Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Bush Family Coup
Son revisits the sins of the father on America
by James Ridgeway
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The 9-11 attacks provided the rationale for what amounts to a Bush family coup against the Constitution.
From the outset, President George Bush used 9-11 to reorganize the federal government and increase its reach far beyond any existing law to delve into the lives of innocent, ordinary people. The new powers allowed the government to arrest them at will and to subject them to endless incarceration without judicial review. Some people were sent abroad to be tortured for crimes they had nothing to do with. Who knows how many people have been tortured in American jails? When government employees within the intelligence community sought to protest, the government fired them and made sure they could never get another job in their areas of expertise. This extraordinary program of spying on Americans, much of which was carried out in fishing expeditions under the Patriot Act, has the makings of a consistent and long-range policy to wreck constitutional government.
It is little wonder both left and right have come together to fight Bush and may yet jettison the Patriot Act. Revelations of the domestic spy operation, with its secret wiretaps, ought to supply sufficient evidence to impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and launch criminal prosecutions of the top federal officials involved in carrying out the program. After all, these people are directly engaged in overthrowing constitutional government. How did this all come about? ...
Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program
WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 - The top deputy to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft refused two years ago to approve important parts of the secret program that allows domestic eavesdropping without warrants, prompting two leading White House aides to try to win the needed approval from Mr. Ashcroft himself while he was hospitalized after a gall bladder operation, according to officials knowledgeable about the episode.
With Mr. Ashcroft recuperating from gall bladder surgery in March 2004, his deputy, James B. Comey, who was then acting as attorney general, was unwilling to give his certification to crucial aspects of the classified program, as required under the procedures set up by the White House, said the officials, who asked for anonymity because the program is classified and they are not authorized to discuss it publicly.
That prompted two of President Bush's top aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now the attorney general - to make an emergency visit to George Washington University Hospital to review the program with Mr. Ashcroft during what aides have described as a difficult recovery, the officials said.
The White House and Mr. Ashcroft, through spokesmen, declined to comment Saturday on the emergency meeting. "As the president has stated, the intelligence activities that have been under way to prevent future terrorist attacks have been approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department," said Jeannie Mamo, a White House spokeswoman...
Fawn Hall Republicans
by Armando
Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 03:52:18 PM PDT
Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary during the Iran Contra Scandal, said in her testimony during the Congressional investigation of Iran Contra:
There were "times when you have to go above the written law."....
Vets get in races to fight GOP
War experience touted for Dems. Veterans for a Secure America fields candidates for Congress nationwide, including two in Colorado.
By Jim Hughes Denver Post Staff Writer

More than 30 Iraq and Persian Gulf War veterans have entered congressional races across the country as Democrats, hoping to capitalize on their military experience to topple the incumbent Republican majority.

In Colorado, two former military men, Jay Fawcett and Bill Winter, are vying for the House seats of two strong, entrenched Republicans: Rep. Joel Hefley of the 5th Congressional District and Rep. Tom Tancredo of the 6th Congressional District, respectively.

"Do we understand military and foreign affairs? You bet," Fawcett said. "Most of us have been to the point where you get a direct dose of military and foreign affairs, mostly in the category of small-caliber weapons. But we understand that that is just one aspect of national policy."...
I remember in one of the '96 debates Bob Dole used the phrase, "Democratic wars", to castigate the extreme policy of Bill Clinton.
Is it more sad, funny or tragic that Republicans say shit like that? Or that it makes sense to their kool-aid drinking zombie followers?
Many excellent essays (in pdf) at the OLSON/NOW documents page. I particularly like REPUBLICS OF POETRY by Ammiel Alcalay:
Quote from Michael Ware of TIME magazine:
"I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting. "

