Thursday, June 30, 2005

Batten Down the Hatches

Batten Down the Hatches
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted June 28, 2005.

Setting up a straw man, calling it liberal and then knocking it down has become a favorite form of "argument" for those on the right.

The first thing I ever learned about politics was never to let anyone else define what you believe, or what you are for or against. I think for myself.

I am not "you liberals" or "you people on the left who always..." My name is Molly Ivins, and I can speak for myself, thank you. I don't need Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove to tell me what I believe.

Setting up a straw man, calling it liberal and then knocking it down has become a favorite form of "argument" for those on the right. Make some ridiculous claim about what "liberals" think, and then demonstrate how silly it is. Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and many other right-wing ravers never seem to get tired of this old game. If I had a nickel for every idiotic thing I've ever heard those on the right claim "liberals" believe, I'd be richer than Bill Gates.

The latest and most idiotic statement yet comes from Karl Rove, who is not, actually, an objective observer. He is George Bush's hatchet man. Last week, Rove, in an address to the Conservative Party of New York, made the following claim: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9-11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9-11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

This seemed to the editorial writers at the San Diego Union-Tribune such a reasonable summary of the liberal position they couldn't figure out why Democrats were "hyperventilating" and getting "bent out of shape."

"What is harder to understand is how Democrats can think they can have it both ways," they wrote. "Even as they beat their chests and profess support for military action, they can't help but criticize the military and do everything they can to undermine the war effort." What a deep mystery. Let's see if we can help the San Diego thinkers solve it. On Sept. 14, 2001, Congress approved a resolution authorizing the president to take military action. The vote in the Senate was 98 to zero; the vote in the House was 420 to one. The lone dissenter was Democrat Barbara Lee of California, who expressed qualms about an open-ended war without a clear target. Find me the offer for therapy and understanding in that vote. Anyone remember what actually happened after 9-11? Unprecedented unity, support across the board, joint statements by Democratic and Republican political leaders. The whole world was with us. The most important newspaper in France headlined, "We Are All Americans Now," and all our allies sent troops and money to help. That is what George Bush has pissed away with his war in Iraq.

The vote on invading Iraq was 77 to 23 in the Senate and 296 to 133 in the House. By that time, some liberals did question the wisdom of invasion because: A) Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and B) it looked increasingly unlikely that Iraq actually had great stores of weapons of mass destruction, since the United Nations inspectors, who were on the ground, couldn't find any sign of them -- even though Donald Rumsfeld claimed we knew exactly where they were....

Bolton endgame

Bolton endgame
By Robert Kuttner
June 29, 2005
Boston Globe

THE BITTERLY contentious nomination of John Bolton to be UN ambassador comes to a showdown this holiday weekend.
With the Senate having twice refused to break a filibuster over Bolton, President Bush may use his power to make a recess appointment during Congress's Fourth of July break. Bolton would then serve without Senate confirmation until the next Congress ends, in late 2006.

Or Bush could withdraw Bolton's name.

Bolton's views on the UN are hostile. He is known as a short-tempered martinet. He got poor reviews for his last job as undersecretary of state for arms control. For instance, Bolton was a skeptic of a US joint program to keep Russian nuclear fuel from reaching terrorists. The effort was tied up in legal minutiae during Bolton's tenure, but soon after Bolton's departure early in 2005, the logjam was broken and agreement with Russia reached.

The Washington Post reported that our allies so distrust Bolton on the sensitive negotiations over Iran's nuclear program that they made sure to exclude him from high-level meetings in Washington last January.

More ominously, Bolton is suspected of using ultra-secret National Security Agency wiretaps to snoop on rivals in the intelligence and defense community. Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator Joe Biden of Delaware demanded to know the names of people on whom Bolton requested wiretapped information. For anything but legitimate national security purposes, this use would violate US law. But the White House has stonewalled this request, intensifying Democrats' opposition.

As the Senate debated Bolton, Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, declared that a recess appointment ''would weaken not only Mr. Bolton but also the United States," but he soon recanted, very likely after some prodding. His first impulse was right. This recess appointment would insult both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and the institution itself....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another GOP Congressman Questions Bush's Credibility

Another GOP Congressman Questions Bush's Credibility
Jun 29, 2005, 01:35
Capitol Hill Blue

A Colorado congressman is accusing the administration of trying to hide documents showing that President Bush sparked a surge in illegal immigration last year by proposing a guest-worker program.

The documents _ obtained by the public-interest group Judicial Watch through Freedom of Information Act requests _ show that aliens crossing America's southern border in the weeks after the president's Jan. 7, 2004, announcement interpreted his proposal as a general amnesty, said Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Republican and chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus.

Some 45 percent of aliens who were stopped at the border said they were trying to enter the United States because they would be afforded an opportunity to stay under the president's plan, the documents showed.

The documents were obtained by Judicial Watch from the Department of Homeland Security. After the president announced his policy, the department ordered a survey of apprehended illegal immigrants to determine whether the proposal influenced their decision to cross the border.

About 1,700 questionnaires were filled out, Judicial Watch said, and the department thus far has handed over 850 in response to the group's Freedom of Information Act request. The results establish that a significant number of the captured aliens were crossing the border to take advantage of what they understood to be the Bush program.

Once the outcome became apparent and could prove embarrassing, according to Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, "the Bush administration abruptly shut it down. The Border Patrol, at the behest of the White House, instructed its agents not to provide the information about the negative impact of the proposed amnesty program."...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

White House advance team FAKED the applause

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

ABC reports that White House advance team FAKED the applause
by John in DC - 6/28/2005 08:34:00 PM

ABC's Terry Moran just reported that the only time Bush got applause was in the middle of his speech when a White House advance team member started clapping all on their own in order to cajole the soldiers into clapping, which they dutifully did.
So even the applause was fake.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Let's tell the full story of great women

Let's tell the full story of great women
Kelly M. Parisi - Women's eNews

06.24.05 - Helen Keller would have turned 125 this month. She was born on June 27, 1880.

Though Keller was one of the most famous women in the world during her life, most people now do not know her as the woman she was; the activist, peacemaker and women's rights advocate.

Like many young people, the "Miracle Worker" was my introduction to Keller. I first read the play in my seventh grade English class where I learned about her as the famous deaf and blind child who discovered language at the water pump outside her house in Tuscumbia, Ala.

It wasn't until years later when I took a position at the American Foundation for the Blind that I came to know more about the adult Keller.

"Some of us have imagined that we lived in a democracy," Keller once said. "We do not. The democracy would mean full opportunity for all, it would mean that every child had a chance to be well, well fed, well educated and properly started in life. It would mean that every human being had a voice in the making of the laws and in exercising its privileges; it would mean that all men enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Such a democracy has never existed."

Keller gave this speech somewhere between 1910 and 1919 when she was in her 30s. It reflects a Helen Keller I never knew growing up. Yet she is the woman who inspires me today.

Great Women Lost in History

As is the case with many great women, Helen Keller has been lost in history because we don't tell her full story. Far too often we remember famous women for simply one thing. For instance, we remember Rosa Parks as the woman who refused to get off the bus because she was tired. In reality, she was a long-time civil rights activist who was tired of being mistreated because she was a woman of color. The same goes for Susan B. Anthony who is now remembered as the woman on the dollar coin, instead of the famous abolitionist and suffragist.

Behind these icons are stories of amazing women who changed our world.

Few people remember Helen Keller as a person ahead of her time. She fought tirelessly for women's suffrage and spent years advocating for improvements in women's and children's health. Throughout her adult life, she supported efforts to make reproductive healthcare accessible to women in extreme poverty and established a close relationship with Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

At a time when very few women worked outside the home and there were only a handful of women in public office, Keller--who of course could not see or hear--traveled to 39 countries, bringing hope and inspiration to millions. Most notably, she served as a U.S. peace ambassador to Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima, where she was welcomed with open arms.

Her Biggest Passion

Her biggest passion was increasing opportunities for those marginalized by class, disability or gender. She was an early member of the American Civil Liberties Union and worked with seven U.S. presidents, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor in 1964.

Until her death in 1968, Keller was an international celebrity.

Her name can still be seen across the globe today. Travel to almost any country in the world and you will find Helen Keller schools and organizations working on behalf of women and people with disabilities.

Ask any of those groups and they'll tell you that her work is still very relevant. Blindness is an increasing global health problem that afflicts far more women than it does men. About 37 million people worldwide are blind and over 124 million people have low vision. In both categories, two thirds are women and the overwhelming majority live in poorer countries. It is Keller's legacy that drives the fight to improve conditions for women and people with disabilities around the world.

At the American Foundation for the Blind, where she worked for over 40 years, Keller remains our inspiration.

