slightly melodramatic -- altered the course of the war in Iraq.” In doing so they showed they owed their greatest allegiance to the source, not their readers. And their source was no Deep Throat, not someone with dirt on the government -- the source “was the government.” So in the end, he concludes, “the greatest news organizations in the land had a story about a potential crime that reached as close as you can get to the president himself and they punted, they swallowed it, they self-dealt.” And why did they do it? Well, “a source is a source who, unrevealed, will continue to be a source.” Even after the news first emerged last month that Rove had leaked to Cooper, the media still waited days to even ask the White House press secretary about it. It was a story, "in full view, the media just ignored." The title of the Wolff article is "All Roads Lead to Rove." Wolff mocks Time’s Matt Cooper and Norman Pearlstine and can’t seem to make heads or tails of “genuinely spooky” Robert Novak. He holds off full judgment on the Times’ jailed reporter Judith Miller, while noting the "baloney" she retailed for the White House. But he pointedly notes, concerning Miller, that reporters are born “blabbermouths” and even when they don’t write or print a certain story they are prone to “serve it up to everybody they know.” He closes with a frontal blast at the media, many members of which will soon be exposed, he predicts, for having “lined up for these lies” spun by the White House.
Warming Hits 'Tipping Point,' Guardian/UK, 8-11-05: Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometers - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures. The discovery was made by Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University in western Siberia and Judith Marquand at Oxford University and is reported in New Scientist today. The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometer across. Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years. Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.
"When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it's unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply," said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. "This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing."
Sidney Blumenthal, The Informer, Salon.com, 8-11-05: For nearly 50 years, Robert Novak badgered and bullied his way to the top of Washington. His disgrace in the Valerie Plame affair has brought him crashing down - and he has only himself to blame. The tension of possibly being asked an impertinent question about Valerie Plame was unbearable for Robert Novak. Before it could be posed on CNN's Aug. 4 "Crossfire," Novak growled a vulgarism, threw off his microphone, and stalked off the set. Within an hour, a CNN spokesperson announced that the Washington columnist, who had been one of CNN's original marquee attractions, had engaged in "inexcusable and unacceptable" behavior and was suspended: "We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off." …The self-described "prince of darkness" appears blinded by the light. He cannot see himself as everyone else does. He has called so much attention to himself that he casts no shadow at all. He is completely exposed. He has become a fugitive who cannot find a safe house in the town that he thought was his bailiwick. His craven torment and wild flailing at his inability to halt his self-destruction might cast him as a Dostoevskian figure. But his absence of doubt deprives him of the depth of existential crisis. Bob Novak now resembles Gypo Nolan, the Judas of John Ford's classic 1935 movie, "The Informer," an IRA traitor on the run, used to the comfort of matey sycophants, but whom no one will shield and who unwittingly betrays himself in the end.
Robert Dreyfuss, Bigger Than AIPAC, www.zmag.org, 8-10-05: Important new details of the U.S.-Israeli espionage case involving Larry Franklin, the alleged Pentagon spy, two officials of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and an intelligence official at the Embassy of Israel emerged last week. Two AIPAC officials -who have left the organization- were indicted along with Franklin on charges of "communicat[ing] national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it." In plain English, if not legal-speak, that means spying. But as the full text of the indictment makes clear, the conspiracy involved not just Franklin and the AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, but at least several other Pentagon officials who played intermediary roles, at least two other Israeli officials, and one official at a "Washington, D.C. think tank." It's an old-fashioned spy story involving the passing of secret documents, hush-hush meetings and outright espionage, along with good-old-boy networking. But the network tied to the "Franklin case"-which ought to be called the "AIPAC case," since it was AIPAC that was really under investigation by the FBI- provides an important window into a shadowy world. It is clear that by probing the details of the case, the FBI has got hold of a dangerous loose end of much larger story. By pulling on that string hard enough, the FBI and the Justice Department might just unravel that larger story, which is beginning to look more and more like it involves the same nexus of Pentagon civilians, White House functionaries, and American Enterprise Institute officials who thumped the drums for war in Iraq in 2001-2003 and who are now trying to whip up an anti-Iranian frenzy as well.
Needless to say, all of this got short shrift from the mainstream media when it was revealed last week…It is an important story, arguably one that has greater implications for national security than the scandal involving the churlish outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. So far, at least, the media frenzy attending to the Plame affair is matched by nearly total silence about the Franklin-AIPAC affair. Can it be true that reporters are more courageous about pursuing a story that involves the White House than they are about plunging into a scandal that involves Israel, our No. 1 Middle East ally?
Marjorie Cohn, Abu Ghraib General Lambastes Bush Administration, www.truthout.org, 8-24-05: Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was in charge of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the now famous torture photographs were taken in fall of 2003. She was reprimanded and demoted to Colonel for her failure to properly supervise the prison guards. Karpinski is the highest ranking officer to be sanctioned for the mistreatment of prisoners. On August 3, 2005, I interviewed Janis Karpinski. In the most comprehensive public statement she has made to date, Karpinski deconstructs the entire United States military operation in Iraq with some astonishing revelations…
The first time Karpinski got any clarification about the photographs was January 23, 2004. The criminal investigator, Colonel Marcelo, came into Karpinski's office and showed her the pictures. "When I saw the pictures I was floored," Karpinski said. "Really, the world was spinning out of control when I saw those pictures, because it was so far beyond and outside of what I imagined. I thought that maybe some soldiers had taken some pictures of prisoners behind barbed wire or in their cell or something like that. I couldn't imagine anything like what I saw in those photographs."
Marcelo told her, "Ma'am, I'm supposed to tell you after you see the photographs that General Sanchez wants to see you in his office." So Karpinski went over to see Sanchez. She said that "before I even saw the photographs, I was preparing words to say in a press conference - to be up front, to be honest about this, that an investigation is ongoing and there are some allegations of detainee abuse."
But Sanchez told Karpinski, "'No, absolutely not. You are not to discuss this with anyone.' And I should have known then," she said, "and I know that Sanchez was hopeful for a four-star promotion even then, in January of 2004. And I thought it had probably most to do with the election coming up in November 2004, and that this could really move the Administration out of the White House if it was exploited. So naively, I just thought, you know, they're going to let this investigation go and they're going to handle it the way it should be handled."
Karpinski said, however, "The truth has been uncovered, but it's been suffocated and it has not been released with the results of the investigation." She added, "McClellan and Rumsfeld can get up on their high horse and say that there've been no fewer than 15 investigations that were conducted. But every one of those investigations is under the control of the Secretary of Defense. And every one of those investigations is run and led by a person who can lose their job under Rumsfeld's fist."
"We're never going to know the truth until they do an independent commission or look into this independently," Karpinski maintains. "This is about instructions delivered with full authority and knowledge of the Secretary of Defense and probably Cheney. I don't know if the President was involved or not. I don't care. All I know is, those instructions were communicated from the Secretary of Defense's office, from the Pentagon, through Cambone, through Miller, to Abu Ghraib."
Karpinski describes what happened when General Geoffrey Miller arrived at Abu Ghraib: "The most pronounced difference was when Miller came to visit. He came right after Rumsfeld's visit ... And he said that he was going to use a template from Guantánamo Bay to 'Gitmo-ize' the operations out at Abu Ghraib."
Robert Scheer, Mortgaged to the House of Saud, LA Times, 8/9/05: The only evidence you need that President Bush is losing the "war on terror" is this: On Sunday, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that relations with the United States "couldn't be better." Tell that to the parents of those who have died in two wars defending this corrupt spawning ground of violent extremism. Never mind the ugly facts: We are deeply entwined with Saudi Arabia even though it shares none of our values and supports our enemies. Yet on Friday, Bush's father and Vice President Dick Cheney made another in a long line of obsequious American pilgrimages to Riyadh to assure the Saudis that we continue to be grateful for the punishment they dish out…We protect the repressive kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden, and most of the 9/11 hijackers, in exchange for the Saudis keeping our fecklessly oil-addicted country lubricated…Our president loves to use the word "evil" in his speeches, yet throughout his life he and his family have had deep personal, political and financial ties with a country that represents everything the American Revolution stood against: tyranny, religious intolerance, corrupt royalty and popular ignorance. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive and those who show "too much skin" can be beaten in the street by officially sanctioned mobs of fanatics. A medieval land where newspapers routinely publish the most outlandish anti-Semitic rants. A place where executions are held in public, torture is the norm in prison and the most extreme and expansionist version of Islam is the state religion…As the drumbeat of devastating terrorist attacks in Baghdad, London and elsewhere continue, Bush prattles on - five times in a speech last Wednesday - about his pyrrhic victories in the "war on terror." This is a sorry rhetorical device that disguises the fact that the forces of Islamic fanaticism in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world are stronger than ever.