Friday, December 30, 2005

The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail
Nonprofit Group Linked to Lawmaker Was Funded Mostly by Clients of Lobbyist
By R. Jeffrey SmithWashington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 31, 2005; A01
The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group...
At World O' Crap:
Ultimate Wingnut Finalists
Based on your votes, here are your finalists for the coveted title of "Ultimate Wingnut of 2005."
Steve Martin weighs in on a very weighty matter:

Leap Second Lovers are Traitors says Bill O'Reilly

"This year’s leap second is an assault on the American public," says commentator Bill O’Reilly. "The reason the leap second is even being proposed is because of America Haters, because of Iraqi hate mongers, and let’s be honest, Shiites. Why would you add a second to the year unless you’re an anti-American hate monger?
I remember liberals at a party saying, ‘let’s add a second to the year’ and I was the only one who spoke up against it. Why would they want to add a second to the year? Because it gives them a second longer to hate Bush.
“Look, look, look, look. A leap second is a denial of everything American, of everything good, of everything moral. They’re saying we need this seconds because the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the earth, well this is the no spin zone. So we don’t need a leap second. Though I would rather have a leap second than some of these hate-mongers who go around hating even their own ideas! They need to hate their own ideas so much that you have many liberals proposing the leap second, which is an idea that they hate, yet, they propose...

Lobbyist, Prosecutors Said Close to Deal
By TONI LOCY, Associated Press Writer
Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff consulted briefly Friday with a federal judge in Miami as they put the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The plea agreement would secure the lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.
Abramoff and a former partner were indicted in Miami in August on charges of conspiracy and fraud for allegedly lying about their assets to help secure financing to purchase a fleet of gambling boats.
For the past two weeks, pressure has been intensifying on Abramoff to strike a deal with prosecutors since his former business partner, Adam Kidan, pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy in connection with the 2000 SunCruz deal.
Abramoff's cooperation would be a boon to an ongoing Justice Department investigation of congressional corruption, possibly helping prosecutors build criminal cases against up to 20 lawmakers and their staff members...
The Bush administration is preparing its NATO allies for a possible military strike against suspected nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year, according to German media reports, reinforcing similar earlier suggestions in the Turkish media.
The Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel this week quoted "NATO intelligence sources" who claimed that the NATO allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. This "all options are open" line has been President George W Bush's publicly stated policy throughout the past 18 months.
But the respected German weekly Der Spiegel notes "What is new here is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year." ...

Criminal Gut Bucket Denny Hastert

Washington poised for revelations from top lobbyist
Fri Dec 30,12:33 PM ET
The political establishment here is on edge as a former top lobbyist embroiled in a wide-ranging corruption scandal appears poised to reveal some dark political secrets.
Jack Abramoff, a Republican activist for 20 years and a generous donor to President George W. Bush's election and reelection campaigns, is accused of fraud in a criminal trial due to begin in Miami, Florida, on January 9.
Arguably Washington's biggest influence peddler before his indictment, Abramoff, who has made millions from his lobbying activities, is facing charges in connection with the purchase of SunCruz Casinos, a fleet of casino boats.
But the former lobbyist is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with Justice Department prosecutors and his insider revelations could rock the political establishment in the nation's capital.
Such a deal would likely see Abramoff, 47, serve a reduced prison term in return for a guilty plea and an agreement to testify against former associates in related fraud and bribery cases.
The Washington Post, which has reportedly extensively about Abramoff, this week described him as the "central figure in what could become the biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations."
According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, 210 current members of Congress have received contributions from Abramoff, his Indian tribe clients or SunCruz Casinos since 1999.
One top recipient was House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who received 2,500 dollars from Abramoff and 66,500 dollars from Indian tribes that were Abramoff's clients...