She was a huge advocate for new technology and was instrumental in the legislative process that created the Talking Book program, helping people with disabilities experience the world of literature, drama, history and politics. Keller understood the importance of technology, which has revolutionized life for people with vision loss since her death. Assistive mobility and technology devices--such as guide dogs, long canes, computers with speech synthesizers, or scanners that convert text to braille--allow people with vision loss to live independently.

As we celebrate her 125th birthday this month, let's remember not only Keller, but all great women in their entirety. Next time someone mentions the "Miracle Worker," ask them if they know what became of Helen Keller. If they don't, it's your chance to tell her whole story.

* * * * *

For more information:

American Foundation for the Blind

Copyright 2005 Women's eNews Inc.


Justice, finally, is served in Mississippi

Cynthia Tucker
Universal Press Syndicate

Justice, finally, is served
41 years later, Mississippi gets it right

If your son had been murdered 41 years ago simply for his political activism, would you be willing to forget it after all these years and allow the mastermind of his murder to go free? If your child had been executed by vicious animals and buried anonymously in an earthen dam, would you tell government authorities to let the man who staged his murder off the hook because he's now old?

Of course not.

Neither did the families of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman or Michael Schwerner. They took comfort in last week's conviction of 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen, who was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison for his role in orchestrating the killings. During the tense "Freedom Summer" of 1964, when throngs of idealistic young adults -- black and white -- came to the South to aid voter registration, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were lured off the road in rural Mississippi, beaten and shot. Their bodies were found 44 days later under 15 feet of dirt near a farm pond.

According to published reports, Goodman's mother, Carolyn, told reporters outside the courthouse when the trial started, "This trial has taken a long time to happen, and now I know that justice will be served." But that justice, even belated, is important not only for the surviving families. It's important for the rest of us, too -- those who never knew Chaney, Goodman or Schwerner, those who've never been in Philadelphia, Miss., those too young to remember Freedom Summer.

The three young men, all in their early 20s, were working to ensure that black Mississippians had the chance to vote. There is nothing more American than that. So Killen's conviction marks Americans as a people committed to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution, including the universal franchise and equal justice for all.

Among those most eager to see Killen brought to justice were several Neshoba County residents -- black and white -- who wanted to send a message that their community no longer countenanced racial violence. They understood that the old wounds could not heal until they were opened and cleansed.

Still, some Americans don't seem to get it. Various voices have objected to the prosecution of a frail 80-year-old, of a trial that inevitably loosed recollections of a sordid past they wanted to keep buried, of a case built, they claimed, on political correctness. But I've not heard anyone argue that Iraq shouldn't prosecute Saddam Hussein, even though his crimes are old news, he's out of power and he's a shadow of his former intimidating self.

Like the U.S. Senate's recent apology for failing to pass an anti-lynching law, Killen's conviction is largely symbolic. He managed to evade a murder conviction and live much of his life as a free man, as did the other perpetrators, several of whom are long dead. In 1967, federal prosecutors charged 18 men, including Killen, with violations of the victims' civil rights; only seven were convicted, and none served more than six years in prison. (Killen escaped a guilty verdict back then because a lone juror refused to convict a preacher.)

Still, symbols matter. If they didn't, Ronald Reagan would never have opened his 1980 campaign for the presidency in Philadelphia, Miss., which had a nationwide reputation for only one thing -- the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

In going there to declare "I believe in states' rights," Reagan sent a not-so-subtle message to a certain segment of the white South -- those who continued to resent the civil rights movement -- that he sympathized with them. Now, perhaps, Philadelphia can be used as a symbol of a hopeful future, not a reminder of a hateful past.

At the time of the murders, Killen and his ilk believed that white men in Mississippi could kill black men with impunity. It turns out they were wrong. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. often said, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." It's good to see that moral arc stretch back over 41 years.

Bush Leagues Go On Defensive as War Criticism Mounts

Bush Leagues Go On Defensive as War Criticism Mounts
McClatchy Newspapers
Jun 27, 2005, 03:07

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's call on Thursday for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign - delivered before television cameras in a one-on-one confrontation at a hearing - was only the latest note in a crescendo of criticisms against the Bush administration as polls show Americans souring on the war in Iraq.

And while the defense secretary showed no inclination to march to Kennedy's orders, he and other top administration officials might be shaping their rhetoric in response to the shifting public sentiment.

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld told lawmakers, "From the beginning of this we have recognized that this is a tough business. It is difficult. That it is dangerous, and that it is not predictable."

Rumsfeld also spoke of President Lincoln's unpopularity in 1864 because of the protracted Civil War, and he recited Lincoln's remarks to an Ohio regiment.

"I quote: 'I wish it might be more generally and universally understood what the country is now engaged in,' " Rumsfeld said. " 'There may be mistakes made sometimes; and things may be done wrong, while the officers of the government do all they can to prevent mistakes. But I beg of you, as citizens of this great republic, not to let your minds be carried off from the great work we have before us.' "

In a CNN interview later in the day, Vice President Dick Cheney also tapped imagery from past military successes.

"If you look back at World War II, the toughest battles, the most difficult battles, both in Europe and in the Pacific, occurred a few months before the end," he said.

And Cheney sought to recast a recent assertion he made on the same network, seized on by some as a sign the administration is misleading Americans: that insurgents were in "the last throes." Testifying earlier in the day on Capitol Hill, Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said that the insurgency appeared as strong as it had been six months before and had more foreign fighters. Cheney explained his own assessment by saying, "If you look at what the dictionary says about 'throes,' it can still be a violent period."

Democratic criticisms have built as independent national polls in the last two week show majorities beginning to favor at least partial withdrawal, and rising numbers of Americans doubtful U.S. goals will be accomplished in Iraq or are worth the loss of life.

At the Senate hearing, Kennedy said Iraq had become a quagmire for the United States and accused the defense secretary of having misled Americans prior to and throughout the war....

Lies, Damn Lies and the Fools Who Believe Them

Lies, Damn Lies and the Fools Who Believe Them
Capitol Hill Blue
Jun 27, 2005, 07:45

A bumper sticker on a car outside a coffee shop in the tiny Southwestern Virginia mountain town of Floyd, Virginia, says it all:

“We’re making enemies faster than we can kill them.”

You didn’t used to see such bumper stickers in a conservative town like Floyd where American flags fly from every light pole on holidays and adorn most pickup trucks on the road.

Now they seem to pop up everywhere.

“These colors don’t run…the rest of the world” proclaims another. My wife is fond of one that says “Born just fine the first time.”

At the town’s Friday Night Jamboree, a weekly gathering of bluegrass fans from all over the world, a 70-ish fiddle player opened his set with “let’s have a moment of silence for all the Americans who have died in George W. Bush’s illegal war.” Nobody booed or got upset. They stood silent for 60 seconds and then cheered and clapped wildly when the music started.

If opposition to Bush’s lies-backed invasion of Iraq can appear openly in a traditional, flag-waving Blue Ridge mountain community like Floyd, you can be sure it runs rampant in other, larger places in America.

Polls show Bush’s job approval rating dropping faster than General Motors stock while American opposition to his war climbs. Most Americans now oppose the war in Iraq and question both Bush’s honesty and his reasons for invading another country.....

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Punch Drunk

Punch Drunk

A few days days ago, I warned that the White House's desperate search for scapegoats to blame for its own failures was shifting into overdrive. And, right on cue, along comes Karl Rove to spew an (ample) belly full of bile into the public record:

"Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies."

Rove also denounced Sen. Dick Durbin's comments comparing interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the methods of Nazis and other repressive regimes. He said the statements have been broadcast throughout the Middle East, putting American troops in greater danger. Durbin has since apologized for the remarks.

"No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.

Many on the left have reacted with predictable fury -- particularly those Democrats who thought that by surfing the Iraq war along with the Cheney administration, they could buy themselves some protection from such old-fashioned demagoguery, which reads like pages torn from Spiro Agnew's old speeches.

But I actually think Rove's rant should be seen as a somewhat encouraging sign. Rove and his idiot chorus aren't roaring at the top of their lungs to try to drown out the liberals -- that would be absurd overkill, given how effectively the corporate media has ridiculed and/or demonized the likes of Howard Dean and Dick Durbin. No, Rove's hate rally is aimed squarely at suppressing the growing doubts of the great silent majority -- and even, to a certain extent, those of the conservative true believers, some of whom are showing ominous signs of war weariness.

The rhetorical assault on the liberals, in other words, is the core of the PR counteroffensive the White House has been promising to unleash for the past week.

Having been advised by the "moderates" to level with the American people and explain just how badly things have gone off the track in Iraq, and how much time, treasure and blood it will take to redeem Bush's casual promises of victory, the Rovians apparently have decided they can't do it -- not without suffering unacceptable casualties on the home front. American troops, after all, are expendable. But Bush's political capital is both precious and increasingly scarce. Much too scarce, apparently, to waste on an exercise as frivolous as a presidential appeal for patriotic unity and shared sacrifice.....