HERBERT P. BIX, Showa Scholar Supreme, Japan Times, 8/7/05: Do you see any similarities between the way Hirohito and his key advisers went about their business and the conduct of today's world leaders? If we look at Japan today -- certainly since the rise of the Koizumi Cabinet -- we see a world shaped by a new militarism that has arisen in the United States, a new imperialism, a government in Washington composed of ideological extremists and demonstrable war criminals who have initiated wars of aggression. The United States after 9/11 launched a war against Afghanistan and then a few years later against Iraq. It has spread bases now throughout Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and Iraq. It is distrusted; it has lost all ideological legitimacy in the eyes of most people in the world -- especially in the Middle East and across Central Asia and the whole Islamic world. So we have this government, headed by George W. Bush, in 2003 ignoring the Security Council and launching an illegal war against Iraq. Here, you can bring in Japan -- you might say the Americans' preventive war against Iraq was worse, in many ways far worse, than Japan's attack on an American military base, in an American colony, in December 1941 -- far worse than Pearl Harbor. Stop and think about it: It [Pearl Harbor] was an act of aggression and it initiated the Pacific War, but here was the world's only hyperpower initiating the same type of infamous act of aggression against a defenseless country, and doing so for reasons that are truly despicable. Oil and revenge were factors, certainly, in the decision of the Bush administration. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But in the new 21st century, in the era of the new militarism, the new imperialism and the rise of the ideological extremists in decision-making positions in the United States, we can look back on the Asian-Pacific War. If we do so carefully, we won't be justifying what Japan did and what Japan's war leaders were punished for doing -- all except for Hirohito -- but we can see that in both cases government, individuals in positions of official power, planned and prepared and initiated and waged wars of aggression. The problem is -- and this really upsets many Japanese regardless of whether they're from the left or right -- Japan's leaders were subjected at the [International Military Tribunal for the Far East] Tokyo trials to charges of crimes against "civilization." They were punished for crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and of course, war crimes. But there was a double standard, because the Americans didn't apply the same standards to themselves. This rankles. This civilization theme is a myth. But I still think the Tokyo tribunal wasn't wrong. It had shortcomings by contemporary standards and it operated with a view of history that wasn't always correct. But by and large, it did more good than harm. Of course, the right has a different view.
William Rivers Pitt, Bush's Soviet State, 722/05: The defining events of the last fifty years all centered around the Cold War and the eventual demise of the Soviet system. Toward the end of the Soviet regime, their government was often forced to grossly overstate the size of grain harvests or the preparedness of their military in order to maintain an illusion of strength and order. In other words, intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy. In essence, fixing the facts became the policy. Self-deception was piled upon self-deception. Rather than address the systemic problems within the nation, the Soviet regime chose instead to massage the illusions until the problems became too huge to overcome. Pretending everything was fine became the chosen course of action, and the state's ability to manufacture a pleasing reality became a perfect circle of inaction and delusion…A recent article from the Associated Press titled "Experts Fear Endless Terror War" noted, "An Associated Press survey of longtime students of international terrorism finds them ever more convinced, in the aftermath of London's bloody Thursday, that the world has entered a long siege in a new kind of war. They believe that al-Qaida is mutating into a global insurgency, a possible prototype for other 21st-century movements, technologically astute, almost leaderless. And the way out is far from clear. In fact, says Michael Scheuer, the ex-CIA analyst, rather than move toward solutions, the United States took a big step backward by invading Iraq." The article continues, "Scheuer, who headed the CIA's bin Laden unit for nine years, sees a different way out - through US foreign policy. He said he resigned last November to expose the US leadership's 'willful blindness' to what needs to be done: withdraw the US military from the Mideast, end 'unqualified support' for Israel, sever close ties to Arab oil-state 'tyrannies.'" Willful blindness is an appropriate phrase. It captures not only the fact that we are manufacturing threats to our security every day we remain in Iraq, but the fact that virtually everything associated with Bush administration policy depends on self-delusion and the manipulation of data to fulfill political desires. Even the most fundamental underpinnings of conservative political philosophy have been ground up in the gears of this grand fantasy. Truth no longer matters. Ethics no longer matter. Facts are there for the twisting. Decades-old conservative ideals regarding the budget and the size of the Federal government have been thrown under the bus because they are no longer convenient, and get in the way of the manufacture of reality. Soviet self-delusion led that nation into Afghanistan and disaster. The Bush administration’s self-delusion has led us into Iraq. Res ipsa loquitor. The parallel between this Bush administration and the old, failed Soviet regime can be taken one step further. One of the main reasons the Soviet government was able to stagger on for years making up facts out of whole cloth was that the leaders of that regime were accountable to no one. The Politburo said it, and so it must be true, and if it wasn't true, there was no authority or check to their power that could blow a whistle, throw a flag or demand an investigation. The old Soviet government lived in a bubble, free from the fear that they might be called to the carpet for lying, getting a lot of people killed and putting the State in mortal danger. Sound familiar? Bush and his people have managed to walk through the raindrops since 2001, managed to pull off more than a few impeachable crimes, for no other reason than that they are accountable to no one in government ... or, more properly, no one in government who has the power to call them to account has done so. Congress is run by Bush allies, the Justice Department is run by his longest-standing hatchet man, and all of them prefer to maintain the pleasant fictions over any attempt to fix what has gone so drastically and demonstrably wrong. We watched the Soviets smash themselves to pieces because they refused to deal with what ailed them, because lies made life easier on the powerful, because actually attempting to address a problem might expose the powerful to censure or even removal...
Ray McGovern, Preempting Cheney, www.tompaine.com, 8/3/05: Whatever plans Dick Cheney and his neo-conservatives may have had to conjure up a nuclear threat from Iran as "justification" for military action have been sharply undercut by some timely leaks to the Washington Post. In a redux of President George W. Bush's spin on the "grave and growing" danger from Iraq, Cheney protégé and newly appointed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is on record warning that Iranian "deception" must not be allowed to continue much longer: "It will be too late. Iran will have nuclear weapons." Not for ten more years, report sources close to the U.S. intelligence community in yesterday's lead story in the Post . Several government officials with access to the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran have told journalist Dafna Linzer of its main judgments. By doing so, Linzer's sources seem determined not to sit idly by as our country is misled once again into a war favored only by "neo-conservatives" in Washington and their counterparts in the far-right Likud government in Israel who share a vision of remaking the map of the Middle East. Linzer has shown commendable tenacity on Iran and the nuclear issue—tenacity highly unusual by today's lax media standards. According to Linzer's sources, the National Intelligence Estimate states that, while there are credible signs that the Iranian military is doing some clandestine work, there is no information to connect that work directly to a nuclear weapons program. Moreover, U.N. inspectors have found no convincing proof that Iran is conducting a nuclear weapons program or that it has a nuclear warhead design. The NIE concludes that Iran will not be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon until "early to mid-next decade," with general consensus among intelligence analysts that 2015 would actually be the earliest.The exposure of these intelligence judgments is extremely well timed. It comes amid rumors that Vice President Cheney's office has ordered up contingency plans for a large-scale air assault on Iran using not only conventional weapons but also tactical nuclear weapons to take out hardened underground nuclear facilities. The action would be framed as a response to a terrorist act—whether sponsored by Iran or not—on the United States. According to former CIA operative Philip Giraldi, senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are appalled that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked attack but, sadly, no one wants to jeopardize a career by posing objections. Indeed, Cheney is once again leading the public charge, just as he did in 2002 in the lead up to invading Iraq. On the morning of Inauguration Day 2005 on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Cheney warned that Iran has "a fairly robust new nuclear program." And, he added, it sponsors terrorism. The vice president said Iran's "objective is the destruction of Israel." Imus then brought up the possibility of preempting Iran, asking, "Why don't we make Israel do it?" Cheney responded: Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant capability, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.
Agence France Presse, Ex-Official: CIA knew Iraq was nuclear-free, 8/1/05: A former employee has claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons programme, The New York Times reported. The New York Times reported on Monday that the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy- makers. In a lawsuit filed in the federal court in December, the former CIA officer, whose name remains secret, said the informant had told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment programme had ended years earlier and that the centrifuge components from the scuttled programme were available for examination and purchase. The paper said the officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, was fired in 2004. In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons- related matters, according to The Times. He also charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.
