Monday, July 26, 2004

We are going to run out of investigators

There are so many investigations going now. Good enough in a philosophical sense: leaks and investigations indicate an end to secrecy. But the playing out may not be satisfactory.

At any rate, here's one of them I don't think I've posted anything about before...

Information about a criminal investigation of possible intelligence leaks by Sen. Richard Shelby [R-AL] was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday...

The information is related to a leak of intercepted al-Qaida communications just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

...The investigation centers on the leak of highly classified intelligence related to al-Qaida communications in June 2002, primarily to CNN.

...The criminal investigation of Shelby (R-Ala.), who no longer serves on the committee, remains open. But the fact that the matter has been referred to the Senate Ethics Committee indicates that the action will now shift to Capitol Hill and that a criminal indictment is not likely unless and until additional information comes to light...

Shelby has in the past denied that he ever "knowingly compromised classified information" and his staff told reporters on Saturday that they should refer to the previous statement on the issue he made earlier this year.
  MSNBC article

Sometimes people who aren't "in the know", who don't have all the information, don't realize the import of the information they might have. I'm not sure that someone on the Senate Intelligence Committee - indeed, the chairman of that committee, as Shelby was at the time - fits in that category.

CNN reported on June 20 that in one communication intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10, 2001, an individual was overheard saying, "The match begins tomorrow" while in another that same day, a second person said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." In both, the speakers were in Afghanistan and were speaking to individuals in Saudi Arabia. The intercept was not found until Sept. 12, 2001.

The intercept was from a communications channel the United States had identified as a key communications link for al-Qaida operatives.

How is it that this intercept was not found until September 12? Was the NSA sloppy? Did they truly not believe Clinton's NSA information that al-Qa'ida was a major and imminent threat? Did somebody intentionally scuttle the intercepts? I haven't read the 9/11 report, but I'm going to make a wild guess that it didn't come up with a finding of intention.

Shelby "leaked" the information in June 2002. The investigation is in part due to the White House (and the CIA) being extremely pissed that the intelligence incompetence (intentional scuttling?) was made public.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Plame affair

Waterman thinks that the most important reason for the leak that outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent may be because of what she was working on - and getting too close to: the possibility that Halliburton/Cheney was selling WMD to Middle East countries.

I think there's a good deal of merit to that idea, especially considering what we now know about Halliburton's shady trading with Iran.

Iraq's new government: more progress

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen assassinated a senior Iraqi interior ministry official in Baghdad on Monday, a ministry source said.

The source said Mussab al-Awadi was killed along with two of his bodyguards as he left his house in the capital.

Awadi was in charge of dealing with tribal affairs.

In May, Izzedin Salim, head of the now defunct Governing Council, was killed in a suicide bomb attack on his convoy.

Earlier this month a suicide bomber attacked a convoy carrying Iraq's justice minister, killing five bodyguards.
  Reuters article

This land is your land

If you never got to connect to that great animation of Bush & Kerry, here's why....and it's new home.

As of Friday, the feature had already been viewed more than 10 million times, according to AtomFilms, which controls its distribution. Typically, a film is considered a hit with 1 million viewings a year, said Scott Roesch, AtomFilm's vice president of marketing.

The feature was created by brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, whose site,, was overwhelmed early last week as millions of people attempted to download ``This Land.'' By Monday evening San Francisco-based AtomFilms -- which runs many of Jibjab's works -- took over hosting the brothers' cartoon. But AtomFilms, too, found its Internet capabilities topping out.

...The feature can be viewed at
  San Jose Mercury News article

By now, parts of the "This Land" have been shown on Fox News, CNBC, CBS "Early Show," the "NBC Nightly News" and elsewhere. Last Friday, the brothers were talking with Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" about appearing tonight.
  NY Times article

9/11 Commission cuts vacations short

It's amazing what an election year can accomplish.

House and Senate committees were directed to give up some of their August vacations and start work immediately so that legislation can be drafted by the end of September.

A special fall session of Congress is also possible.

At the same time, President Bush is studying the recommendations this week at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, aides said, and is considering which ones can be implemented by executive order, without the need for congressional approval.

Political considerations may have fueled the sudden urgency in Congress. Bush and Republican congressional leaders "all worry that if they appear to be dragging their feet on the 9/11 Commission reforms, they could be put on the defensive on the terrorism issue in November, especially if there is another attack," says Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution. "Just what gets enacted is another matter."
  USA Today article

And at this point, we don't expect much, so nothing will surprise us.

The commission on Thursday proposed a total reorganization of the nation's intelligence agencies and the creation of a new director to oversee the chiefs of the CIA, FBI and other divisions. If enacted, the reforms would require agency heads to cede power to the new director — an idea that has already received some resistance, including from acting CIA Director John McLaughlin.

And whose name(s) do you think might be tossing about as the head of that new powerful agency?

In accepting the commission's findings, Bush praised the report but made no commitment to accept any of its recommendations, including the creation of a Cabinet-level position to oversee the nation's 15 intelligence agencies.

No, he's back there at Casa Fabricata figuring out which plans he can implement in the manner of king.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

End your Sunday with Jesus' General

Patriotboy cracks me up some times, particularly when he writes actual letters.

Just go have a look.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Meet Michael John McCrae

Usually, I let this stuff pass. (Usually, I don't read it.) But today's a little different than other days, so...

About the Author: Michael John McCrae is an Independent, Conservative, Christian who has been personally insulted as a voter because John Kerry thinks the "Heart and Soul of America" lays in the "X- rated sexual innuendo" of Whoopi Goldberg. Well, Michael McCrae thinks America is better than that. Michael McCrae believes there is at least some morality left. So Michael McCrae is going to leave this here (until after the election) as a reminder to all of what John Kerry and John Edwards believe the Real America to be. They believe America's "heart and soul" resides in the "X-rated sexual innuendo" of Whoopi Goldberg. You can draw your own conclusions. Email:

If you've been reading YWA for any length of time, you already know what I think of Kerry and Edwards.

I'm sure you have already gathered that Michael Conservative Christian McCrae is freaked out about sexuality more than probably just about anything. As though Edwards and Kerry specifically isolated a ribald innuendo as the place where the heart and soul of America lies. (It's lies, Michael, not lays. An egg gets laid. And a lucky man.)

But let's look at what the personally insulted Michael John McCrae is leaving up until after the election, just for some Sunday fun.

In the NUFF SAID Department: I saw an ad for the upcoming CNN John Kerry Special Report: “Born to Run”. I had to wonder; is that born to run to the UN when he gets a boo-boo; or is it born to run away at the first sign of trouble? Never mind that this will be a great, unpaid-for, political advertisement for the “Elect Kerry Campaign”. Never mind too that the President will not get equal free time on CNN boosting his campaign. All you needed to see was the ad for the one hour “Elect Kerry” show. Several people are shown being interviewed and no one is saying anything negative about Kerry. That is CNN being unfair and unbalanced. Nuff said!

I guess Michael missed George's great unpaid-for advertisement, the ABC special with Diane Sawyer. And the Meet the Press interview. And the Fox interview.

And I guess Michael isn't counting all the many hours of CNN coverage of the president's speeches and antics around the world for the past four years.

Frankly, I can't see any reason why the incumbent in any presidential election should need campaign advertising time. If four years of his leadership isn't enough advertisement of what to expect from a man, then what is?

I see everyone liberal is still very concerned about hurting the feelings of France and Germany. Germany should understand that we do not have to leave one, single American in Germany anymore. They are supposedly a world leader for truth, justice, democracy and freedom. They don’t need us anymore. If we move our bases to Poland, and Latvia and Estonia and Bulgaria, we will help the economies of those countries and Germany will have much more room to give in support of their burdensome socialist programs.

So, Michael, honey. Ask yourself the logical question: Why are we in Germany? To bolster their economy? You really think?