Friday, June 24, 2005

The return of '1984'

The return of '1984'
By H.D.S. Greenway | June 24, 2005
Boston Globe

IF YOU TAKE something to read at the beach this summer make sure it is not one of George Orwell's books. The comparison with current events will ruin your day.

In what was then the futuristic, nightmare world of ''1984," written in 1949, Orwell introduced the concepts of ''newspeak," ''doublethink," and ''the mutability of the past," all concepts that seem to be alive and well in 2005, half a century after Orwell's death. In the ever-changing rationale of why we went to war in Iraq, we can imagine ourselves working in Orwell's ''Ministry of Truth," in which ''reality control" is used to ensure that ''the lie passed into history and became the truth."

And what about the Bush administration's insistence that all is going well in Iraq? In the Ministry of Truth, statistics are adjustable to suit politics -- ''merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another," Orwell wrote. ''Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection to anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in the rectified version." Welcome to the Iraq war, Mr. Orwell.

What of Donald Rumsfeld's newspeak, or was it doublethink, saying that ''no detention facility in the history of warfare has been more transparent" than Guantanamo? We have the FBI's word for it that prisoners were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, left for 18 to 24 hours with no food and no water, left to defecate and urinate on themselves.

The deaths by torture in Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan sound very much like what happens in Orwell's fictional torture chamber: Room 101.

He might as well have been writing about the Bush administration's redefinition of torture when he wrote about using ''logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it."

In Orwell's profoundly pessimistic view: ''Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

There is something profoundly Orwellian, too, about the administration's attempts to impose thought control on public broadcasting. The sometimes secret machinations to place impositions on editorial freedom, the efforts to see which people interviewed by Bill Moyers might be considered anti-Bush or anti-Defense Department or insufficiently conservative, were just the kind of efforts to squash intellectual opposition to state power that Orwell wrote about.

I was amused to see even a conservative Republican senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, was branded as a ''liberal" because he dared criticize the Pentagon -- a ''thought criminal" in Orwell's parlance.

The drum beat by some conservatives to bring down an independent judiciary is another case in point. We learned from the case of unfortunate, blind, and brain-dead Terri Schiavo that it isn't activist judges who are the enemy. It is judges who are not active in the correct causes.

It is the intended persecution of Michael Schiavo, who defended his wife's right to die, however, that has for me the most sinister echoes of Orwell. Florida Governor Jeb Bush, according to news reports, will have the case reopened after 15 years to investigate how long it took Schiavo to dial 911. Thus will Michael Schiavo feel the displeasure of the state for challenging the conservative orthodoxy.

In the effort to squash dissent, as evidenced by moves to change the Sentate's filibuster rules, there seems to be the belief among the majority that they will always stay in the majority, that they will never lose the Senate, and, therefore, never themselves need to filibuster.

Orwell had something to say about this too. ''Power worship blurs political judgment," he wrote in an essay, ''because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible."

There are any number of Guantanamo defenders who could fit neatly into George Orwell's essay when he wrote: ''In our time, political speech and writing is largely the defense of the indefensible."

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Rove is right: there are differences

Jun 23, 2005 ::
Rove is right: there are differences

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says that Karl Rove just meant that Democrats and Republicans had "different philosophies" when it comes to their reactions following 9/11. We agree. Our philosophies couldn't be more different when it comes to fighting international terrorism. Let's compare:

Believe capturing the person primarily responsible for the attack should be a top priority.

It's been four years, and Osama bin Laden is still free, even though Bush's CIA chief says he knows where he is.

Investigate the intelligence failures that led to 9/11.

Do everything in their power to block the 9/11 Commission from doing its work.

Propose creating the Department of Homeland Security.

Push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Believe we should have stayed the course in Afghanistan, not allowing the Taliban to resurge, the warlords to take power, and the opium trade to skyrocket.

Ignore Afghanistan as the situation worsens.

Believe that we should be honest with our troops about the reasons we go to war, give them everything they need to be safe, and make sure we go in with an exit plan.

Manipulate intelligence to trump up reasons to go to war, don't give our troops the support they need, constantly mislead the public about the direction the war is going, and fail to make an exit plan. And turn Iraq into the ultimate terrorist training ground.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

U.S. was big spender in days before Iraq handover

U.S. was big spender in days before Iraq handover
By Sue Pleming
Wed Jun 22, 2:06 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States handed out nearly $20 billion of Iraq's funds, with a rush to spend billions in the final days before transferring power to the Iraqis nearly a year ago, a report said on Tuesday.

A report by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record) of California, said in the week before the hand-over on June 28, 2004, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority ordered the urgent delivery of more than $4 billion in Iraqi funds from the U.S. Federal Reserve in New York.

One single shipment amounted to $2.4 billion -- the largest movement of cash in the bank's history, said Waxman.

Most of these funds came from frozen and seized assets and from the Development Fund for Iraq, which succeeded the U.N.'s oil-for-food program. After the U.S. invasion, the U.N. directed this money should be used by the CPA for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Cash was loaded onto giant pallets for shipment by plane to Iraq, and paid out to contractors who carried it away in duffel bags.

The report, released at a House of Representatives committee hearing, said despite the huge amount of money, there was little U.S. scrutiny in how these assets were managed.

"The disbursement of these funds was characterized by significant waste, fraud and abuse," said Waxman.....

Iraq May Be Prime Place for Training of Militants, C.I.A. Report Concludes

Iraq May Be Prime Place for Training of Militants, C.I.A. Report Concludes
Published: June 22, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 21 - A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict.

Congressional and intelligence officials who described the assessment called it a thorough examination that included extensive discussion of the areas that might be particularly prone to infiltration by combatants from Iraq, either Iraqis or foreigners.

They said the assessment had argued that Iraq, since the American invasion of 2003, had in many ways assumed the role played by Afghanistan during the rise of Al Qaeda during the 1980's and 1990's, as a magnet and a proving ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries.

The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda....

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Pentagon Shields Halliburton From U.N. Probe

Pentagon Shields Halliburton From U.N. Probe
By Staff and Wire Reports
Jun 22, 2005, 06:25
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U.S. lawmakers took aim at the Pentagon on Tuesday for hiding information from U.N.-mandated auditors about U.S contractor Halliburton, with Republicans calling it an embarrassment.

"This is a self-inflicted wound, a needless failure to meet transparency obligations," Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican from Connecticut, told a U.S. House of Representatives panel.

The hearing was called to look at U.S. management of Iraqi funds after the 2003 invasion. An audit by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found the U.S.-led authority there could not properly account for $8.8 billion of Iraq's money.

Texas-based Halliburton -- run by Vice President Dick Cheney until the 2000 race for the White House -- was paid about $1.7 billion out of these funds to bring in fuel for Iraqis under a sole source deal its unit Kellogg Brown and Root had with the U.S. military.

U.N. auditors asked for a full accounting of Iraqi money given to KBR and documents were finally handed over after much wrangling but portions detailing potential overcharges by KBR were blocked out.

"It hid almost every meaningful number or reference to question an unsupported contract cost, the very matters of most concern to them and, frankly, to us," said Shays....