The Nation, They Shall Be Released, 8/22/05: There's a new batch of photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and these are reportedly far worse than the sickening originals. Naturally, the Pentagon is trying to block their release.The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in October 2003 to make public 87 photographs and four videos depicting prisoner abuse in Iraq. The Pentagon originally argued that releasing the images would violate the Geneva Convention rights of the detainees; a supreme irony considering that the US originally denied these very prisoners Geneva Convention protections. The ACLU agreed that the Pentagon could black out "identifying characteristics," but a federal judge in New York ruled last week that DoD must explain publicly why it's concealing the images. "By and large, I ruled for public disclosure," said US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein. A final ruling is expected on August 30.
In court proceedings, General Richard Myers argued that releasing the pictures and videos would give aid to the enemy: boosting Al Qaeda recruitment, destabilizing governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and inciting riots throughout the Muslim world. But a number of high-ranking officers and civil libertarians countered by noting that much of what Myers predicts is already occurring on the ground, fueled in large measure by past and present US behavior. "The attacks will continue regardless of whether the photos and tapes are released," testified former US Army Colonel Michael Pheneger. Myers, he said, "mistakes propaganda for motivation."
Last May members of Congress sat in a dark room and viewed the images. Their responses begged for further elaboration. "It was disgusting," said Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. "There were new ones that we hadn't seen before, and they're bad. I mean there's no doubt about that." Bad enough to show to Congress apparently, but not the American people.
The NewsHour's Ray Suarez said the images reportedly depict "assault, coerced sexual activity, rape, even dead bodies." Some may have originated outside of Abu Ghraib. Rep. Jane Harman said she saw videos of a prisoner banging his head against a wall and a group of men masturbating. "Some of the videos are more disturbing than the still photos that you've seen," added Sen. Bill Nelson.
Far from endangering American national security, the release of the horrific images could provide new impetus to the stalled Congressional investigations into prisoner abuse, and the Pentagon's failure to hold any high-ranking officers accountable for Abu Ghraib. An independent counsel with subpoena power is what's needed most right now to prevent images like these in the future.
Henry Waxman (D-CA), 11 Security Breaches in Plame Case, YubaNet.com, 7/22/05: On July 14, 2003, columnist Robert Novak revealed that the wife of Ambassador Josph Wilson, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a covert CIA agent. This disclosure of classified information has triggered a criminal investigation by a Special Counsel and led to calls for congressional investigations. The Novak column, however, appears to be only one of multiple leaks of Ms. Wilson's identity. As this fact sheet documents, there appear to be at least 11 separate instances in which Administration officials disclosed information about Ms. Wilson's identity and association with the CIA.
Under Executive Order 12958, the White House is required to investigate any reports of security breaches and take "prompt corrective action," such as suspending the security clearances of those involved. Unlike prosecutions for criminal violations, which require "knowing" and "intentional" disclosures, the executive order covers a wider range of unauthorized breaches, including the "negligent" release of classified information. There is no evidence that the White House has complied with its obligation to investigate any of the 11 reported instances of security breaches relating to Ms. Wilson or to apply administrative sanctions to those involved.
The Disclosures of Valerie Wilson's Identity
1. The Disclosure by Karl Rove to Columnist Robert Novak
2. The Disclosure by a "Senior Administration Official" to Columnist Robert Novak
3. The Disclosure by Karl Rove to TIME Reporter Matt Cooper
4. The Disclosure by Scooter Libby to TIME Reporter Matt Cooper
5. The Disclosure by an "Administration Official" to Washington Post Reporter Walter Pincus
6. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
(Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell.)
7. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
(Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be NBC Meet the Press host Tim Russert.)
8. The Disclosure by a "Top White House Official" to an Unidentified Reporter
(Press reports suggest that one of these unidentified reporters may be MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews.)
9. The Disclosure by an Unidentified Source to Wall Street Journal Reporter David Cloud
10. The Disclosure by an Unidentified Source to James Guckert of Talon News
11. The Disclosure by a "Senior Administration Official" to Washington Post Reporters Mike Allen and Dana Milbank
Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful, Associated Press, 7-30-05: Former President Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States. Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as "unnecessary and unjust." "I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference in Birmingham, England. "I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts." "What has happened at Guantanamo Bay ... does not represent the will of the American people," Carter said Saturday. "I'm embarrassed about it, I think its wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people." Earlier this month, Carter called for the Guantanamo prison to be shut down, saying reports of abuses there were an embarassment to the United States. He also said that the United States needs to make sure no detainees are held incommunicado and that all are told the charges against them. Carter, who won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. "I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false," he said Saturday…He praised British police and intelligence services for the swift arrests in connection with the July 21 failed bombing attempts on London's transit system. "I'm very proud to be in a nation that stands so stalwart against terrorism with us," he said. "The people of my country have united our hearts and sympathy for the tragedy that you have suffered from terrorism."
Marc Caputo, Roberts Had Larger 2000 Recount Role, Miami Herald, 7-27-05: US Supreme Court nominee John Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported - as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job. Ted Cruz, a domestic policy advisor for President Bush and who is now Texas' solicitor general, said Roberts was one of the first names he thought of while he and another attorney drafted the Republican legal dream team of litigation "lions" and "800-pound gorillas," which ultimately consisted of 400 attorneys in Florida. Until now, Gov. Jeb Bush and others involved in the election dispute could recall almost nothing of Roberts' role, except for a half-hour meeting the governor had with Roberts. Cruz said Roberts was in Tallahassee helping the Bush camp for "a week to 10 days," and that his help was important, though Cruz said it is difficult to remember specifics five years after the sleep-depriving frenetic pace of the 2000 recount. But one thing was certain, Cruz told The Herald: "There was no one better for the job."
Armando, Did Roberts Support Groups Who Bombed Abortion Clinics?, www.dailykos.com, 8-8-05: NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation's leading advocate for personal privacy and a woman's right to choose, launched a nationwide television ad campaign drawing attention to one of the most disturbing episodes in Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' career - the brief he filed siding with groups like Operation Rescue and other anti-choice extremists who use bombings and other forms of intimidation against women, doctors, and nurses at women's health clinics. "We believe in a culture of personal freedom and personal responsibility. As an advocacy organization, it is our job to let the American people know that John Roberts's record demonstrates hostility toward these core values," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "This ad showing a disturbing part of Roberts' record is even more important since the White House decided to withhold critical information about Roberts from the public."
. . . The ad focuses on Roberts' amicus brief in 1991 on the side of the notorious Operation Rescue, convicted clinic bomber Michael Bray, and others in the Supreme Court case Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, as well as his 1992 efforts in a U.S. District Court to lift an injunction against Operation Rescue. The defendants in the Bray case included violent anti-choice activists Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue; Michael Bray, who had been convicted for his involvement in 10 bombings at health centers in the 1980s; and Patrick Mahoney, a consultant to Operation Rescue. Roberts argued the case before the Supreme Court and said that Operation Rescue's unlawful behavior did not amount to discrimination against women.
. . . [Nancy Keenan said] I want to be very clear that we are not suggesting Mr. Roberts condones or supports clinic violence. I'm sure he finds bombings and murder abhorrent. But still his ideological view of the law compelled him to go out of his way to argue on behalf of someone like Michael Bray, who had already been convicted of a string of bombings."
The Right is up in arms:
Even by the standards of the pro-abortion movement, the new television ad that the group now calling itself NARAL Pro-Choice America has unleashed is particularly mendacious. The ad features a woman injured in the 1998 bombing of an abortion clinic, attempts to link her injury to an amicus brief that Roberts filed in 1991, and says that Americans should oppose a nominee "whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans." NARAL's press release disingenuously claims that "we are not suggesting Mr. Roberts condones or supports clinic violence" when that of course is exactly what its ad does.
First, Whelan's outrage at this type of commentary is pretty disingenuous. To take one example, the Right's attacks on the ACLU have been much worse than this, and if Whelan (or any Right Winger) has protested, I have never heard it. Any words for O'Reilly, Whelan?
Second, while the ad is, how should I say this, inflammatory, it is not untruthful. While I am not that comfortable with it, I do think Keenan gets at an essential truth, Roberts has not been forthcoming on these key issues, and we are left to scrounge around for clues in his sparse public record. This is especially true when you consider the best evidence we could have, his policy work as Deputy Solicitor General, has not been released.
I'll make a deal with Whelan, demand the White House release the memos Roberts reviewed and his remarks on them while Deputy Solicitor General, and I'll demand NARAL withdraw this ad. This is rhetorical flourish of course. Whelan won't do it and the White House doesn't care what we say anyway. It will listen, however, to the American People, who need to know that the White House is in full stonewall mode.