...[E]xcept for the United States and a few other like civilized nations, most other nations of the world are ruled by heartless, dictatorial crap-heads who don’t care about the sanctity of life. (If the shoe fits, Pal!)

...And France? Well; who really cares about France besides John Kerry? Nuff said!

Somebody who cares about the sanctity of life perhaps? A Christian maybe?

Arnold, though he was joking, was addressing people who can’t take a joke; unless of course it is an “X-rated rant” from one certain comic.

Let me get this straight...Arnold makes jokes. Whoopi rants. Because Arnold is a bad actor turned governor, and Whoopi is a comedian. Okay, I think I've got it.

I owe Mr. Robert Novak a BIG apology. Novak did reveal the name of Valerie Plame, (with a “P”), but he did not break any law by his action. The whole affair is now shown for the political “liar-fest-to-get- Bush” that it was. I am sorry for ever doubting you Robert. I still wish I knew how much CNN stock you own though. Wilson lied, and it turns out Iraq had approached Niger (an African nation) for some “yellow-cake” (not pound cake or devil’s food cake, which is why Wilson sat at so many “teas” in the first place). The “16 words” so many liberals were having “poo-poo” fits over were actually based in good intelligence after all.

Michael, sweetheart, the lawbreaker is whoever leaked the name to Novak. Thank you for letting us know where Niger is, but the yellowcake claim was not actually based in good intelligence after all. The Senate report actually says that, whether he did or not, there was never any good evidence to indicate that Saddam was attempting to buy yellowcake from Niger. And, by the way, according to the Senate report, and Wilson, it seems that it was Iran that was interested in buying yellowcake.

In a “Washington” column I read this: “One day after Bush rolled out a new ad blasting Kerry for voting against a law making it separate crimes to kill or harm a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman, [John] Edwards promised a vigorous defense of abortion rights. Kerry “will stand up, fight for and protect every day that he is in the White House a woman’s right to choose.” Edwards said. (Rhetoric On Values Turns Personal, 10 July 2004)

I want to know what one has to do with the other. Kerry will defend a woman’s right to choose abortion, but he refuses to defend a woman’s right to carry her child to term? If someone kills a wanted child, Kerry will not defend the woman should her child be killed by some murderous, evil scumbag? GEE WHIZ!

And, I bet Michael is old enough to vote. What a shame.

Where, Michael, where does Kerry say he will not defend a woman whose child is killed by some murderous, evil scumbag? Michael, the law making it separate crimes to kill or harm a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman (during the commission of certain crimes), would be adding a law defending the fetus, not the woman. It creates a new legal status for a fetus - one equal to that of a person already born. A law that could have some pretty wild ramifications if some advocate of fetus' rights (some caring Christian person perhaps) should decide that any damage to a fetus can be punishable. The law does nothing to protect the woman against the attack in the first place. So it can't be that Kerry was refusing to defend the woman's rights.

In fact, Michael, there was an alternative law proposed and defeated called the Motherhood Protection Act, which would have created "a separate criminal offense for harming a pregnant women and offer penalties matching those in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. By not establishing the fetus as a separate victim, the Motherhood Protection Act still addresses the problem of violence against pregnant women without calling into question the validity of Roe v. Wade." How did Kerry vote on that one?

I did want to comment on the Nader (Yawn!), Dean (Double Yawn!) debate. I think Nader should have a Senate record before being President, don’t you?

You mean like George WTF Bush's Senate record? You couldn't mean like Abraham Lincoln who lost his bid for the Senate. Or like Dwight Eisenhower who went from a life in the military straight to the presidency? Or, is there something personal about Nader that he should be a Senator first?

Attention all Liberals! Understand that the Gay Marriage issue is causing much Southern heartache! Many of your voters in the South who proudly call themselves Democrat, also proudly proclaim the correct form of marriage is that between a man and a woman. More than 70% of the Southern Democrat voting base knows the rule for marriage as established by the one True God of Heaven. Attention all liberals!

Don't ask me.

Let's cut to the conclusion....

I am so glad to be back from Baghdad.

And we "liberals" are so glad to have you back, too. Nuff said!

Well, Michael did publish this at a site called Useless Knowledge.

And, I have wasted your time and mine (but, hey, you know what Cheney would say). I even glanced into a couple other of Michael John McCrae's writings at this site. They were essentially sermons. One discusses being "with us or against us," in effect.

In the scriptures there are: “wheat and tares”, “sheep and goats”, “leavened and unleavened bread”, you know; other forms of Black and White.

...The admonition of scripture is to “examine your own self”. So, in a way, I agree with some of the more current offerings of my readers. I am examining myself as to the truthful content and the fairness of what I write.

I'm going to suggest he failed the exam.

I don’t ever worry about expressing my faith through scripture. The Word of God is the finest tool of truth one can have. A person can ignore it; disbelieve it; rail against it; condemn it; yet, it remains the only truth that will lead one to life eternal.

It is all there in Black and White. I’m a sheep, not a goat.

I can agree with the sheep part.

Okay, I release you now from this Sunday's sermon. Back to your pagan-ass lives. But don't come to me crying when you get your goat certificate.

....oh, do what you will anyway.

Super Waves

Over the past two decades more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length have sunk around the world, with rogue waves believed to be a possible cause.

Senior scientist with the GKSS Forschungszentrum GmbH research centre, Wolfgang Rosenthal, says many ships have been lucky to survive giant waves.

"The same phenomenon could have sunk many less lucky vessels: two large ships sink every week on average, but the cause is never studied to the same detail as an air crash," he said.
ABC Australia article

Two per week. I had no idea. You?

The whole article reminds me of a great (old) movie: The Last Wave. If you ever come across it, watch it.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Presidential Auction 2004

The Democrat party platform has a few interesting points:

Sidesteps the question of whether the Iraq war was a mistake, saying "people of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war."

Obviously they weren't against the war in the first place. They just object to the Repuglican party being in control of it.

Suggests party supports maintaining a U.S. military presence in Iraq to prevent it from becoming "a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in the Middle East."

So where's the line item thanking Prezidiot Bush for getting us into Iraq, permitting this plank in the platform, and then screwing it up so badly that the Democrat party has a chance at the White House? Apparently, they hadn't figured out a way to get that military presence permanently installed without paying a political price for it. They should be pleased that His Slowliness the Dope did the dirty work for them.

Reserves the right to preempt unconventional attacks, but says Democrats will emphasize winning international support when confronting those threats.

The doctrine of preemption is just fine. Selling a given invasion to foreign investors before going in will be the key. After all, if you are going to be king of the world, you have to fool more than your own citizens to keep resistance at a minimum. BushCo's big mistake was in pursuing tyranny instead of manipulation.

Calls terrorists with weapons of mass destruction the single-greatest security threat to the United States.

Do they know who and where these terrorists are, or are they pulling a possible scenario out of their "ass"? That reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw yesterday: Vote Democrat - the ass you save may be your own. In the place of "ass" was the back end of the Democrat mascot.

Supports adding 40,000 troops to the military "to sustain our overseas deployments and prevent and prepare for other possible conflicts."

Does that mean a draft? Or just a lowering of the bar for who is accepted at the recruiting stations? The platform says "we are dedicated to keeping our military operating on a volunteer basis," so maybe they're going to raise military pay? Offer some better bonus incentives? The platform doesn't tell us.

Reaffirms U.S. commitment to Israel and offers support policies pushed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; supports the creation of a Palestinian state; vows to help "transform" the Palestinian authority by promoting "responsible" leadership; says Jerusalem belongs to Israel and should not be divided.

Vows to put Israel's interests before America's or the world's.

Supports raising minimum wage to $7 an hour from current $5.15.

I want you to take a good long look at those figures, because they are not typos. Could you live on $5.15 an hour? Could you raise your family on $7?

