Thursday, February 16, 2006

Coulter will, apparently, vote anywhere she pleases

Felony

Ann's got some problems:

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home — and that could be a big no-no.

...

Here's the sticky part for The Right's Lady Macbeth: She wrote down an Indian Road address instead of Seabreeze on her voter's registration application. And she signed to certify the information as true.

"She never lived here," said Suzanne Frisbie, owner of the Indian Road home. "I'm Ann's Realtor, and she used this address to forward mail when she moved from New York."

...

No matter, Florida statutes make it a third-degree felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. Lying on a voter's registration can cost up to $5,000 and five years behind bars.
LINK

So, when are we going to see a prosecution?

Senator Byrd on the shredding of the Constitution

…We cannot continue to claim that we are a nation of laws and not of men if our laws and, indeed, even the Constitution of the United States itself, may by summarily breached because of some determination of expediency or because the President says “trust me.”



…In the name of “fighting terror” are we to sacrifice every freedom to a President’s demand? How far are we to go? Can a President order warrantless house-by-house searches of a neighborhood, where he suspects a terrorist may be hiding? Can he impose new restrictions on what can be printed, broadcast, or even uttered privately, because of some perceived threat to national security? Laughable thoughts? I think not. For this Administration has so traumatized the people of this nation -- and many in the Congress -- that some will swallow whole whatever rubbish that is spewed from this White House, as long as it is in some tenuous way connected to the so-called war on terror.



…I plead with the American public to tune-in to what is happening in this country. Please forget the political party with which you may usually be associated, and, instead, think about the right of due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a private life. Forget the now tired political spin that, if one does not support warrant-less spying, then one may be a bosom buddy of Osama Bin Laden.



…There is a need for a thorough investigation of all of our domestic spying programs. We have to know what is being done, by whom, and to whom. We need to know if the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act has been breached, and if the Constitutional rights of thousands of Americans have been violated without cause.



…I want to know how many Americans have been spied upon. I want to know how it is determined which individuals are monitored and who makes such determinations. I want to know if the telecommunications industry is involved in a massive screening of the domestic telephone calls of ordinary Americans. I want to know if the United States Post Office is involved. I want to know if the law has been broken and the Constitution has been breached.

Top 10 reasons why you should buy NSA Echelon Mustard

NSA has a new blend of mustard, Echelon: And this is why you should buy it

10. The Joint Staff likes to cook up a sweet tune of legality -- but we know the truth -- they're war criminals, and write stupid notes in violation of DoD orders. Echelon makes the bad stuff sweet, even though it's bad.

9. Even though it's the NSA's toy, it's our Constitution. You can vote to support the Constitution, or you can vote to let the NSA roll over you dog. Do you care? Of course not, so have some Echelon, and smile: We've got your name.

8. With the right kind of hand waving, you can make anything look legal -- just don't ask us where our hands are. They're covered with Echelon brand mustard.

7. If you buy the Bush non-sense about the NSA, you may be in rebellion. So have some Echelon, it will make that prison gruel palatable.

6. The NSA disaster irritates Republicans because . . we'll they’re republicans. What do you expect when flying in a HC-130 over Afghanistan, in a cargo box?

5. NSA claims to be non-partisan. Are you kidding, they get paid to lie. But not Echelon, it tells the truth even about the Joint Staff's illegal orders.

4. The NSA knows the truth about the military’s support of the President's rebellion. Even though they have jobs, it doesn't mean that the GCHQ can't monitor the Joint Staff for war crimes. GCHQ can monitor the food you eat, so behave!

3. Even though Bush won in 2004, it didn't mean that he was actually following the law. He just lied alot, and fooled alot of people. But he's got Echelon mustard, and that's all that counts.

2. Unlike Stalin's clear position on torture, Bush can't make up his mind whether he's for or Against Democracy. If it’s Democracy imposed by force -- it's good if it’s in Iraq; but if it's Democracy imposed by ballots, it's bad if it's connected to Hamas. Where's that Echelon?

1. Who knows, in a few years, they might get out of jail. And Echelon will be there.

Next time you want some mustard, think NSA Echelon. It's the stuff that makes America's fascism taste great, even if you're a Judiciary Staffer who can't find a real job in the food business.
Read On

NSA monitoring prior to 9-11

How this revelation destroys the President's credibility

The NSA was directed prior to 9-11 to increase surveillance, raising questions about what the President has reported to Congress since his election.

Now that we know the President directed unlawful surveillance prior to 9-11, we know the President's public statements about the "inherent authority" he got from Congress in the wake of 9-11 are a sham excuse.

Bush selectively uses information to violate the laws, but he can't use information to effectively lead.

Read On

Impeachment: How to impeach Bush without the House Judiciary Committee

Update 04 Feb 2006: There is real traction for state action Click -- States can force the House. A state proclamation means the voters have 9 months to digest what the Congress has or has not done to [a] assert rule of law; [b] subdue the President's rebellion against Constitution; [c] honor their oath to protect the system of checks and balances; or [d] credibly discuss lawful remedies [ removal ] to tame this President's continued disregard for the rule of law.

The State proclamation on impeachment forces the Congress to face this issue -- and the voters will have time to evaluate their "non response to" or "complicity with" the rebellion. Congress cannot "let it slide" until after the mid-term election. If the issue is "left to slide," the voters will have options at the State level, and can publicly debate this issue in their local communities/legislatures/assemblies over who they trust to assert the rule of law. Those in Congress who fail to assert their oath, and timely address this issue in the Summer of 2006 will have to face a fully knowledgeable voting electorate who knows what the Constitution says, and what the Congress has failed to do.


Update 01 feb 2006 Highly recommended: Here is the quick version of the following information: Click here.

This blogspot shows you the discussion related to the State Proclomatins. Click here if you want a summary of what is giong on, and what you can do at your local state level to share this information with your friends.

The links agove will guide you to how this is done, and what you can do to tell the Joint Staff to stop their rebellion against the Constitution.

Update 27 Jan 2006

Here is the link on how to approach the Senate rules in a new way, and start an effort to cratively protect the Senate filibuster rule.

LINK

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fw: Bishop Spong Q&A on The Danger of Atonement Theology



The Rev. Dr. Kathleen from Michigan writes:
"Overcoming the widespread Christian belief that "Jesus died for my sins" seems an insurmountable challenge! Preachers, liturgical rites, hymns and religious education curricula continue to reinforce "atonement theology/theories." Would you do a series on "atonement theology/theories" - their origins, rationale, continued justification, etc.? Personally and pastorally, "atonement" thinking creates a mire of destructive results and I, for one, would well appreciate your cogent analysis of how we might best approach this. "

Dear Kathleen,

Thank you for your letter and its challenge. There is no doubt that atonement/sacrifice theology constitutes a deep burden that weighs down the Christian faith today. I work on this subject constantly. It is a major theme in two of my books, Why Christianity Must Change or Die and A New Christianity for a New World. I am still engaged in this study as I begin to work on a new book scheduled for publication in 2007 and tentatively entitled, Jesus for the Non-Religious.