Amy Goodman, The Federalist (Society) Papers: John Roberts and the Right's Move to Take Control of the Judiciary, Democracy Now, 7-26-05: There is growing focus on an organization that Supreme Court justice nominee John Roberts claims he cannot remember if he joined or not: the Federalist Society. We speak with Alfred Ross of the Institute for Democracy Studies who uncovered John Roberts' membership in the right-wing organization…
Amy Goodman: It's good to have you with us. Can you tell us about what you know, what evidence you have that John Roberts is a member of the Federalist Society, and then, of course, what the Federalist Society is?
Alfred Ross: Well, Roberts, whether he's paid his dues or not, was prominently listed in the 1997/1998 leadership directory published by the Federalist Society itself. So it is very difficult to believe that he didn't have any membership. He was on the Steering Committee. The important question is not whether he paid dues as a member or not. The question really at stake here is where does Roberts and his Federalist Society cronies plan to steer our ship of state. If one looks at the history of the Federalist Society, which was established at the inspiration of Robert Bork in the early 1980s, their entire trajectory has been to move our judicial system in an extremely radically right wing direction. In order to effectuate this, the Federalist Society has established 15 practice groups which you can find on their own website which is fed-soc.org. These 15 practice groups are busy developing new legal theories for every area of American jurisprudence, from civil rights law to national security law, international law, securities regulations law, and so on. And if one goes through the publications of their practice groups, one can only gasp not only at the breadth of their agenda, but the extremism of their ideology. It is not insignificant that today Timothy Flanigan will have hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to be Deputy Attorney General of the United States. In the same leadership directory that lists John Roberts on the Steering Committee to the Federalist Society, it lists Timothy Flanigan on the Program Committee of the Federalist Society. And both men have their own personal track records in the right wing of American jurisprudence. In 1987 the Senate Judiciary decided that Robert Bork's ideology was so far outside the mainstream of American jurisprudence that he was not fit to serve on the Supreme Court. The same kind of strict scrutiny should be applied to John Roberts who is on the Steering Committee of the organization that Robert Bork inspired…
Amy Goodman: We're talking to Al Ross, head of the Institute for Democratic Studies, who got a hold of the document that said that John Roberts, the Supreme Court nominee, was on the -- in the directory of the Federalist Society in 1997/1998. Now, John Roberts claims he cannot remember if he joined or not. Your response to that, Al Ross?
Alfred Ross: Well, we can't yet do an MRI scan of his brain to see whether there is a memory cell there or not. But it would be very difficult, indeed, for him to deny his association with the organization. How does he get to be listed as a member of the Steering Committee? And I suppose the Senate Judiciary Committee could inquire and ask for whatever correspondence existed. But again the important point here is not this memory lapse, which is strange given his reputation as having one of the more spectacular memories in the legal community in Washington, D.C., but again the growth of this organization within the Bush Administration and the implementation of its views..
Amy Goodman: Al Ross, why the title Federalist Society? Why the name?
Alfred Ross: Well, it's interesting. At one of their recent conferences at Yale Law School, which was opened to anyone who wanted to attend, they actually chuckled about the fact that originally they were going to name it the Anti-Federalist Society, but it didn't sound very good, so they called it the Federalist Society. The point here is the -- this organization of extremist lawyers really has no principles about what they call themselves, whether they remember if they were members of the Steering Committee or not. The point is whatever sells and moves their agenda forward, they're prepared to use. And this debate over Federalist or the Anti-Federalist is really illustrative of the underlying cynicism and ruthlessness of this organization.
Amy Goodman: Are you saying that the White House called The Washington Post to get them to retract that Roberts was a member of the Federalist Society, which then they did and now with the documents they are reasserting that he was?
Alfred Ross: Well, that's clear. They not only called The Washington Post but they called a number of other prominent newspapers across the country. And the reason why they were doing it is they very much did not want the Senate Judiciary Committee or the American people to unravel the thread of the Federalist Society and begin to discover the incredible penetration of its membership throughout our judicial system and, more importantly, the underlying ideology that the group represents. Roberts himself has only sat on a federal court for basically about two years, which is amazing for someone to be appointed to the Supreme Court. And the question is how does one begin to access his underlying ideology? And this is a very important way for the Senate Judiciary and the American people to understand Roberts, Flanigan, and the Bush administration's goals for our legal system.
Amy Goodman: Al Ross, while you may not agree with the Federalist Society, apparently there are tens of thousands of members. Why doesn't, with conservatives in the ascendancy in the government, why don't they just say, 'Sure, he represents our ideology? What is wrong with that?'
Alfred Ross: Well, it's interesting. A number of conservatives actually were upset with the White House for trying to cover up the connection because they're quite proud of it. But I think the issue here is the, I believe, correct awareness by the Bush administration's spin masters, that the majority of the American people would not support the ideology of the Federalist Society, even though admittedly thousands of right wing lawyers are very glad to further their agenda.
Amy Goodman: Finally, do they take a stance on abortion?
Alfred Ross: Well, officially the Federalist Society, as an organization, doesn't take a stance on anything. But that's rather a sham. Throughout their literature and at their forums, they endorse not only anti-abortion ideology, but extremist ideology on civil rights, national security law, telecommunications law, and every other issue you can possibly imagine.
July 19, 2005
LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 2, Part I -- TRAITORGATE
At least 1,768 US soliders have died in the Bush abomination's foolish military adventure in Iraq. That's at least 48 more than at the time of the last LNS posting one month ago. For what? The neo-con wet dream of a Three Stooges Reich. Nothing more...Meanwhile, psy war rages on in the homeland...Do not fall for the Corporatist news media's canonization of US Supreme Court InJustice Sandra Day O'Connor. Remember that, as Vincent Bugliosi wrote, the Rehnquist gang's ruling on Bush v. Gore was treasonous, and that O'Connor was the "swing vote." That abysmal wrong cancels out all the half-goods in her long career. Do not fall for the Corporatist news media's hand-wringing over the imprisonment of the NYTwits' Judith Miller. Remember that she is not in jail to protect a whistleblower, but to protect political operatives who breached national security to intimidate and harm a whistleblower and his family. Remember too, when thinking of Judith Miller, who has been disgraced not only by involvement in blowing the cover of a CIA agent but also with pre-invasion war-mongering under the guise of journalism, that the Rwandan radio announcers who incited genocide over the air waves were convicted of war crimes...Do not be distracted...Remember 2+2=4. Remember, and resist! As the battle of the Bush abomination's Supreme Injustice intensifies all anyone needs to know is that Roberts was nominated by an illegitimate, incompetent and corrupt regime that was itself installed UNconstituionally by a rogue court. If that is not enough for you to block the nomination (and it should be) than consider this passage from the Washington Post: "The president is a man of his word," said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. "He promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas, and that is exactly what he has done." And, if that is not enough for you to block the nomination (and it should be) just remember that this white male corporate lawyer, working in the Solicitor General's office, drafted a GHW Bush administration legal argument against Roe v. Wade as well as a brief in defense of "Operation Rescue." [For more information, go to http://www.independentjudiciary.com/resources/docs/John_Roberts_Report.pdf] Any Democrat in the US Senate that votes for confirmation (of course, many of them will) should be expelled from the caucus and asked to leave the Party (of course, it won't happen). It is that simple (even though the Party establishment is still living in denial)...And yes, if the Senate Democrats use the filibuster (they probably won't) the Neo-Totalitarian Right will invoke the "nuclear option," but this time the Democrats should not blink or turn away from the confrontation with a phoney one-sided compromise (yes, of course, they probably will)...There is no backing down when your back is to the wall...Everything is very simple now (if you have the courage to open your eyes and your heart)...The only agenda that makes any sense is a very simple one: impeachment for treason and war crimes, a return to fair elections and a free press, and emergency legislative action to mitigate the impact of the economic and environmental disasters that the Bush adomination has wrought...Remember and resist...Listen to Air America -- in particular Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes and Janeane Garafalo. Subscribe to The Nation. Support Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! Support the bastions of the Internet-based information rebellion, e.g. www.buzzflash.com, www.truthout.org, www.mediamatter.org, etc. Participate in MoveOn.org. Print yourself up a bumper sticker that says: “No Statute of Limitations,” because there isn’t any such statute on war crimes or treason…
NOTE: The LNS will issue "Articles of Impeachment" from time to time...Stay tuned...
LNS Articles of Impeachment, No. 2, Part I
Special Supplement: The London Attacks & TRAITORGATE
Death of the Republic?
The London Attacks
Hasan Suroor, Report links U.K. policies to terror threat, The Hindu, 7/19/05: Prime Minister Tony Blair's bid to shrug off any connection between the July 7 London bombings and the U.S.-led British invasion of Iraq was dealt an embarrassing blow on Monday after one of the country's most respected independent think-tanks declared that "riding pillion'' with America in its war on terror had "proved costly'' for Britain.
