Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The FBI Seeks Unlimited Investigation and Intimidation of Journalists

Citing a provision of the Patriot Act, the FBI is sending letters to journalists telling them to secretly prepare to turn over their notes, e-mails and sources to the bureau.

. . .

The Bureau recently sent letters to a handful of reporters who have written stories about the Lamo case -- whether or not they have actually interviewed Lamo. The letters warn them to expect subpoenas for all documents relating to the hacker, including, apparently, their own notes, e-mails, impressions, interviews with third parties, independent investigations, privileged conversations and communications, off the record statements, and expense and travel reports related to stories about Lamo.

In short, everything.

The notices make no mention of the protections of the First Amendment, Department of Justice regulations that restrict the authority to subpoena information from journalists, or the New York law that creates a "newsman's shield" against disclosure of certain confidential information by reporters.


Betcha the FBI doesn't pursue Robert Novak about the Plume Affair with the same vigor.


Monday, September 29, 2003

Bush Doesn't Care Who Breached National Security

White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.



Rumsfeld's Secret Pentagon Slushfund Discovered

"TAMPA - The U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base inflated budget proposals at the Pentagon's request last year to hide $20-million from Congress, according to documents obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

Special Operations officials divided the money among six projects so the money would not attract attention. They also instructed their own budget analysts not to mention it during briefings with congressional aides, the documents show.

The Pentagon's inspector general has launched an investigation. House Appropriations Chairman C.W. Bill Young, R-Largo, said he will ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a hearing Tuesday whether the Pentagon intentionally deceived Congress."

. . .

It is unclear what the Pentagon intended to do with the $20-million, or what became of the money. Young surmised that the money could have been used as a contingency fund, available to Rumsfeld to use at his discretion. While $20-million is relatively modest in a Pentagon budget of almost $400-billion, Young said, if all the armed services are doing it the amount could grow significantly.

"I don't know if it's been done before," he said, "or if it's common practice with the secretary."



Republican Party seeks to draft Miller into politics

"The comedian Dennis Miller is being talked about, apparently seriously, as a Republican candidate for a statewide post. Three Republican strategists interviewed in the past week have said they want to draft Miller into politics. One, a prominent Republican operative and Schwarzenegger aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that once the recall election is over, he plans to recruit Miller to challenge Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat next year."

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Wha'choo talkin 'bout, Willis?

Bruce Willis, on a USO Tour of Iraq, lets go this smoldering turd of a lie:

"Peculiar thing back home is that the liberal media was trying to portray it as a bad war," said Willis, noting that with elections coming up, "obviously they are trying to grind their axes, get elected and trying to portray the war as unpopular."

"But being over here just a couple of days, seeing how well our troops and the allied troops are being received here, (I) think the Iraqi people are happy we're here. Children are being taken care of, starting being inoculated, starting being looked after," said Willis. "Wherever these guys go they get thumbs up. They no longer have to contend with the terrorist leader."

Willis hasn't so far had the opportunity to see or meet any Iraqis during his visit, since he has been traveling by helicopter. ...."


From CBS News Online



More Reservists Are Called Up for Duty in Iraq

The United States activated 10,000 National Guard troops today for service in Iraq and put 5,000 others on alert for call-up after an appeal for foreign military help met no immediate response.

The 30th Infantry Brigade, from North Carolina, and the 39th Infantry Brigade, from Arkansas, each with 5,000 soldiers, were ordered to join the active duty force on Oct. 1 and Oct. 12, respectively. They will undergo about three months of training before going to Iraq early next year for 12 months.



Iraqi resistance enjoys great popular support

A recent report in the Washington Post backs up the rumours I heard in Baghdad that the Iraqi resistance to occupation is so strong that the authorities are now actively recruiting some of the brutal officers of the security and armed forces that Saddam himself used to suppress the people. If true, the US administration, in the name of fighting the so-called remnants of Saddam's regime, is now busy trying to rebuild the shattered edifice of Saddam's tyrannical state - a tyranny which they had backed and armed with WMD for many years. One of the popular sayings I repeatedly heard in Baghdad, describing the relations between the US and Saddam's regime, is "Rah el sani', ija el ussta" - "gone is the apprentice, in comes the master."

From the Guardian

SCANDAL!! After Leaving The Army, Wesley Clark Worked in The Private Sector!