Atonement theology, however, involves far more than a salvation doctrine. It brings into question the theistic understanding of God and even the morality of God. This theology assumes that God is an external Being who invades the world to heal the fallen creation. It also assumes that this God enters this fallen world in the person of the Son to pay the price of human evil on the cross. It was the central theme in Mel Gibson's motion picture; "The Passion of the Christ" which might have been dramatically compelling but it represented a barbaric, sado-masochistic, badly dated and terribly distorted biblical and theological perspective.

All atonement theories root in a sense of human alienation and with it a sense of human powerlessness. "Without Thee we can do nothing good!" So we develop legends about the God who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. For Christianity, I am convinced that our basic atonement theology finds its taproot not in the story of the cross but in the liturgy of the synagogue, especially Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. In the Yom Kippur liturgy an innocent lamb was slain and the people were symbolically cleansed by the saving blood of this sacrificed Lamb of God. Jesus was similarly portrayed as the new Lamb of God. As we Christians tell the story of Jesus' dying for our sins in doctrine, hymns and liturgy, we quite unknowingly turn God into an ogre, a deity who practices child sacrifice and a guilt-producing figure, who tells us that our sinfulness is the cause of the death of Jesus. God did it to him instead of to us who deserved it. Somehow that is supposed to make it both antiseptic and worthwhile. It doesn't. I think we can and must break the power of these images. Just the fact that you are sensitive to it and offended by it is a start.

Consciousness is rising on this issue all over the Church, and as it does, Christianity will either change or die. There is no alternative. I vote for change, obviously you do too.

-- John Shelby Spong


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ALERT: From Code Pink

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 15, 2006
2:12 AM

CONTACT: Global Exchange / CODEPINK
Medea Benjamin (415) 235-6517
Gael Murphy (202) 412-6700

US State Department Rejects Visa Applications of Iraqi Women Whose Families Were Killed by US Troops
Women had planned to tell their stories to US policy makers and the public as part of an International Women’s Day peace campaign.

WASHINGTON - February 15 - Two Iraqi women whose husbands and children were killed by US troops during the Iraq war have been refused entry into the United States for a speaking tour. The women were invited to the US for peace events surrounding international women’s by the human rights group Global Exchange and the women’s peace group CODEPINK.

In a piece of painful irony, the reason given for the rejection was that the women don’t have enough family in Iraq to prove that they’ll return to the country. “It’s appalling that the US military killed these women’s families and then the US government rejects their visas on the grounds that they have no family to return to in Iraq. These women have no desire to stay in the United States. We had a very hard time convincing them to come, but we told them how important it would be for their stories to be heard by Americans,” said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of both the groups that had invited the women to the US.

The women whose visa applications were rejected are Anwar Kadhim Jawad and Vivian Salim Mati. They had to make a dangerous journey to Amman, Jordan just to apply for the visas and were told on February 4th that they’d been rejected. On February 14th, CODEPINK was informed by the US State Department that the women “failed to overcome the presumption of intending to emigrate.” But the group suspects that other factors influenced the State Department’s decision. “I remember how we all cried when we heard Anwar tell her story about losing her husband and three of her children,” said Jodie Evans of CODEPINK, who met with Anwar in 2004 in Baghdad. “If the American people heard these stories, their image of the Iraq war would be completely different. I suppose that’s why the state department does not want her to come here.”

Anwar’s husband and their four children were driving down the road from their house in Baghdad one day when they were suddenly caught in a hail of bullets from US soldiers. There was no checkpoint and no warning before their car was attacked. Anwar's husband, son and two daughters were shot dead. Only Anwar, who was pregnant at the time, and her 14-year-old daughter, survived. The US Army compensated her with $11,000, but her loss is incalculable and her grief immeasurable.

As Anwar told Susan Galleymore, a US military mother who visited Iraq in 2004, “In my family, like many Iraqi families, the husband takes care of all the family business. My job is to care for the well being of the family inside the house while my husband’s job is to care for every thing else. This is the way we do it in Iraq. Now, I have no husband. I have no income. I have no house anymore. I live with my parents and these two children. Everything else is gone. I will never recover.”

Vivian Salim Mati, the other woman whose visa was rejected, lost her husband and children when they decided to flee their home when the US military began bombing their neighborhood three days after they first entered Baghdad. Vivian grabbed their children and jumped in the car. Her husband was driving, and their three children were sitting in the back. They were driving down a side street when they crossed paths with a US tank. The US soldier atop the tank began shooting at them. Vivian's husband and three children were killed right away. Vivian was hurt but still alive. She got out of the car, screaming, 'Help! Help!', but the soldiers just kept shooting. Miraculously, Vivian survived but she carries her grief with her every day.

CODEPINK and Global Exchange had hoped to bring Anwar and Vivian to the United States for women’s peace events to take place in New York City and Washington, DC around International Women’s Day. The women would have spoken at public events and met with policy makers and newspaper editorial boards. In Washington, DC on March 8th, the Iraqi women would have joined with US women who lost loves ones in the war, including Cindy Sheehan, in a Women Say No to War march. At the end of the march, the women would have delivered thousands of signatures to the White House from women around the world who signed the Women Say No to War urgent petition for peace, which calls for an end to the Iraq war and all Iraqi civilians in 2006.

CODEPINK and Global Exchange are asking people to contact the US State Department to urge them to reverse the decision and grant visas to the Iraqi women.

###

International Study on Arctic Climate Change Produces Startling Findings

Published on Wednesday, February 15, 2006
by Michelle Macafee

WINNIPEG - An extensive international study on the effects of climate change in the Arctic has reached some startling conclusions on issues ranging from how fast polar ice is melting to the impact on Inuit communities.

About 120 scientists from 11 countries involved in the Canadian-led research project, which started in 2002, are meeting in Winnipeg this week to present and discuss their findings.

One of the most surprising for David Barber, a sea ice specialist at the University of Manitoba, was the fact polar ice is melting at a rate of about 74,000 square kilometres each year - an area about the size of Lake Superior - and has been for the last 30 years.

"This is a very significant result, and it's not some sort of trend that's going to shift back the other way," Barber said Tuesday.

Barber added there is increasing concern in the scientific community that there are factors actually speeding up the melt, but he cautions it's too late to reverse the trend.

"The time to act actually was a few decades ago," he said.

"We're not going to be able to shift the economies of the planet to get off this fossil fuel addiction in a week, a year or a decade. But we have to start the process now to have some stability for future generations."

Louis Fortier, a researcher with Universite Laval in Quebec City who led the project, agreed the focus in Canada and internationally needs to be on coping with the reality of global warming and minimizing the damage.

"If we wanted to really change things to avoid the bulk of the impacts of climate change, we would have to totally change our way of life tomorrow," said Fortier.

"We'd have to stop using our cars and reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions by 60 to 80 per cent, which would obviously create major problems."

Climate change models have long predicted global warming would be felt first, and strongest, in the extreme north and south. This research is proving that claim to be bang on, said Barber.

The crux of the research program - known as the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study - was a year-long expedition aboard the Canadian research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, which was deliberately frozen in an ice floe in Franklin Bay in December 2003.