In a report, which was immediately seized upon by critics of Mr. Blair's Iraq policy, the Royal Institute for International Affairs — also known as Chatham House — said the invasion had given a "boost'' to the Al-Qaeda's "propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising'' activities.
Without directly linking the "7/7'' attacks to the Iraq war, it said there was "no doubt'' that the situation in Iraq had created "difficulties'' for Britain, and its military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq had put the country at "particular risk.”
"The attacks on the transport system in London on July 7 represent precisely the nature of the threat from international terrorism that the U.K. authorities have been concerned about since 9/11,'' said the report co-authored by two academic specialists on terrorism, Frank Gregory of Southampton University and Paul Wilkinson of St. Andrews University.
They said a "key problem'' for Britain in fighting terrorism was its alliance with Washington as a junior partner.
"A key problem... is that the Government has been conducting counter-terrorism policy shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States, not in the sense of being an equal decision-maker but rather as a pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat,'' they said, adding that "riding pillion'' had proved costly not only in terms of military lives but also caused "damage'' to the counter-terrorism campaign.
Greg Palast, George and Tony Get their al-Qaeda Fix, 7/11/05: Al-Qaeda this ain't. All the evidence is that this half-assed attack was the work of some poor young Muslim schmucks, possibly whipped into a frenzy by the mewling mullah of Finsbury Park, Omar Bakri Mohammed, a cleric who enjoyed the comfortable middle-class dullness of England during the week while on weekends preaching, "a 9/11, day after day after day" to punish his Western hosts.
It's not al-Qaeda, but for George and Tony, it's good enough. Blair's Foreign Secretary dramatically dashed out to tell us that the explosions had the "hallmarks of al-Qaeda." Our Commander in Chief, looking as commanding as possible (no reading of kiddie stories this time), could not have been more satisfied.
The "hallmarks of al-Qaeda"? That's not true and Blair knows it. And Bush knows it. And that's no little matter, my friends. Because Blair and Bush are al-Qaeda junkies. They've sold us on everything from fingerprinting five-year olds to invading Baghdad to tolerating plummeting paychecks all on the slick line that we are under attack by a well-trained, well-armed, well-funded hidden army called al-Qaeda.
But our War President and War Prime Minister are having a little problem with their war on terror. The enemy's gone AWOL. Except when we go looking for trouble -- as in invading a Mesopotamian country -- trouble pretty much stopped looking for us.
Even September 11. Forgive me for pointing this out, but no matter how horrific, it was in the end the deed of a couple dozen fundamentalist fruitcakes with box-cutters hankering for a hot time with virgins in the next life who got "lucky."
Yes, unlike the London attack, the "luck" of the September 11 hijackers required the sick genius of monied operatives and a Washington administration that operated with eyes wide shut toward Saudi gangsterism…
Now, with world media all jumped up on its latest fear high, Bush and Blair can resume their sales pitch: more weaponry, less liberty.
FDR calmed a nation when he said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But the Bush and Blair slogan is, "We have nothing to sell but fear itself."
Robert Fisk, Blair's Alliance with Bush Bombed, Seattle Post Intelligencer, 7/8/05: "If you bomb our cities," Osama bin Laden said in a recent videotape, "we will bomb yours."' It was clear Britain would be a target ever since British Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to join President Bush's "war on terror" and his invasion of Iraq. We had, as they say, been warned. The G-8 summit was obviously chosen, well in advance, as Attack Day.
It's no use Blair telling us, "They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear." They are not trying to destroy "what we hold dear." They are trying to get public opinion to force Blair to withdraw from Iraq, out of his alliance with the United States, out of his adherence to Bush's policies in the Middle East. The Spanish paid the price for their support for Bush -- and Spain's subsequent retreat from Iraq proved that the Madrid bombings achieved their objectives -- while the Australians were made to suffer in Bali.
It is easy for Blair to call yesterday's bombings "barbaric"' -- they were -- but what were the civilian deaths of the Anglo American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by cluster bombs, the innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military checkpoints. When they die, it is "collateral damage"; when "we" die it is "barbaric terrorism."
If we are fighting insurgency in Iraq what makes us believe insurgency won't come to us? One thing is certain: If Blair really believes that by "fighting terrorism"' in Iraq we could more efficiently protect Britain, this argument is no longer valid.
Juan Cole, "The Time of Revenge Has Come," www.salon.com, 7/8/05: Although US President George W. Bush maintains that al-Qaida strikes out at the industrialized democracies because of hatred for Western values, the statement said nothing of the sort. The attack, the terrorists proclaimed, was an act of sacred revenge for British "massacres" in "Afghanistan and Iraq," and a punishment of the United Kingdom for its "Zionism" (i.e., support of Israel)…
From the point of view of a serious counterinsurgency campaign against al-Qaida, Bush has made exactly the wrong decisions all along the line. He decided to "unleash" Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rather than pressing for Israeli-Palestinian peace and an end to Israeli occupation of the territories it captured in 1967. Rather than extinguishing this most incendiary issue for Arabs and Muslims, he poured gasoline on it. His strategy in response to Sept. 11 was to fight the Afghanistan War on the cheap. By failing to commit American ground troops in Tora Bora, he allowed bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape. He reneged on promises to rebuild Afghanistan and prevent the reemergence of the Taliban and al-Qaida there, thus prolonging the US and NATO military presence indefinitely. He then diverted most American military and reconstruction resources into an illegal war on Iraq. That war may have been doomed from the beginning, but Bush's refusal to line up international support, and his administration's criminal lack of planning for the postwar period, made failure inevitable.
Conservative commentators argue that Iraq is a "fly trap" for Muslim terrorists. It makes much more sense to think of it as bin Laden's fly trap for Western troops. There, jihadis can kill them (making the point that they are not invulnerable), and can provoke reprisals against Iraqi civilians that defame the West in the Muslim world. After Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, many Muslims felt that Bin Laden's dire warnings to them that the United States wanted to occupy their countries, rape their women, humiliate their men, and steal their assets had been vindicated…
George Bush is sure to try to use the London bombings to rally the American people to support his policies. If Americans look closer, however, they will realize that Bush's incompetent crusade has made the world more dangerous, not less.
John Pilger, Lest We Forget; These Were Blair's Bombs, www.truthout.org, 7/10/05: In all the coverage of last week's bombing of London, a basic truth is struggling to be heard. It is this: no one doubts the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs, but no one should also doubt that this has been coming since the day Tony Blair joined George Bush in their bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are "Blair's bombs", and he ought not be allowed to evade culpability with yet another unctuous speech about "our way of life", which his own rapacious violence in other countries has despoiled…
While the two men responsible for the carnage in Iraq, Bush and Blair, were side by side at Gleneagles, why wasn't the connection of their fraudulent "war on terror" made with the bombing in London? And when will someone in the political class say that Blair's smoke-and-mirrors "debt cancellation" at best amounts to less than the money the government spent in a week brutalising Iraq, where British and American violence is the cause of the doubling of child poverty and malnutrition since Saddam Hussein was overthrown (Unicef)…
In our free societies, the unmentionable is that "the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people", as Arthur Miller once wrote, "and so the evidence has to be internally denied." Not only denied, but distracted by an entire court: Geldoff, Bono, Madonna, McCartney et al, whose "Live 8" was the very antithesis of 15 February 2003 when two million people brought their hearts and brains and anger to the streets of London. Blair will almost certainly use last week's atrocity and tragedy to further deplete basic human rights in Britain, as Bush has done in America. The goal is not security, but greater control. Above all this, the memory of their victims, "our" victims, in Iraq demands the return of our anger. And nothing less is owed to those who died and suffered in London last week, unnecessarily.
F.A.I.R., Lessons from London Bombings show right was right all along, pundits say www.fair.org. 7/11/05: Many pundits insisted that "partisanship" should play no part in the discussion of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London. But it seemed like business as usual in the right-wing media--as commentators used the attacks to score political points for their side and promote their pet agendas.
On Fox News Channel's Special Report (7/7/05), Jeff Birnbaum seemed hopeful that the attacks would mean a rise in the polls for George W. Bush:
"I think that there has been a plunging poll rating for Bush's policies in Iraq and even for the president's job performance overall, in part because the American people forgot that there really is a war on terror, or they didn't believe Bush's oft-repeated reminders from the stump that, in fact, we were in war and we had to act that way. I think this will--it takes away all of the credibility problems that the president has been having. And popular support, I think, will begin to rise for him again." On the Wall Street Journal's editorial page (7/8/05), Daniel Henninger seized the moment to back the White House's candidate for U.N. ambassador: "If the U.S. Senate wanted to send a signal of resolve and seriousness to whoever bombed London, Democrats would join with Republicans their first day back to dispatch proven anti-terror warrior John Bolton straight to the U.N. They won't. They'll keep playing political fiddles while London burns."
Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly was more hopeful that the London killings would change the minds of those he disagrees with. "My first thought was Al-Qaeda trying to disrupt the G-8 summit in Scotland," explained O'Reilly (7/7/05). "My second thought was now maybe Europe will wise up. The terrorists are the evildoers, not the USA."
(In contrast, Fox's Brit Hume said his "first thought" when he heard about the attack was: "Hmmm, time to buy" stock market futures--Media Matters, 7/7/05.)
When O'Reilly wasn't criticizing the governments of France and Germany for being soft on terrorism, he was blaming the press: "The anti-American press both here and in Europe is actually helping the terrorists by diminishing their threat." To make his point even clearer, O'Reilly asked one guest, "Have you read The Guardian lately? I mean, it might be edited by Osama bin Laden. I mean, that's how bad that paper is."
O'Reilly seemed to almost be blaming the victims, wondering why Islamist terrorists would even bother attacking Europe: "What good does it do to Al-Qaeda to alienate Europe when Europe has basically been, not on their side but certainly putting the U.S. as the big villain and de-emphasizing, as I say sanitizing, what Al-Qaeda has done. What good does it do Al-Qaeda to alienate, you know, the BBC and all of these major organizations that have basically not dealt with the threat in a realistic way?" O'Reilly's guest, Steven Emerson, expanded on that: "In certain respects, BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah and some of the other jihadist groups."
Buzzflash Editorial: In Plain Sight: Why the Betrayal of Our National Security by the Bush White House Matters, 7/5/05: In essence, whatever the legal outcome (which has been driven by political considerations -- that is why it has taken two years to move the "investigation" forward, if it is moving forward), this fact remains clear: In order to send a message to anyone who would expose that the White House lied America into war, the White House -- in an action that could have only been authorized by Karl Rove, perhaps with a nod and a wink from Bush -- deliberately endangered the national security of the United States.
As a warning to those who would expose Bush lies about WMDs -- or any of the daily Bush deceptions -- in July of 2003 the White House revealed to their newspaper water boy, Bob Novak, that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson, was a CIA operative, and she specialized in the illicit trafficking of Weapons of Mass Destruction. It is befitting the morally corrupt Bush Administration that they would neutralize an American asset in the war against the proliferation of WMDs, while fighting a war allegedly launched against WMDs, in order to make an example of a man, Joe Wilson, who had written a commentary in the New York Times arguing that the Bush Administration evidence claiming WMD evidence regarding a transaction between Niger and Saddam Hussein was false.
In short, the Bush Administration doesn't care if it endangers our national security by undercutting our efforts to curtail the very weapons that they claim they were saving us from. That is how dangerous the Bush Administration is to our national security -- and it is has been before us in plain sight for two years. But the mainstream media has focused on periodic reports that emerge about the "investigation" of the Chicago U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed by John Ashcroft, then Attorney General, to see if any laws were broken…
But here is what we know even without legal indictments and what is getting lost in the latest round of speculation about a two-year old act of betrayal against the citizens of the United States by the Bush Administration: the Bush White House committed brazen treason by deliberately undercutting our national efforts to keep WMDs out of the hands of "bad guys." Why did they do this? Because Karl Rove wanted to prevent future whistleblowers from coming forward to expose Bush lies, in this case the courageous proof by Joe Wilson that another lie had been used to bolster the false claim that Iraq had WMDs.
The PlameGate affair is symbolic of how the Bush Administration puts its own interests of preserving power before the interests of the American people -- and in unbelievable irony, on the one issue that they have trumpeted their "expertise" at: national security.
How the Democrats have apologetically bolstered Bush's "national security credentials" when he has put -- and PlameGate is just the tip of the iceberg -- our nation at greater risk than before 9/11, and used his bumbling efforts to further consolidate power into a shadow, secret government run by Cheney and Rove, is what is in plain sight.
But the mainstream media -- and most of the Democrats in Congress -- can't even see it staring them in the face.
Robert Parry, Rove’s Leak Points to Bush Conspiracy, www.consortiumnews.com, 7/11/05: A key national security principle for dealing with top-secret information, such as the identity of undercover CIA officers, is strict compartmentalization, often called “the need to know” – which raises the question why George W. Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove would know anything about the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The answer to that mystery – why was Rove involved – may be more crucial to unraveling who was behind the illegal leaking of Plame’s name and the subsequent cover-up than even the identity of which Bush officials passed the information to right-wing pundit Robert Novak for his infamous column on July 14, 2003.
But rather than focusing on how and why Rove knew about Plame, the latest controversy around the case has centered on whether Rove explicitly used her name in an interview with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper three days before Novak’s column…
For two years now, what has been lacking from the White House is a coherent explanation of how the information about Plame’s identity got from the cloistered world of the CIA to White House meetings and then into the hands of political adviser Rove.
Long ago, there should have been answers to the following questions:
--What national security purpose was served by giving Karl Rove a sensitive secret that, if leaked, could endanger the lives of covert intelligence operatives?
--Who attended White House meetings at which Wilson’s disclosures and Plame’s identity were discussed? How was Plame’s identity brought into these talks? By whom?
--Was George W. Bush present at any of these meetings? As the president, who is ultimately responsible for decisions about national security secrets, did Bush say anything about Wilson and Plame? If so, what did he say and to whom?
--Did Bush or anyone else in the White House order Rove to disparage Wilson?
In a healthy democracy, the news media would have demanded answers before Election 2004, rather than focusing primarily on the plight of several journalists caught up in demands for testimony from prosecutor Fitzgerald.
Ironically, it was the caving in by Time magazine last week that has opened the door slightly into the long-running White House cover-up of the Plame case. But still the major news media misses the bigger picture.
The answer to the Plame mystery is not the Watergate advice of “follow the money” or even the obvious question of who spilled the beans to Novak. Instead, the route to the heart of this mystery is to follow the trail from who knew Plame’s identity at the CIA through the White House meetings to Karl Rove.
Larry Johnson, THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, www.tpmcafe.com: For starters, Valerie Plame was an undercover operations officer until outed in the press by Robert Novak. Novak's column was not an isolated attack. It was in fact part of a coordinated, orchestrated smear that we now know includes at least Karl Rove.
Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985. All of my classmates were undercover--in other words, we told our family and friends that we were working for other overt U.S. Government agencies. We had official cover. That means we had a black passport--i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card.
A few of my classmates, and Valerie was one of these, became a non-official cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.
The lies by people like Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, and P. J. O'Rourke insist that Valerie was nothing, just a desk jockey. Yet, until Robert Novak betrayed her she was still undercover and the company that was her front was still a secret to the world. When Novak outed Valerie he also compromised her company and every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company and with her.
The Republicans now want to hide behind the legalism that "no laws were broken". I don't know if a man made law was broken but an ethical and moral code was breached. For the first time a group of partisan political operatives publically identified a CIA NOC. They have set a precendent that the next group of political hacks may feel free to violate…
At the end of the day, Joe Wilson was right. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that pushed that lie and because of that lie Americans are dying. Shame on those who continue to slander Joe Wilson while giving Bush and his pack of liars a pass. That's the true outrage.
Attytude, Why this journalist thinks that Judy Miller should go to jail, www.pnionline.com: We're not happy that Judy Miller is going to jail, but we think -- in this case -- that if she won't cooperate with the grand jury, then it's the right thing.
That's because Judy Miller's actions in recent years -- a pattern that includes this case -- have been the very antithesis of what we think journalism is and should be all about. Ultimately, the heart and soul of real journalism is not so much protecting "sources" at any cost. It is, rather, living up to the 19th Century maxim set forth by Peter Finley Dunne, that journalists should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable…
But the Times' Judy Miller has not been afflicting the comfortable. She has been protecting them, advancing their objectives, and helping them to mislead a now very afflicted American public. In fact, thinking again about Watergate and Deep Throat is a good way to understand why Judy Miller should not be protected today. Because in Watergate, a reporter acting like Miller would not be meeting the FBI's Mark Felt in an underground parking garage. She would be obsessively on the phone with H.R. Haldeman or John Dean, listening to malicious gossip about Carl Bernstein or their plans to make Judge Sirica look bad.
In the run-up to the Iraq war, Miller -- working with her "sources" inside the Bush administration and their friends in the Iraqi exile community like the discredited Ahmed Chalabi -- wrote a number of stories that now seem meant to dupe the American people into to thinking Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were a threat..
