July 19, 2005

LNS Articles of Impeachment, No 2, Part III

Bush Abomination’s #1 Failure: National Security

Associated Press, Experts fear 'endless' terror war: Analysts say al-Qaida is mutating into a global insurgency 7/9/05: New York and Washington. Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid. And now London. When will it end? Where will it all lead? The experts aren’t encouraged. One prominent terrorism researcher sees the prospect of “endless” war. Adds the man who tracked Osama bin Laden for the CIA, “I don’t think it’s even started yet.”
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.
Now, he said, “we’re at the point where jihad is self-sustaining,” where Islamic “holy warriors” in Iraq fight America with or without allegiance to al-Qaida’s bin Laden.
The cold statistics of a RAND Corp. database show the impact of the explosion of violence in Iraq: The 5,362 deaths from terrorism worldwide between March 2004 and March 2005 were almost double the total for the same 12-month period before the 2003 U.S. invasion…
The movement’s evolution “has given rise to a ‘virtual network’ that is extremely adaptable,” said Jonathan Stevenson, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Washington office.
The movement adapted, for example, by switching from targeting aviation, where security was reinforced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to the “softer” targets of mass transit...

Richard A. Clarke, War and Weakness, MSBNC, 6/19/05: In addition to the thousands of American and Iraqi casualties, one victim of this slow bleeding in Iraq is the American military as an institution. Across America, the National Guard, designed to assist civil authorities in domestic crises (like the pandemic of a lethal avian flu that some public-health planners fear), is in tatters. Re-enlistments are down, training for domestic support missions is spotty at best, equipment is battered and many units are either in Iraq or on their way to or from it. Now the rot is beginning to spread into the regular Army. Recruiters are coming up dry, and some, under pressure to produce new troops, have reportedly been complicit in suspect applications.
The implications for the all-volunteer military are significant. With almost every unit in the Army on the conveyor belt into and out of Iraq, few units are really combat-ready for other missions. If the North Korean regime that is often called crazy were to roll its huge army the few kilometers into South Korea, significant American reinforcements would be a long time coming. This raises the possibility that the United States may have to resort to nuclear weapons to stop the North Koreans, as has been contemplated with increasing seriousness since the last Nuclear Posture Review in 2002…
By the end of President Bush's term, the war in Iraq could end up costing $600 billion, more than six times what some administration officials had projected. Now the many other costs are also beginning to become clearer.
Maybe it is time to at least begin a public dialogue about ''staying the course.'' Opponents of an ''early'' departure of American forces say it would result in chaos in Iraq. Yet we already have chaos, and how sure can we be that sectarian fighting will not follow our departure whenever we leave? Is it unpatriotic to ask if the major reason for the fighting in Iraq is that we are still there? http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/magazine/19ADVISER.html?oref=login

Bush Abomination’s #2 Failure: Economic Security

NEW YORK | June 20, 2005 8:22:17 PM IST

UPI, www.webindia123.com, FDIC warns of housing bubble, 6/20/05: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is warning the U.S. housing market is in danger of a serious disruption because some markets are ultra-pricey.
FDIC data indicate the nation's most overheated local housing markets now make up such a large share of the total U.S. market, a sharp fall in their values could stall or slow national economic growth, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The agency found the 22 major metropolitan markets with the fastest-growing house prices account for 35 percent of the value of the nation's residential real estate but just 20 percent of its population.
It's a widespread boom and has macro implications, says Richard Brown, chief economist of the FDIC. A slowdown would not only hurt these markets, but the U.S. as a whole.

Paul Krugman, The Chinese Challenge, New York Times, 6/27/05: Until now, the Chinese have mainly invested in U.S. government bonds. But bonds yield neither a high rate of return nor control over how the money is spent. The only reason for China to acquire lots of U.S. bonds is for protection against currency speculators - and at this point China's reserves of dollars are so large that a speculative attack on the dollar looks far more likely than a speculative attack on the yuan.
So it was predictable that, sooner or later, the Chinese would stop buying so many dollar bonds. Either they would stop buying American I.O.U.'s altogether, causing a plunge in the dollar, or they would stop being satisfied with the role of passive financiers, and demand the power that comes with ownership. And we should be relieved that at least for now the Chinese aren't dumping their dollars; they're using them to buy American companies….
The China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a company that is 70 percent owned by the Chinese government, is seeking to acquire control of Unocal, an energy company with global reach. In particular, Unocal has a history - oddly ignored in much reporting on the Chinese offer - of doing business with problematic regimes in difficult places, including the Burmese junta and the Taliban. One indication of Unocal's reach: Zalmay Khalilzad, who was U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan for 18 months and was just confirmed as ambassador to Iraq, was a Unocal consultant.
Unocal sounds, in other words, like exactly the kind of company the Chinese government might want to control if it envisions a sort of "great game" in which major economic powers scramble for access to far-flung oil and natural gas reserves. (Buying a company is a lot cheaper, in lives and money, than invading an oil-producing country.) So the Unocal story gains extra resonance from the latest surge in oil prices.
If it were up to me, I'd block the Chinese bid for Unocal. But it would be a lot easier to take that position if the United States weren't so dependent on China right now, not just to buy our I.O.U.'s, but to help us deal with North Korea now that our military is bogged down in Iraq.