Interrogation Scene by Allesandro Magnasco

Thursday, December 29, 2005

President Bush's "Brownie" quote wins award
Thu Dec 29, 2005 04:43 PM ET
By Arthur Spiegelman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Call it the wrong phrase at the wrong time but "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush's most memorable phrase of 2005.
The ill-timed praise of a now disgraced agency head became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and added to the president's reputation for verbal gaffes and clumsy turns of phrase.
Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors language use, says Bush's statement in support of the then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be remembered for years to come.
"The 'Brownie' quote leads our 2005 list of Bushisms -- memorable phrases or new words coined by the president," Payack said, adding that Bush may be the foremost White House creator of new words, citing such past efforts as "misunderestimate" (to seriously underestimate) and "embetter" (to make emotionally better)...
Leahy wants to know about Pentagon spying on protests
COLCHESTER, Vt. -- Sen. Patrick Leahy wants the Defense Department to give him the details about two Vermont anti-war protests that were monitored by government officials.
Leahy, a Democrat, said Vermont had a long tradition of peaceful political protest.
"I want to know the extent of it. I want to know under what conceivable, conceivable legal justification they are doing it," Leahy told Vermont Public Radio.
"And even if they could legally justify it, what dunderhead policy reason (is there) for doing it," he said. "And again, I'd like to know how much it cost. The Department of Defense says we don't have enough money to get the kind of armor and protection our troops need in Iraq, but we've got money to go around and spy on Quaker meetings?" ...
Do you think it was because he makes sense like this that Dick Cheney wanted Leahy to perform perverse anatomical impossibilities? Or was it because Dick Cheney is a deviant and stays up late into the night, every night, thinking about such things?
Creep yourself out:

Bolton Watch to be Launched in Early 2006
This is just so sad and discouraging. When I read stories like this I always wonder, if these folks don't know very basic facts about current events what do they know? It's obvious they're not paying any attention to what's going on in the world. What are they paying attention to? How can anyone be happy being this lame?

Many Americans Still Believe Hussein Had Links to al Qaeda

Sizeable minorities of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had "strong links to al Qaeda," a Harris Interactive poll shows, though the number has fallen substantially this year.
About 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to the online poll of 1,961 adults.
However, all of these beliefs have declined since February of this year, when 64% of those polled believed Mr. Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda and 46% said Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11. At that time, more than a third said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and 44% said several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis.
Currently, 56% of adults believe Iraqis are better off now than they were under Mr. Hussein, down from 76% in February. Nearly half of those polled say they believe Iraq, under Mr. Hussein, was a threat to U.S. security, down from 61% in February...
Key Enron figure pleads guilty

By Jeff Franks

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Enron Corp.'s former chief accountant, Richard Causey, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to securities fraud in exchange for a possible seven-year jail sentence for his role in the 2001 collapse of the power-trading giant.

Causey had been scheduled to face trial next month with former Enron chief executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, but now is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors against his former bosses as part of his plea bargain...
Advice to an imaginary son:
Son, never get involved in a criminal enterprise. But if you do, be a bank robber. Don't carry a weapon, never hurt anyone, do it completely on your own and never tell anyone.
If you get involved with others they're going to be criminals and you just can't trust those f__kers. They'll turn on you and rat you out.

The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff
How a Well-Connected Lobbyist Became the Center of a Far-Reaching Corruption Scandal

Saturday, December 03, 2005

How long before the 'stone wall' topples? Are Bush's 'men' tougher than Nixon's? I don't think so...I'm not even sure it would be accurate to describe some of them as men...
None of this would have happened with Albert Gore as President. I think we should go back to counting ALL of the votes, hmmm?