Yet in the immediate aftermath of the war, Miller acted not so much as a journalist as someone working with the American side to prove there really were WMD in Iraq…
And rather than act humbled when the basis for many of her stories proved false, by this year she had adopted yet another pet cause of the Bush administration, the oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations.
Then, seemingly out of left field, comes her involvement in the case of Valerie Plame, the "outed" CIA operative. The facts of the case are still murky, and so we want to tread carefully as we write about it. What is clear is that Judy Miller wasn't on the side of the person seeking to expose government wrongdoing -- that would have been Plame's husband, ex-ambassador Joe Wilson, who revealed the White House's lies about uranium and Iraq.
Instead, the special prosecutor wants to know about conversations that Miller had with a person, or persons, who wanted to squash the whistleblowers. He wants to know if Miller, perhaps unwittingly, abetted what would have been a criminal act against the whistleblower and his family. In fact, there's a theory that Miller might even have been a person who told Bush administration officials that Plame was a CIA agent.
We don't know what it's all about, except we do know that this isn't really journalism. It's about whether she continued her longtime pattern of aiding those in power and spreading their propaganda. What ever it is, we don't think it's protected by the shield laws that are on the books.
William E. Jackson, Jr., What was Judith Miller Up To?, Editors & Publishers, 7/12/05: Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” even went so far as to compare Miller's sentence for refusing to reveal sources to a grand jury to Martin Luther King's civil disobedience…
Prosecutor Fitzgerald has insisted: “This case is not about a whistle-blower. It's about a potential retaliation against a whistle-blower.” Helping the government vindictively to leak--to “declare war” (as Cooper put it)--hardly counts as watching the government closely and aggressively. As reported by AP, when Times counsel Floyd Abrams was asked why prosecutors had sought Miller's testimony when she never wrote a story about Plame, he said: “We don't know, but most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy.”
So Miller was fingered by an administration official back in the summer of 2004, and then she was subpoenaed? Then, one theory goes, she covers for him or her by claiming she was working on a story, hoping to throw the cloak of "reporter's privilege" over the conversation. By not agreeing to testify, Miller--along with that official--might thereby have been involved in obstruction of justice. It would require her oral testimony to confirm what games the White House-level official was playing.
Of course, this is just a theory; no one yet knows what actually happened. But since the New York Times was originally subpoenaed, as were Time and The Washington Post, and that subpoena has been dropped, it could be read that Miller was not working on a story, or took no notes--or destroyed them. Otherwise the New York Times would be on the hook for them.
A novel theme emerging in some press coverage of the Plame case raises the possibility of unnamed journalists being participants in a potential crime, and not just witnesses…
She may have just been helping to spin the neo-conservatives' gossip. Her "source" is incidental, as she wrote nothing. No evidence has been presented that she even contemplated writing a story. None of her colleagues at the newspaper that I have spoken to over the past two years have suggested that she was actively working on a story about Plame…
The New York Times should answer some questions. For example, have they contacted Miller's source[s] and asked for an explicit waiver of confidentiality -- and been denied? If so, would that not appropriately put the pressure back on the White House, where it belongs? Does the Times want her sources to come forward?
Paul Krugman, Karl Rove's America, New York Times, 7/15/05: John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell. What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern…
Every time I read a lament for the post-9/11 era of national unity, I wonder what people are talking about. On the issues I was watching, the Republicans' exploitation of the atrocity began while ground zero was still smoldering.
Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy - but what he said about conservatives, that they "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war," is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity - and none more so than Mr. Rove…
Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.
Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?
Sidney Blumenthal, Rove's War, Salon.com, 7/14/05: This is Karl Rove's war. From his command post next to the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House, he is furiously directing the order of battle. The Republican National Committee lobs its talking points across Washington, its chairman forays the no-man's-land of CNN. Rove's lawyer, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial board are sent over the top. Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay man the ramparts, defending Rove's character…
Rove is fighting his war as though it will be settled in a court of Washington pundits. Brandishing his formidable political weapons, he seeks to demonstrate his prowess once again. His corps of agents raises a din in which their voices drown out individual dissidents. His frantic massing of forces dominates the capital by winning the communications battle. Indeed, Rove may succeed momentarily in quelling the storm. But the stillness may be illusory. Before the prosecutor, Rove's arsenal is useless.
Can the special counsel be confounded by manipulation of the Washington chattering class? What's the obligation of a reporter to a source in this case? What game are Rove and his surrogates playing? What are the legal vulnerabilities of Rove and others in the White House?
Wilson's article provided the first evidence that the reasons given for the war were stoked by false information. But the attack on Wilson by focusing on his wife is superficially perplexing. Even if the allegation were true that she "authorized" his mission, as Rove told Cooper, it would have no bearing whatsoever on the Niger forgeries, or any indictment. But Rove's is a psychological operation intended to foster the perception that the messenger is somehow untrustworthy and that therefore his message is too. The aim is to distract and discredit. By creating an original taint on Wilson's motives, an elaborate negative image has been constructed…
The sound and fury of Rove's defenders will soon subside. The last word, the only word that matters, will belong to the prosecutor. So far, he has said very, very little. Unlike the unprofessional, inexperienced and weak Ken Starr, he does not leak illegally to the press. But he has commented publicly on his understanding of the case. "This case," he said, "is not about a whistle-blower. It's about a potential retaliation against a whistle-blower."
Death of the Republic?
Veterans for Peace, Veterans Group Issues "Declaration of Impeachment," 7/4/05: A national veterans' organization today issued a "Declaration of Impeachment" and announced it is beginning an online petition to remove President Bush from office for crimes committed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Using the same language as the original "Declaration of Independence," Veterans For Peace cited many of the same reasons to remove George Bush that Thomas Jefferson cited to separate from King George of England. And in a modern version of the signing of the Declaration, VFP announced the posting of its online impeachment petition…
"To sign the online petition, or to read the "Declaration of Impeachment" and VFP's documented case for removing George Bush, go to: www.veteransforpeace.org
Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985, with 123 chapters across the country.
Declaration of Impeachment
Issued by Veterans For Peace
Monday 04 July 2005
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are instituted to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But
• " - whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
• - all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations - design(s) to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
• - The history of the present King (George) of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny - To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
• He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
• He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
• He has - deprive(ed) us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury - transport(ed) us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
• He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us -
• He is at this time transporting large Armies - to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty
• perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
• He has constrained our fellow Citizens - to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
• A (President) whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
We, therefore - do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People - solemnly publish and declare, That these - Free and Independent (People) - are Absolved from all Allegiance to the (Bush Administration), and that all political connection between them and (this Administration), is and ought to be totally dissolved - And for the support of this Declaration - we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
(Note: Except for the first two lines above and words in parentheses, this Declaration is quoted directly from the original Declaration of Independence.) www.veteransforpeace.org”
Thom Hartmann, Supreme Court - Media Ignore Possible "Fascist" Play, CommonDreams.org, 7/5/05: The Bush administration is spectacularly good at sleight-of-hand tricks, directing public attention in one direction while they're working diligently in another. The latest trial balloon of "probable" Supreme Court nominees is no exception.
While everybody is worried about abortion rights and corporate power, a far more insidious agenda may be at play.
Anti-abortion forces and women's rights groups alike are up in arms about the possibility that the next nominee may or may not have an opinion about the Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment (and others) in Roe v. Wade. This battle is being loudly played out in the mainstream corporate media, with every analysis and question ultimately turning back to Roe.
Because Alberto Gonzales isn't on the record with regard to abortion rights, both sides are wary of him.
At the same time, corporatist "conservatives" are salivating at the opportunity to pack the Court with judges who will further erode the rights of communities and increase the power of multinational corporations and the super-rich in America. On June 28, 2005 The Wall Street Journal ran a major story ("For a High Court Nomination, Business Has Its Own Agenda") on how corporate Republicans may be at odds with "social" Republicans, because the latter generally endorse states' rights. Corporatists prefer a strong federal government where all politicians can be bought centrally in Washington, DC, and federal rules and agencies can be used to back down states that may want clean air or water.
Because Alberto Gonzales has a very limited record in ruling or writing on corporate rights and powers, the corporatists are not as enthusiastic about him as they are about others.
What nobody seems to be noticing, though, is what may well be the real agenda of George W. Bush and those around him - neo-fascism.
For this agenda, Alberto Gonzales is the perfect man…
The new Federalists - Bush's Republicans - clearly fear We The People, and cherish their own power to rule independent of us. And if they can seize control of the Supreme Court before the next elections, their power may become nearly absolute.
Historically, when fascists have come to power they have used either the threat of enemies or social issues to get the people to agree to give them control of all branches of government. When their true agenda - raw power - comes out, it's too late for the people to resist. As Francisco Franco famously said, "Our regime is [now] based on bayonets and blood, not on hypocritical elections."