Actually, if you look at the domestic planks, especially jobs, health care, and military reform, I think even your misguided Republican friends (those who are not wealthy) will be forced to think twice about voting Repug.

And, although I'm not thrilled with leaving this in the hands of the president, I think it is an absolutely necessary step in the right direction:

Supports giving president a constitutional "line-item veto" that would allow him to reject provisions of congressional spending bills.

We really need to get rid of that ability to tack totally unrelated issues onto bills just to get pet projects through. And I don't think it should be limited to spending bills.

I've commented on a lot more of the platform planks than I intended to when I started this post. There are a lot more of them, however. So take a look. Here's a shorter highlights list, and here's the whole thing (pdf).

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sudan reacts to U.S. official charge of genocide

Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail charges George W(TF) Bumrush with politicizing the Darfur situation.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail criticized U.S. President George W. Bush of trying to exploit the crisis in Darfur to win black voters for his re-election.

There was no other explanation why the Bush administration had suddenly stepped up its criticism against the Sudanese government over the crisis, the minister said in an interview published Sunday in the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Sudan Tribune article

There must be another explanation because it would be totally out of character for them to politicize tragedy. As far as I know, they haven't staged a photo op in Sudan (yet).

Actually, I think it is not so likely that they are courting the black vote. Butthead's snub of the NAACP was a pretty clear signal that they're unconcerned about the black vote. Does Sudan have oil?

Regarding accusations that the Sudanese government was providing weapons to the government-linked Janjaweed Arab militias, Ismail said: "If the government, as they claim, is arming the Janjaweed. Who is arming the rebels?"

Hmmmmmmmmmm. Better get a little background on the rebellion and Sudanese political history.

The earth pot is at a rolling boil. Must be all those CMEs.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Cynthia McKinney's come-back

On Tuesday this week, Cynthia McKinney was vindicated.

McKinney...passed the 50% mark, narrowly giving her the edge she needed to avoid a run-off in the 4th Congressional District's Democratic primary here in suburban Atlanta. The (still unofficial) result will all but assure her a return to Congress.

...The former congresswoman known for her no-holds-barred criticism of the corporate and political elite lost her seat in 2002 when a maelstrom of post-9/11 media hysteria and right-wing fear-mongering combined to knock her out of office and nearly off the mainstream political map.

In the months following September 11, few public figures had the courage to openly ask how and why America was attacked that day, and who stood to benefit in the attack's wake. McKinney was one of the lone politicians to ask the questions no one seemed to want to face. In the spring of 2002, it proved a dangerous move. Already known as a political lighting-rod for speaking out on issues that even so-called liberals in the her own party avoided, McKinney had recently broached a series of politically taboo subjects. In March 2002, McKinney held back-to-back hearings investigating the Florida election debacle and alleged human rights violations by the George H.W. Bush-connected mining company, Barrick Gold. Shortly after, she made what would be her most serious political misstep. McKinney appeared on KPFA's Flash Points radio program and made statements that would all but end her ten-year congressional run. As Greg Palast told GNN, "Her words were taken, put through a media mix master, and changed around so that Cynthia McKinney was accused of saying that George Bush knew all about the September 11th attack in advance, and that he kept it to himself to make sure that the his buddies would from the wars to come." The only problems was that was not exactly what McKinney said.

That's okay. I'll say it for her.

The underbelly

The Most Dangerous Game traces the history of top-secret CIA mind control operation MK-ULTRA: from the covert importation of NAZI scientists at the end of WWII, to the illegal brainwashing experiments conducted on the patients of world famous psychiatric researcher, Dr. Ewen Cameron - cut to the pulsing hypnotica of Mitchell Akiyama.

Click graphic


Rahul Mahajan has a post about why the Democrats are losing the political war in America.

Bush frequently relies on heavily Orwellian framing -- "Healthy Forests" for an initiative to let private corporations cut down the forests, "Clear Skies" for an initiative to let corporations pollute more, etc.

...Liberals tend to think that facts and reasoning are what matter -- a legacy of the Enlightenment (something, of course, the radical right never went through and is largely unaware of). In other words, they think people are mostly rational and try to piece out what are the best policies by looking at the facts and the arguments that the two sides bring.

That's totally wrong, according to [George Lakoff, a linguist who has become something of a political consultant for the liberal left]. In fact, people make decisions based on emotive associations that are formed by the creation of simple, easily grasped, emotionally resonant frames that are then repeated ad nauseum. Thus, for liberals to fight back, they shouldn't ignore the facts but they need to concentrate on the frames.

I have to take exception to the analysis here. First of all, I think the statement about liberals thinking that facts and reasoning matter. I'm not sure they believe "people" are mostly rational, etc. The liberals themselves tend to be mostly rational, and Lakoff's description of people as being simple and emotive is not describing most liberals.

So, here's the liberal dilemma: to win political seats, they must campaign like conservatives, using dumbed down rhetoric and trigger words to capture the votes of non-reasoning people who are not particularly concerned with the facts. I think that is an unnatural approach for reasoning people, and one that feels dishonest and manipulative. Liberals seem to have the choice of behaving in the way they believe a democracy works, or behaving in a manipulative way that is counter to the precepts of democracy. Personally, I find the latter untenable.

Rahul asks, at the end of his post, the obvious question:

The question that occurs to me, though: are the rest of us, who explicitly abjure propaganda and manipulation, also at the same time abjuring any possibility of winning political victories?

I think the answer is, yes.

And that is why I say there is no longer room in this country for liberal democrats (small "d"). It is soundly in the grip of manipulators and the manipulated, which accounts for an overwhelming majority of the population. Fighting back by using undemocratic tactics strikes me as about as sensible as destroying a country to save it. If you have a population of people who can't be counted on to reason, and who react rather than think, what kind of democracy are you going to have? How can you even have a democracy?

Well, of course, we never did have. Not in this country.

I'll be watching our neighbors to the South, but frankly, I don't think there will ever be a successful, true democracy as long as there are greedy, power hungry people who are willing to be manipulative and deceptive. And I don't think the human race will ever have a shortage of those.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Making the Plame case go away

Josh Marshall discusses a Washington Times article which discusses the pre-Novak leaks about Valerie Plame's CIA work...

"The law says that to be covered by the act the intelligence community has to take steps to affirmatively protect someone's cover," one official said. "In this case, the CIA failed to do that."

A second official, however, said the compromises before the news column were not publicized and thus should not affect the investigation of the Plame matter.
There does seem to be a rush of articles aimed not simply at discrediting Wilson but specifically at arguing that there is no legal basis for a prosecution of the folks who leaked Plame's name. Who's so concerned? It makes me wonder.

I wonder when we're going to get the results of Fitzgerald's investigation into this. I suspect we are going to be robbed of Joe Wilson's wish to see Karl Rove frog marched from the White House in handcuffs.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Whoopsie. Whaddya know? Some of those "destroyed" records have turned up.

Some of President Bush's missing Air National Guard records during the Vietnam War years, previously said to be destroyed, turned up on Friday but offered no new evidence to dispel charges by Democrats that he was absent without leave.

...The Pentagon, which had announced two weeks ago that the payroll records had been accidentally destroyed, blamed a clerical error for previous failure to find them.

...The documents released on Friday by the Pentagon included two faded computerized payroll sheets showing Bush was not paid during the latter part of 1972 and offer no evidence to place Bush in Alabama during the latter part of 1972.

..."Bush's military records seem to show up as randomly as he did for duty," said DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera.
CNN article

Worthless Commission report omissions

It is highly curious that the report mentions nothing regarding the "intentionally blocked translations by certain Middle Eastern Translators, who also breached FBI security, as confirmed by the Senate Judiciary"; nothing regarding "adamant resistance to investigations of certain terrorist and criminal activities; refusing to transfer them to counterterrorism from existing counterintelligence investigations, solely based on the vague notion of protecting certain foreign relations"; nothing regarding "continued efforts to cover up certain highly specific information received prior to September 11, even now, years after 9/11"; and nothing regarding "knowingly allowing certain individuals, directly or indirectly related to terrorist activities, to leave the United States months after 9/11, without any interrogation, and per the State Department's request."