From MSNBC

STARTING just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Clark sought out dozens of government and industry officials on behalf of Acxiom Corp., a data powerhouse that maintains names, addresses and a wide array of personal details about nearly every adult in the United States and their households, according to interviews and documents.

Clark, a Democrat who declared himself a presidential candidate 10 days ago, joined Acxiom’s board of directors in December 2001. He earned $300,000 from Acxiom last year and was set to receive $150,000, plus potential commissions, this year, according to financial disclosure records. He owns several thousand shares of Acxiom stock worth more than $67,000.


Didn't anyone tell Clark that only Republicans can use their connections for profit?

Friday, September 26, 2003

Talking Points Memo: Another Bush Bigwig On The Iraq Gravytrain

From Joshua Micah Marshall

"Let me introduce you to New Bridge Strategies, LLC. New Bridge is 'Helping to Rebuild a New Iraq' as their liner note says.

Here's the company's new blurb from their website:


New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq . . .

A 'unique company'? You could say that. Who's the Chairman and Director of New Bridge? That would be Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's longtime right-hand-man and until about six months ago his head of FEMA. Before that of course he was the president's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and campaign manager for Bush-Cheney 2000.

Allbaugh was part of the president's so-called 'Iron Triangle' -- the other two being Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. And now Allbaugh's running an outfit that helps your company get the sweetest contracts in Iraq? That sound right to you? Think he'll have any special pull?



Poverty rises, income levels fall

The ranks of the nation’s poor jumped 12.1 percent in 2002 to 34.6 million people, as the struggling U.S. economy pushed more Americans over the poverty line, the Census Bureau reported Friday. It was the second-straight yearly increase in the poverty rate, as Americans’ income levels also kept falling.

One Year In Iraq: $87 Billion. Open Ended No-Bid Halliburton Contract: Priceless.

"A new curriculum for training an Iraqi army for $164 million. Five hundred experts, at $200,000 each, to investigate crimes against humanity. A witness protection program for $200,000 per Iraqi participant. A computer study for the Iraqi postal service: $54 million.

Such numbers, buried in President Bush's $20.3 billion request for Iraq's reconstruction, have made some congressional Republicans nervous, even furious. Although the GOP leadership has tried to unite publicly around its president, cracks are beginning to show... "

Congress Finds The Obvious: Cheney has Financial Ties to Halliburton

A Congressional Research Service report released yesterday concluded that federal ethics laws treat Vice President Cheney’s annual deferred compensation checks and unexercised stock options as continuing financial interests in the Halliburton Co.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Gephardt Calls Bush a "Miserable Failure"

"With one phrase Dick Gephardt has defined the issue to be decided next November. Can a "miserable failure" of a president win re-election? Bush's victory would testify to a civic failure more dangerous to the American future than any policies implemented or continued during a second Bush term. A majority would have demonstrated that democratic accountability is finished. That you can fail in everything and still be re-elected president.

You can preside over the most catastrophic failure of intelligence and national defense in history. Can fire no one associated with this fatal chain of blunders and bureaucratic buck-passing. Can oppose an inquest into September 11 for more than a year until pressure from the relatives of those killed on that day becomes politically toxic. Can name Henry Kissinger, that mortician of truth, to head the independent commission you finally accede to. You can start an unnecessary war that kills hundreds of Americans and as many as 7,000 Iraqi civilians—adjusted for the difference in population, the equivalent of 80,000 Americans. Can occupy Iraq without a plan to restore traffic lights, much less order. Can make American soldiers targets in a war of attrition conducted by snipers, assassins, and planters of remote-control bombs—and taunt the murderers of our young men to "bring it on." Can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nation building—and pass the bill to America's children. (Asked to consider rescinding your tax cut for the top one percent of taxpayers for one year in order to fund the $87 billion you requested from Congress to pay for the occupation of Iraq, your Vice President said no; that would slow growth.) You can lose more jobs than any other President since Hoover. You can cut cops and after-school programs and Pell Grants and housing allowances for the poor to give tax cuts to millionaires. You can wreck the nation's finances, running up the largest deficit in history. You can permit 17,000 power plants to increase their health-endangering pollution of the air. You can lower the prestige of the United States in every country of the world by your unilateral conduct of foreign policy and puerile "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric. Above all, you can lie the country into war and your lies can be exposed—and, if a majority prefers ignorance to civic responsibility, you can still be reelected."



Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Bribery By Any Other Name

'GIVE OR TAKE a couple of nouns -- 'bribery' and 'fraud,' to be precise -- here are the facts behind what Senator Edward Kennedy had to say last week about the mess in Iraq.The secrecy surrounding the way President Bush is spending military billions appears to have a purpose, one that has nothing to do with keeping valuable intelligence from our enemies. In addition to keeping secret the actual expenditures for specific activities, the president is also keeping secret the precise destinations of the dollars, one of which just happens to be the treasuries of other countries. One example is the 'international' division of troops on the scene, nominally led by the Poles. As far as anyone can determine, not a dime of the costs associated with this division's presence in Iraq is being paid for by any of the countries participating in it. The United States is paying all the freight, and those troops would not be in Iraq -- their governments would not have sent them -- if it weren't.'
Pundits want to make Clark a Big Liar, too. This time, will the good guys complain?

"(L)ying liars are very busy trying to make Wesley Clark a liar, emulating the winning strategy they pursued in their trashing of Gore. How fake are our current conservative “pundits?” Here was the feckless and phony George Will, telling the world in the Washington Post—that Wesley Clark, like Al Gore, is a liar"

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Saddam Attempts to Pay U.S. for Sanctuary in Belarus

'Ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had been in secret negotiations with US forces in Iraq for the past nine days, a British tabloid newspaper said today. According to the Sunday Mirror report, Saddam was demanding safe passage to the former Soviet republic of Belarus in exchange for information on weapons of mass destruction and his bank accounts. US President George W Bush was being kept up to date on the talks by his national security adviser Condoleeza Rice who was coordinating negotiations led by US general Ricardo Sanchez, the Sunday Mirror said.'
This Little Nugget Was Buried in a Story about a U.S. Military Attack in Iraq

In Baghdad, Iraq's U.S.-picked Governing Council issued a decree Tuesday temporarily barring journalists from two of the Middle East's most popular Arab satellite news channels from government buildings and news conferences. The council said it suspected that Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya television were aware of attacks on American troops before they occurred.


Journalist claims proof of WMD lies (September 23, 2003)

A television report by (Australian investigative journalist) John Pilger aired on British screens overnight said US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice confirmed in early 2001 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and was no threat.

But after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 that year, Pilger claimed Rice said the US "must move to take advantage of these new opportunities" to attack Iraq and claim control of its oil.



Monday, September 22, 2003

White House Threatens Trade Sanctions for European Safety Tests

'President George Bush is mounting an intensive campaign to force European countries to drop safety tests expected to save thousands of lives each year... The documents -- which include diplomatic cables signed by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell -- show that the Bush administration has threatened Europe with trade sanctions if it goes ahead with the tests, which are designed to protect workers and the public from highly toxic chemicals.'
Bush Administration Undermines Its Own Scientists on Global Warming

'White House officials have undermined their own government scientists' research into climate change to play down the impact of global warming

. . .

They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue.

. . .

Former EPA climate policy adviser Jeremy Symons said morale at the agency had been devastated by the administration's tactics. He painted a picture of scientists afraid to conduct research for fear of angering their White House paymasters. 'They do good research,' he said. 'But they feel that they have a boss who does not want them to do it. And if they do it right, then they will get hit or their work will be buried.' Symons left the EPA in April 2001 and now works for the National Wildlife Federation as head of its climate change programme. The Bush administration's attitude was clear from the beginning, he said, and a lot of people were working to ensure that the President did nothing to address global warming.'

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Bush Okay With Some Terrorism

'A Colombian proposal to amnesty leaders of right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for some of the worst massacres of the country's decades-long civil war has been strongly assailed by a major U.S. human-rights researcher. In a release issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Robin Kirk, the author of More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America's War in Colombia, called on the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to cut off aid to the South American country if the proposal is adopted.

. . .

The Bush administration, Uribe's biggest foreign booster, has not commented publicly on the proposal, but the New York Times reported Monday that it had provided advice to Bogotá on drafting legislation that would implement the scheme's main components.'

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Guard Troops To Stay In Iraq For 1.5 year Tours

National Guard and reserve units sent to Iraq will not be staying the promised six months to one year. Instead, the Pentagon is ordering them to stay a year and a half. The longer tours are putting Bay Area employers and families in financial jeopardy.