Michael T. Klare, Matt Simmons' Bombshell: The Impending Decline of Saudi Oil Output, TomDispatch.com, 6/25/05: For those oil enthusiasts who believe that petroleum will remain abundant for decades to come -- among them, the President, the Vice President, and their many friends in the oil industry -- any talk of an imminent "peak" in global oil production and an ensuing decline can be easily countered with a simple mantra: "Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia." Not only will the Saudis pump extra oil now to alleviate global shortages, it is claimed, but they will keep pumping more in the years ahead to quench our insatiable thirst for energy. And when the kingdom's existing fields run dry, lo, they will begin pumping from other fields that are just waiting to be exploited. We ordinary folk need have no worries about oil scarcity, because Saudi Arabia can satisfy our current and future needs. This is, in fact, the basis for the administration's contention that we can continue to increase our yearly consumption of oil, rather than conserve what's left and begin the transition to a post-petroleum economy. Hallelujah for Saudi Arabia!
But now, from an unexpected source, comes a devastating challenge to this powerful dogma: In a newly-released book, investment banker Matthew R. Simmons convincingly demonstrates that, far from being capable of increasing its output, Saudi Arabia is about to face the exhaustion of its giant fields and, in the relatively near future, will probably experience a sharp decline in output. "There is only a small probability that Saudi Arabia will ever deliver the quantities of petroleum that are assigned to it in all the major forecasts of world oil production and consumption," he writes in Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. "Saudi Arabian production," he adds, italicizing his claims to drive home his point, "is at or very near its peak sustainable volume . . . and it is likely to go into decline in the very foreseeable future."
In addition, there is little chance that Saudi Arabia will ever discover new fields that can take up the slack from those now in decline. "Saudi Arabia's exploration efforts over the last three decades were more intense than most observers have assumed," Simmons asserts. "The results of these efforts were modest at best."
If Simmons is right about Saudi Arabian oil production -- and the official dogma is wrong -- we can kiss the era of abundant petroleum goodbye forever. This is so for a simple reason: Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil producer, and there is no other major supplier (or combination of suppliers) capable of making up for the loss in Saudi production if its output falters. This means that if the Saudi Arabia mantra proves deceptive, we will find ourselves in an entirely new world -- the "twilight age" of petroleum, as Simmons puts it. It will not be a happy place.
Before taking up the implications of a possible decline in Saudi Arabian oil output, it is important to look more closely at the two sides in this critical debate: the official view, as propagated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), and the contrary view, as represented by Simmons' new book…
Simmons' conclusion from all this is unmistakably pessimistic: "The 'twilight' of Saudi Arabian oil envisioned in this book is not a remote fantasy. Ninety percent of all the oil that Saudi Arabia has ever produced has come from seven giant fields. All have now matured and grown old, but they still continue to provide around 90 percent of current Saudi oil output … High-volume production at these key fields ... has been maintained for decades by injecting massive amounts of water that serves to keep pressures high in the huge underground reservoirs . . . When these water projection programs end in each field, steep production declines are almost inevitable."
This being the case, it would be the height of folly to assume that the Saudis are capable of doubling their petroleum output in the years ahead, as projected by the Department of Energy. Indeed, it will be a minor miracle if they raise their output by a million or two barrels per day and sustain that level for more than a year or so. Eventually, in the not-too-distant future, Saudi production will begin a sharp decline from which there is no escape. And when that happens, the world will face an energy crisis of unprecedented scale.
The moment that Saudi production goes into permanent decline, the Petroleum Age as we know it will draw to a close. Oil will still be available on international markets, but not in the abundance to which we have become accustomed and not at a price that many of us will be able to afford. Transportation, and everything it effects -- which is to say, virtually the entire world economy -- will be much, much more costly. The cost of food will also rise, as modern agriculture relies to an extraordinary extent on petroleum products for tilling, harvesting, pest protection, processing, and delivery. Many other products made with petroleum -- paints, plastics, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and so forth -- will also prove far more costly. Under these circumstances, a global economic contraction -- with all the individual pain and hardship that would surely produce -- appears nearly inevitable…