This puzzles me, having firsthand knowledge of ongoing intelligence received and processed by the FBI since 1997, which contained specific information implicating certain high level government and elected officials in criminal activities directly and indirectly related to terrorist money laundering, narcotics, and illegal arms sales. It is highly curious that the report omitted all this information, knowing that others in the Congress have been briefed on these issues and have been given the names of targets involved, special agents, translators, field offices, and files. I am highly puzzled and curious.
Sibel Edmonds article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Shielding Halliburton

The Bush administration is withholding information from U.N.-sanctioned auditors examining more than $1 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton Co. and other companies in Iraq without competitive bidding...

Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the U.N. representative to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), said that the United States has repeatedly rebuffed his requests since March to turn over internal audits, including one that covered three contracts valued at $1.4 billion that were awarded to Halliburton, a Texas-based oil services firm. It has also failed to produced a list of other companies that have obtained contracts without having to compete.

The Security Council established the IAMB, which includes representatives from the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in May 2003 to ensure that Iraq's oil revenue would be managed responsibly during the U.S. occupation. The council extended its mandate in July so it could continue to monitor the use of Iraq's oil revenue after the United States transferred political authority to the Iraqis in June.

The dispute comes as the board released an initial audit by the accounting firm KPMG on Thursday that sharply criticized the U.S.-led coalition's management of billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenue. The audit also raised concerns about lax financial controls in some Iraqi ministries, citing poor bookkeeping and duplicate payments of salaries to government employees.

The Pentagon did not specifically answer questions about withholding information to auditors, but released a statement saying the Coalition Provisional Authority worked hard to manage Iraq's oil resources.
WaPo article

Do not question the great and powerful Oz.

Cheney to IAMB: Go fuck yourself.

Abu Ghraib "Whitewash"

Happily, major U.S. papers, which typically support the government agenda, are not covering for this ridiculous b.s.

Washington Post
The senators who rejected this whitewash were correct: It is implausible and unacceptable. If the reputation and integrity of the Army are to be restored, some other authority will need to do better.

...To the credit of Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.), the Senate Armed Services Committee quickly assembled for a hearing on the Army report, despite the not-so-subtle timing of its release, and some Republican as well as Democratic senators rightly voiced incredulity at the Army's findings. They pointed out that, while identifying no "systemic failures" in the military, the inspector general's team chose not to investigate such episodes as the hiding of "ghost detainees" from the Red Cross -- a Geneva Convention violation that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has publicly stated was authorized by him. Nor did the investigation explore the handling of Red Cross reports by the staff of the Iraq commander in chief, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez -- which, rather than acting to stop abuses, reportedly tried to restrict further Red Cross access. In fact, no one above the rank of brigade commander was considered culpable, the inspector general candidly told the senators. "We think it ended there," said Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek.



New York Times
We've always been skeptical that the Defense Department can investigate itself credibly, and now it's obvious that it plans to stick to the "few bad apples" excuse. The only way to learn why innocent Iraqis were tortured by American soldiers is a formal Congressional inquiry, with subpoena power.

...The authors of this 300-page whitewash say they found no "systemic" problem - even though there were 94 documented cases of prisoner abuse, including some 40 deaths, 20 of them homicides; even though only four prisons of the 16 they visited had copies of the Geneva Conventions; even though Abu Ghraib was a cesspool with one shower for every 50 inmates; even though the military police were improperly involved in interrogations; even though young people plucked from civilian life were sent to guard prisoners - 50,000 of them in all - with no training.

Never mind any of that.


America's family values in action

Some 145,000 poor children were dropped from a U.S. federal-state health insurance plan in the second half of 2003, with more than half the cuts made by Texas, a health-care research foundation said on Friday.

"The drop in (the) State Children's Health Insurance Program is a major setback when millions of uninsured children are eligible but not yet enrolled," said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Net enrollment in the program, which mainly benefits working families, fell last year for the first time since it was launched in 1998, the Washington, D.C.-based Kaiser Commission said in a report.

In many cases, states made the cuts because a weak economy left them with huge budget deficits.
Reuters article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Don't go there

If you get an email that directs you to a website with pictures of Osama bin Laden after he hung himself, resist the temptation. Trojan horse virus awaits.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Let's think about this for a second

The United States pledged 50,000 tons of food aid on Friday for North Korea this year, weeks after the two countries appeared to make some progress toward resolving a two-year-old nuclear weapons standoff.
Reuters article

However, we have spent a half century trying to starve Cuba, which has no nuclear program, and is no threat to us in any way, except in ideology perhaps.

The United States, which is traditionally one of the top food donors to the impoverished, Communist nation, says its aid is independent of its negotiations to persuade Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programs.

Oh, well, sure. Purely coincidental. The timing just makes it look as though there's a connection. But there is none.

If I were not a complete dimwit, I might think that the best way to assure negotiating power with the U.S. would be to acquire nuclear weapons.

North Korea dismissed as "nothing but a sham offer" on Saturday U.S. proposals that the communist state follow the example of Libya and scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and diplomatic recognition.

The United States laid out a plan for North Korea last month that would give the impoverished communist state multilateral energy aid after the North first commits to dismantle all of its nuclear programs and begins a verifiable disarmament process.

American officials have also urged North Korea to emulate Libya and trade away its nuclear arms and other dangerous weapons for better ties with the West. Tripoli moved quickly from declaring its intent to scrap banned weapons in December to the lifting of U.S. sanctions to full diplomatic ties in June.

But North Korea said that without immediate rewards for freezing its nuclear activities, "the landmark proposal made by the United States is little worthy to be considered any longer."
Reuters article

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Today's kidnapping

Gunmen kidnapped Raad Adnan, the director-general of the al-Mansour Contracting Co., shortly before 10 a.m. on al-Rubaie Street in the Zeiouna district of Baghdad, Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman said.

The company is run by the Ministry of Housing and Construction.
CNN article

Maybe I should have said "this morning's kidnapping".

From truck drivers to diplomats

Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb, an Egyptian diplomat is the latest prize in the Iraq kidnapping schemes. He was captured yesterday. Supposedly, diplomats are well protected (unlike truck drivers, which I can't understand, considering the situation).

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi visited Cairo last week and asked Egypt to help convince Arab and Muslim countries to deploy troops in Iraq and help protect the UN mission in the country.

..."The group said the abduction was in response to comments by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif that Cairo was ready to offer its security experience to the interim Iraqi government," the Arabic television said.

But shortly after the kidnap announcement, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit made it clear that his country was absolutely not considering sending troops to Iraq .
Turks.US article

Allawi is warning Egypt not to negotiate with terrorists, as the coalition of the willing dwindles.

"The only way to deal with terrorists is to bring them to justice and to close ranks and we hope that Egypt and the Egyptian government would act accordingly," Allawi told a news conference in the Syrian capital.
Reuters article

There's justice in the barrel of a loaded gun. -- Jon Bon Jovi and Iyad Allawi

Friday, July 23, 2004


The next steps have been taken - Congress unanimously passed a resolution officially declaring the Arab slaughter of African Sudanese genocide. The victims claim that the Sudanese government has been supporting the Janjaweed murderers. The British are talking about the possibility of sending in troops. And the Sudanese government is warning that they will not take kindly to foreign troops.

A new saddle

Retired Michigan teacher Jim Rice, 75, has spent the past six weeks crafting a saddle for President Bush.

The result is worth about $3,500.

Michigan Congressman Nick Smith will present the saddle to the President later this year.