Scientists sampled the winter and spring conditions in the Western Arctic, then continued sampling in the open waters of the MacKenzie Shelf until August 2004.

Further research will be done in the coming years to look at the socio-economic, cultural and geopolitical impact of climate change.

But the Inuit, who spend much of the year living off the sea and ice, are already feeling the negative effects, said Fortier.

The ice is not as safe for travel, houses are being washed away as shorelines erode by as much as six metres a year, and food sources such as caribou and seals could eventually disappear and be replaced by other species from other areas within the next century, he said.

Great international hope rests on the Kyoto Protocol to help slow the pace of global warming, although the recent election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has thrown the extent of Canada's participation in doubt.

Fortier calls Kyoto a small step, "like a toddler starting to walk," but said North America and Europe will have to do as much as 20 times more than what is outlined in the deal to really solve the problem.

Further delaying progress is the use of heavier polluting substances such as yellow coal by emerging economies such as China and India.

"This will be extremely polluting but there's nothing we can tell them that will stop that," said Fortier.

"It's difficult for us to say, 'We got rich polluting the atmosphere, creating the greenhouse gases problem, but you can not do it yourself.' "

Copyright © 2006 Canadian Press

Communism, Peronism, Nazism, Francoism, Mussoliniism, Bushism....

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

Communism, Peronism, Nazism, Francoism, Mussoliniism, Bushism: They are all the same. The underlying ideologies may be different, but they all are based on cult worship of a leader combined with an all-powerful control of the government over the people.

In the biggest bait and switch in the history of this great nation, Bush and Cheney promise democracy, while they consolidate the dictatorial powers that are the standard hallmark of an "ism" behind the scenes.

In this world of "isms," the absolute rulers are above the law, not even responsible for shooting people (likely while intoxicated).

It's the kind of historical injustice that the founders of this country revolted against in 1776. Only today we are surrounded by Tories (Republicans) and enablers (Democrats in Congressional leadership). The true patriots of our time are rendered inoperative by a combination of character assassination and a media that has merged politics into entertainment, advertising, partisan shilling, and triviality.

Cheney hunts quail put in front of him like fish in a pond, and he still can't tell the difference between a domesticated bird and a Texas crony lawyer.

The bigger problem is that we are all in Cheney's sights.

Take care, now, and duck whenever you see him coming.

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS

LINK

Shooter Shoots, Then Uses Silencer

WASHINGTON

Who did this old guy think he was, coming between Dick Cheney and his helpless prey?

The luckless 78-year-old Texas lawyer, Harry Whittington, is in intensive care after a heart attack, with up to 200 pellets riddling his face and body -- one stuck in his heart -- from Dick Cheney's designer Perazzi Brescia shotgun. And still his friend, the vice president, is Swift-BB-ing him.

Private citizens have been enlisted to blame the victim. Maybe poor Mr. Whittington put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was, after all, behind Vice, not in front of him. And the hunter pulling the trigger is supposed to make sure he has a clear shot. Wouldn't it be, well, classy for Shooter to express just a bit of contrition and humility?

Instead, the usual sliming has begun, with the Cheney camp trying to protect the vice president by casting a veteran hunter as Elmer Dud.

Scott McClellan told the White House press corps that Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist with government ties who owns the Texas ranch (and whose mother, Anne, was on the Halliburton board that hired Mr. Cheney as C.E.O.), "pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there."

As the story of the weekend's bizarre hunting accident is wrenched out of the White House, the picture isn't pretty: With American soldiers dying in Iraq, Five-Deferment Dick "I Had Other Priorities in the 60's Than Military Service" Cheney gets his macho kicks gunning down little birds and the occasional old man while W. rides his bike, blissfully oblivious to any collateral damage. Shouldn't these guys work on weekends until we figure out how to fix Iraq, New Orleans, Medicare and gas prices?

This version of "The Most Dangerous Game" neatly follows the four-step Bush-Cheney cycle:

Step 1: Set out to pick off what you think is an easy target, like quail this time or pen-raised and netted pheasant in the past, or a certain sanction-caged Iraqi dictator.

Step 2: In the corrupt company of lobbyist-contractor friends, botch things up. Ignore the peril at hand -- as with, oh, Osama at Tora Bora, or Katrina, or the Iraq occupation -- and with steely resolve, indulge your raging incompetence. (Oops.)

Step 3: Stonewall. Resist giving Congress information about 9/11 or Katrina; don't tell the public how you're tapping phones at home, setting up gulags abroad and making war and energy policy in secret. Why give the taxpayers, who are ponying up for these weekend hunting trips, the extraordinary news that Vice shot his hunting companion in the face and chest? Scott McClellan knew before yesterday's White House briefing at noon that Mr. Whittington was worse, but did not tell the reporters. He left that to Corpus Christi doctors, who spun the heart attack as "an inflammatory response to a metallic foreign BB."

Step 4: Admit no mistakes. Express sympathy. Blame the victim without leaving fingerprints by outsourcing the smear to the private sector.

Trent Lott joked in a meeting yesterday that Mr. Cheney was now the "shooter in chief," while other wags noted that Quayle was always a problem for Bushes. (Now, that IS funny!)

Presidential staff members and lawmakers speculated yesterday about whether Shooter would resign and make room for Condi if Mr. Whittington did not survive. His death would trigger a more thorough police investigation and probably a grand jury.

"Are you crazy?" one Republican senator told a reporter. "He'd never quit." (Aaron Burr presided over the Senate after he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.)

The shooter in chief can't quit because he is the administration. Who'd even tell him to quit? If necessary, he'd probably make W. take the fall.

Despite efforts by Mr. McClellan to joke and urge reporters to get back to "the pressing priorities of the American people," the hunting debacle once more showed Mr. Cheney running the imperial show.

He didn't talk to the sheriff for 14 hours, or even call the president to notify him after the 5:50 p.m. accident. Vice left that to Andy Card, who called Mr. Bush at 7:30 p.m. to say there had been a hunting accident, without mentioning that Vice was the gunman. Soon after that, Karl Rove called Mr. Bush back with that little detail.

A reporter, surprised, pressed Mr. McClellan: "The vice president did not call the president to tell him he was the shooter?"

Usually when there's a White House cover-up, the president's in on it.

Joining Topplebush in a little CD

Gonzales Withholding Plame Emails

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Report

Wednesday 15 February 2006

Sources close to the investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson have revealed this week that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has not turned over emails to the special prosecutor's office that may incriminate Vice President Dick Cheney, his aides, and other White House officials who allegedly played an active role in unmasking Plame Wilson's identity to reporters.

Moreover, these sources said that, in early 2004, Cheney was interviewed by federal prosecutors investigating the Plame Wilson leak and testified that neither he nor any of his senior aides were involved in unmasking her undercover CIA status to reporters and that no one in the vice president's office had attempted to discredit her husband, a vocal critic of the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence. Cheney did not testify under oath or under penalty of perjury when he was interviewed by federal prosecutors.