Liberal media at work

Liberal media at work
Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No recent issue better exemplifies
the paralysis of one-party
government than the so-called Downing Street memos. For readers who have been either vacationing on Mars or getting all their news from the so-called mainstream media, those are minutes of the British government’s July 2002 deliberations about its then-secret agreement with the Bush administration to invade Iraq. A brief primer: Downing Street is the British equivalent of White House. Marked "Secret and strictly personal—UK eyes only," the memos constitute the official record of meetings between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet; the equivalent, that is, of a get-together among President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. Tommy Franks and then-CIA Director George Tenet. The documents were leaked to The Sunday Times of London in May. What’s caused the biggest stir are the frank comments of Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI-6, the British CIA. After visiting his U.S. counterparts, he reported on July 22, 2002, that "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." (My emphasis.)
In an earlier column, I observed that in British usage, "fixed" doesn’t signify deliberate corruption. In an on-line colloquy with Washington Post readers, English reporter Michael Smith said, "I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence.... [T] he intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq."
The Sunday Times is not a left-wing newspaper. Smith says that far from being "a mealy-mouthed left-wing apologist," he’s a British Army veteran who believes in a strong national defense and votes Conservative; that is, anti-Blair.
Last year, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee produced a damning report on botched pre-war intelligence, but postponed investigating the touchy question of how the Bush administration used it until after the 2004 election. Almost needless to say, the Republican-controlled committee has since dropped the idea.
Even more damning in the Downing Street documents is evidence of both governments’ calculated dishonesty. Blair’s cabinet believed that attacking Iraq for "regime change" alone would constitute an illegal war of aggression; therefore, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw urged, "We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the U. N. weapons inspectors."
Blair agreed that "[i] t would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the U. N. inspectors," according to the minutes.
It appears to me that going to the U. N. was designed not to avert war, as Blair and Bush assured everybody, including Congress and the U. N. Security Council, but in the hope of provoking Saddam Hussein into rashness. Also during the summer of 2002, as Jeremy Scahill reported recently in The Nation, USAF and RAF bombers began a massive secret bombing campaign against Iraqi military and civilian targets. Months before the congressional vote and U. N. resolutions, the war had already begun.
Even so, Saddam capitulated. It’s been shown beyond a reasonable doubt that had Bush and Blair allowed U. N. inspectors to finish the job, they’d have proved that Iraq had no forbidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they invaded.
Even so, during the 2004 campaign, Bush often repeated this brazen falsehood: "We gave [Saddam] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in."
Yet the most damaging aspect of the Downing Street memos is what they reveal about the arrogant incompetence of the White House ideologue who thought occupying Iraq would be a "cakewalk."
From the start, Blair’s advisers warned him that "U.S. military plans are virtually silent" about the likelihood that conquering Iraq would lead to a post-war occupation and "a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." Straw, the British foreign secretary, wanted to know how "there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be any better. Iraq has no history of democracy, so no one has this habit or experience." According to a transcript search claimed by Arianna Huffington, ABC and CBS news have scarcely mentioned the Downing Street memos while running 256 Michael Jackson stories. NBC has run six Downing Street pieces, 109 on Jackson; CNN, 30 vs. 633. The New York Times has pooh-poohed the evidence. Washington Post and Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Kinsley scolded readers excited by the British revelations as "paranoid." " Fixing intelligence and facts to fit a desired policy is the Bush II governing style, "he added, as if there’s no difference between his world-weary cynicism and government documents proving the point. Post columnist Dana Milbank mocked Democratic congressmen holding an unofficial hearing on the subject as taking" a trip to the land of make-believe. " Your gutless liberal media at work.
—––––– •–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Copyright © 2001-2005 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mississippi Drama: "It Hit Me ... They Were Dead"

Mississippi Drama: Widow Tells Jury, "It Hit Me ... They Were Dead"
By John F. Sugg
t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 29 June 2005
...from riveting testimony by Rita Schwerner Bender, the 63-year-old widow of one of three civil rights workers murdered in 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi.....

"At 3 or 4 in the morning, he got up, kissed me goodbye and left," Bender recalled. "That was the very last time I saw him alive." Mickey Schwerner, back in Mississippi, was joined by Cheney and a newcomer to the Freedom Summer, Andrew "Andy" Goodman.

In the middle of the night of June 21-22, Bender was awakened to take a phone call. "I learned Mickey had never returned to Meridian," she said. Calls to the local police and hospital met with silence. Despite likely danger to herself, Bender returned to Mississippi.

Forty-four days later, fears became reality. "I remember that day," she said. "The burned station wagon was found (by the FBI) in the Bogue Chitto Swamp. ... It really hit me for the first time that they were dead. There was no realistic possibility they were alive."

Bender paused in her narrative. She breathed deeply, cupped her hands around her face, gave a small shake to her head and continued: "I cried. (With civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer at the Cincinnati airport), we went to a bench, put our heads together, and our tears mingled."

Another pause, and then: "I wanted to see that burned out car. I absolutely insisted. It was in a garage, up on blocks. Outside, the paint was blistered, the inside was burned out."...

Time to Impeach a War Criminal

Time to Impeach a War Criminal
Jun 20, 2005, 08:26
Capitol Hill Blue

Slowly, but steadily, the Downing Street Memo is getting the public attention it deserves and making the case that President George W. Bush should be removed from office.

The memo, dated July 23, 2002, is a summary of a meeting between Richard Dearlove, the head of British intelligence, and senior Bush Administration officials. This was before Bush started making his public case to invade Iraq but, according to the memo, the decision had already been made:

“The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The [National Security Council] had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

In other words, at a time when Bush was telling the American people that “every possible avenue” would be exhausted before going to war the administration had, in fact, already made up its mind to invade Iraq and was willing to manufacture evidence to support such an invasion.

The Downing Street memo confirms what many had already suspected – George W. Bush is an out-and-out liar who intentionally misled the American public, the U.S. Congress and our allies.

I, for one, don’t want a liar as my President. I don’t want a man who is willing to send 1700-plus Americans to their deaths in a war based on lies running what used to be the greatest nation on earth.

Yes, George W. Bush should be impeached

The US war with Iran has already begun

Scott Ritter: 'The US war with Iran has already begun'
Contributed by uuzul on Monday, June 20 @ 09:37:03 EDT
This article has been read 116 times.
By Scott Ritter, Aljazeera
Americans, along with the rest of the world, are starting to wake up to the uncomfortable fact that President George Bush not only lied to them about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the ostensible excuse for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of that country by US forces), but also about the very process that led to war.
On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."
We know now that this statement was itself a lie, that the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.
These operations were designed to degrade Iraqi air defence and command and control capabilities. They also paved the way for the insertion of US Special Operations units, who were conducting strategic reconnaissance, and later direct action, operations against specific targets inside Iraq, prior to the 19 March 2003 commencement of hostilities.
President Bush had signed a covert finding in late spring 2002, which authorised the CIA and US Special Operations forces to dispatch clandestine units into Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.
This timeline of events has ramifications that go beyond historical trivia or political investigation into the events of the past.
It represents a record of precedent on the part of the Bush administration which must be acknowledged when considering the ongoing events regarding US-Iran relations. As was the case with Iraq pre-March 2003, the Bush administration today speaks of "diplomacy" and a desire for a "peaceful" resolution to the Iranian question.
But the facts speak of another agenda, that of war and the forceful removal of the theocratic regime, currently wielding the reigns of power in Tehran.
As with Iraq, the president has paved the way for the conditioning of the American public and an all-too-compliant media to accept at face value the merits of a regime change policy regarding Iran, linking the regime of the Mullah's to an "axis of evil" (together with the newly "liberated" Iraq and North Korea), and speaking of the absolute requirement for the spread of "democracy" to the Iranian people.
"Liberation" and the spread of "democracy" have become none-too-subtle code words within the neo-conservative cabal that formulates and executes American foreign policy today for militarism and war.
By the intensity of the "liberation/democracy" rhetoric alone, Americans should be put on notice that Iran is well-fixed in the cross-hairs as the next target for the illegal policy of regime change being implemented by the Bush administration.
But Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran.
As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented in the case of Iran. But this is a fool's dream.
The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.
The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.
President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.
The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.
It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq.
Perhaps the adage of "one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist" has finally been embraced by the White House, exposing as utter hypocrisy the entire underlying notions governing the ongoing global war on terror.
But the CIA-backed campaign of MEK terror bombings in Iran are not the only action ongoing against Iran.
To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran.
Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's interest in Azerbaijan may have escaped the blinkered Western media, but Russia and the Caucasus nations understand only too well that the die has been cast regarding Azerbaijan's role in the upcoming war with Iran.
The ethnic links between the Azeri of northern Iran and Azerbaijan were long exploited by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and this vehicle for internal manipulation has been seized upon by CIA paramilitary operatives and US Special Operations units who are training with Azerbaijan forces to form special units capable of operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilising indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran.
But this is only one use the US has planned for Azerbaijan. American military aircraft, operating from forward bases in Azerbaijan, will have a much shorter distance to fly when striking targets in and around Tehran.
In fact, US air power should be able to maintain a nearly 24-hour a day presence over Tehran airspace once military hostilities commence.
No longer will the United States need to consider employment of Cold War-dated plans which called for moving on Tehran from the Arab Gulf cities of Chah Bahar and Bandar Abbas. US Marine Corps units will be able to secure these towns in order to protect the vital Straits of Hormuz, but the need to advance inland has been eliminated.
A much shorter route to Tehran now exists - the coastal highway running along the Caspian Sea from Azerbaijan to Tehran.
US military planners have already begun war games calling for the deployment of multi-divisional forces into Azerbaijan.
Logistical planning is well advanced concerning the basing of US air and ground power in Azerbaijan.
Given the fact that the bulk of the logistical support and command and control capability required to wage a war with Iran is already forward deployed in the region thanks to the massive US presence in Iraq, the build-up time for a war with Iran will be significantly reduced compared to even the accelerated time tables witnessed with Iraq in 2002-2003.
America and the Western nations continue to be fixated on the ongoing tragedy and debacle that is Iraq. Much needed debate on the reasoning behind the war with Iraq and the failed post-war occupation of Iraq is finally starting to spring up in the United States and elsewhere.
Normally, this would represent a good turn of events. But with everyone's heads rooted in the events of the past, many are missing out on the crime that is about to be repeated by the Bush administration in Iran - an illegal war of aggression, based on false premise, carried out with little regard to either the people of Iran or the United States.
Most Americans, together with the mainstream American media, are blind to the tell-tale signs of war, waiting, instead, for some formal declaration of hostility, a made-for-TV moment such as was witnessed on 19 March 2003.
We now know that the war had started much earlier. Likewise, history will show that the US-led war with Iran will not have begun once a similar formal statement is offered by the Bush administration, but, rather, had already been under way since June 2005, when the CIA began its programme of MEK-executed terror bombings in Iran.
Scott Ritter is a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998, and author of Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy, to be published by I B Tauris in October 2005.
© 2005 Aljazeera.Net
Reprinted from Aljazeera:

Families of dead soldiers demand truth from Bush

Families of dead soldiers demand truth from Bush

By Beth Quinn
Times Herald-Record

The one reservation I had last week when I wrote about the Downing Street Memo was this: How will the loved ones of the soldiers who've died in Iraq feel when they read this?
How much more pain will it cause them to know we now have strong evidence that George Bush knew all along there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? That he made the "facts" fit his personal plan for war?
How does your mind accept what surely breaks your heart? And how much harder to know that your child, your spouse, your parent died in a war that a growing number of Americans are questioning?
Since that column ran, the loved ones of two soldiers, dead in Iraq, have told me.
Their words are far more meaningful than anything I could say, so I will turn this column over to them.

From Lauren Bowker of Middletown:
"As a loved one of Joseph Tremblay of New Windsor, who died April 27 in Iraq doing what he considered his duty for his country and fellow Marines, I have feelings of such loss and sadness – and also extreme anger....

Sunday, June 19, 2005

What Exactly Is Judicial Activism?

What Exactly Is Judicial Activism? The Charges Made Against the President's Judicial Nominees
Friday, Jun. 17, 2005

"Judicial activism" has become an appellation of choice in the current debate about the role of judges and justices in American government. Most prominently, right now, it's used by Democrats to attack the President's judicial nominees, and by Republicans to attack judges who reach results of which they do not approve.

But exactly what does "judicial activism" mean? In this column, I'll explore that thorny question.

Two Recent Books on Judicial Activism Fail to Define "Judicial Activism" Precisely

Left-leaning trial attorney Martin Garbus's book Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court And The Unmaking Of American Law takes "judicial activism" as its main subject. Garbus believes that the High Court under Chief Justice John Marshall, the New Deal Court, the Warren Court, and now the Rehnquist Court, have "all had political agendas and practiced judicial activism." Yet Garbus does not define specifically what "judicial activism" means.....

Mothers of Slain Soldiers, Others, Demand Bush's Impeachment

Mothers of Slain Soldiers, Others, Demand Bush's Impeachment
By Staff and Wire Reports
Jun 17, 2005, 06:28
Capitol Hill Blue

Mothers of American soldiers of killed in President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq joined with a constitutional lawyer before Congress Thursday to demand impeachment of the President for lying to force America into war.

Constitutional lawyer John Bonifaz told a Congressional hearing sufficient grounds exist to impeach the President for lying to Congress about the justification for the war.

"The United States House of Representatives has a constitutional duty to investigate fully and comprehensively the evidence revealed by the Downing Street memo and other related evidence, and to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to impeach George W. Bush, the President of the United States," Bonifaz said.

The explosive Downing Street memo, named for the Downing Street residence of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, shows Bush was determined to proceed with war in 2002, eight months before the war began, and played fast and loose with intelligence to boost the case before the country and the United Nations. The memo was written by a top British intelligence officer in 2002 and leaked to the British press recently. The memo has been widely reported in the British press but has been largely ignored by mainstream American media.

The hearing into implications of the memo was organized by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. with about 20 House Democrats attending. No Republicans appeared.

Witnesses included former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and Joseph Wilson, the former U.S. ambassador to several African nation, who said the memo offers more proof that Bush took advantage of a nation and Congress traumatized by the September terrorism attacks.....

PBS Official Had Aide Send Data to White House

Official Had Aide Send Data to White House
NY Times
Published: June 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, June 17 - E-mail messages obtained by investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting show that its chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, extensively consulted a White House official shortly before she joined the corporation about creating an ombudsman's office to monitor the balance and objectivity of public television and radio programs.
Skip to next paragraph
Arts & Leisure (June 19, 2005)

Mr. Tomlinson said in an interview three months ago that he did not think he had instructed a subordinate to send material on the ombudsman project to Mary C. Andrews at her White House office in her final days as director of global communications, a political appointment.

But the e-mail messages show that a month before the interview, he directed Kathleen Cox, then president of the corporation, to send material to Ms. Andrews at her White House e-mail address. They show that Ms. Andrews worked on a variety of ombudsman issues before joining the corporation, while still on the White House payroll. And they show that the White House instructed the corporation on Ms. Andrews's job title in her new post.

A senior corporation executive who is concerned about its direction under Mr. Tomlinson provided copies of the e-mail messages to The New York Times. Fearing retribution, the executive insisted on anonymity as a condition for providing the copies.

The e-mail messages are part of the evidence being collected in a broad inquiry by the inspector general of the corporation into whether Mr. Tomlinson violated any rules that require that the corporation act as a buffer between politics and programming....

Saturday, June 18, 2005

NH State GOP ordered to provide documents

State GOP ordered to provide documents
Senior Political Reporter
The Union Leader

MANCHESTER — A judge has ordered the New Hampshire Republican State Committee to provide him with all documents from an internal GOP probe of an illegal operation that jammed Democratic and firefighters union get-out-the-vote telephone banks on Election Day 2002.

Judge Philip Mangones ruled this week that by June 30, the state GOP must give him “a complete copy of all internal investigation reports and their supporting documentation.”

The Republicans had provided some documents to the court in the past, but withheld others, citing the attorney-client privilege and saying some were “work product.”

Mangones said he will review the documents in private “to determine whether the privileges asserted by (the Republicans) are well-founded.”

If he finds the documents do not contain information that falls under the attorney-client and work product privileges, Mangones is expected to allow them into evidence in a Democratic Party civil lawsuit against the Republicans filed last summer.

The suit contends the phone-jamming operation interfered with the Democrats’ constitutionally-protected rights to participate in elections by blocking their get-out-the-vote efforts.....

Friday, June 17, 2005

US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war

US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
The Independent
17 June 2005
American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq....

Destroying PBS

Molly Ivins
Creators Syndicate
Destroying PBS
Bush political operative says he'll erase bias at PBS... by inserting bias
AUSTIN -- I was watching the PBS science program "Nova" the other night and spotted the liberal bias right away. I knew it would be there because Ken Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), says the network is riddled with leftist leanings. Sure enough, in a program on tsunamis and what causes them, the show blamed it on shifting tectonic plates in the earth's surface. Then the graphic shows these two tectonic plates grinding against each other -- suddenly, the one on the left sort of falls down, and the big, aggressive plate on the right jumps on top of it, causing a killer tsunami. See? Wouldn't have happened on Fox.

I have listened patiently to years of right-wing bull about liberal bias in the media, but let us be perfectly clear about what is happening at PBS. Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. "The Three Tenors," "Antiques Roadshow," "Masterpiece Theater," "Wall Street Week" and nature programs do not have a political agenda. "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. "Washington Week in Review" is a showcase for "Inside the Beltway," conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism -- there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right. It is obvious, undeniable and happening right now. The Bush administration is introducing a political agenda to public broadcasting....

What's the Matter With Ohio?

June 17, 2005

What's the Matter With Ohio?


The Toledo Blade's reports on Coingate - the unfolding tale of how Ohio's Bureau of Workers' Compensation misused funds - deserve much more national attention than they have received so far. For one thing, it's an entertaining story that seems to get weirder by the week. More important, it's an object lesson in what happens when you have one-party rule untrammeled by any quaint notions of independent oversight.

In April, The Blade reported that the bureau, which provides financial support for workers injured on the job, had invested $50 million in Capital Coin, a rare-coin trading operation run by Tom Noe, an influential Republican fund-raiser.

At first, state officials angrily insisted that this unusual use of state funds was a good investment that had nothing to do with Mr. Noe's political connections. An accounting investigation revealed, however, that Mr. Noe's claims to be running a profitable business were fictitious: he had lost millions, and 121 valuable coins were missing.

On June 3, police raided the Colorado home of Michael Storeim, Mr. Noe's business associate, and seized hundreds of rare coins. After changing the locks, they left 3,500 bottles of wine, valued at several hundred thousand dollars, in the home's basement.