Bush Abomination’s #3 Failure: Environmental Security

LA TIMES: EDITORIAL, Bush, Out in the Cold: By this time, believing that global warming is only a theory is akin to saying the same thing about evolution. And just as creationists shouldn't be allowed to remake schools' curriculum on fossils, naysayers on climate change cannot hide from the damage caused by fossil fuels. Both areas of study are backed by robust evidence accepted by scientists around the world.
June could almost be designated Greenhouse Month for the new urgency governments and businesses have expressed in recent weeks about controlling emissions — mostly from burning oil and coal — that contribute to global warming. In this climate, so to speak, it's disheartening to find President Bush clinging to his old ploy of calling for ever more research before doing something.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 10 similar groups from other nations called earlier this month for immediate action on global warming, saying world leaders must "acknowledge that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing." Two days later, a group of 23 multinational corporations similarly urged "action by both the private and public sector … initiated now." The group included Ford and oil giant BP.
Some U.S. companies are pushing for tighter regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. This might be enlightened self-interest in part. Some can make money by selling less-polluting energy sources such as windmills; others fear that if they don't get involved, lawmakers will pass a hodgepodge of state regulations. That's fine. Their motivations don't matter as much as their recognition that the time for action has arrived…
With all this activity, where was the Bush administration this month on global warming? Watering down scientific documents and international accords on the issue, mainly.
Bush last week accepted the resignation of a senior official of the White House Council on Environmental Quality whose tinkering with reports on climate change was revealed in the New York Times. Philip Cooney — a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, a major foe of greenhouse gas regulations — reportedly edited U.S. scientists' reports on global warming to make the phenomenon appear more dubious and less serious.
Bush also rebuffed British Prime Minister Tony Blair's attempts to make him take the topic seriously. Blair plans to make more aggressive action against greenhouse gases a top priority at the July meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations. The Washington Post revealed last week that Bush administration officials have succeeded in weakening the G-8 plan for joint action, working behind the scenes to alter key sections.
During Blair's visit to Washington, Bush stuck to calling for voluntary reductions and more study (unedited, we hope, by industry flaks). "We want to know more about it," Bush said of climate change. We do too. But with this administration, extended research on global warming has become an excuse for inexcusable inaction.

Illegitimate, Incompetent, Corrupt…

JAMES DREW and STEVE EDER, OHIO SCANDAL: Allegations arose before '04 election, Democrats say Noe case concealed to assist Bush, Toledo Blade, 6/19/05: In the final weeks of the 2004 presidential race, the nation focused on Ohio as both campaigns carefully choreographed every move by their candidates, knowing one misstep could throw the keys to the White House into the hands of the opponent…
At the same time - beneath the surface and out of public view - allegations were swirling that Tom Noe had laundered contributions into President Bush's campaign, and facts were emerging that the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation had lost $215 million meant for injured workers in a Bermuda hedge-fund.
Now, more than six months later, those bombshells have created the biggest state government scandal in decades in Ohio. Democrats are charging that Republican leaders suppressed the potentially explosive information until all the votes were counted to save the President's re-election campaign.
The Blade has learned that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio knew of the campaign-finance allegations against Mr. Noe about three weeks before the November, 2004, election, giving it little time to do a thorough investigation.
Mr. Noe, a Toledo-area coin dealer, was chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio.
Democratic allegations of a GOP cover-up in the loss of $215 million managed by a Pittsburgh firm have surged in the last few days. Records released last week show that high-ranking aides to Gov. Bob Taft worked to suppress revelations about the hedge fund loss in the final days before the presidential election.

STEVE EDER and JAMES DREW, Ohio Democrats victims of break-in, Thieves grab computer from party headquaters in Columbus, Toledo Blade, 7/2/05: Thieves targeted the Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters this week, stealing a computer and a high-tech communications gadget belonging to party chairman Denny White.
Police said yesterday one or more burglars appeared to have climbed a wall Monday and crawled through an unlocked second-story window overnight at the party headquarters about three blocks from the Statehouse.
The break-in occurs at a time when the Ohio Republican Party is threatened by one of the largest scandals to hit the state’s government in decades.
Some Democrats also say the break-in is eerily similar to a burglary at the Lucas County Democratic Party Headquarters last fall, in which three computers were stolen.