...Rice says he and a fellow leather worker, Danielle Cole, will have put between 80 to 90 hours of work into the project.

Too bad I understand Bubbleboy doesn't ride horses. In fact, there aren't any on "the ranch" (or Casa Fabricata as Maru has called it).

The Crawford ranch, which Bush bought in 1999, is in what is now farm rather than ranching country, and horses are seldom seen. Putin expressed a desire several weeks ago to ride a horse, but Bush said Tuesday there are none at the ranch.
Marine Corps News article

See what happens when you try to make people think you're something you're not? You make them waste hours of their lives.

Maybe he can just display it. Or put it in the memorobilia room with Saddam's gun.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

graphic from Maru

Saddam update

Saddam's lawyers are trying to get France to put the squeeze on the U.S. to permit them access to their client. WTF? He still hasn't got the right to meet with his lawyers. The New Iraq® democracy works about like the old one.

Get your Saddam capture commemorative coin. They're limited. Bronze, Silver or Gold. Saddam on the front, Buttplug on the back.

Or, a United States Victory Commemorative.

How about a video game? You can download a free trial version.

Presidential Auction 2004

For once, we can trust the judgment of Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge that there will be multiple terrorist attacks prior to the election. Ridge said that they have obtained “credible information “that Al Qaida is planning attacks to “disrupt the democratic process”. (failing to mention that we have a Supreme Court that already achieves that very same objective.)

This time, I suspect, the warnings are real.

...Having considered this point from many angles, I concluded long ago that the only way Bush could stay in office was through “multiple attacks”. Neither the capture of Bin Laden, nor the discovery of the elusive WMD, nor the “Deibold-Republican” voting machines, nor the phony polling numbers, nor even the legions of groveling journalists and media types (that dote on Bush’s every word) are enough to save the Crawford Crackpot from electoral defeat in November.

...Another9 - 11won’t do the trick. It creates the risk that the election will still go forward in other areas of the country. This could produce the unfortunate affect of illuminating the degree of antipathy directed at our present incumbent.

Not good…not good at all.

The illusion of Bush’s popularity among rank-and-file Americans must be preserved at all cost. ( even if it means dressing him up in a flight suit, or putting a chain saw in his hands, or having him walk around with a “plastic turkey” in front of a carefully screened audience of rabid Republicans)

The “Dear Leader” must be loved by his subjects even while he is eviscerating their liberties and sending their sons to die for oil.

No, the only “rather unpleasant” option left to the administration is to create a sense of panic across the nation; a widespread feeling of terror that would allow for the “temporary” suspension of elections.

...In many ways, the “cult of the personality” that has been built around George Bush has been a dismal failure. No matter how you cut it, and no matter how many “high-powered” Madison Ave Public Relations gurus you put to the task, it’s still hard to make Cat Ballou look like Gary Cooper.

...And, that explains why the people in charge are looking for ways to “modify” the electoral process. (Ridge warned of “contingency plans” for the election in the event of a terrorist attack) Many of us, who have followed each minute detail of the corruption issuing from Washington, know (instinctively) that the Bush claque is not planning on leaving office.

...It’s safe to say that the only way you’ll get Rummy and Cheney out of their respective bunkers, is on a 6 foot plank headed for potters field.

They’re not leaving peacefully...

Ben Sargent

Bush won’t leave, because Bush can’t leave. The trail of evidence he would leave in his wake would mean a quick march up the gallows.

Yes, America’s great national nightmare will continue, but the world can hope that a 2004 “aborted” election will be a turning point in our collective consciousness.

I’m hopeful that it will.

P.S. Iraq’s new government (aka The Bush Administration) has requested that the UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq as a matter of “urgent necessity”.

Do you think we may have stumbled across the elusive WMD just in time for the Democratic Convention???

Wouldn’t THAT be a surprise?

Al Jazeerah column by Mike Whitney

Another strike on Falluja

U.S. forces mounted an air strike on the Iraqi city of Falluja Friday, the latest in a series targeting suspected fighters linked to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the U.S. military said.

The military did not say if anyone was killed in the operation, which targeted the courtyard of a house. Residents in the town, 30 miles west of Baghdad, said at least five people were wounded, two of them children.

"Based on multiple sources of intelligence, the attack targeted 10 to 12 "terrorists" with known ties to the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi network," U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Erv Lessel said in a statement.

In Falluja, a prayer leader condemned the U.S. raids. Strikes over the last month have killed about 40 people.

"The Americans don't want peace in the town. They kill women and children every day on the pretext of targeting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, which they know is not present," Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah told about 700 worshipers at Friday prayers.

In the past month, U.S. forces have carried out seven strikes against suspected safe houses in Falluja believed to have been used by Zarqawi's group
Al-Jazeerah article

The last strike was on Monday. This is an ongoing operation of destruction to a city considered one of the holiest, referred to as "the city of mosques". (Previous posts documenting the crusade.) If Americans don't recognize that, the Iraqis do.

Iraqi fighters in Falluja, their faces hidden behind chequered cloths, have denied in a taped message that al-Qaida-linked Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was holed up in their city.

"The American invader forces claim that al-Zarqawi, and with him a group of Arab fighters, are in our city," a masked man read from a piece of paper on Friday.

"We know that this talk about al-Zarqawi and the fighters is a game the American invader forces are playing to strike Islam and Muslims in the city of mosques, steadfast Falluja."
Aljazeera article

Presidential Auction 2004

After launching two wars, President George W Bush said today he wanted to be a "peace president" and took swipes at his Democratic rivals for being lawyers and weak on defence.

Bush and Cheney have sought to cast Kerry and Edwards as on the side of trial lawyers, who the president believes are responsible for a flood of personal injury litigation that burdens the courts and is costly to small business. Democrats get campaign contributions from trial lawyers, while many businesses tend to favour the Republicans.

"I'm not a lawyer, you'll be happy to hear," Bush said to cheers. "That's the other team. This is the pro-small business team."

Tragedy in Wolf Land - a neocon fairy tale

By Jesus' General

Leader Wolf was only pretending to follow along as the cub pack interpreted signs on the trail. The truth was that he didn't know the difference between prints and spoor. His ignorance in this area caused him much embarrassment, such things being the most elementary elements of wolf knowledge....

Lost in his dreams of popular stardom, Leader Wolf almost missed what his assistant whispered into his ear. A great tragedy had occurred at Grandma's House. Woody Wolf, Pack Leader's greatest star, had been murdered by a woodcutter. All of Wolf Land was in a state of shock. WNN had gone to wall to wall coverage. Wolves throughout the forest were watching Wolf Schlitzer as he showed tapes of Woody Wolf's greatest moments on Pack Leader while doing voice-over interviews with axe experts.

Leader Wolf didn't know what to do. He looked toward his aides, but they offered no clues....

The rest of the tale.


Farouk Abdel-Muhti dies in Philadelphia

I turned on the radio yesterday and caught the end of a report about the death of Mr. Abdel-Muhti. He had just finished a speech when he collapsed. The cause of his death was not clear to me.

Mr. Abdel-Muhti was an activist in Palestine who broadcast reports live from trouble spots, including the Israeli takeover of Arafat's compound. After FBI and INS harrassment, he was arrested and detained for two years in various jails in the United States without ever having been charged with anything. He was held in one jail in "the hole" for eight months in a 23+-hour lockdown, being permitted only 45 minutes per day out of the cell, without ever being told why. Pressure from human rights groups and others finally resulted in a judge ordering him either to be charged or released. He was released in April of this year.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! conducted an interview with Mr. Abdel-Muhti at the time of his release.

Bush Science

More Tom Toles...

Captain Jack and Democracy in Afghanistan

Acording to a reporter in Afghanistan, Jonathan "Jack" Idema managed to fool people in the country by dressing in fatigues and "talking the talk" of a U.S. military man. Those people included Fox News and CBS, both having used him as an on-air "expert."