. . .

In the past 24 hours, families have been learning by e-mail that their loved ones now won't be home till next May.

Kathy Rarang fiancee of one of the deployed troops says, "A couple were on the Web sharing they were in tears when they had to share it with their kids, their total frustration, disappointment, anger, confusion, chaos - it's really stressful."

. . .

Some National Guard troops are coming home earlier. Congress is investigating complaints that they are from states that supported the Bush election campaign.


PENTAGON STONEWALLS RELEASE OF KELLOGG, BROWN & ROOT DOCUMENTS ON IRAQI OIL CONTRACTS

Halliburton’s “KBR” Granted Contract Options for Up to $7 Billion Over 5 Years. “National Security” Claimed for Withholding Justification, Approval and E-Mails Concerning “Sole Source” Contract to KBR.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, said today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has refused to produce records, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), pertaining to the decision to grant “sole source” contracts to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (“KBR”). Sole source contracts are awarded to a company without having to go through a competitive bidding process.

Vice President Richard B. Cheney was Halliburton’s chief executive and chairman from 1995 to 2000, when he stepped down to be President George W. Bush’s running mate. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently investigating Halliburton's 1998 decision to change the way it accounted for revenue on cost-overrun projects.



Robert Fiske on Colin Powell's Excellent Bagdad Adventure


'Mr Powell - who never ventured outside the barbed wire and checkpoints yesterday - wanted 'a little more time, attention and energy' directed at 'the more positive stories . Which is presumably why the occupation authorities no longer even distribute their overnight security warnings to humanitarian organizations in Baghdad. If they did the reports would show that US forces are now being attacked up to 50 times every night, that missiles are being fired at US planes almost every day, that neither Baghdad nor Basra airports are safe enough to open .'
What Can $87 Billion Buy?

"On September 7th, President Bush asked Congress for an additional $87 billion for the war in Iraq, acknowledging that the engagement in Iraq is going to cost many hundreds of billions of dollars. This was a surprise considering that prior to the war, the administration dismissed such estimates, and even fired its top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, for suggesting those estimates were correct. To get some perspective, here are some real-life comparisons about what $87 billion means.

$87b Is More Than The Combined Total Of All State Budget Deficits In The United States

$87b Is Rougly The Total Of Two Years Worth Of All U.S. Unemployment Benefits

$87b Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs $26,363 Each

$87b Is More Than Double The Total Amount The Government Spends On Homeland Security

$87b Is 7 Times What The Government Spends On Title I For Low-Income Schools

$87b Is 87 Times The Amount The Federal Government Spends On After School Programs

$87b Is About 9 Times What The Federal Government Spends On Special Education

$87b Is More Than 10 Times What The Government Spends On All Environmental Protection

$87b Is 8 Times The Total For Pell Grants -- The Major College Program In The U.S.

$87b Is More Than The Total Cost Of The First 3 Years Of The Medicare Pres. Drug Proposal



U.S. Holding 10,000 Prisoners in Iraq

'US officials have admitted they are holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq, double the number previously reported, including six claiming to be Americans and two who say they are British.

'They didn't fit into any category,' said Brigadier General Janis Karpinski of the 3,800 extra people who have now been classified as 'security detainees.'

'We got an order from the Secretary of Defence (Donald Rumsfeld) to categorise them' about a month ago, she said, but gave few details about who these detainees were. "
History Gives Way to Images of Fearless Leader

State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled.

There was an original political cartoon from the Jefferson era showing Britain and France pick-pocketing the Americans; there were pictures of negotiations with Indian tribes over land; President Woodrow Wilson at Versailles; former secretary of state Elihu Root somewhere; Roosevelt and Churchill signing the Atlantic Charter; former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in cowboy boots at Jackson Hole; a splendid shot of the old State Department building; and a photo of President Ronald Reagan at a meeting with a very young Colin L. Powell seated behind him.

Then they were gone. And what was put up in their place? What else? A George W. Bush family album montage of 21 large photos of the president as diplomat. He's speaking at the United Nations and meeting with foreign leaders. There are several shots of Bush with first lady Laura Bush -- exiting a plane, touring the Forum in Rome and visiting Japan. (There's one of just Laura Bush and Jordan's Queen Noor at a U.N. conference.) There's one of Bush meeting in happier days with his very good friend Jacques Chirac, president of France, and another with his even better friend, Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of Germany. There's a fine shot of him yucking it up in Beijing with former Chicom boss Jiang Zemin, aka the Robin Williams of the Middle Kingdom.



Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Privatization Plan for Benefit of Energy Cronies

To conservative Republicans, especially those from the West, few things are more sacred than property rights. Their attitude is usually that the government, especially the federal government, should keep its hands off private land.

But as they negotiate a new national energy policy, House Republicans and the Bush administration want to grant the federal government substantial new power to allow the seizure of property — even if it means overruling state and local authorities — to establish corridors for high-capacity interstate power lines.




Sieg Hiel, Y'all!

Monday, September 15, 2003

American troops forced to buy own wartime gear

"Last Christmas, Mike Corcoran sent his mother an unusual Christmas list: He wanted night-vision goggles, a global positioning system and a short-wave radio. Corcoran, then a Marine sergeant in Afghanistan, wanted the goggles so he could see on patrols. They cost about $2,000 each.

According to an Army internal report released earlier this summer, many ground troops like Corcoran decided to dip into their own pockets to get the equipment they needed to fight in Afghanistan and in Iraq. "
What a Suprise: Prosecutors Implimenting an Overly Broad Definition of "Terrorism"

"Sept. 14, 2003 | PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- In the two years since law enforcement agencies gained fresh powers to help them track down and punish terrorists, police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new laws not on al-Qaida cells but on people charged with common crimes.

. . .

Civil liberties and legal defense groups are bothered by the string of cases, and say the government soon will be routinely using harsh anti-terrorism laws against run-of-the-mill lawbreakers.

"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."


Sunday, September 14, 2003

New Executive Order Places All Iraqi State Assets Under U.S. Treasury Control

It's the logical final step for the Bush marauders before sending Powell on bended knee to the U.N. Click Here for the text of Executive Order 13315, issued August 28, 2003.
Nothing to See Here

"London: After failing to get any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US and Britain have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on the controversial issue, media reported today. Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400 scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so far ended in failure, The Sunday Times claimed in its report."
Casual Deception

'The true scale of American casualties in Iraq is revealed today by new figures obtained by The Observer, which show that more than 6,000 American servicemen have been evacuated for medical reasons since the beginning of the war, including more than 1,500 American soldiers who have been wounded, many seriously. The figures will shock many Americans, who believe that casualties in the war in Iraq have been relatively light. Recent polls show that support for President George Bush and his administration's policy in Iraq has been slipping.'



Say Hello to My Butt Monkey

CAMPAIGNERS hope to halt an as yet unannounced visit to Britain by US President George W Bush this autumn, by giving him the bum’s rush.

Tim Ireland, the organiser of the web-based campaign “Bare Your Bum at Bush” is calling for thousands of UK citizens to pledge to undermine the visit by “mooning” at the American leader at every opportunity.



Now, If We Can Just Broaden the Definition of Terror A Little . . .

". . . (I)n a plan announced this week to expand counterterrorism powers, President Bush adopted a very different tack. In a three-point presidential plan that critics are already dubbing Patriot Act II, Mr. Bush is seeking broad new authority to allow federal agents — without the approval of a judge or even a federal prosecutor — to demand private records and compel testimony.

Mr. Bush also wants to expand the use of the death penalty in crimes like terrorist financing, and he wants to make it tougher for defendants in such cases to be freed on bail before trial. These proposals are also sure to prompt sharp debate, even among Republicans.

Opponents say that the proposal to allow federal agents to issue subpoenas without the approval of a judge or grand jury will significantly expand the law enforcement powers granted by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And they say it will also allow the Justice Department — after months of growing friction with some judges — to limit the role of the judiciary still further . . ."




Albright Interview in Time

"Frankly, if there was a President Gore, we wouldn't be in this particular mess. But we are, and we cannot fail. I very much hope there will be a U.N. resolution that makes clear the U.S. has military command but that would set up a U.N. high representative to coordinate the political and humanitarian things the U.N. does very well."

Much more good stuff from Albright.
Bush Resignation Hailed by World Leaders

"Let's face it: I have held a title which I did not win, and for which I have proven unqualified. You know it. And I know it."

An unusually funny Greg Palast.