The emails Gonzales is said to be withholding contained references to Valerie Plame Wilson's identity and CIA status and developments related to the inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Moreover, according to sources, the emails contained suggestions by the officials on how the White House should respond to what it believed were increasingly destructive comments Wilson had been making about the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.

Gonzales, who at the time of the leak was the White House counsel, spent two weeks with other White House attorneys screening emails turned over to his office by roughly 2,000 staffers following a deadline imposed by the White House in 2003. The sources said Gonzales told Fitzgerald more than a year ago that he did not intend to turn over the emails to his office, because they contained classified intelligence information about Iraq in addition to minor references to Plame, the sources said.

He is said to have cited "executive privilege" and "national security concerns" as the reason for not turning over some of the correspondence, which allegedly proves Cheney's office played an active role in leaking Plame Wilson's undercover CIA status to reporters, the attorneys said.

Aside from the emails that have not been turned over, there are also emails that Patrick Fitzgerald, the Special Prosecutor investigating the case, believes were either "shredded" or deleted, the attorneys said.

In a court document dated January 23, Fitzgerald says that, during the course of his investigation, he had been told that some emails from the offices of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had not been saved. His letter does not claim that any member of the Bush administration discarded the emails, but sources close to the probe say that is what Fitzgerald has been alleging privately.

"In an abundance of caution," Fitzgerald's January 23 letter to Libby's defense team states, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."

Spokespeople for Gonzales and the White House would not comment citing the ongoing investigation. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Fitzgerald, also wouldn't comment. A spokesman for Cheney did not return calls for comment nor did Cheney's criminal attorney, Terrence O'Donnell.

Cheney testified for a little more than an hour about his role in the leak in early 2004. What he told prosecutors appears to be identical to testimony his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, gave before a grand jury during the same year. Libby was indicted on five-counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and lying to investigators related to his role in the Plame Wilson leak.

Two weeks ago, additional court documents related to Libby's case were made public. In one document, Fitzgerald responded to Libby's defense team that Libby had testified before a grand jury that his "superiors" authorized him to leak elements of the highly classified National Intelligence Estimate to reporters in the summer of 2003 that showed Iraq to be a grave nuclear threat, to rebut criticism that the administration manipulated pre-war Iraq intelligence.

News reports citing people familiar with Libby's testimony said Cheney had authorized Libby to do so. Additionally, an extensive investigation during the past month has shown that Cheney, Libby and former Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley spearhead an effort beginning in March 2003 to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the administration's intelligence related to Iraq, who had publicly criticized the administration for relying on forged documents to build public support for the war.

Cheney did not disclose this information when he was questioned by investigators.

Cheney responded to questions about how the White House came to rely on Niger documents that purportedly showed that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country. Cheney said he had received an intelligence briefing on the allegations in late December 2003 or early January 2004 and had asked the CIA for more information about the issue.

Cheney said he was unaware that Wilson was chosen to travel to Niger to look into the uranium claims and that he never saw a report Wilson had given a CIA analyst upon his return, which stated that the Niger claims were untrue. He said the CIA never told him about Wilson's trip.

However, these attorneys said that witnesses in the case have testified before a grand jury that Cheney, Libby, Hadley, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Justice Department, the FBI, and other senior aides in the Office of the Vice President, the President, and the National Security Council had received and read a March 9, 2002, cable sent to his office by the CIA that debunked the Niger claims.

The cable, which was prepared by a CIA analyst and based on Wilson's fact-finding mission, did not mention Wilson by name, but quoted a CIA source and Niger officials Wilson had questioned during his eight-day mission, who said there was no truth to the claims that Iraq had tried to purchase 500 tons of yellowcake uranium ore from Niger.

Several current and former State Department and CIA officials familiar with the March 9, 2002, cable said they had testified before the grand jury investigating the Plame Wilson leak that they had spoken to Libby and Hadley about the cable, and that they were told Cheney had also read it.

Cheney told investigators that when Wilson began speaking to reporters on background about his secret mission to Niger to investigate Iraq's alleged attempts to purchase uranium, he asked Libby to contact the CIA to "get more information" about the trip and to find out if it was true, the attorneys added.

Furthermore, Cheney told prosecutors that before he learned of Wilson's trip, his office simply sought to rebut statements made by Wilson to reporters and the various newspaper reports that said the Bush administration knowingly relied on flawed intelligence to build a case for war.

Moreover, Cheney said that he and his aide were concerned that reporters had been under the impression that Cheney chose Wilson for the Niger trip, the attorneys said. Cheney testified that he instructed Libby and other aides to coordinate a response to those queries and rebut those allegations with the White House press office.

"In his testimony the vice president said that his staff referred media calls about Wilson to the White House press office," one attorney close to the case said. "He said that was the appropriate venue for responding to statements by Mr. Wilson that he believed were wrong."

Cheney told investigators that he first learned about Valerie Plame Wilson and her employment with the CIA from Libby. Cheney testified that Libby told him that several reporters had contacted him in July to say that Plame Wilson had been responsible for arranging her husband's trip to Niger to investigate the Niger uranium claims.

Cheney also testified that the next time he recalled hearing about Plame Wilson and her connection to Joseph Wilson was when he read about her in a July 14, 2003, column written by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.



Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's electricity crisis as Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. Jason has spent the last year cultivating sources close to the CIA leak investigation, and is a regular contributer to t r u t h o u t. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/021506J.shtml

Fw: Stop buying Middle East oil: Buy Citgo

Support Democracy, not the Middle East

Dear Dot,


Citgo

Want an easy way to help America's poor stay warm this winter? Buy Citgo gasoline.

Find a station near you.

Of the top oil producing countries in the world, only one is a democracy with a president who was elected on a platform of using his nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor.1 The money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela - not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East.

"Citgo is not just another oil company," says Citgo CEO Felix Rodriguez. "With Venezuela's state oil company, of which we are a subsidiary, we share a broad social mission." So buy Citgo gasoline and support democracy in South America:

Find the Citgo station closest to your home address.

And this winter Citgo is helping out less fortunate Americans, too.

You already may have seen the headlines about how Citgo, unlike every other oil company in the U.S., is making cut-rate heating oil available to struggling families in the Northeast. The Energy Department predicts a nearly 26 percent jump in heating costs this winter compared with last year,2 and despite a year of record oil company profits, the country's heating oil assistance fund is falling behind.3

Citgo has stepped in to help out. They're selling heating oil at discounted rates to poorer communities in Massachusetts and the Bronx, NY, and working on deals to keep low-income homes in Rhode Island and Vermont warm, too.

So while you're out on the road this month, you can help some fellow Americans by filling your tank with Venezuelan gas. Here's a link to find the nearest one of the 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the U.S.:

Find the Citgo station closest to your home address.

Naturally, if you can get where you're going without a car, do so. And we'll continue to work for a country with more renewable energy options. But in the meantime, help your Northeast neighbors by supporting Citgo when you drive.

Find the Citgo station closest to your home address:

http://www.truemajority.org/find_station.php

Thanks for all that you do,

Matt Holland
TrueMajority

Thanks!


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If you like what you see, please click here to contribute. ..and keep these messages going to more people!