Thus, the nomination of Gonzales, or another candidate with strong fascistic leanings but no clear abortion record, will probably be trumpeted in the mainstream corporate media as a triumph of "moderation" on the part of Bush (or a tribute to his "stubbornness" or his "loyalty").
In fact, it could mark the end of our 200+ year American experiment in democracy.
Michael Smith, The Real News in the Downing Street Memos, LA Times. 6//23/05: I did not then regard the now-infamous memo — the one that includes the minutes of the July 23 meeting — as the most important…
American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.
Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.
British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.
But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.
The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.
In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.
The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.
The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.
Thom Hartmann, They Died So Republicans Could Take the Senate, CommonDreams.org, 6/20/05: The real scandal of the Downing Street Memos, with the greatest potential to leave the Bush presidency in permanent disgrace, is their implication that lies may have been put forward to help Bush, Republicans, and Blair politically. If Bush lied to gain and keep political power, precedent suggests he and his collaborators in the administration may even be vulnerable to impeachment…
It was a lie of political expediency, with the war resolution carefully timed just before the 2002 elections to help the Republicans take back the Senate.
It was echoed and amplified and repeated over and over again to help him and other Republicans get elected in 2004.
It wasn't a war for oil - cheap oil was just a useful secondary benefit.
It wasn't a war against terrorism - that was just a convenient excuse.
It wasn't a war to enrich Bush's and Cheney's cronies - those were just pleasant by-products.
It wasn't a war to show Poppy Bush that Junior was more of a man than him - that was just a personal bonus for Dubya.
It was, pure and simple, well planned years in advance, a war to solidify Bush and the Republican Party's political capital.
It was a war for political power. That had to be first. Everything else - oil, profits, ongoing PATRIOT Act powers, easy manipulation of the media - all could only come if political power was seized and held through at least two decisive election cycles.
The Bush administration lied us into an invasion to get and keep political power. It's that simple…
Probably the only two things that could slow down the American electorate's growing realization of the magnitude and horror of Bush's political lies would be another attack on America or a new Bush-led war into Syria, Iran, or North Korea.
Bush has already shown, by lying us into Iraq, that he's at least capable of the latter. As Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison on February 8th 1776, "It should ever be held in mind that insult and war are the consequences of a lack of respectability in the national character."
And already the cons are working the talk-show circuit, threatening the US with a new attack, and recommending we strike now at Iran or Syria. "Be afraid. Be aggressive. Give us more political power."
But if Jefferson was right when he said that the best defense of democracy was an informed electorate, there is still a small window of opportunity for the American press to do the job they've been so carefully avoiding these past five years.
Instead of just reporting that the Downing Street Minutes and memos exist, they can highlight them against the timeline of Bush repeatedly lying during those days before the war. They can quote him saying that he had no plans for war, was working toward peace, and only wanted Congressional authorization to avoid a war, and point out that this was all after - months after - his administration had told the British that war was a sure thing.
Lying, in other words, to get us to go along with an invasion that would cement in Republican control of the Congress and the White House, and, thus, also the courts. Lying for nothing more than "political capital."
Let us hope our Fourth Estate is up to the task.
Sidney Blumenthal, A Broken Body, www.salon.com, 6/16/05: The House of Representatives of the 109th Congress suffers the classic symptoms of a decadent ancient régime. It seems an eon ago that the Republicans swept into power in 1994, after 40 years in the wilderness, on a "Contract With America" whose preamble promised: "To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace."
Day by day, week by week, spectacles unfold in its august chambers revealing new incidents of corruption, unaccountability and chaos…The Democrats have been prevented from debating legislation, attaching amendments and participating in conferences. Any gesture at dissent is gaveled out of order. Republican members too have been relegated to the sidelines, rubber-stamping what the leadership dictates…
Since the House has been in session this year, the ethics committee has met for exactly one day. On that day, in May, it decided under intense public pressure to reverse its fail-safe scheme to thwart any investigation of DeLay. The committee had announced rules by which a deadlock would lead to dismissal of any charge. Because the committee is the only one equally divided between majority and minority members, a deadlock was guaranteed, and so therefore was DeLay's escape…
So long as the ethics committee is in effect defunct, it cannot investigate any new cases, such as that involving Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., which emerged in the last week. Cunningham, an influential member of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, has helped a certain defense contractor named Mitchell Wade and his company, MZM Inc., win tens of millions of dollars in contracts. In 2003, Wade paid Cunningham $2.55 million for his house in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Wade resold it for a price that was $700,000 less than he paid Cunningham…
While DeLay was orchestrating the latest plot turn in the ethics committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., continued his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee as circus act. On June 10, he presided over a morning's hearing on the PATRIOT Act of witnesses invited by the Democratic minority. It was the one occasion the Democrats were allowed under the rules to give critics an official forum on the bill up for renewal. Sensenbrenner, whose routine demeanor is peeved and bilious, was on a hair trigger. He did not permit the ranking Democrat, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., to finish his opening statement. He refused to recognize Democrats on their points of order. Finally, he declared the hearings over. "Much of what has been stated is not irrelevant," he announced. "Point of order," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. "No, I will not yield," said Sensenbrenner. He cut off the microphones of Democrats as their words hung in the air: "Will the gentleman yield?" and "Point of order, Mr. Chairman." Sensenbrenner stormed out the door.
Sensenbrenner's highhandedness was hardly exceptional. This spring he barred Democrats from consultation on legislation that made drivers' licenses national identification cards…
At the same time, in April, Sensenbrenner rammed through a bill called the Child Interstate Notification Act, which applies federal criminal penalties to adults aiding and abetting minors who leave a state that imposes parental notification laws to get an abortion in another state. When Democrats on the Judiciary Committee submitted amendments, Sensenbrenner and his staff rewrote their captions in the official record without informing them. In every case, Sensenbrenner's language presented Democrats as defending "sexual predators."…
DeLay's system of centralization has Washington in its grip. Republican House members are factotums of the leadership group he dominates. The regular operation of House committees has been overthrown. Decisions are handed down by DeLay and his lieutenants. Lobbyists are convened in private to write legislation. What's more, lobbying firms are ordered to kick in campaign contributions and are under threat of losing preference if they hire Democrats..
On about 80 percent of the bills before the House, amendments are prohibited as a result of what are called "closed rules." By manipulation of so-called suspension bills -- for example, those that name federal buildings and praise civic groups -- the business of the House has become a playpen of trivialities. Instead of substantive debate, two-thirds of all the time on the House floor is devoted to these meaningless measures. By this means, the leadership concentrates power and frustrates the House from acting as deliberative body. The schedule of the House has been reduced to something like that of a small state legislature of the 19th century, with many of its lollygagging members turning up for work on Tuesday and leaving on Thursday.
The efforts to suppress the proper workings of the House on inquiries of corruption and to quell uneasy questions about legislation from Democrats are only increasing the public pressure on the Republican leadership. Ever more rigid control is producing sharper and deeper fissures in its façade. The desperation for order fosters greater disorder. Such is the state of democracy in America that the rest of the world is encouraged to emulate.
Medea Benjamin, Celebrating Independence in the Era of Empire, Commom Dreams, 7/3/05: Our nation was founded on a determination to be free of domination by the British empire…
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison all warned that the invasion and occupation of other lands would turn America into precisely the sort of empire against which they had so recently rebelled. "We should have nothing to do with conquest," asserted Jefferson in 1791…
Building and maintaining a vast empire is expensive in both lives and money. The human cost in Iraq alone tops 1,700 US soldiers dead, tens of thousands severely injured both physically and psychologically, with much greater death and suffering endured by the Iraqi people.
Our out-of-control military budget will, by 2006, equal that of the rest of the world combined. This enormous cost is draining money from our schools, our hospitals, our public transportation...
The imperial ambitions of this administration have also cost us dearly in terms of international prestige. A survey of public opinion in 16 countries released by the Pew Global Attitudes Project on June 23 found a dismal opinion of the U.S. Most said the world was more dangerous after the downfall of Saddam Hussein, rated China more favorably than the U.S., and said the world would be better off if a group of countries emerged as a rival to U.S. military power...
Most Americans have come to understand that the cost of empire in lives, money and prestige is unacceptable. Recent polls show that the majority believes we should never have attacked Iraq, we should begin to withdraw our troops, and that the war in Iraq has not made us safer at home. Six out of ten Americans say that our nation is headed down the wrong path.
In 1821, then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams warned that if America went abroad in search of 'monsters to destroy - the fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.' While she might become the dictatress of the world, he predicted, 'she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.'
This July 4, let us reflect on how empire-building is destroying the soul of our nation…