On Monday, Mr. Storeim told police that someone had broken into his house over the weekend and stolen much of the wine, along with artwork, guns, jewelry and cars. As I said, this story keeps getting weirder.

Meanwhile, The Blade uncovered an even bigger story: the Bureau of Workers' Compensation invested $225 million in a hedge fund managed by MDL Capital, whose chairman had strong political connections. When this investment started to go sour, the bureau's chief financial officer told another top agency official that he had been told to "give MDL a break."

By October 2004, state officials knew that MDL had lost almost the entire investment, but they kept the loss hidden until this month.

How could such things happen? The answer, it has become clear, lies in a web of financial connections between state officials and the businessmen who got to play with state funds.

We're not just talking about campaign contributions, although Mr. Noe's contributions ranged so widely that five of the state's seven Supreme Court justices had to recuse themselves from cases associated with the scandal. (He's also under suspicion of using intermediaries to contribute large sums, illegally, to the Bush campaign.) We're talking about personal payoffs: bargain vacations for the governor's chief of staff at Mr. Noe's Florida home, the fact that MDL Capital employs the daughter of one of the members of the workers' compensation oversight board, and more.

Now, politicians and businessmen are always in a position to do each other lucrative favors. Government is relatively clean when politicians are sufficiently afraid of scandal to resist temptation. But when a political machine controls all branches of government, and those officials charged with oversight are also reliably partisan, politicians feel safe from investigation. Their inhibitions dissolve, and they take full advantage of their position, until the scandals become too big to hide.

In other words, Ohio's state government today is a lot like Boss Tweed's New York. Unfortunately, a lot of other state governments look similar - and so does Washington.

Since their 1994 takeover of Congress, and even more so since the 2000 election, Republican leaders have sought to make their political dominance permanent. They redistricted Texas to lock in their control of the House. Through the "K Street Project" they have put lobbying firms under partisan control, starving the Democrats of campaign funds. And they are, of course, trying to pack the courts with partisan loyalists.

In effect, they're trying to turn America into a giant version of the elder Richard Daley's Chicago.

These efforts have already created an environment in which politicians from the right party and businessmen with the right connections believe, with good reason, that they have immunity.

And politicians who feel that they can exploit their position tend to do just that. It's a likely bet that the scandals we already know about, from Coingate to Tom DeLay's dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, are just the tip of the iceberg.

The message from Ohio is that long-term dominance by a political machine leads to corruption, regardless of the policies that machine follows or the ideology it claims to represent.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

JOHN DEAN on Deep Throat

Why The Revelation of the Identity Of Deep Throat Has Only Created Another Mystery
Friday, Jun. 03, 2005

The Bush Administration prosecutes government officials who leak sensitive information, even when that information is not classified -- as I noted in my column on Jonathan Randal. The Administration is also prepared to send reporters to jail when they refuse to reveal their sources to a grand jury, as I noted in another column.

I doubt the Justice Department will go after W. Mark Felt -- the ninety-one-year- old former Deputy Director of the FBI - even if he is the greatest leaker in American political history. Still, in the context of the Administration's stances on leaking, the surfacing of Deep Throat at this time is rather ironic.

Bob Woodward (and Carl Bernstein) have confirmed the Vanity Fair story identifying W. Mark Felt as their legendary Watergate source. The best kept secret in Washington, for three decades, is no more.

But this is not to say the mystery is resolved. To the contrary, while Mark Felt is alive, his memory for the details of his relationship with Woodward seems to be all but gone. So the revelation of his identity raises many new questions that it seems Felt himself will not be able to answer.

A Passing Tribute To Good Sleuthing -- Now Ended

The game of guessing the identity of Throat, which moved from the parlors of Washington to serious inquiry during the last thirty years, is over. A number of us who were fascinated by the inscrutability of it all have been forced into retirement. ...

The latest moronic Right-Wing smear attack - on torture

The latest moronic Right-Wing smear attack
by kos
Daily Kos
Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 23:58:26 PDT
TalkLeft first alerted us to the latest cause célèbre of the Right Wing Media Borg -- the effort to defend torture at all costs. And caught in the crosshairs is Sen. Durbin, who had the unmitigated gall to call it like it is:

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
To the pea brains on the Right, incapable of reading the English language in its most basic, unuanced form, they claim Durbin is calling our troops Nazis. The Wingnutosphere is making that claim. Rush is making that claim. Hannity is making that claim. Drudge is making that claim. Look to Fox News to jump on the bandwagon tomorrow.

Of course, what Durbin is saying is that such torture -- undisputed, by the way, and read from an FBI report -- is more at home in a place like Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany than in a modern Democracy.

And that's the truth. Plain and simple.

Remember when torture was bad? And getting rid of it was good? President Bush, Oct. 8 2003:

"Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers."
Scott McClellan, Dec. 10, 2003:

"There was an announcement by the Iraqi Governing Council earlier this week about the tribunal that they have set up to hold accountable members of the former regime who were responsible for three decades of brutality and atrocities. ... We know about the mass graves and the rape rooms and the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein's regime. ... We welcome their decision to move forward on a tribunal to hold people accountable for those atrocities."
President Bush, Jan. 12, 2004:

"One thing is for certain: There won't be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms."
And let's not forget, "torture" was used as a rationale for this war -- as in, we'll invade and end the torture.

Of course, none of that has happened. The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command. And Dick Durbin had the balls to say it so on the Senate floor.

And these cowards -- these people who will neither serve the cause they claim is so vital, nor urge others to serve it -- now rush to defend behavior that is indefensible?

Steve Gilliard:

I am tired of the phony bravery of these people, their cowardice shines through like a beacon. They condone abusing those in our custody but refuse to serve this country in combat, as they wish others would do.

But the larger point is this: America is supposed to have higher standards than the Nazis or Stalin, not embrace them or use them as a defense. There is no reason that we should have a gulag in the sun or be accused of torture. We should have jailed and tried these people legally. Not acted like the people we're supposed to be fighting.

One day, Americans will be subjected to this and then what will these people say "it's unfair"? Well, we tossed away our conscience and morals to achieve this end, and the result will be grim. But they won't be the ones paying it. They will be hiding behind their keyboards like the cowards they are, whining, lying and rejoicing in the suffering of others and wishing to see evem more brutality, but only from a safe distance.
John Aravosis:

Apparently, the Republicans who dominate the party today, on the radio, online, and in the halls of Congress, think that the only good American is a Stalinist, a Nazi, a fascist, or any other brand of totalitarian thug who beats the crap out of innocents because he can, because we're Amurrikans, God damn it, and if we want to throw you in jail for an eternity, with no lawyer and no charges, and torture you until your head explodes and you go absolutely insane, that's our right because, well, because FUCK YOU.

That's the thinking and the mantra of today's brand of Republicans who run the party and run the right-wing noise machine. The law is irrelevant, the norms of humanity are irrelevant. With God on our side - well, the Baptist fundamentalist God on our side, thank you - they can do no wrong.
Steve Soto:

If you consider torture legal and acceptable (even if innocent people are tortured), then Dear Leader's main post-hoc justification of the Iraq invasion it itself illegal, because Saddam Hussein would have been doing something that was legal (in your eyes - for he was only torturing "his enemies"). So, if you have a problem with torture being highlighted and publicized, then maybe it's time for you to become Saddam Hussein's lawyer. That is a more appropriate role for those who seek to condone, ignore, minimize or support torture.
And more people will chime in.

Really, what is the Right trying to accomplish here? Inflict so much pain on Durbin that others will think twice before they levy legitimate criticisms of the war? Are they so hell-bent on their political correctness that any criticisms of the war effort is considered treasonous?

Last time I checked, the American people were giving up on Bush's folly. Last time I checked, most people still think torture is wrong, worthy of condemnation. Last time I checked, the War Pundits, War Politicians, War Preachers, and 101st Fighting Keyboarders still refused to personally sacrifice for the war effort. Last time I checked, that sad lot still refused to call their own supporters to sacrifice for the war effort.

At a time when REAL support for the troops means providing them with the equipment and manpower necessary to fight the war effectively, they agitate for neither.

Instead, they try to shut down a US senator reading from an FBI report. From Bush's FBI. Because the truth hurts. So we must supress it. And we'll do it by shedding crocodile tears for the troops. Because who gives a shit about them, so long as our heroic, do-no-wrong President looks good on the evening news.

Well, I stand with Durbin. Proudly. Because opposing torture is the Right Thing, despite violating the wingnut manual of political correct speech. And the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus better be standing with him as well.

You are either for torture, or against it. Let the chips fall where they may.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why are the Democrats such weenies?