TrueMajority.org is a grassroots group of citizens who believe in America's true values of openness, fairness and compassion. We believe participating in an effective government is the best way to be mutually responsible for our community.

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As if we needed any more proof....

February 15, 2006

More Proof of Prewar Intelligence Manipulation by the Bush Administration

By Walter C. Uhler

Writing in the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs, Paul R. Pillar has launched a furious assault on the Bush administration for its manipulation of prewar intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and links to al Qaeda. Mr. Pillar should know, because he was the CIA's National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia (NESA) from 2000 to 2005.

Most damaging is his assertion: "The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made." That decision, of course, was to invade Iraq. And, as we know, plenty of evidence exists -- especially as provided by Bush administration insider, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- to prove that the Bush administration plotted, from its very first day in office, to effect regime change in Iraq.

Pillar's firsthand proof of intelligence manipulation appears to be unassailable: The Bush administration "went to war without requesting - and evidently without being influenced by - any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq…As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community's assessments regarding Iraq; the first request I received from any administration policymaker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war."

As Pillar correctly notes, it was the Senate -- not the Bush administration -- that requested such a strategic-level assessment, the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Yet, what precipitated that request was the "cherry-picking" from intelligence about aluminum tubes, by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney, which exaggerated how close Iraq was to acquiring nuclear weapons. Presumably, such manipulation is what Pillar has in mind when he complains about how "the administration selected pieces of raw intelligence to use in the public case for war, leaving the intelligence community to register varying degrees of private protest when such use started to go beyond what analysts deemed credible or reasonable."

But, much worse than mere cherry-picking for exaggeration from legitimate, if partial, intelligence was the Bush administration's attempt to frighten Congress -- just a few weeks before it was scheduled to vote on a resolution to support war -- by falsely proclaiming the existence of links connecting Iraq with al Qaeda. Why? Because the intelligence community already had expressed its doubts about such links in four classified reports. Thus, there existed no legitimate intelligence to cherry-pick from.

Nevertheless, but from pure fabrication, President Bush falsely warned against allowing al Qaeda to become "an extension of Saddam's madness." Not to be outdone, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld falsely claimed, "that American intelligence had 'bulletproof' evidence of links between al Qaeda and the government of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq."

Anyone who had read the four classified reports would have known that Bush and Rumsfeld were making false statements. Which means that virtually every senior official in the Bush administration was an accomplice.

Unfortunately, few individuals outside the Bush administration knew about those four classified intelligence reports. And Pillar doesn't mention them in his article. But our British allies in the war against Iraq knew what was going on. And, now, so do we, thanks to the individual who leaked the highly classified "Downing Street Memo" of July 2002.

According to that memo, the Chief of British Intelligence reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Cabinet the following information about his recent talks in Washington: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Moreover, as Pillar confirms, "the greatest discrepancy between the administration's public statements and the intelligence community's judgments [precisely] concerned …the relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda." In fact, it required only the first of those four classified reports -- co-authored by Pillar's NESA and issued to the President's Daily Brief principals on September 21, 2001 -- to provoke neoconservatives in the Pentagon to establish a small office tasked with cultivating that very discrepancy.

That office, staffed by untrained but appropriately biased political hacks, was set up by Douglas Feith and called the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCEG). According to Pillar, with the formation of that group, "The administration's rejection of the intelligence community's judgments became especially clear." Not only did the PCEG deliberately resurrect and disseminate damning, but erroneous, raw intelligence about Iraq's links to al Qaeda (raw intelligence that the intelligence community already had dismissed), it also solicited raw intelligence from now discredited anti-Saddamist defectors programmed by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

Thus, was it an accident that the PCEG's "intelligence" affirming Iraq's links to al Qaeda found its way into the pre-invasion public utterances of the Defense Secretary, National Security Adviser, Vice President and President? Didn't Cheney speak for them all when he wrote the following note on one of Feith's briefings: "This is very good…Encouraging…Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of the CIA."

"Encouraging?" Manipulating evidence to go to war is "encouraging?" Perhaps that entire exercise best explains why the least enthusiastic member of Bush's war party, Colin Powell, called Feith's group a "Gestapo office."

A recent poll indicated that 53 percent of Americans supported the impeachment of President Bush, "if it was in fact proven that Bush had lied about the basis for invading Iraq." Thus, it's up to that 53 percent to determine whether the very establishment of a "Gestapo office" dedicated to supplanting legitimate classified reports with discredited and ultimately false intelligence that, in turn, was used eagerly and uncritically by senior Bush administration officials, constitutes anything other than the "BIG LIE" that so-called totalitarian regimes had perfected in the past.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

His own comprehensive examination of Feith's PCEG can be found at

For More

The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush

BUZZFLASH REVIEWS


Due to a special purchase, we are able to offer at a reduced price his pre-election (2004) hardcover scathing critique of Bush's faux moral stance. We weren't able to fit it in to our premium schedule before the last Bush campaign, but it hasn't lost any of its punch -- not one iota. The gap between Bush's moral self-righteousness and his duplicitous behavior has just gotten worse and more brazenly hypocritical.

Here is what one reader had to say about it: "In this book, Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, studies the ethics of President George W. Bush. More than any other President, Bush justifies his policies in terms of the fight of good against evil. In Part 1, Singer contrasts Bush's rhetoric of opportunity with the reality of class. Bush's faith-based politics cover class-based economic policies. He claims to uphold a culture of life, while freely using the death penalty, even for mentally retarded prisoners. He opposes stem cell research, despite its contribution to prolonging life.

"He boasts that the USA is the freest nation on earth, despite the evidence. In Part 2, Singer looks at Bush's international role. Claiming to uphold free trade and generous aid, Bush spends more on subsidizing 25,000 US cotton growers than he provides in aid to Africa. After 9/11, he stretched his aim from attacking Al Qaida to toppling the Taliban regime. Singer shows how the attack on Afghanistan was not just, because Bush rejected negotiations, so the war was not the last resort that it should have been. Nor was the war for a just cause, because it went beyond what was necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks. And he allows US forces to use interrogation methods that the State Department calls torture when other governments use them.

"The war against Iraq was a diversion from the just war against Al Qaida, and has only increased the threat of terrorism. Pax Americana, like the old Pax Britannica, is just an endless series of imperial wars, strategically and morally wrong. In sum, Singer shows how Bush (like his lackey Blair) uses value-talk to claim that he is moral, despite all the evidence. When his policies fail to produce the good results he predicted, he blames other, 'evil', people. The worse the consequences, the more moral the rhetoric.

"Finally, we should recognize that Bush's lies and confusions consistently serve the interests of the US ruling class. These interests conflict with the interests of workers everywhere, and with America's real interests, the interests of American workers, the vast majority of the American people."

BuzzFlash has always been baffled by how Americans and the Democratic leadership can fail to hold Bush and his cult responsible for the failure of their actions. In an age of mass media, the Democratic leadership appears totally intimidated by the artificially created "perception" of Bush, as if they were an opposition party to a film character.