May I stop right there, please? Oil Slick Dick has complimented Fox News for being the only news program to tell the truth. The U.S. military embedded reporters with the troops. There has been a concerted combined effort on the part of the government, military, and U.S. major media to control the news coming out of the Middle East operations. I find it a little bit difficult to believe that everybody was "duped" by Captain Jack. And the report that the U.S. military accepted prisoners from him makes it even more of a stretch.

As for how things are coming along on the twin front of turning the country into a fine democracy, well....

The presidential elections have already been delayed by four months. The parliamentary elections, commonly expected to cause factional bloodshed across the country, have been delayed even further. The central government, which claims to have registered 7 million voters, is widely believed to be inflating those figures. Last month, three female voter registration workers were killed by a bomb near Jalalabad. Many women, especially in rural districts, are not allowed to leave their compounds, and a debate has arisen about whether their husbands will be permitted to cast their votes for them. There is no mechanism to prevent people from registering multiple times at different sites, and warlords/aspiring politicians (who need to collect 10,000 registration cards to be included on the ballot) are reported to be purchasing registration cards for 10 afghanis each, about 20 cents.

So, they're just a little more open about election fraud than we are.

The pathos of hope...

I later met one of the underground heroes of Afghan free speech, Osman Akram, the founder of Zanbel-e-Gham (Wheelbarrow of Sorrows), a satirical magazine published secretly under the Taliban and among the first to publish openly after the Taliban fled the city in 2001. It is sort of a combination of Spy and Mad, with scathing political cartoons and articles mocking the Taliban, the U.S. forces, Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden, and just about everyone else. One cartoon criticizing the supposed new freedom of the press shows a woman in a burqa interviewing another woman in a burqa. Another shows George W. Bush standing behind a U.N. podium, his legs drawn as a Soviet hammer and sickle. Published in a mix of Dari, Pashto, and English, one editorial asked when Ghamistan (the land of sorrows) would become Afghanistan again.

As we here ask, "When will Fascistan become America again?"

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Cartoon from Zanbel-e-Gham

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Registration buster

From BeatBushBlog:

I have often used BugMeNot in the past, but Kos offers an even simpler way to get around those annoying, and increasingly ubiquitous, newspaper logins:
More and more news publications are putting up registration pages. Whenever I encounter such a page, I create an account that you are all welcome to share. It's either:

Login: dailykos
Password: dailykos

or if the login is an email address, then

Password: dailykos

Many of you have already created accounts at sites all over the place. I have gotten into many a newspaper using those passwords even though I hadn't created the account.

But if you run across a site that doesn't have a "dailykos" account setup, do us all the favor of setting up such an account. It'll make our web surfing efforts much more efficient and enjoyable.

Pass it on.

Wow. Thanks, guys. That's awfully liberal of you. Downright communistic, I think.

The result of the Philippines early withdrawal...

...has been more captures and threats. That's the obvious picture. It's an obvious, but far from unarguable conclusion to draw, because there is no way of knowing whether there would have been more captures and threats even had the Philippines not pulled out early. I think it's a sure bet there would have been.

There's also the conspiracy theory that says it's U.S. interests pretending to be militant kidnappers. And there's the guarantee premise: virtually the only possible outcome of the situation that we created.

From Empire Notes:

This rather unfortunate development is a predictable consequence of the Philippines' withdrawal in response to the threat to Angelo de la Cruz. It is most likely also true that the new international jihadi network, which nobody as yet has a good way to characterize, saw the Spanish election as validating their methods and as a victory to be repeated.

At the same time, the Spanish election and planned withdrawal and the Philippine withdrawal were the right things to do. It's the United States that repeatedly acts to maintain a context in which all choices are bad.

Wolf Blitzer's interview of Sandy Berger's attorney

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much for that report. Samuel Berger is represented by another White House veteran. Lanny Breuer was a special counsel to President Clinton in the White House, a one- time federal prosecutor. He is now a prominent defense attorney specializing in white-collar cases. Lanny Breuer joining us now live.

Lanny, thanks very much for joining us. This goes back to the fall when these allegations were made, right?

LANNY BREUER, BERGER'S ATTORNEY: That's exactly right, Wolf. This matter is now over a year old. Sandy Berger reviewed documents in the Archives in July and September and October of 2003. And from October 2003, the first time that Sandy was notified that this one document was missing, we've been 100 percent open, returned the two documents that were in Sandy's possession immediately and have tried to have a very open and informed discussion with the Department of Justice.

BLITZER: But Sandy Berger knew the rules when he went there. He's not just anyone. He's not an academic. He's a former national security adviser. A, he knew you don't take documents out of the National Archives, and, B, he knew if you took notes you have to get clearance to get permission to remove those notes from those rooms.

BREUER: Well, see -- let's first talk, Wolf, about the notes. The notes have just never been an issue in this case. The Department of Justice has told me those notes have not been an issue in this case. He took notes and the reason he took notes was Sandy had read and reviewed thousands upon thousands of documents. I'm not sure there's another American of Sandy's stature who spent more time selflessly reviewing documents so that he could answer all of the questions of the 9/11 commission.

BLITZER: Let's talk about those notes for a second. Did he take notes -- did he take those notes from the room without authorization?

BREUER: He took notes and he did take them out. It's a violation of the Archives procedure. He took those notes. From the very beginning, he openly took the notes. He was allowed to take notes. And then he took the notes with him. He put them in his coat pocket and in his pants pocket...

BLITZER: He knew this was not authorized.

BREUER: Well, he knew it was a violation of Archives procedure. It's not against the law. No one has suggested to him it's against the law. The Department of Justice has not been concerned with it. And indeed, Wolf, in October, when the Archives contacted him, Sandy Berger returned those notes even though he wasn't asked for those notes.

BLITZER: I know Sandy Berger. You know Sandy Berger. Why would he violate Archives procedure?

BREUER: Because there's something more important than Archives procedure and that's the hard work of the 9/11 commission. Sandy Berger knew that he was going to be asked questions about what happened in the early '90s and mid '90s and that the 9/11 commission and the families of those victims had a right to know what happened.

BLITZER: Why didn't he ask for authorization, for permission? They would have given him permission to take that out of there.

BREUER: Wolf, we've admitted and Sandy has acknowledged from the beginning it was a mistake of judgment. There is no surprise here. We've acknowledged that mistake in judgment in October. And everyone... BLITZER: Did he panic? Is that it?

BREUER: It wasn't panic at all. It wasn't considered to him that big a deal to take the notes. Clearly, the Department of Justice, in every discussion they've had with me, have made it clear that that was not a focus of this matter.

And you know why he did it? So that he could fully answer the questions of the commission and better students of foreign policy than me have uniformly said that Berger's answers were thoughtful and complete and very much (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this hard work and it was those notes that helped him do it.

BLITZER: All right. The notes are one thing. Much more serious is the classified document. This is a highly sensitive document. I don't know what -- if it's code word or top secret or a compartmental, secure -- whatever the classification is, he knew he should not take that document out of that room.

BREUER: Well, let's talk about that document. That's a document that Dick Clarke authored because Sandy Berger asked him to do it.

BLITZER: Dick Clarke was the White House counterterrorism czar, if you will.

BREUER: Exactly. And at the time of the millennium in 2000, if you remember, there were lots of threats about terrorism. And the White House and the United States addressed those concerns. And most people look at the time of January 1, 2000 as a time that we can be proud of. We thwarted terrorist cells. Berger was the national security adviser and he was very proud of what they did. But he didn't just rest on his laurels. He said to Clarke, "I want you to take a hard look. Tell us what we did right and tell us what we didn't do right." And to Clarke's credit, he did it. To Berger's credit he asked him to do it.