Why are the Democrats such weenies?
Posted on Tuesday, June 14 @ 10:13:27 EDT
By Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
Why are the Democrats such weenies? Howard Dean makes the unremarkable statement that the GOP is the party of white Christians, and other Democrats run and flee and say, "Oh no, oh no!" And a Republican yahoo accuses Dean of "political hate speech." Neither "white" nor "Christian" is an epithet. A glance at the videotape from last year's Republican convention indicates that both characterizations are entirely fair.
And yet some Democrats think Dean is being too confrontational. We should be nice to the lying liars or people will think we're, gasp, partisan. "Partisan" is a good thing; it's what the Founding Fathers had in mind. The problem comes when one party stays very partisan and the other party starts modifying and mollifying and trying to find some mythical friendly center. I loved Mister Rogers, but I never thought he'd make a good chairman of the Democratic Party.
So maybe lunatic liberals should keep a few things in mind. First, the Bush administration is increasingly unpopular. The latest ABC/Washington Post poll reveals that 52 percent of the American people disapprove of the way Bush is running the country. Ask specifically about Iraq, and the numbers climb -- 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the war....

Eliot Cohen, Confused Again

Without Reservation
A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)
posted 24 May 05
Eliot Cohen, Confused Again
Military Week
In the May 13th Wall Street Journal op-ed, Eliot Cohen shares his dismay that Columbia University has joined a long list of colleges and universities that will no longer host the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on their campuses.
Serving as Director for Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Paul Wolfowitz's old haunt, Cohen is also a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and is a reliable academic voice of support for the undeniably costly, generally counterproductive and often strange Bush foreign policy.
Cohen exhibits a certain intellectualized belligerence toward the rest of the world, a trait he shares with another Bushian character, John Bolton.
Cohen's current belligerence is directed against "the churlishness of Columbia's decision" and the university's disdain, one is to presume, for the military.
Professor Cohen is particularly worried that ROTC is not well-represented on elite campuses like Columbia. He reminds Columbia and other elite schools that they may be subject to the Solomon Amendment of 1996. This law allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funding from universities that do not allow ROTC or military recruiting on their campuses....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Two armies, two reporters, too much trouble in Iraq

Greg Mitchell: 'Two armies, two reporters, too much trouble in Iraq'
Posted on Monday, June 13 @ 10:06:03 EDT
This article has been read 37 times.
A remarkable Washington Post article finds Iraqi fighters singing hymns to Saddam Hussein, and these are the ones on our side. It gets worse from there.
By Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher
Just back, absurdly well-fed, from E&P's interactive media conference in New Orleans, I was about to write an entertaining little column on bloggers, journalists and their different notions of "accuracy," when I came across a Friday piece in the Washington Post by two brave and widely-honored foreign correspondents, Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru. The bloggers vs. journos column will have to wait.
The immensely significant Shadid/Fainaru piece is based on their recent (and separate) three-day journeys with American and the Iraqi forces. The Iraqi unit was selected by the U.S. military, presumably viewed as one of the best. "The journey revealed fundamental, perhaps irreconcilable differences over everything from the reluctance of Muslim soldiers to search mosques and homes to basic questions of lifestyle," and much, more more, the two men write.
Consider its opening, set in Baiji, Iraq. Keep in mind, these are the Iraqis on our side: "An hour before dawn, the sky still clouded by a dust storm, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's Charlie Company began their mission with a ballad to ousted president Saddam Hussein. 'We have lived in humiliation since you left,' one sang in Arabic, out of earshot of his U.S. counterparts. 'We had hoped to spend our life with you.'
"But the Iraqi soldiers had no clue where they were going. They shrugged their shoulders when asked what they would do. The U.S. military had billed the mission as pivotal in the Iraqis' progress as a fighting force but had kept the destination and objectives secret out of fear the Iraqis would leak the information to insurgents."
This comes just after a Washington Post/ABC News Poll, for the first time, shows that most Americans do not believe the toppling of Saddam Hussein made the United States more secure....

Core Values

Our Core Values, Part II
by kos
Daily Kos
Sun Jun 12th, 2005 at 22:29:00 PDT

Let me make one thing clear -- I'm not advocating that the party or anyone take my values outline and adopt it party-wide. It's not my role to do so, and I don't feel particularly qualified to make that sort of decision or even suggestion.

What I AM advocating is that someone DO this sort of thing. It wasn't hard for me to come up with a quick outline of my own value structure. The trick is for someone with authority to do so.

In any case, if you're new to this discussion, please read the first post on this topic two posts down below. You need that primer for this to really make sense.

Here is my original proposed values outline, based on the values that are important to me:

Smart Government
Responsive govt
Electoral Reform
Fiscal responsibility

Opposition to regulation of morality
Opposition to Patriot Act
Right to die
Medical marijuana
Consumer privacy
Freedom of/from religion
Access to contraceptives

Protecting our environment
Protecting our cultural heritage
Energy policy

Education (pre-K, primary, secondary, college)
Worker rights
Social Security
Health Care
Gender equality (same pay for same work, etc)
Affirmative action
Tort laws to protect the little guys from Big Corp
Non-regressive tax laws
Gay marriage
Fair trade laws
Small business support

US Leadership
Strong (not hollow) military
Leadership on global issues (e.g. terrorism, landmines, global warming, etc.)
Champion of human rights, at home and abroad
Leadership in science and technology (e.g. stem cells, alternative energy, etc.)
Strong United Nations/Internationalism
The biggest problem with this outline is that it's got too many values. We need this to be three or four items long. To that end, "conservation" could probably be slotted under "smart government", though it's not perfect.

Given feedback from the previous thread, people seem to think something along these lines might work better:

Responsive govt
Electoral Reform
Fiscal responsibility
Protecting our environment
Protecting our cultural heritage
Education (pre-K, primary, secondary, college)
Worker rights
Social Security
Health Care
Gender equality (same pay for same work, etc)
Affirmative action
Tort laws to protect the little guys from Big Corp
Non-regressive tax laws
Gay marriage
Fair trade laws
Small business support

Privacy or Personal Freedoms
Opposition to regulation of morality
Opposition to Patriot Act
Right to die
Medical marijuana
Consumer privacy
Freedom of/from religion
Access to contraceptives

Strong (not hollow) military
Leadership on global issues (e.g. terrorism, landmines, global warming, etc.)
Champion of human rights, at home and abroad
Leadership in science and technology (e.g. stem cells, alternative energy, etc.)
Strong United Nations/Internationalism
Energy policy
A lot of the economic security items could also be slotted under the "security" value, as in "economic and national security".

Again, I'm not going to take sides (though I'm not a big fan of "community", since I see that as too abstract for these purposes). I just think it's high time the party and its allies put together a coherent, unified, statement of values.

I don't want to have to be the one to do it. But someone better do it. And quick.

One more thing -- people want to quibble with the words used to describe these values. That's framing. I think we need values first before we can properly frame them. So whether it should be "smart government" or "effective government" is really irrelevant unless we decide that the value itself is something worth incorporating into the party's core.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Psychological warfare effort to be outsourced

Psychological warfare effort to be outsourced
Army command hires three firms to sway Afghans and Iraqis
Friday, June 10, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Special Operations Command has hired three firms to produce newspaper stories, television broadcasts and Web sites to spread American propaganda overseas.

The Tampa-based military headquarters, which oversees commandos and psychological warfare, may spend up to $100 million for the media campaign in the next five years.

The Pentagon backed away from a similar campaign in 2002.

The use of contractors in psyops is a new wrinkle. But psychological warfare expert Herb Friedman said he is not surprised.

With only one active-duty and two reserve psyops units remaining, Friedman said, "The bottom line is, they don't have the manpower."

Federal law prohibits sending propaganda to Americans, and some experts worry that psychological warfare messages, especially disinformation efforts, might blow back to American audiences via the Internet and satellite news channels.

"In this age of the Internet and instant access, it's of great concern," said Nancy Snow, a propaganda expert at California State University-Fullerton. "If you plant false stories, how can you control where that story goes? You can't."

Others question whether the money could be better spent....

UK Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’

The Sunday Times - Britain

June 12, 2005
Ministers were told of need for Gulf war ‘excuse’
Michael Smith

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Next Week's DSM Hearing about the Iraq War

Saturday :: Jun 11, 2005
Critical Issues For Conyers To Explore At Next Week's DSM Hearing
The Left coaster
As you can see from Eriposte’s fine piece below, even though the corporate conservative media has largely failed to cover the Downing Street Memo here in this country, the memo is finally getting the attention it deserves. The British media has been all over this story, to the point that Tony Blair will soon be sued by Military Families Against the War to demand an independent public inquiry into the background behind the decisions taken by Blair and Bush to take the two nations into war. Here in this country, several groups, spearheaded by have focused on getting more congressional and media attention to the memo and what it portends, namely that Bush and Blair had plans in place in the Summer of 2002 to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein regardless of what happened subsequently at the United Nations, which is contrary to what Bush told Congress and the American people.