But the utter failure of the Bush presidency in deed should far outweigh the attention that the Democratic leadership and the media give to Bush's false piety. Even if he were sincere about this "Godliness," it doesn't matter since he acts like someone fallen from grace, not a believer.

We recently heard someone repeat this mantra: "Judge by the deed, not the creed."

If only we could reach that point when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove were accountable for their incompetent and dangerous actions, not their sanctimonious Hollywood religious script and fear mongering.

Anybody can claim to believe in God, to commune with God; that just takes a few heartfelt words (or in Bush's case, volumes). But the only way we have of knowing God's work on earth is through deeds; and -- by that benchmark -- Bush fails so miserably, you would think he's a mole of the guy from the netherworld.

It's the deed, not the creed, as "The President of Good and Evil" illustrates.

Never has there been a nation held so hostage to a fiction of character and policy that is so publicly contradicted by the harmful reality of the very same.

Peter Singer is the Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. You can find out more about Singer here.

BUZZFLASH REVIEWS

What Cheney's blast revealed: A new White House lobbying scandal?

''I'm going to have lunch with Secretary of State Rice, talk a little business; Mrs. Bush, talk a little business; we've got a friend from South Texas here, named Katharine Armstrong; take a little nap. I'm reading an Elmore Leonard book right now, knock off a little Elmore Leonard this afternoon; go fishing with my man, Barney; a light dinner and head to the ballgame. I get to bed about 9:30 p.m., wake up about 5 a.m. So it's a perfect day.''
-- President George W. Bush, as quoted in the Aug. 22, 2005, New York Times.

For months now, reporters and bloggers have been digging for a picture that would show President Bush with disgraced lobbyist and felon Jack Abramoff. Maybe they've been looking for the wrong picture. Because there's a lobbyist out there who has access to both Bush and Dick Cheney that Abramoff (or at least his pals in Queens) might kill for.

Her name is Katharine Armstrong -- whose family owns the Texas ranch where Cheney shot his 78-year-old friend, Harry Whittington, on Saturday. What has received virtually no attention in all the shooting hoopla is that the wealthy ranch heiress is also a lobbyist -- a lobbyist who goes quail hunting with the vice president and spends leisurely summer days with the leader of the free world at his ranch in Crawford.

Armstrong became a lobbyist just three short years ago. She had no prior experience in lobbying, nor does she have a law degree. Her recent governmental experience consists of her recent stint as chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. In recent years, the divorcee has been raising her three kids and been involved in philanthropic causes around Dallas.

So how's Armstrong doing in her new career?

Quite well, thank you.

In fact, companies are paying big bucks for the Texas-based Armstrong to lobby the federal government in Washington -- including, yes, the White House. NBC News' Aram Rostom is reporting tonight that Houston law firm Baker Botts -- the favorite American law firm of the Saudi royal family, among many international clients -- paid Armstrong $160,000 in 2004 to lobby the Bush White House:

The records indicate she was paid the money after she "communicated with the White House on behalf of Baker Botts clients."

Read On

The Betrayal of Paul Hacket

The ultimate goal in politics should be to do both what’s right and what’s smart, what’s honorable and what works with voters. In the American context, that could be telling a hard truth instead of pandering or standing for principle at a time of fear – and thus inspiring the public.

Read On

Ohio: Rally surveillance blasted

War protesters object to being tracked, recorded

By Sandra M. Klepach
Beacon Journal staff writer

Two hundred protesters marked the war in Iraq with a march and rally on March 19, 2005.

Across the street, a man and woman, who appeared to be in uniform, marked it, too -- one with a 35mm camera, the other with a video camera.

Speculation ran rampant Monday night among about 125 who attended a public hearing about the previous rally that similar federal officials were undetected in their midst.

This time, the group gathered at the Akron-Summit County Public Library in downtown Akron to hear testimony about the U.S. military's ``civilian spying.''

``If anybody from the FBI or Department of Defense is here, this is my good side,'' said Akron resident Mickey Stefanik.

He then encouraged any spies to take a picture of the message on his T-shirt: Protect the Bill of Rights.

The standing-room-only crowd joined representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown's office to hear about a dozen residents and group members demand government accountability for its secret eavesdropping program.

The hearing was called after the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee caught wind of a federal document that listed its March 19 event as a ``threat,'' committee Director Greg Coleridge said.

Eight pages acquired by NBC from a 400-page Department of Defense database called for government response ``only if something significant happens.''

One column, its purpose unidentified on the document, includes the words ``Information Not Credible.''

But another classifies the event as still ``Open/Unresolved.''

Two cars shadowed the group on March 19 during its entire trek in Akron from a military recruitment center to the local FBI office and Federal Building, Coleridge said. The occupants watched protesters read the names of 1,521 fatalities, spill red-dyed water from a 55-gallon drum and hear speeches from religious leaders.

Akron attorney Farhad Sethna also read from his pocket-sized copy of the Constitution.

Sethna also spoke on Monday.

``As I reach into my coat pocket slowly, let me show you my weapon of mass destruction,'' he said, raising the small book into the air to applause. ``And it may be the greatest document ever written.''

From a table beside the lectern, Frank Kunstel of the ACLU asked several speakers if they had expected violence at the event. All said they had not.

The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for details of any surveillance of the event -- which he said could include the violation of four amendments, including rights to free speech and assembly.

The government has about a month from the filing date in late January to respond.

Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Cleveland division of the FBI, said Monday night that requested files will be provided through the Freedom of Information Act but added that he had no knowledge of surveillance at the March 19 protest.

With 43 ``incidents'' listed on the eight pages from the database, Joe Mosyjowski of Hartville said he fears 400 pages could list as many as 2,150 peaceful events.

``Threats to whom? The American people? We are the American people!'' he said. ``I feel violated -- first as a citizen, but also as a taxpayer who sees his funds being focused on Joe Citizen rather than Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda.''

Cuyahoga Falls resident Liz Raines said the rally and march were attended by a wide variety of people concerned about the Iraqi war.

``Well, all I can say is, if that's (who) they're afraid of,'' she said, ``I'm afraid of our government.''


Sandra M. Klepach can be reached at 330-996-3746 or sklepach@thebeaconjournal.com
LINK

We should all be afraid of our own government, but that fear should not dissuade us from doing our duty as, so far, free people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

American Patriot is of neither party; defends Constitution

National Security: The Attack on the Constitution

Jim Marcinkowski

"It is my pleasure to be able to share some of my thoughts with you this evening on matters of national security and the Constitution. I come here not as a Democrat, not as a former Republican, but as an American who is deeply troubled by the direction we are headed as a nation...read on"

In the very near future, I can see a day when patriotism will be accrued to people belonging to neither of the two big political parties.

ALERT! Thousands demand Propaganda Machine inquiry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 14, 2006
3:19 PM

CONTACT: Free Press
Timothy Karr, Free Press, (201) 533-8838
Diane Farsetta, CMD, (608) 260-9713
Craig Aaron, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x 25

Thousands Demand Investigation into Covert Propaganda
Free Press and CMD deliver 40,000 petitions calling for full accounting of the Bush PR machine

WASHINGTON - February 14 - Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) today delivered nearly 40,000 petitions to the Justice Department and Congress, calling for an investigation into illegal "covert propaganda" produced by the Bush administration.