White House CIA leak investigation still ongoing, prosecutor hints

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US special counsel probing a politically explosive CIA leak case signalled he was not ready to wrap up the investigation which has already toppled a top White House aide. The case, over the alleged White House outing of CIA spy Valerie Plame because her husband was a prominent critic of the US invasion of Iraq, is fuelling the controversy over the Bush administration's rationale for war against Saddam Hussein.
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby has already pleaded not guilty to five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements, arising from the probe. After the charges forced Libby to resign his White House job, the lawyer for Bush's chief political aide Karl Rove said Rove has been told he is still under investigation in the two-year probe.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's comments contained in court papers filed Friday will fuel more speculation he may still be mulling new charges in the case. Responding to a Wall Street Journal petition to have still-secret details of his investigation released, Fitzgerald said in his court filing that some grand jury testimony must stay secret to protect the integrity of the probe.Fitzgerald called for continued secrecy to ensure that prospective witnesses "come forward voluntarily and will testify fully and frankly, and to prevent any efforts to obstruct the investigation," he wrote. He also said some documents identifying witnesses who testified to a grand jury, who had not been identified publicly and who had not been and may never be charged, should also be kept under wraps...
FBI Is Taking Another Look at Forged Prewar Intelligence
By Peter Wallsten, Tom Hamburger and Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON — The FBI has reopened an inquiry into one of the most intriguing aspects of the pre-Iraq war intelligence fiasco: how the Bush administration came to rely on forged documents linking Iraq to nuclear weapons materials as part of its justification for the invasion.The documents inspired intense U.S. interest in the buildup to the war — and they led the CIA to send a former ambassador to the African nation of Niger to investigate whether Iraq had sought the materials there. The ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, found little evidence to support such a claim, and the documents were later deemed to have been forged...

Friday, December 02, 2005


Breaking: Another Civilian Contractor was under investigation for Homicide in '04
C&L has obtained a document that outlines an incident against two Triple Canopy employees:
"Two employees of a PDS Team from Triple Canopy were under investigation for murdering two Iraq truck drivers. When the employees were questioned on the Iraq side of the Jordanian border, they said that they had encountered no problems. The customs officer inquired why there were one hundred 5.56 rounds found at the site of a reported incident where two Iraq drivers were found dead. The document says that the two were released after 9 hours. Read the rest of the document here."
Lobbyist's Role in Hiring Aides Is Investigated
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 - With a federal corruption case intensifying, prosecutors investigating Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist, are examining whether he brokered lucrative jobs for Congressional aides at powerful lobbying firms in exchange for legislative favors, people involved in the case have said.
The attention paid to how the aides obtained jobs occurs as Mr. Abramoff is under mounting pressure to cooperate with prosecutors as they consider a case against lawmakers. Participants in the case, who insisted on anonymity because the investigation is secret, said he could try to reach a deal in the next six weeks.
Many forces are bearing down on Mr. Abramoff. Last week, his closest business partner, Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in exchange for cooperating in the inquiry, being run by an interagency group, into whether money and gifts were used in an influence-peddling scandal that involved lawmakers...
SENATE INTEL REPORT: Phase Two: Still Waiting:C'mon Roberts you said you were gonna clear things up for us:

...Feith and the Office of Special Plans
Part of the delay is due to resistance from the Pentagon regarding its ultra-secretive Office of Special Plans (OSP). The group was set up by then Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Doug Feith. OSP was considered by many Defense Department officers and staff to be highly paranoid, secretive cabal of ideologues bent on creating a war with Iraq.
The group was tasked with finding intelligence that fit the administration’s anti-Iraq policy.
The Pentagon has specifically refused to address Feith's role and the activities of OSP.
Members of OSP included Larry Franklin, now charged with conspiracy to leak classified and defense information to a Washington pro-Israel lobby; Iran Contra player Michael Ledeen, hired by Feith as a consultant; and Harold Rhode, a staunch anti-Muslim said to have been directly involved in purging the DOD of anyone opposing the anti-Iraq policy who Feith also brought on as a consultant.
Other, “visiting,” players in the group included the now-discredited German intelligence source , “Curveball”; Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, who fed bogus intelligence to the Pentagon and U.S. papers; and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who conveyed Chalabi’s falsehoods to the American body politic.
Under orders from Feith, Ledeen, Rhode and Franklin made un-authorized trips to meet with Manucher Ghorbanifar, another Iran Contra figure, in Rome and Paris in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The meetings have yet to be explained, but some suspect they are linked to the Niger forgeries...
It's true. Depending on how, where and if people get current news they can sound like absolute idiots. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but NOT to their own facts. To wit this:

... One in five Americans say that conservative media -- talk radio and/or Fox News Channel -- is their primary source of information. These people, as JABBS has previously reported, are woefully misinformed. For two days, I was one of those people...
... In this alternate universe, most everything is going smoothly and as planned in Iraq. In this alternate universe, we are fighting to provide Iraqis with freedoms, but we lambaste war critics for expressing those same freedoms in the U.S.
The key is providing listeners with a lack of actual information. Opinions are stacked on top of opinions. We don't hear audio clips of Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. We hear Sean Hannity describe what they said -- couched in such a way as to make them or anyone else seem wholly un-American.
One in five Americans are woefully misinformed by conservative "media." For two days, I got a first-hand understanding why. . .
Bad news
December 2, 2005
THE BUSH administration undermines the democracy it purports to be building in Iraq when it trashes the principles of a free press. Reports in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times on how the US government pays Iraqi journalists to write, and newspapers to publish, pro-American pieces without naming the source, expose an ethical breach stunning in its callous disregard for the truth.
Then again, maybe it shouldn't be so stunning, given that the Bush administration has disdained open journalistic inquiry since its earliest days and has used the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war to claim national security as an excuse for secrecy and the foisting of propaganda on US citizens.
This year the Government Accountability Office found that the Education Department engaged in illegal ''covert propaganda" when it hired conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, paying him $240,000 to promote the ''No Child Left Behind" law on his radio and TV programs.
The White House also provided media credentials to Jeff Gannon, a conservative blogger with little journalistic training, to ask softball pro-Bush questions at news briefings.
While Washington politics might be considered one big propaganda machine in its promotion of various agendas, most players -- and the public -- know the difference between spin and deception. Having someone masquerading as a reporter or pretending to do an interview is deceit.
Paying to have US government-written ''news stories" published in the Iraqi press takes deceit to a new level. The LA Times reported that some newspapers ran the pro-US pieces along with, and indistinguishable from, their own accounts of the war. Other papers labeled the pieces ''advertising" but did not say where they originated.
The Los Angeles paper reported that publications were paid as much as $1,500 for running stories that had been translated into Arabic by the Lincoln Group, a Washington public relations agency that has a contract with the Pentagon. The New York Times reported that Iraqi journalists were paid to write stories, and that stories written by US troops included copyrighted material without attribution. One story, which lifted paragraphs whole from an Arabic newspaper in London, omitted a quote critical of American reconstruction in Iraq.
The bruising irony of these pathetic efforts, of course, is that Bush claims he is attempting to export democracy at the same time that his administration is corrupting the news, making a mockery of the free press that is a cornerstone of democracy. These are the tactics not of a free society but of tyrants such as the one Bush deposed in the name of freedom.

CASTLES IN THE AIR by Isabelle De Steiger

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush in Iraq, Slouching Toward Genocide
By Robert Parry
December 1, 2005
Despite pretty words about democracy and freedom, George W. Bush’s “victory” plan in Iraq is starting to look increasingly like an invitation to genocide, the systematic destruction of the Sunni minority for resisting its U.S.-induced transformation from the nation’s ruling elite into second-class citizenship.
The Sunnis, an Islamic sect that makes up about 35 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people, are being confronted with a stark choice, either accept subordination to the less-educated Shiite majority or face the devastation of Sunni neighborhoods, the imprisonment of many Sunni males and the deaths of large numbers of the Sunni population.
In referring to this possibility, many in Washington object to the word “genocide” – which is defined in international law as the destruction of “in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” – but already there are troubling signs that Iraq’s incipient civil war could slide into something close to that.
Retaliating against Sunni bombings and other attacks on Shiite targets over the past two years, Iraq’s Shiite-controlled security forces have begun rounding up, torturing and executing Sunni men...