The leading congressional Democrat who has taken up the charge to push the Downing Street Memo into public view has been Michigan Democratic congressman John Conyers, who with the support of the House Democratic leadership has scheduled a Democratic policy committee hearing for next Thursday, June 16 to take testimony and hear from witnesses on the issues of whether or not Bush planned to go to war anyway and whether or not the Bush Administration “fixed” the collection of intelligence to support a decision that had already been made in the Summer of 2002 to go to war, even if Saddam totally capitulated to Bush’s demands. Blog coordination work is being done by the BigBrassAlliance.

The White House, as might be expected, is brushing off the memo, and hiding behind Blair himself who is trying to downplay it without denying its authenticity. As usual with the White House and Bush, they will either say things like “conspiracy theories,” or “this has been answered and dealt with before”, or “numerous investigations have been done and have shown that ….” without ever directly answering the charges themselves. And the corporate conservative media lets it go at that. However, Conyers is going to force the media to pay attention to the memo by staging a news event that will package evidence for them, doing the work for a lazy and disinterested media.

The White House to date has dismissed one of the memo’s basic conclusions, that the intelligence was “fixed around the policy”, and Conyers can expect the same treatment in response next week. One way to make it more difficult for the White House to slither away this time would be for Conyers to not only focus on the intelligence, for which the administration holds many corrupted cards in its favor, but to build an argument of related events around and leading up to the period addressed by the memo to prove that in the context of other developments in the run up to the war, the memo’s contentions are quite plausible and invulnerable from White House challenge. Namely, if Conyers can build a strong argument that goes beyond the intelligence and deals with the issue of whether or not the decision had already been made to go to war, then the White House is in a more precarious position.

I’d like to suggest that Conyers focus on three issues and call these individuals as possible witnesses next week in his efforts to build a case that the decision had already been made in the summer of 2002. All three of these supporting arguments have already been covered here at the Left Coaster:

First and most damaging to me, why would the White House see a need to build a strategic information campaign using White House staff to manipulate media coverage in favor of a war months in advance of going to the UN, Congress, and the American people if the issue and decision had not already been made? Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner wrote a little-noticed but never disputed paper that outlined the steps the Bush Administration took to build what in essence was a strategic influence and disinformation campaign to manipulate the media and sway public opinion in favor of a war that Bush says he hadn’t yet decided upon. These efforts started with the creation of the Coalition Information Office by none other than Karen Hughes at about the same time the Downing Street Memo said that Bush had made up his mind. Colonel Gardiner feels that the organization was in fact put together at the time of the memo, and that the “marketing” of the war began in September when Congress returned from summer recess. Since his study came out, Colonel Gardiner has received confirmation from a number of sources including sources inside the Bush Administration that almost all of his initial conclusions were correct. Even though the whole study is chilling, pay particular attention to his material from Page 50 onward to see how the Downing Street Memo can be supported with Gardiner’s work. Perhaps Congressman Conyers can call Colonel Gardiner as a witness next week to lay out the involvement of the White House and outside GOP public relations firms in selling a war to the Congress and the American people through an intimidated and spoon-fed media, a campaign that actually commenced around the same time that the Downing Street Memo indicated a decision had already been made. And yes, I've talked with Gardiner today, and Colonel Gardiner is willing to share his information with Conyers.

Second, none other than Bob Woodward himself in his wet-kiss book “Bush at War” reported that Bush authorized Rumsfeld to move approximately $700 million from Afghanistan reconstruction to the establishment of a logistical infrastructure to support an Iraq invasion, without the required congressional notice and authority. When did this happen, as Woodward notes with a great deal of risk of legal problems for the White House? It happened in July 2002, at about the same time as the Downing Street Memo was written saying the decision had already been made by Bush, within a month of the Downing Street Memo. Perhaps Conyers can call Bob Woodward as a witness to testify about what he found in researching his book on this congressionally-unauthorized transfer of funds from Afghan reconstruction to Iraq war planning during the Summer of 2002.

And lastly, it has been reported that Bush dropped in on a White House meeting in Condi Rice’s office in March 2002, and blurted to the three startled US senators Rice was meeting with “Fuck Saddam, we’re going to take him out.” Perhaps Conyers can call the three senators as well as Michael Elliott and James Carney of Time Magazine to confirm what Bush said and did, three months before the Downing Street Memo said that a decision had already been made.

Again, the key for Conyers is not to get trapped into building his case primarily upon the fixed intelligence claim in the memo, but to build also a circumstantial case as well that supports the bigger claim that the decision had already been made by the White House to go to war in the Summer of 2002, despite what was being told to Congress and the American people.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Scandal fatigue - Republican style

June 09, 2005
It's only Thursday
Posted 1:43 pm
The carpetbagger report
There was a point, in the late 1990s, when conservatives would frequently whine about "scandal fatigue." Every time they picked up the paper, they'd say, there'd be another controversy surrounding Clinton's White House. They insisted it was time to elect a Republican to help give the country a break after years of constant outrages.

Most of these so-called scandals were utterly void of any substance. Whitewater was meaningless, while investigations into Travelgate and Filegate were pointless. Nevertheless, by way of comparison, I'd like to point out what we've learned about the Bush White House — not since January 2001, but from just this week.

* The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.

* Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.

* The Pentagon's inspector general released a report on a lucrative Air Force contract for Boeing that cost too much for planes the military didn't want. Bush, who has enjoyed generous campaign contributions from Boeing, was involved with the contract, personally asking White House aides to work out the deal and dispatching Chief of Staff Andrew Card to participate in the contract negotiations. When the inspector general's report came out, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to the Bush gang's involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing.

* Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.

* Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.

Again, these stories were published just this week — and the week's not over yet. Just as importantly, this isn't a particularly unusual week by Bush standards.

Any one of these stories could prompt congressional hearings, investigations, and massive media attention. They won't, of course, but they could.

Clinton caused "scandal fatigue"? Right phrase, wrong president.

Leadership Development

Leadership Development
Leadership Development Thoughts
by John Jackson (c) November 7, 2000

Vision Quest - "Developing Leaders"


Friends adopt the values of friends (Anderson), therefore leadership rests on relationships with shared values (Jackson)
Provide a rich and real sense of community. The sweetness of fellowship must more than make up for the blood, sweat, and tears. Community precedes service, and flows out of it. (Hybels)
3 kinds of leadership stories: Who am I? Who are we? Where are we going? (Tichy)
The most beautiful houses in the world are still in the forest. Everyone is a 10 somewhere (Cordeiro)
Leaders are conveners of teams or groups (George)
4 roles of a leader: Visionary (focus: the future), Motivator (focus: buy-in), Producer (focus: accountability), analyzer (focus: measurement)
15 Things Leaders Must Do (Galloway):
* Make Decisions
* Solve Problems
* Take Responsibility
* Have a Sense of Timing
* Get up for the Game
* Respond to a Challenge
* Lead with Enthusiasm
* Delegate/Hold Responsible
* Match People to Mission
* Focus
* Keep Others Focused
* Use Momentum
* Do What is Right
* Seize Opportunities
* Set the Sail

3 types of builders (taken from 1 Cor. 3:10): Carpenters ("hands on"), Contractors ("coordinator, expeditor), Architects ("design, envisioning) (Luecke)
Do you have a design system that brings people from the crowd into the core? Can your church turn a seeker into a servant into a shepherd?
Effective Lay Ministry involves assimilation, context, gifts discovery, matching, placement, coaching and recognition (Lay Mobilization)

Questions to ask after a first ministry experience. Was it worth your time? Did you enjoy it? Did it breath life back into you? Do you look forward to doing it again? If we needed to adjust your role, what would you like adjusted? (Hybels)
Remember the Leadership Levels! (Position, Permission, Production, People Development, Personhood) (Maxwell)
You teach what you know. You reproduce what you are
Do It, Show Them How to Do It, Do it Together, Watch Them Do it, Celebrate their Success! Help Them Help Someone Else Do it!

Team Building

Team Building: Right people in the right position for the right reason achieving the right results. "I want to do God's bidding until the day I die. And I want to do it with people I love" (Hybels)
The best recruiters for your ministry needs are satisfied servants. Volunteers want to be managed. They deserve the same level of attention as paid workers
3 A's to Remember: Attention, Affirmation, Appreciation (Galloway)

Short Bibliography:

Developing the Leaders Around You, Maxwell
Principle-Centered Leadership, Covey
Putting the One Minute Manager to Work, Blanchard & Lorber
The Coming Church Revolution, George
Seizing the Torch, Engstrom & Larson
Connecting, Stanley & Clinton
Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Eims