The groups began collecting the petitions last fall after an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Education illegally funneled more than $240,000 to pundit Armstrong Williams to tout Bush's education policy before the 2004 elections. The petition calls on the administration "to fully disclose all administration expenditures for publicity" and to prosecute those responsible for illegal propaganda "to the fullest extent of the law."

Yesterday, House Democrats released a separate GAO report chronicling more than $1.6 billion spent by the Bush administration since 2003 on public relations and advertising at seven federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

"The American people are fed up with this administration's relentless attempts to manage and manipulate the news," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press. "The GAO report carefully itemizes this administration's preference for pre-packaged reporting at the expense of real news and information — in a scheme to make U.S. taxpayers pay for their own deception."

At least three earlier GAO investigations had found that the Bush administration was producing "covert propaganda" at other agencies, including the Department of Health of Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Yet the White House instructed all executive branch agencies to ignore the GAO's findings.

"The latest GAO report is a far cry from real accountability," said Diane Farsetta, senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy, a PR watchdog group. "Subcontractors — such as the infamous Armstrong Williams — are not listed, and there is no indication whether government-funded 'fake news,' such as video news releases, included disclosures. As the GAO has ruled repeatedly, VNRs that do not disclose their source to the audience constitute illegal covert propaganda."

Throughout the past year, Free Press and CMD have mobilized citizens to put a stop to government and corporate propaganda. In April 2005, the groups mobilized thousands of concerned citizens to urge the FCC to launch an investigation into the widespread use of government-sponsored video news releases. In response, the agency issued a public notice calling on all broadcasters and cable outlets to disclose the origin of VNRs used on their programs. Pressure from Free Press activists also launched an FCC investigation into whether Armstrong Williams' actions violated anti-payola regulations.

"Congress should immediately enact strict legislation that mandates full disclosure in government-produced VNRs and puts an end to covert propaganda," Karr said.

For more information, see www.freepress.net/propaganda and www.prwatch.org

Why We Need An Independent War Profiteering Commission

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
On Sunday night, Sixty Minutes aired an important story exposing Iraqi war profiteering that has stolen billions, crippled reconstruction and put the lives of troops at fatal risk.

As Steve Kroft reported, "The United States has spent over $1/4 trillion in three years in Iraq and more than 50 billion of it has gone to private contractors, hired to guard bases, drive trucks and shelter the troops and rebuild the country." This money, more than the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security, "has been handed out to companies in Iraq with little or no oversight. Millions of dollars are unaccounted for. And there are widespread allegations of waste, fraud and war profiteering." The segment focused on a company called Custer Battles, which is the subject of a civil lawsuit that goes to trial today.

The $2 million given to Custer Battles was only the first installment--of $100 million--on a contract to provide security at Baghdad International Airport. What's significant is that the company was started by two guys with absolutely no security experience. What one of them had was (a claim of) ties to the Republican Party and connections at the White House. In a memo obtained by Sixty Minutes, the Baghdad airport's director of security wrote to the Coalition Authority, "Custer Battles have shown themselves to be unresponsive, uncooperative, incompetent, deceitful, manipulative and war profiteers. Other than that, they're swell fellows."

The company continued to work in Iraq even after one of Custer Battles' main subcontractors went to federal authorities with allegations of criminal misconduct--bilking the government out of $50 million. (The subcontractor and another whistleblower are suing the company on behalf of US taxpayers to recover some of the money.)

What's happened since. Well, as Kroft reports, "To date, the only action that's been taken against [the company] has been a one-year suspension from receiving government contracts. It has since expired."

"I think what's happening over there is an orgy of greed here with contractors," says North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, whose committee has held hearings on the giants of war profiteering -- Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, who've collected half of all the money awarded to contractors in Iraq and, according to the Defense Department's own auditors, have overbilled taxpayers by more than $1 billion.

If there's any chance of oversight, it won't come from Republicans who refuse to hold hearings into the reconstruction racket. Expect to hear more in coming days from Stuart Bowen, the special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, whose staff--in two lengthy reports--has already laid out suspected fraud and incompetence. According to Sixty Minutes, it is of "staggering proportions, like the $8.8 billion that the Coalition seems to have lost track of."

War profiteering ties the corruption and cronyism that people have seen in Congress and Katrina to the failure and agonies that they witness in Iraq. It highlights how unaccountable this Republican Congress is. And it shows clearly, despite Karl Rove's core contention --"we'll protect you"-- that, in fact, this Administration has undermined the security of this country in the muck of its lethal cynicism, corruption and cronyism.

What Sixty Minutes' important expose also reveals is the need for an independent war profiteering commission which would investigate the multi-billion dollar, unaccounted for, expenditures in the Iraq war and publish a report for public distribution that includes tough recommendations for legislative action and, if found, criminal action. It would be modeled on the Truman Commission, which then-Senator Harry Truman chaired during World War II to expose and eliminate waste, mismanagement, and corruption, and consist of a group of dedicated, visible current and former public servants--Democrats, Republicans, Independents--committed to examining the financial and military transactions related to the Iraqi war effort.

The Commission's public hearings--although lacking subpoena power to compel the production of relevant documents--could draw significant coverage. It should be a platform for citizen whistleblowers, military families and veterans of the Iraq wars. (By holding public hearings in towns and cities which have suffered disproportionate military casualties, the link between corruption and human lives would be drawn sharply and painfully.) In addition to live public hearings, the Commission could use the Internet as a way of collecting and disseminating its information and findings.

Given the revulsion that decent people--of all political hues--feel about war profiteering, this is a project that could have a real impact in these coming weeks and months. I will be working to explore interest in establishing this war-profiteering commission. I welcome your comments and ideas below.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.

© 2006 The Nation

Close Guantanamo Now, UN Tells White House

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2006
by the Independent / UK
by David Usborne and Ben Russell

A UN report is expected to call on the United States to close its Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba without delay and transfer the near-500 supposed "enemy combatants" held there to American soil to guarantee them access to fair trials.

A leaked draft of the document, written over 18 months by five independent experts in international law appointed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, says the inmates at Guantanamo are being denied their rights to mental and physical health to a degree that sometimes amounts to torture.

The draft, reported by the Los Angeles Times, raises particular concern about the treatment of inmates on hunger strike, which involves forcible insertion of feeding tubes through the nasal cavity and into the stomach, excessive violence during transportation and interrogation techniques that "must be assessed as amounting to torture".

Yesterday, the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, arrived in Washington DC for a long-scheduled meeting with President George Bush at the White House. The report's findings are likely to worsen tensions between Mr Annan and Mr Bush.

The final version of the report will be released in Geneva tomorrow or Thursday, one of the authors, Manfred Nowak, confirmed. The delay is allow for formal responses by the US government to its many criticisms.

The US has come under a barrage of international criticism over its operations at Guantanamo Bay. More than 750 people have been detained there since 2002. They are designated by the US as "enemy combatants" and denied all legal rights, including access to lawyers.