Now with respect to what this document is about, it is widely known. Its existence is widely known. It's written about in books and in magazines.

BLITZER: So why did he have to take it out of that room?

BREUER: That he did it inadvertently.

BLITZER: What is inadvertently?

BREUER: Let me tell you what happened.

BLITZER: Sandy Berger doesn't do things inadvertently.

BREUER: Well, wait a minute. Sandy Berger had been reviewing thousands and thousands of pages of classified documents. He did it so that he could give informed answers to the 9/11 commission. And so the very documents that have formed the basis of their report could be produced. He did that by himself because no one else could do it or would do it. So he has a table. He's working openly. There are Archives people there and there are thousands of documents. And in the course of his review it was clear to everyone he had a leather portfolio. He brought it in openly. The Archives people knew it. And anyone who has works with Sandy knows he always has that leather portfolio and there were lots of business papers that have nothing at all to do with this commission.

And perhaps, Wolf, there was too much informality by Sandy and maybe too much informality by the Archives people. But at some point when he leaves, the memorandum got caught with his business papers and he walked out. It was inadvertent. He admitted the mistake...

BLITZER: Was that document -- that sensitive classified document was in his little briefcase?

BREUER: It wasn't a briefcase. It was a leather portfolio. And to highlight it, all of the documents that he was reviewing on those three days were highly classified. This was a longer document. He had put it aside to look at it more. But it's unfair to suggest that that document was more classified or sensitive than all of the other things he saw.

BLITZER: You know that eyewitnesses, staffers at the National Archives say they saw him stuffing documents in his jacket, in his pants. And one even said he saw Sandy Berger put something in his socks.

BREUER: And you know that's categorically false and ridiculous. Wolf, I have now represented Sandy in this matter since October. Since that time I've tried to have responsible discussions with the government. And I said I didn't want it to be vetted in the press, I didn't want this to be political.

We wanted to treat this as a serious matter. Not once in all the time I've represented Sandy has that allegation been made. But suddenly today or yesterday right at the eve of the 9/11 commission report suddenly these ridiculous allegations are being made. It's false and it didn't happen.

BLITZER: Where is -- where does the criminal probe right now stand? You've been informed that your client, Samuel Berger, is under criminal investigation.

BREUER: I've been told since October that he was no more than a subject of this investigation. I was told to draw absolutely no negative inferences whatsoever from the fact that this investigation had been going on. I've been told by the Department of Justice that they couldn't be more pleased with the manner in which Sandy Berger and I have been handling this and have been cooperative. And I've been told that the Department of Justice had wanted to get this resolved.

The only thing that I had asked was that this not become a partisan affair and that people who didn't understand the facts would start making assertions. And, Wolf, that's exactly what happened this week when someone in the administration, some law enforcement person decided it was time to leak the document and treat this investigation not seriously.

BLITZER: But you understand why people are skeptical of this story given the fact that this document that's missing was very critical presumably of the Clinton administration. It's a very sensitive document and that people saw him doing suspicious things in there.


Her father's maturity

Jenna Bush on the campaign trail - headed to St. Charles, Missouri.
AP photo

Army's Abu Ghraib investigation is done

And the report you've been expecting....

A new Army report concludes that military detention operations in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from poor training, haphazard organization and outmoded policies, but that these flaws did not directly contribute to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

The report, by Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, the Army inspector general, found no evidence that any systemic problems caused the abuses. Instead, his five-month inquiry blamed the "unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals, coupled with the failure of a few leaders to provide adequate monitoring, supervision and leadership over those soldiers."
  NY Times article

See? Neat and tidy. A few heads will roll. Maybe the videos of the boys being raped and screaming will be kept under wraps at least until after November. Rumsfiend will lay low. Military courts will quietly dismiss and fine a few soldiers and one or two Generals (my bet is Karpinski), and Americans will gladly forget about it.

Its findings contradict those of an earlier Army inquiry, by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who concluded military police at Abu Ghraib conducted "systemic and illegal abuse of detainees." A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross in February found that "methods of ill treatment" were "used in a systematic way" by the United States military in Iraq.

Never mind. The Army has found something different.

Isn't it nice that we let the Army investigate itself and have the final word? It's so much cleaner that way.

Some Democrats virtually accused General Mikolashek of a whitewash. "General, I just think the premise of your report that there's been no systemic problems is undercut by the fact that you didn't look at some systematic problems," Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, noting that the inquiry did not examine the military's practice of keeping high-value detainees off Abu Ghraib's rolls.

Republicans rushed to defend the Army, and the Pentagon's longstanding argument that a handful of rogue jailers were responsible for the misconduct at Abu Ghraib. "We should not overreact," said Senator Pete Sessions, an Alabama Republican. "We want our soldiers, right up to the limit of what they legally can do, to obtain good intelligence, to help save lives."

Two Americas.

Army investigators announced 94 cases of confirmed or alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan a number higher than previous estimates in a report Thursday that concluded no systemic failures were at fault.
  ABC News article

General Mikolashek uses George Bush's dictionary.

The acting Army secretary and its top general said they took responsibility for the abuses while insisting that they were the misconduct of enlisted soldiers or lower-ranking officers and not sanctioned by Army leadership.

"These actions, while regrettable, are aberrations," said Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee. "The Army is responsible for their acts. As the senior civilian leader in the Army, I accept this responsibility."

So do you think Les will be dismissed post-haste?

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said mistakes were understandable, though not excusable. Troops must be trained to contain their anger at prisoners who had been trying to kill them, he said.

What an ass. Pretending not to appeal to the Rush Limbaugh in you as he said it, I imagine.

And it's horseshit anyway. They rounded up thousands of civilians from day 1 who weren't trying to do anything but stay out of the way.

Commanding officers sometimes failed to intervene and stop abuses, said Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, the Army's inspector general.

Mikolashek's review concluded that the rules were poorly communicated to troops and enforced inconsistently. He said the Army needed to do a better job of training and overseeing troops who guard and interrogate prisoners.

But it's not systemic, mind you.

Sen. John Warner, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who had been pressing for the results of the inspector general report for several weeks, called the last-minute hearing Thursday before Congress leaves for a summer hiatus.

Vacation! We're outa here.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

House passes anti-gay measure

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to curb same-sex marriage on Thursday after rejecting concerns the measure may be unconstitutional.

...It would forbid federal judges from requiring one state to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed in another....The House bill would prohibit federal courts, even the Supreme Court, from considering challenges to the 1996 U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which empowered each state to decide on its own whether to allow same-sex marriage.

...On a vote of 233-194, the House sent the proposal to the Senate where members of both parties said it will likely die. But it could help rev up an election-year issue.
  Reuters article

By all means, let us rev up the righteous issues. If any of those righteous voters stay at home, Mr. Bush may not be able to fix the election without being obviously criminal or putting a hold on the Constitution.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Kenya out

The list continues to grow.

In response to the latest hostage threats, Kenya is telling its citizens working in Iraq to pack up and leave.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Ooops, underestimated


The US government has underestimated the 2004 cost of American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by 12.3 billion US dollars, according to a congressional report released on Wednesday.
Xinhuanet article

Not bad.

The money gap is forcing the Pentagon to shift funds from other uses, including pushing expenses from the 2004 fiscal year into 2005, said the report by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm in the Congress.

Don't you love accounting? It just fixes everything.

But, hey. It's not over. Are we going to push the 2005 expenses into 2006 then?

Pentagon officials are trying to make up for the shortfall by transferring money from other accounts and delaying refurbishment of worn-out equipment in Iraq...
NY Times article

A nice recovery of fraudulent and excessive charges lawsuit against Helliburton with some punitive damages might also work.

It's just an idea.

The good news is that we're way under budget on the reconstruction effort. Mostly because we're not reconstructing.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

That "private" Afghanistan jail...