Carol D. Leonnig, Expert Says He Was Told to Soften Tobacco Testimony, Washington Post, 6/20/05: A top Justice Department official threatened to remove a government expert from its witness list if he did not water down his recommended penalties for the tobacco industry, the witness said in an interview yesterday.
Harvard University business professor Max H. Bazerman said a career trial lawyer told him senior Justice officials wanted him to change his recommendation that the court appoint a monitor to review whether it was appropriate to remove senior tobacco company management. Bazerman said the lawyer was passing along the "strong request" the week before Bazerman was to take the witness stand on May 4 in the government's landmark racketeering case against the industry.
The government says the tobacco industry engaged in a 50-year conspiracy to defraud the public about the dangers and addictiveness of smoking.
Bazerman said the lawyer told him the change -- opposed by the career lawyers on the case -- had come from Justice Department senior litigation counsel Frank J. Marine and Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum Jr…
In the six-year lawsuit, the Justice Department has argued that the United States' six largest tobacco companies lied about the dangers of smoking. The Justice Department stunned anti-smoking activists and members of Congress two weeks ago by announcing in the closing days of the eight-month trial that the government would cut its demand for an industry-funded smoking-cessation program from $130 billion to $10 billion.
Bazerman said in an interview yesterday that he is coming forward now because of recent reports in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times that the career trial team had pressured senior political appointees at Justice to weaken their case and urged other witnesses to soften their testimony against the industry.
"I want the government to behave appropriately. I can't think of an honest, plausible reason other than political interference for what they're doing," he said of political appointees at Justice…

John P. O’Neal Wall of Heroes

Sibel Edmonds, FBI & 9/11, Just a Citizen.com, 6/20/05: Over four years ago, more than four months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990 provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama bin Laden. This asset/informant was previously a high-level intelligence officer in Iran in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan. Through his contacts in Afghanistan, he received information that:
• 1) Osama bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting 4-5 major cities,
• 2) the attack was going to involve airplanes,
• 3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States,
• 4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months.
The agents who received this information reported it to their superior, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism Thomas Frields, at the FBI Washington Field Office, by filing "302" forms, and the translator, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, translated and documented this information. No action was taken by the Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Frields, and after 9/11 the agents and the translators were told to "keep quiet" regarding this issue. The translator who was present during the session with the FBI informant, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, reported this incident to Director Mueller in writing, and later to the Department of Justice Inspector General. The press reported this incident, and in fact the report in the Chicago Tribune on July 21, 2004, stated that FBI officials had confirmed that this information was received in April 2001. Further, the Chicago Tribune quoted an aide to Director Mueller that he (Mueller) was surprised that the Commission never raised this particular issue with him during the hearing (please refer to Chicago Tribune article, dated July 21, 2004). Mr. Sarshar reported this issue to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and provided them with specific dates, location, witness names, and the contact information for that particular Iranian asset and the two special agents who received the information. I provided the 9/11 Commission with a detailed and specific account of this issue, the names of other witnesses, and documents I had seen. Mr. Sarshar also provided the Department of Justice Inspector General with specific information regarding this case.
For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists' plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the United States. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks, the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the "use of airplanes," "major US cities as targets," and "Osama bin Laden issuing the order." Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ. All this information went to the same place: FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the FBI Washington Field Office, in Washington, DC.
In October 2001, approximately one month after the September 11 attack, an agent from (city name omitted) field office, re-sent a certain document to the FBI Washington Field Office, so that it could be re-translated. This Special Agent, in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, rightfully believed that, considering his target of investigation (the suspect under surveillance), and the issues involved, the original translation might have missed certain information that could prove to be valuable in the investigation of terrorist activities. After this document was received by the FBI Washington Field Office and re-translated verbatim, the field agent's hunch appeared to be correct. The new translation revealed certain information regarding blueprints, pictures, and building material for skyscrapers being sent overseas (country name omitted). It also revealed certain illegal activities in obtaining visas from certain embassies in the Middle East, through network contacts and bribery. However, after the re-translation was completed and the new significant information was revealed, the unit supervisor in charge of certain Middle Eastern languages, Mike Feghali, decided NOT to send the re-translated information to the Special Agent who had requested it.
Instead, this supervisor decided to send this agent a note stating that the translation was reviewed and that the original translation was accurate. This supervisor, Mike Feghali, stated that sending the accurate translation would hurt the original translator and would cause problems for the FBI language department. The FBI agent requesting the re-translation never received the accurate translation of that document. I provided this information to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and to the Department of Justice Inspector General in May 2002.
The latest buzz topic regarding intelligence is the problem of sharing information, intelligence, within intelligence agencies and between intelligence agencies. To this date the public has not been told of intentional blocking of intelligence, and has not been told that certain information, despite its direct links, impacts and ties to terrorist-related activities, is not given to or shared with Counterterrorism units for their investigations and countering terrorism-related activities. This was the case prior to 9/11, and remains in effect after 9/11. If Counterintelligence receives information that contains money laundering, illegal arms sale, and illegal drug activities, directly linked to terrorist activities, and if that information involves certain nations, certain semi-legit organizations, and ties to certain lucrative or political relations in this country, then that information is not shared with Counterterrorism, regardless of the possible severe consequences. In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents have cited "direct pressure by the State Department" and in other cases, "sensitive diplomatic relations" is cited. I provided the Department of Justice Inspector General and the 9/11 Commission with detailed and specific information and evidence regarding this issue, the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this, and the names of certain US officials involved in these transactions and activities.
Now, after almost 4 years, we get to hear new bits & pieces: FBI & Midhar's Case; FBI & Abdel-Hafiz Case; FBI & Saudi planes leaving just days after 9/11 without having the passengers questioned; FBI & Youssef Case ... and the list goes on.
Today, after nearly four years since 9/11, the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of "protecting certain foreign business relations." The victims' family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for almost four years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under "safeguarding certain diplomatic relations."
Where is the so-called Congressional oversight? Why has the 9/11 Commission intentionally omitted this information, although they've had it all along? Where is accountability?