The International Red Cross is the only organisation given access to them, but it is forbidden to report publicly on their condition. Last November, the US administration offered the five UN experts a tour of the centre similar to those periodically organised for reporters and members of the US Congress. They declined after they were told they would not be able to interview prisoners.

The US continues to assert that it is acting within international law to hold the prisoners at Guantanamo. The formal statement read: "The law of war allows the United States - and any other country engaged in combat - to hold enemy combatants without charges or access to counsel for the duration of hostilities.

"Detention is not an act of punishment, but of security and military necessity. It serves the purpose of preventing combatants from continuing to take up arms against the United States."

But the UN experts believe the primary reason for the US to keep the prisoners at Guantanamo is for interrogation. Techniques employed by the US that are seen by the experts as crossing the line into torture include long periods of solitary confinement for prisoners, exposure to extremes of temperature and forced shaving and other humiliations that contravene captives' religious beliefs.

The British Government is facing pressure to secure the release of nine British residents who are still being held in Guantanamo Bay. The men, many of whom have been granted political asylum, have lived in Britain for many years, but have not been granted citizenship even though some have British wives and children.

Twenty MPs, including a dozen Labour backbenchers, have signed a Parliamentary motion demanding the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and denouncing the detention of its 520 inmates as "a symbol of injustice and abuse in the US administration's war on terror".

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Operation Cyber Storm

'The government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.

'Bloggers?

'Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.

'The Internet survived, even against fictional abuses against the world's computers on a scale typical for Fox's popular "24" television series. Experts depicted hackers who shut down electricity in 10 states, failures in vital systems for online banking and retail sales, infected discs mistakenly distributed by commercial software companies and critical flaws discovered in core Internet technology.

'Some mock attacks were aimed at causing a "significant cyber disruption" that could seriously damage energy, transportation and health care industries and undermine public confidence, said George Foresman, an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department.' (SeatlePI article).

For More Like This

Pardon us, but holy crap!

Rothenbeg: The Wave...

With a potential political wave developing, Republicans should face the reality that it likely will only break one way - toward the Democrats.
GOP leaders in Washington are trying to point out the "hypocrisy" of the Democratic attacks on ethics and corruption, but recent history shows that if a wave develops, it will disproportionately hurt one party over the other.

Not only are Republicans likely to lose seats this November, but their chances of defeating a Democratic incumbent or taking over a Democratic open seat are minimal. Sure, the GOP has opportunities against newly-appointed Sen. Bob Menendez (D) in New Jersey and a handful of other Democratic incumbents, as well as in open seats in Minnesota and Maryland, but in "wave" elections, competitive seats tend to break heavily toward one party.

Back in 1980, a whopping twelve seats changed hands in the Senate, with Democrats losing all of them. Nine incumbents went down to defeat, including heavyweights like Birch Bayh (IN), Frank Church (ID), and George McGovern (SD). Republicans also won Democratic open seats in Alabama, Alaska, and Florida.

Six years later, ten Senate seats changed hands, nine of which were Republican losses. In that 1986 election, seven GOP incumbents lost, along with 2 open seats. Kit Bond's win in an open-seat race in Missouri was the lone bright spot for Republicans that night.

And in 1994, eight Senate seats switched parties, with all eight being Republican takeovers. Only two Democratic incumbents were defeated (Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania and James Sasser of Tennessee) but six open seat losses were the Democrats undoing. (Along with the net loss of 52 seats in the House) [...]

But the bottom line is that Republicans should not depend on off-setting losses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Montana with wins elsewhere. Over the last 25 years, when the wave hits, only one party drowns.

We shall see. After the last two elections, I am more than a little skeptical.

I see Katherine Harris (yep, old Cruella, herself) gaining on Nelson. Other races are a little too tight for comfort.

Why Ann Coulter matters

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds accuses me today of "degrad(ing) the blogosphere" because I wrote a post at Crooks & Liars observing that Reynolds had done nothing to denounce the violence-advocating and epithet-spewing remarks of Ann Coulter at last week’s highly prestigious Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and I encouraged C&L readers to e-mail Reynolds and ask why this was. As I documented here, the CPAC is one of the most important Republican events of the year, and its invited speakers along with Coulter included Dick Cheney, Ken Mehlman, Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich and Reynolds himself.

As I explained in the C&L post, my belief that Reynolds has an obligation to either denounce or defend Coulter’s comments is largely based on the fact that Reynolds routinely lectures Democrats on what he claims is their obligation to denounce "extremists on the Left" – even when the extremists in question are totally fringe and inconsequential figures who have nothing to do with Democrats, and – unlike Coulter here – don’t have huge throngs of followers and aren’t invited to be the featured speaker at the most important political events of the year. I specifically cited this post from Reynolds self-righteously taking Democrats to task for their grave moral failure in remaining silent about that oh-so-significant, long-standing icon of the Democratic Party, Ward Churchill.

Read On

Yep! We agree.

Furthermore, any Rethug who does not renounce her, should be saddled with her remarks in 2006.

Does anyone have a film of her speech?

We can turn her into the Michael Moore of the Right (Sorry, Mike, no offense)

Daou Report

by Peter Daou

A SEMINAL MOMENT IN BLOGLAND: Part of my focus on the Daou Report is to draw attention to lesser known blogs from across the political spectrum, so along with the well-trafficked biggies, you'll find a bunch of new and under-exposed blogs. Having said that, it's important to keep in mind that the major bloggers have earned their success. Lately, there's been a burst of energy in the progressive blog world, with dozens of great posts from high profile - and high traffic - bloggers on Daily Kos, Eschaton, HuffPo, C&L, FDL, MyDD, TPM, and several others. Among those blog entries are two seminal posts, one by Digby, the other by Glenn Greenwald.

Digby's post, entitled "Dispatches From The Fever Swamp," rightfully claims a crucial achievement by the progressive netroots:

"I know that without us there would have been virtually no critical voices during the long period between 2001 and the presidential primary campaign during 2003. We were it. The media were overt, enthusiastic Bush boosters for well over two years and created an environment in which Democratic dissent (never welcome) was non-existent to the average American viewer. In fact, it took Bush's approval rating falling to below 40% before they would admit that he was in trouble.

I believe that if it had not been for the constant underground drumbeat from the fever swamps over the past five years, when the incompetence, malfeasance and corruption finally hit critical mass last summer with the bad news from Iraq, oil prices and Katrina, Bush would not have sunk as precipitously as he did and stayed there. It literally took two catastrophes of epic proportions to break the media from its narrative of Bush's powerful leadership. And this after two extremely close elections ---- and the lack of any WMD in Iraq."

Digby's take on the "liberal" media* is particularly resonant for me, paralleling my recent blogging about pro-Bush narratives flooding the traditional press:

"I have written before about this and made it clear that I do not wish to destroy the mainstream media. I do not believe that this country can do without a credible press. But after waiting in vain for more than a decade for the press to shake off its torpor and exert its prerogatives as the fourth estate, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that our (and their) only hope was to join the fray and pull as hard as we can on the opposite end of the rope.


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