Hmmmm....head jailer Jonathan Idema was claiming that they were working under a DoD contract, which the military denied, of course. He didn't have any proof of the contract, which isn't surprising. Idema seems like something of a whack job anyway, and he's changed that story a little, or perhaps the reporters just got it wrong the first time, which is highly likely. At any rate, the story is now..."in court Wednesday, Idema told reporters that the group had tacit support from senior U.S. Defense Department officials and that they once offered to put his team under contract."   ABC News article

Idema said he was in daily telephone and e-mail contact with officials "at the highest level," including in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office.

Let's see those e-mails.

It occurs to me that we haven't heard anything out of Rumsfiend for a while. He's keeping a low profile. Condi, too.

And check this out...

The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday it held an Afghan man for a month after taking custody of him from a trio of American counterterror vigilantes who have since been arrested on charges of torturing prisoners at a private jail they ran in the Afghan capital.

The American military has tried to distance itself from the group, led by a former American soldier named Jonathan Idema, insisting they were freelancers working outside the law. But spokesman Maj. Jon Siepmann acknowledged that the military had received a detainee from Idema's group at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, on May 3.

'Splain that one, Lucy.

Siepmann said Idema had appeared "questionable" the moment he presented the detainee, and that suspicion grew when, one month later, the man turned out not to be the top suspect that Idema had described.

"That doesn't mean at the time that we knew Mr. Idema's full track record or other things he was doing out there," Siepmann said. "This was a person who turned in a person who we believed was on our list of terrorists and we accepted him."

Siepmann declined to identify the detainee or the fugitive he was mistaken for.

He said it was unclear how Idema, who officials say had been posing as a U.S. special operations soldier, identified himself to soldiers at Bagram, or if he asked for anything in return for the detainee.

"For all I know, Jack Idema may have appeared to be perfectly credible at the time," Siepmann said, adding that officials were trying to reconstruct the handover.

Sure. Somebody walks up with a prisoner that he claims is a valuable target and nobody asks any questions. They just say thank you.

Afghan security forces seized Idema, two other Americans and four Afghans on July 5 after freeing eight prisoners from a makeshift jail in Kabul. The arrests came only after international peacekeepers contacted the U.S. military about their own suspicion of Idema's group, which duped the NATO-led force into helping in three raids in late June.

The seven defendants went on trial in Kabul on Wednesday, charged with hostage-taking and torture.

That's rather curious, isn't it? Duped NATO forces into helping them in raids?

Carp or catfish? I can't quite make out the smell.

Truck drivers' heads on the line

And what I keep wondering is how and why these truck drivers are left so vulnerable to attack. All of these recent cases have been truck drivers.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Kuwaiti transport company that employs seven foreign drivers seized by guerrillas in Iraq say it will do all it can to win their release and prevent the kidnappers carrying out a threat to kill them.

"Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company will take all appropriate measures to secure the release of the drivers who were detained in Iraq yesterday," a company statement said on Thursday.

Video footage given to news organisations showed the seven men, looking tired and afraid, stating their name and nationality to the camera. Their captors say they will behead them one by one unless their employer pulls out of Iraq.

...On Monday, another Egyptian hostage was freed after his Saudi employer pledged to stop doing business in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz was freed after Manila bowed to the demands of his captors and withdrew its small military contingent from Iraq a month early.

...Washington insists its coalition remains strong despite the Philippines' decision to follow Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras in pulling out of the country.

But two more members of the coalition came under fresh pressure on Wednesday, with an Internet statement from a group claiming to be the European wing of al Qaeda threatening Poland and Bulgaria with attack unless they withdrew from Iraq.

On Tuesday, an Internet statement claiming to be from a group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said Japan would face bloodshed unless it followed the example of the Philippines and pulled out its 550 non-combat troops.

But another statement later in the day, also claiming to be from Zarqawi's group, disowned the threat.
Reuters article

I guess other militant groups are going to cash in on the infamy the U.S. has brought to the name Zarqawi. He's become the single bullet in the Warren Commission report.

These guys arranged the photo rather differently...hostages in back.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

More on Cheney's Halliburton illegal trading with Iran

"Halliburton is at pains to say that its Caymans subsidiary…was operating in compliance with the relevant laws and rules," which would mean workers at the Tehran office "didn't have contact with U.S. managers." But when CBS 60 Minutes went looking for the supposedly independently operated Cayman subsidiary, it found it existed, "in name only. There is no actual office here or anywhere else in the Caymans. And there are no employees on site." CBS was also "told that if mail for the Halliburton subsidiary comes to this address, they re-route it to Halliburton headquarters in Houston."

According to The New Yorker, "The United States had concluded that Iraq, Libya, and Iran supported terrorism and had imposed strict sanctions on them. Yet during Cheney's tenure at Halliburton the company did business in all three countries." Cheney was embarrassed enough to lie about his company's interactions with Iraq, insisting "he had imposed a 'firm policy' against trading with Iraq," despite confidential UN records showing "Halliburton held stakes in two firms that signed contracts to sell more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq" while Cheney was in charge. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) "said he found it 'unconscionable' that a Halliburton subsidiary appeared to be doing business with a country tied to terrorist activities at a time Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive."
Source: Progress Report

Hey Lautenberg -- go fuck yourself.

Not even so much as an office. Gee, you think maybe that was a sham to avoid paying U.S. taxes? And maybe to make deals with a country that was on the no-trade list?

The Treasury Department has been investigating the matter since 2001, but the case has now been forwarded to the U.S. attorney in Houston for further investigation.

No wonder Oil Slick Dick has been a little testy lately.

I don't think he's going to be on the November ticket. It may be blamed on a bad ticker, but the truth will be a bad ticket. This could actually save Bush, if he were to put someone like John McCain or even Colin Powell on the ticket.

What am I saying!? It's like I thought there for a second that there was going to be an honest election. Or even an election at all. Silly me.

Support our troops

According to the Progress Report...

The LA Times reports, "In yet another sign of the strains on the U.S. military in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraq war, the Pentagon for the first time is considering extending the mobilization of National Guard soldiers who will soon hit the federal limit of 24 months of active service...

USA Today reports, "The 350,000-member Army National Guard is having increasing difficulty recruiting soldiers and is seeing a drop in the quality of enlistees as measured by aptitude tests, Pentagon and National Guard figures show.

Imagine that.

The NYT reports, "with tens of thousands of their citizen soldiers now deployed in Iraq, many of the nation's governors complained on Sunday to senior Pentagon officials that they were facing severe manpower shortages." Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said troop deployment left his state with half the usual number of firefighters, worrisome in this hot, dry summer.


Need proof the military is stretched to its straining point? Look no further: AP reports a 68-year-old doctor from Alabama has been reactivated for duty and is headed to war.


Unscrupulous insurance companies have been using "questionable tactics on military bases to sell insurance and investments" that exploit and cheat our men and women in uniform. The NYT reports some soldiers have been required to attend compulsory briefings which turn out to be misleading sales pitches dressed up as personal finance and savings lectures. How can this happen? Greed, pure and simple, is to blame. The NYT explains the scam exists in part due to "the axis between Capitol Hill and K Street, where the insurance industry has easy access to Congress, lobbying power and millions of dollars in campaign contributions to generate legislative pressure."

Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Ninety-five percent of soldiers at eight Army Reserve units sent to Iraq and other Middle East bases experienced significant problems getting paid, creating stress and concern about the financial well-being of their families back home." According to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), "The soldiers were overpaid or underpaid or paid late…and the problems in some instances persisted for more than a year." What this means: not only does ,not paying affect soldiers' performances, it has other ramifications. Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) "said these issues had been shown to cause troops to decide not to reenlist." Said one unpaid soldier, "How can I, in a combat environment, find out if my 4-month old and my 5 ½-year-old kids are taken care of? I don't want to be rash, but it was like a slap in the face."

Support our troops.