BRIAN BAKST, Rowley launches congressional bid, Associated Press, 07/06/2005: Former FBI whistle-blower Coleen Rowley formally announced Wednesday that she's out to replace a Republican congressman she once backed at the ballot box.
Rowley, who retired from the FBI last year, gained notice for pointing out flaws in the FBI after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge two-term GOP Rep. John Kline in Minnesota's 2nd District, which leans toward Republicans.
Rowley said she's an independent-minded Democrat who until recently voted straight Republican. She confessed to voting for Kline and President Bush as recently as 2000. Kline won his seat in 2002 during his third campaign for office.
"What changed is not me, but the whole Republican Party has changed," she said of her shift in party allegiance…
Rowley said she opposes the Iraq war and parts of the Patriot Act. On social issues, she describes herself as "pro-life" but against criminalizing abortion. Fiscally, she said the federal government needs to be more judicious in its spending decision, but she didn't take a stand when asked if she'd support proposals to reverse recent tax cuts.
Rowley said ethics in government will be the cornerstone of her campaign.
Rowley said she is bothered by Kline's record of straying little from Bush administration positions.
"That's not representation! That's just following orders," Rowley wrote in her seven-page, single-spaced speech describing why she was running. She delivered an abbreviated version of the remarks…
Rowley made her announcement outside her wooded suburban Twin Cities home, where supporters gathered earlier for homemade pancakes and fresh fruit. The father of a woman who died in the World Trade Center collapse drove through the night from southern Wisconsin to be by her side.
Gordon Haberman, whose 25-year-old daughter Andrea died in the building collapse during her first business trip, said he is impressed with Rowley's compassion and honesty. He said he wanted to support her candidacy even though he won't be able to vote in the election.
"Coleen, to me, has been one of the refreshing positives to point to," Haberman said.
Rowley was named one of Time magazine's people of the year for 2002 after criticizing the agency for ignoring pleas to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui more aggressively.
Moussaoui, who was arrested in Minnesota after raising suspicions at a flight school, was the only person charged in the United States in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church and State

Associated Press, Tulsa Zoo To Feature Display On Biblical Creation, 6/10/05: The Tulsa Zoo will add a display on biblical creation following complaints about other displays with religious significance, including a Hindu elephant statue.
The Tulsa Park and Recreation Board approved the display this week after more than two hours of public comment from a standing-room-only crowd.
Some objected that religion shouldn't be part of the taxpayer-funded scientific institution.

But those who favored the creationist exhibit, including Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune, argued that the zoo already displays religious items, including a statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh and a globe inscribed with an American Indian saying: "The earth is our mother. The sky is our father."
Tulsa resident Dan Hicks said, "To not include the creationist view would be discrimination."

Posted by richard at July 19, 2005 11:47 PM